Press Releases

Earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) voted to support the House Armed Services Committee’s markup of the fiscal year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act.  Smith chairs the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, which wrote the portion of the bill providing our special operations forces the tools and support they need to better fight al-Qaeda.

“The Defense Authorization offered by the Democrats today finally addresses one of worst outcomes of the President’s failed Iraq policies:  the degradation of our military readiness.  Our bill begins to address the training and equipment shortfalls faced by our Armed Services by providing more than $1.25 billion for readiness needs,” Smith said.

Smith continued: “Our bill would also take better care of our service members and reservists.  This bill will increase their pay, improve health care and reduce bureaucratic obstacles for wounded troops, and provide more reintegration assistance to Guard and Reserve members returning to civilian life.  These changes are essential in light of the increased burden we ask our military families to bear on our behalf.”

“The Defense bill also brings more accountability to the Administration’s Iraq policy.  Congress will not simply take the President’s word that ‘we’re making progress.’  When this measure becomes law, the President will be required to submit detailed reports to Congress on progress – or the lack thereof – so that we can assess next steps for changing the direction in Iraq,” Smith said.

The 2008 Defense Authorization bill includes provisions that: 

  • Authorize $13.6 billion for the Army and $8.4 billion for the Marine Corps to address equipment reset requirements, $1 billion for National Guard and Reserve equipment from their unfunded requirements list and $250 million to address training shortfalls throughout the services;
  • Authorize two significant initiatives to improve readiness:  the Defense Readiness Production Board and the Strategic Readiness Fund, a $1 billion fund for critical readiness requirements identified by the Board;
  • Require detailed reports from commanders in Iraq on the situation on the ground and contingency plans should the current strategy be deemed unsustainable;
  • Provide $4.1 billion to purchase MRAP (mine-resistant, ambush-protected) vehicles to protect our troops against the single greatest cause of U.S. troop fatalities in Iraq – improvised explosive devices;
  • Expand and strengthen counter-proliferation programs including the National Nuclear Security Administration nonproliferation programs and the Department of Defense Cooperative Threat Reduction Program; 
  • Empower the National Guard with enhanced authorities to fulfill its expanded role in the nation’s defense;
  • Raise the military pay rate for all ranks by 3.5 percent;
  • Reject the President’s proposed fee increases for TRICARE; and
  • Establish a national program to provide better support National Guard and Reserve service members and their families as they reintegrate into civilian life.

On Smith’s Terrorism Subcommittee Markup

“Our special operations forces lead the fight against terrorist groups in more than a dozen countries, and one of their most important missions is to establish relationships with local populations and prevent al-Qaeda from gaining a foothold in the first place.  This bill will finally provide needed emphasis on SOCOM’s vital indirect action work,” Smith said.

“Our bill supports the continued expansion of our special operations forces, encourages SOCOM and the Defense Department to better address unconventional threats such as terrorist networks, and improves the Department’s ability to harness technological innovation.”

The terrorism subcommittee’s $23.3 billion portion of the bill:

  • Fully funds the President’s request for the Special Operations Command (SOCOM);
  • Funds or partially funds an additional five SOCOM priorities left unfunded in the President’s budget, including resources for advanced body armor and night vision equipment;
  • Gives proper weight to SOCOM’s indirect action work and prioritizes unconventional warfare as the top priority of SOCOM;
  • Requires SOCOM to present a plan to meet their unconventional warfare requirements and an annual report to Congress;
  • Authorizes additional funds for “irregular warfare support” research and development activities, with the aims of better understanding jihadi strategies, improving our understanding of various cultures where terrorists seek a foothold, and developing creative countermeasures to frustrate terrorist groups;
  • Establishes a demonstration program to help the Defense Department more rapidly and aggressively seek out cutting edge commercial information technologies and put them to use for our military;
  • Fully funds DARPA and the Defense Department’s basic research accounts; and
  • Funds investment in energy storage and renewable energy technologies.

More information on the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee can be found at http://www.house.gov/list/press/wa09_smith/morenews/chair.html

The bill must be approved by the full House of Representatives and the Senate before the President can sign it into law.
 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today announced he will vote for the conference agreement on H.R. 1591, the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health and Iraq Accountability Act.  The agreement includes language that would set a goal for the redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq by March 2008.  Smith chairs the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.

