Press Releases

Today, the President signed into law H.R. 6867, the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2008, which extends unemployment insurance benefits for more than 2 million Americans. The bill, supported by Congressman Smith, passed the House on October 3, 2008, was cleared by the Senate yesterday.

“With the unemployment rate at a 16-year high and a weakening economy, it is imperative that Congress act to protect struggling Americans,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Not only are people losing their jobs, but individuals out of work are struggling to regain their financial footing. This extension of unemployment insurance benefits provides critical support and a measure of economic safety in these troubling times. I applaud the Senate for passing this bill and am pleased the President quickly signed it into law.”

The Unemployment Compensation Extension Act, H.R. 6867, provides an additional seven weeks of unemployment insurance benefits for workers who have exhausted their regular unemployment compensation, and an additional 13 weeks for workers in states with an average seasonally-adjusted unemployment rates of 6% or higher for three months. Washington state is currently experiencing an unemployment rate of 6.8 percent, based upon October 2008 Department of Labor data.

H.R. 6867 will provide relief to America’s workers and stimulate the economy. Extending these benefits is one of the most cost-effective and fast-acting ways to stimulate the economy because the money is spent quickly, according to the Congressional Budget Office. 

Some key components of the bill include that it will provide:

Approximately $6 billion in benefits to be paid from the Federal unemployment trust fund, which has more than enough reserves to cover the cost;
An additional 7 weeks of extended unemployment benefits for workers who have exhausted regular unemployment compensation; 
An additional 13 weeks of benefits workers in high-unemployment states.

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) made the following statement in observance of Veterans Day:

“Today we honor the brave men and women who have served in defense of our country and its values and ideals. Over the course of history, millions of brave Americans have served as the shield of America’s freedom at home and as a beacon of hope abroad. They have served selflessly to protect the promise of America and the citizens who embrace her. Through the valor and strength of our veterans and our current servicemembers, America has repeatedly stood firm in the face of tyranny and terror. For this service we are forever grateful and indebted.”

“As someone who is privileged to represent thousands of military personnel, veterans, and their families in the Puget Sound Region, it is an honor to ensure they receive the benefits and support they deserve. I will continue to work with and listen to our veterans to ensure their needs are being met. I will be meeting with local representatives to get their ideas on how to improve housing for our veterans and visiting injured soldiers to ensure their healthcare is adequate. Next month, I am hosting a Town Hall meeting that will bring veterans together with local and federal service providers to ensure their needs are being met and answer any question they may have. Over the last few years we have made historic budget increases for veteran services, and in the 111th Congress I will continue to work in a bipartisan way to expand services for our veterans.”

“America boasts the best-trained, most professional troops in the world.  They and their families make enormous sacrifices on our behalf, and they have earned our support and gratitude. This Veterans Day, let us remember their courage, their sacrifices, and our commitments to them.”

Congressman Adam Smith made the following statement after his vote in support of the bipartisan Financial Recovery package, passed in the House today by a vote of 263 to 171:
 
"I am pleased that the Senate acted quickly to create a strong bipartisan solution to our country’s economic crisis. I am hopeful this action will provide the tools to help free-up our financial system and avert a much more severe economic downturn.”
 
“The Senate version of the package, which is actually three bills combined, includes not only the rescue package, but also a bill extending expiring tax cuts provisions and a mental health parity bill.  I support the thrust of these additional measures, which will help protect the middle class from a tax increase, spur greater investment in renewable energy, and help struggling Americans receive health care.  While I am concerned that some of these added provisions are not fully paid for, I believe the economic crisis our country faces demands that we act quickly and decisively. This legislation, while not perfect, is necessary to address the weaknesses in our economy and protect and help the American people in this time of crisis.” 
 
“This was not an easy vote, but we are not in easy times. Our country faces a severe economic crisis. This is not a time for inaction. The credit crunch is real and is having a serious effect on small businesses and individuals across the country. An economic slow down cannot be avoided at this point, but this bill can make it far less painful and hopefully give us a chance 
Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced legislation in the House of Representatives today to ensure that American citizens and legal residents returning to the U.S. from overseas are not subject to invasive searches of their laptop computers or other electronic devices without any suspicion of wrongdoing.  Senator Russell Feingold will introduce a similar bill in the Senate today.
“The chief responsibility of the United States Government is to protect its citizens, and while doing so it is critical that we do not overshadow the obligation to protect the privacy and rights of Americans,” said Congressman Adam Smith.  “This legislation will provide clear and commonsense legal avenues for the Department of Homeland Security to pursue those who commit crime and wish to do our country harm without infringing on the rights of American citizens.  Importantly, it will provide travelers a level of privacy for their computers, digital cameras, cellular telephones and other electronic devices consistent with the Constitution and our nation’s values of liberty.”
 
