Press Releases

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement on the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which passed the House this morning by a vote of 285 to 132.  The agreement will lower trade barriers to U.S. exports to Peru and put worker and environmental protections on equal footing with commercial concerns.

“The Peru FTA represents a new direction on trade away from the excessively partisan trade debates we saw under the previous Congress.  Chairman Rangel and the Ways and Means Committee deserve credit for forcing the Administration to come to the table to hammer out a bipartisan way forward.  The FTA we approved today represents a real, bipartisan step forward in line with the agreement they worked out earlier this year.

“Prior to the policy agreement, progressive issues such as environmental concerns and worker protections were given far less protection in trade agreements than commercial issues like investor and intellectual property rights.  That made it much harder for the U.S. to leverage our economic strength to influence trading partners to make progress in those areas. 

“By putting strong labor and environmental safeguards on equal footing with other issues, we gain real leverage to enforce them.  This is the most progressive trade agreement to ever come before this House, and I am proud to support it.

“The Peru FTA will also help solidify our economic partnership with Latin America and support Peru’s efforts to grow and reduce poverty.  I visited Peru last year and saw the challenges posed by underdevelopment, as well as the potential that economic growth holds for improving people’s lives.  Our current trade preferences for Peru have fueled growth and poverty reduction there, and this FTA will make those preferences permanent.

“This FTA is a big step forward for our trade policy and I am proud to support it.”

Smith spoke on the floor of the House in favor of the U.S.-Peru FTA, and you can view video of his speech at http://www.house.gov/adamsmith.

You can find a photo from Smith’s 2006 trip to Peru at http://www.house.gov/adamsmith/photos/perutrip2006.JPG.  Caption:  U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) met with Felipe Llona, president of AGAP (Ag. Exporters Association), and workers on Llona’s farm about working conditions during Smith’s 2006 trip to Peru.  Photo credit:  Adam Shub, U.S. State Department.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today voted to support our veterans and Armed Services by supporting H.R. 3043, a conference report package that included the 2008 Military Construction-VA funding bill.  The legislative package included the single largest increase for veterans’ health care in the history of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as well as key investments in the South Sound. 

The conference report passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 269 to 142.

“Tonight, Congress lived up to its obligations to support our troops and our veterans.  The bill we passed included the biggest single funding increase in the history of the VA to make sure they get the support they deserve.  I was also pleased to have secured funds for local military construction projects that support our National Guard and provide alternative energy options for both the military and the public,” Smith said.

Smith secured funds for the following South Sound military construction projects in the conference package:

$3.3 million for a new Ft. Lewis Alternative Fueling Facility for military and public use.  Alternative fuel available at the facility will include biodiesel, ethanol, and others. 
 
$152,000 for the Tacoma Readiness Center to plan and design the renovation of the Washington National Guard’s Readiness Center in Tacoma.  The century-old Tacoma Armory building needs renovations to ensure it can be used for training and stationing Guard soldiers.
 
The conference report package passed tonight included both the Military Construction-VA funding bill (H.R. 2642) and the Labor, Heath and Human Services and Education bills (H.R. 3043). 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today supported K-through-12 education, college affordability, health care access and research, and job training by voting for H.R. 3043, a conference report package that included the Labor, Heath and Human Services and Education appropriations bill. Smith helped secure funds for South Sound health care and education projects included in the legislation.

The conference report passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 269 to 142.  President Bush has threatened to veto the measure.

“If our country is to remain competitive in the new economy, we have to make the right investments in job training, health care, medical research, and education.  Tonight the House passed a legislative package that includes these broad priorities, as well as specific essential projects in the South Sound.  The President should sign this legislation when it reaches his desk,” Smith said.

Smith helped secure funds for the following South Sound projects in the conference package:

  • $1,500,000 for the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for facilities and equipment.
  • $290,000 for Northwest Kidney Centers for facilities and equipment.
  • $200,000 for Northwest Center to provide and expand academic and vocational resources to developmentally delayed or disabled persons in King County.  
  • $200,000 for the South Sound Health Communication Network to help develop a community Health Record Bank. 
  • $200,000 for Thurston-Mason County Medical Society’s Project Access for the uninsured.
  • $150,000 for Clover Park Technical College to create an institute of environmental sustainability in the workforce.
  • $50,000 for Communities in Schools of Tacoma for after school programs.

The conference report package passed tonight included the Military Construction-VA funding bill and the Labor, Heath and Human Services and Education bills.

 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today applauded House passage of a bill to expand and improve the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program in defiance of a White House veto threat.   H.R. 3920, the Trade and Globalization Assistance Act of 2007, extends TAA to service industry workers; improves access to training, health care, and wage insurance benefits; creates a program to address community needs; and reauthorizes TAA programs through fiscal year 2012. 

The bill passed by the House today closely mirrors a bill Smith introduced on October 10, 2007.  Smith was an original cosponsor of H.R. 3920 and worked closely with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) to shape it.  Smith introduced similar legislation in the 108th and 109th Congresses. 

H.R. 3920 passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 264 to 157. 

“When our workers lose jobs because of our trade policies, we have an obligation to help them get back on their feet.  The TAA program as it exists today is out of date, and this bill will modernize it to get more Americans – including service workers like software engineers and call center employees – the help they need to stay competitive in the global marketplace,” Smith said.

Video of Smith’s statement in support of the bill can be found at http://www.house.gov/adamsmith.

Congress created the TAA program in 1962 in response to the loss of jobs among hard-working Americans and to promote American competitiveness.  TAA benefits have several components: training assistance, income support while in training, and interim health care support.  The program assists workers dislocated due to government policies that eliminated tariffs and other barriers to trade.  However, under current law, the program extends coverage only to workers in manufacturing and agricultural sectors, even though service-sector jobs also are increasingly moving overseas. 

The Trade and Globalization Assistance Act of 2007:

  • Extends TAA benefits to service sector employees (including IT workers, engineers, customer services employees, and others) and to more manufacturing workers.
  • Doubles the current training funding cap from $220 million to $440 million for fiscal year 2008, and increases it to $660 million by 2010. 
  • Increases TAA’s healthcare premium subsidy from the current 65 percent to 85 percent.
  • Simplifies application process by authorizing Secretary of Labor to certify groups of workers as eligible for TAA on an industry-wide basis rather than on a plant-by-plant basis as in current law.
  • Provides incentives to states to improve unemployment insurance coverage for low-income, part-time, and other workers.
     

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement in response to the President’s request for an additional $46 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Yesterday’s request brings the amount sought by the President for fiscal year 2008 war spending to $196.4 billion.

“President Bush requested a total of $196.4 billion for next year, mostly to continue our Iraq occupation, which is now in its fifth year.  The President has yet to provide a real plan to end our occupation, stop the flow of resources into a multisided sectarian civil war, and refocus on the fight against al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups around the world.  And yet, he wants Congress to provide almost $200 billion to continue down a path that undermines our security and gives extremists a rallying point.

“President Bush is fighting Congressional efforts to provide funds for our veterans, health care for children, and infrastructure improvements here at home on the basis that we cannot afford them.  But this request dwarfs the price tag of those essential priorities, and it highlights the enormous cost of the President’s policies in Iraq.

“Our occupation will continue until we begin to end it.  It is long past time for a new direction in Iraq.  We must begin to redeploy our troops and end the occupation so we can refocus on the fight to stop the spread of terrorism around the world.”