“President Bush should sign this bill.  A veto would signal a total rejection of the will of the American people and would further hamper our efforts to fight the spread of al-Qaeda.  We will not stay in Iraq indefinitely.  We must plan to redeploy our troops in Iraq,” Smith said.

The conference agreement would appropriate $124.2 billion for emergency spending, the bulk of which will fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The measure includes a requirement that the President certify Iraq has met benchmarks for military and political progress.  Most importantly, the conference agreement sets a goal of redeploying most U.S. troops from Iraq by March 2008. 

President Bush repeatedly threatened to veto any measure that includes language requiring redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq.  Numerous polls and reports indicate a broad majority of Americans support such a timeline.

“This measure, regardless of whether the President vetoes it, is hugely important.  It is part of a process to pressure Republicans to abandon their open-ended commitment to refereeing a civil crisis in Iraq – a commitment which saps resources from the broader fight against terrorists and gives extremists a rallying point,” Smith explained.

“If the President vetoes this bill and Republicans stand with him to prevent Democrats from overriding him, they will demonstrate that they are completely out of step with the American people.  But more importantly, delaying a new direction in Iraq will further hamper our effort to contain the spread of al-Qaeda’s violent, totalitarian ideology,” Smith said.

 

U.S. Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) today introduced the Medicaid Access Project through Information Technology (MAP IT) to lower health care costs. The bill promotes the modernization of health record systems to prevent medical errors and to increase instant access to medical information for patients and doctors.

Specifically, MAP IT will allow for the creation of a demonstration project to provide a more modern, technology-based system for managing chronic disease for Medicaid recipients.

“Our out-of-date health record system drives up costs.  Under the current paper-based system, doctors and patients lack instant access to medical information, which leads to medical errors and inefficiency.  Our pilot project would use efficient, updated technology to improve care quality for Medicaid patients and to decrease costs to states and the federal government,” Smith said.

The project will give chronic disease patients and caregivers access to their medical records and to information about their disease. Patients will be able to communicate with health educators in a variety of ways.  Patients will also be provided access to their Personal Health Record, allowing them to record and track their health information. Physicians and other caregivers will have access to updated treatment and status information for chronic disease patients and a virtual case management tool.

“We are all worried about the rising costs of health care and now is the time to focus our efforts on using innovative technology to help meet our health care needs,” said McMorris Rodgers.  “Health information technology has the potential to revolutionize the way health care is delivered and received.  This pilot project will help reduce costs within Medicaid, empower patients with the necessary tools to manage their disease, and improve quality of care by reducing errors.”

Without changes to our health care system, analysts predict Medicaid will bankrupt every state in as little as twenty years. By providing online access for managing chronic disease, states can significantly reduce Medicaid costs. An August 2005 study by the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis at Eastern Washington University found that every dollar spent on technology-enabled disease management program saves up to ten dollars in medical and non-medical expenditures.

In addition to cost-savings, the use of health IT ensures overall health care delivery is safe and more comprehensive. According to the Institute of Medicine, at least 1.5 million Americas are sickened, injured or killed each year by errors in prescribing, dispensing or taking medications. By allowing providers to access real-time data, doctors can treat patients with the most recent advancements in medicine and according to the best practices in medicine.

Under the bill proposed by Smith and McMorris Rodgers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will select at least four proposals to perform the demonstration projects from those submitted by states. The demonstrations would last for two years followed by an evaluation to determine the resulting cost savings.

Congressional art contest winner Sam Kang is congratulated by U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) at the Tacoma Art Museum.  The museum has been gracious enough to host the 9th District Congressional Art Contest for the past 3 years.  Photo credit:  Kate Lynch, Word and Picture Communications Co.Photo: Congressional art contest winner Sam Kang is congratulated by U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) at the Tacoma Art Museum.  The museum has been gracious enough to host the 9th District Congressional Art Contest for the past 3 years.  Photo credit:  Kate Lynch, Word and Picture Communications Co.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today congratulated Sam Kang on winning this year's 9th District Congressional Art Competition. His piece is a pencil drawing entitled “Camel”. Kang is an eleventh grader of the Kennedy International Program at John F. Kennedy Memorial High School in Burien, Washington.

Each year, members of the U.S. House of Representatives hold art competitions in their congressional districts.  The contests feature paintings, drawings, and prints. Each member brings a winning entry back to Washington, D.C. to be displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year.