The Travelers Privacy Protection Act was introduced in response to a Department of Homeland Security policy, released on July 16th that allows customs agents to “review and analyze” the contents and files of laptops and other electronic devices for an unspecified period of time “absent individualized suspicion.”  This policy was issued following report of U.S. customs agents requiring citizens and legal residents to relinquish their laptops or cell phones to DHS authorities for lengthy periods of time while the devices were searched, and in some cases, contents of the devices copied.  Reports have also surfaced that some devices had been confiscated and returned weeks or months later with no explanation.
 
The Travelers Privacy Protection Act requires reasonable suspicion of illegal activity for Department of Homeland Security agents to search the contents of laptop computers or other electronic devices carried by U.S. citizens or lawful residents, and it prohibits profiling travelers based on their race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin.  Additionally, the bill requires probable cause and a warrant or court order to seize information uncovered during a search, and specifies that searches carried on for more than 24 hours become a seizure.  This bill also ensures that information acquired during an electronic search is protected by strict disclosure limitations, with exceptions for sharing information about possible criminal violations or foreign intelligence information.  The Travelers Privacy Protection Act also ensures that DHS provides information on its border search policies and practices to Congress and the public.
Congressman Adam Smith secured $24.6 million for military projects in the Puget Sound  The funding was included in a spending package that included funds for the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, and military construction projects for fiscal year 2009.

“This package helps restore our military’s readiness and provides our troops and families with the support they need.  I’m also pleased that we included funds for important projects at Ft. Lewis, McChord Air Force Base and around the region,” Smith said.
 
These important projects include:
$8.6 million for Washington State Air National Guard’s 262nd Information Warfare Aggressor Squadron to build a new cyber-warfare facility for use by the (IWAS) at McChord Air Force Base.

$2 million for the Stryker Situation Awareness Soldier Protection Package, to equip the Stryker vehicle drivers of Ft. Lewis’ 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, with transparent armor; Carapace, LLC, North Andover, Mass. 

 $200,000 for the Madigan Army Medical Center Digital Pen project to acquire digital pens that capture and upload writing electronically while also recording care in ink on paper to improve the process of recording and transmitting patient care information; ADAPX, Seattle, Wash.

$1.6 million for the Tacoma Trauma Trust - Madigan Army Medical Center Trauma Assistance Program to provide critical trauma training for military medical personnel, while providing essential Level II trauma treatment for South King, Pierce, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties and southwest Washington for both military beneficiaries and civilian residents; Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma General Hospital, and St. Joseph’s Hospital, Tacoma, Wash. 

$4.4 million for the University of Washington’s Institute of Surgical and Interventional Simulation (ISIS) to upgrade existing facilities, expand their existing partnerships with Madigan Army Medical Center and VA Puget Sound, and explore ways in which surgical simulation can enhance the treatment and rehabilitation of soldiers; University of Washington, Seattle, Wash.

$3 million for the Oregon Biomedical Engineering Institute, for research on limb and tissue regeneration for battlefield injuries using bone marrow and stem cells; Oregon Biomedical Engineering Institute, Portland, Ore.

$1.6 million for million for Optical Neural Techniques for Combat/Post-Trauma Health Care with the potential to provide full restoration of hearing for injured soldiers; Aculight Corporation, Bothell, Wash.

$3.2 for Mobile Object Infrastructure Technology enabling the U.S. Army Intelligence Command (INSCOM) to continue research and development of solutions to network computing challenges, including bandwidth and information-sharing constraints; Topia Technology, Tacoma, Wash. 
 
Congressman Smith also helped secure key funds for programs vitally important to the Fort Lewis and McChord military community including:
 
$56 million for the Readiness and Environment Protection Initiative (REPI).  Smith has successfully advocated for REPI funds to be used to acquire land and development rights in the buffer zone North of McChord Air Force Base’s runway. This vital program helps public and private entities establish protective buffer zones around military installations. These buffer zones help insulate military installations from encroachment from development that can adversely impact the military’s ability to train.

$40 million for Impact Aid, which compensates school districts with a significant population of students from military families.  School districts surrounding Ft. Lewis and McChord rely heavily on the program.