"Kang is a wonderfully gifted artist, and I hope he’ll make the trip to Washington, D.C. to see his work displayed in the Capitol.  I’m privileged to have been able to host this contest for the students of my district.  The ability of our young artists to have their works showcased by the Tacoma Art Museum at such an early age is a great honor,” Smith said.

"Sam will be a great fine artist.  He has the desire, the skill, the personality and the creativity to amaze people with his art. His handling of graphite pencil in his award-winning ‘Camel’ is very sophisticated. He has developed a very distinct crosshatching style which is truly fascinating," John F. Kennedy High School art instructor Julie Blakemore-Quesnell said.

Kang will be invited to travel to Washington, D.C. to see his artwork hung in the Capitol at the opening exhibition in June.  Three roundtrip airline tickets were donated for the winner and guests to travel to attend the exhibition.  In the past, representatives of the arts community participating in the exhibition included actors Tom Cruise, Dean Cain, Billy Baldwin and actress Sarah Jessica Parker.

Kang will also receive a renewable $5,000 scholarship to the Savannah College of Art and Design. The second place winner, Shiyu Chen from Annie Wright School and third place winner Stephanie Medeiros of Yelm High School will have the option of having their artistic entries displayed in Smith's Congressional office in Tacoma. The other top competitors also received prizes.  Honorable mentions were given to Marina Merchenko, of Thomas Jefferson High School of Federal Way, Amber Zawislak of Yelm High School, and Laura Wise, of Mt. Rainier Lutheran High School.

 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and U.S. Rep. Thelma Drake (R-Va.) today offered H. Res. 305 to honor the 20th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM).  The resolution passed under suspension of House rules by voice vote.  Smith chairs the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee on the House Armed Services Committee. 

Below are Smith’s remarks:

“Mr. Speaker, I’m proud to work with Representative Drake to mark the 20th anniversary of founding of the Special Operations Command. 

“Congress established SOCOM on April 16, 1987 in response to the failure of the Desert One mission to rescue American hostages in Iran.  We learned two main lessons from Desert One.  First, we needed a better joint command structure; our military was too divided and did not work well together, due to a lack of interoperable equipment and a lack of familiarity and joint training among the various branches.  Second, we lacked forces trained for these kinds of missions.  The establishment of SOCOM was meant to address these shortcomings.

“SOCOM has been a fabulous success.  We have roughly 53,000 special operations personnel operating in more than 50 countries around the world, taking direct action to counter terrorists and working with local populations to prevent terrorists from taking root. 

“I am especially proud of the three special operations force components housed in the 9th District of Washington:  the Army 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) and the Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) – 4th Batallion at Fort Lewis and the Air Force 22nd Special Tactics Squadron at McChord Air Force Base.  I’ve also been able to visit several other components of our special operations forces across the country and around the world, and they are doing a fantastic job.

“Going forward, we need more special operations forces to fight the spread of the totalitarian ideology pushed by al-Qaeda and related groups.  Consistent with the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, we will seek to grow SOCOM forces by 15 percent.  We will not sacrifice quality for quantity, but we must have the capability to train more special operations forces to face complex national security challenges. 

“And, we must ensure proper emphasis on indirect action.  Often when people think of special operations, they think of direct action against terrorists.  But much of SOCOM’s mission involves less dramatic but essential work.  Special operations forces are currently working in well over a dozen countries to prevent al-Qaeda and other organizations from taking root.  They train locals to defend themselves and help local populations improve their living situations so that they are less susceptible to terrorist recruitment. 

“Getting to know local populations, learning the languages, becoming helpful to them – these steps are vital to preventing insurgencies and terrorist groups from taking hold.  We recently heard from a special operations veteran who told us that the most helpful counter-terrorism tool his force brought with them in North Africa was a dentist.  The population needed this service so badly that our providing it led to them working with us to root out terrorists in the area.  This kind of work to win the hearts and minds of local populations is essential if we are to defeat the spread of al-Qaeda’s message across the globe.  That’s why we in Congress must ensure that SOCOM is resourced and structured properly to sufficiently emphasize and effectively carry out this critical indirect work.

“I want to thank the members from both parties on the terrorism subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee for their work to make sure our special operations forces have the tools they need to protect our country.  I want to especially thank Ranking Member Mac Thornberry and Representative Thelma Drake for their hard work on this important resolution.”