Press Releases

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) today voted in favor of House Concurrent Resolution 622, which recognizes and honors the service of Filipino World War II veterans for their defense of democratic ideals and their contributions to the Allied victory in the Pacific.  Smith is a co-sponsor of the resolution.  The measure passed in the House of Representatives tonight by a vote of 402 - 0.

“More than 120,000 Filipinos fought to defend the United States in the Pacific during World War II, and they deserve the recognition given them by the House of Representatives tonight,” Smith said.  “They also deserve full access to veterans’ health care and other benefits, and I am fighting to make sure they get their due.”

Smith is a cosponsor of H.R. 4574, the Filipino Vets Equity Act.  The bill would extend Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits to the 13,000 remaining veterans residing in the Philippines.  U.S.-resident Filipino veterans are already covered by VA benefits.

H.R. 4574 was referred to House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health on January 3, 2006.  Smith and the bill’s other cosponsors are fighting to bring it to a vote in the full House of Representatives before the 109th Congress adjourns at the end of this year.

U.S. Representative Adam Smith (WA-09) today released the following statement on the fifth anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks:

“Today we again pause to remember a dark moment burned into the memory of our generation.  We remember those who died and the loved ones they left behind.  We remember the victims of war, terrorism, and other violence.  We rededicate ourselves to the belief in human freedom and support for those who fight for it.”

“This five-year anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks reminds us to remain vigilant to stop future attacks.  While some progress has been made on homeland security, we clearly have more work to do.  The Taliban have resurfaced in Afghanistan.  Our military is stretched dangerously thin.  Only 6 percent of containers entering U.S. ports are screened.  First responders still do not have the equipment needed to communicate with each other in an emergency.  We can and must do more to ensure attacks like those of September 11th, 2001 never happen again.

“Our thoughts are with those who lost loved ones and with those on the front lines of the war on terror.  Their sacrifices demand we refocus on bringing those responsible for the attacks to justice.”

 

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) today issued the following statement in recognition of Labor Day, which is this Monday, September 4.

“Labor Day is a time to remember the long, hard-fought struggle for workers' rights to organize, get fair wages and receive training to compete in the global economy.

“That fight continues today.

“The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 per hour since 1997.  We in Washington State set a higher minimum wage: $7.63 per hour.  Democrats want to increase the federal minimum wage to help bring the rest of the nation up to Washington State's level.  This important step will help address the growing gap between rich and poor in our nation.

“Unfortunately, when the House of Representatives last considered a minimum wage increase, the Majority would only consider a bill for wage-earners after attaching a massive tax cut package for the heirs of the wealthiest fraction of one percent of Americans, a move that would deepen our already massive national debt.  In addition, the bill would have forced Washington State tip-earners to take a pay cut.  Americans are not fools; we know an exercise in political cynicism when we see it.

“But raising the minimum wage alone is not enough.  Workers also need continuing education and training to compete in the global economy.  Congress should provide adequate funds for trade adjustment assistance (TAA), and we should expand TAA to service-sector workers.  These much-needed funds for continued job-related education will help our workers meet the changing demands of global trade.

“We have made some progress to improve the TAA program.  Regrettably, Administration policies leave behind many workers who qualify for TAA benefits.  This failure to support TAA will only get worse as the Majority continues to push fiscally irresponsible spending and tax cuts that severely hamper our ability to invest in our workers.

“It is time for a new direction.  While House Leadership and the President fail to stand behind our working families, we must come together to ensure that all Americans can share the American Dream.  Labor Day reminds us we must keep fighting to expand opportunity and work to restore hope and broad-based prosperity for our nation.”
 

U.S. Reps. Adam Smith (WA-09) and Mike Honda (CA-15) today submitted a letter to Thomas F. Gimble, Acting Inspector General for the Department of Defense, requesting a quick completion of the investigation into the Army’s treatment of Captain James Yee.  Yee was arrested in 2003 on espionage charges and held in solitary confinement for 76 days, only to be released and honorably discharged from service. 

Smith and Honda, along with Reps. Ike Skelton (MO-04) and Vic Snyder (AR-02), requested in June 2004 that the Department of Defense investigate the Army’s treatment of Yee.  The department began an investigation in December 2004.  The Defense Department has still not completed its inquiry despite repeated requests by Members of Congress for an expeditious resolution.

“Our servicemembers deserve to be treated fairly by the Department of Defense.  Captain Yee’s arrest, incarceration, and release raise serious questions as to whether the department follows its own rules when troops are accused of a crime,” Smith said.  “The Department of Defense needs to conclude its inquiry into this matter as quickly as possible.  This investigation has already taken too long.”

Below is a copy of the letter that Smith and Honda sent to Acting Inspector General Gimble.

August 31, 2006

Thomas F. Gimble
Acting Inspector General
Department of Defense
400 Army Navy Drive
Arlington, VA 22202-4704

Dear Mr. Gimble:

We write to urge you to complete, as expeditiously as possible, your office’s evaluation of the Army’s handling of the criminal investigation of Army Chaplain, Captain James Yee.

As you know, in September 2003 Captain Yee was arrested on suspicion of espionage and other treasonous conduct, later charged with separate crimes, held in solitary confinement for 76 days, and ultimately released, with all criminal charges dropped.  Captain Yee was later honorably discharged from the Army in January 2005.

Due to the unusual facts surrounding Captain Yee’s case, in June 2004 we requested that your office investigate the Army’s handling of the case to determine whether Captain Yee was treated appropriately and in accordance with applicable military regulations, policies and procedures.  In December 2004, your office initiated such an evaluation.

We write to inquire as to the status of the evaluation and to urge your office to complete it in a timely manner. A recent written update from your office indicated that the evaluation is still ongoing, and gave no target completion date.  In response to earlier telephone inquiries from our offices, your staff had indicated that the evaluation would be completed during the spring of 2006.  Most recently, your staff indicated that there has been a delay in the evaluation and that the new tentative target completion date is mid-October 2006.

We hope that you will be able to complete this evaluation expeditiously and meet this October 2006 target completion date.  The completion of a fair and thorough investigation is critical not only to bring closure to Captain Yee’s case, but to ensure the integrity of our military justice system.

Thank you for your continued work on this matter.  We look forward to the results of your evaluation.

Sincerely,
Adam Smith                            
Member of Congress

Mike Honda
Member of Congress


Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) today issued the following statement on the upcoming one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina devastating the Gulf Coast:

“One year after Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast, New Orleans and the surrounding region remain in shambles, and more must be done to help storm survivors rebuild their shattered lives.

“From the beginning, the federal response to the storm has been inadequate to meet the needs of affected Americans.  As the flood waters receded, Congress and the President pledged to help Gulf Coast residents rebuild their communities.  But as Congress turned to the ‘nuts and bolts’ of rebuilding the coast, compassionate rhetoric gave way to partisan opportunism and cronyism. 

“Relief funds were understandably rushed to the floor of Congress.  But when the funds were doled out, the Administration handed out lucrative no-bid reconstruction contracts that may have inflated the cost to taxpayers.  Then, to ‘offset the cost of reconstruction,’ Congress cut $50 billion from other key programs including Medicaid and food stamps. 

“Weeks later, the House of Representatives cut taxes for the heirs of the wealthiest fraction of one percent of Americans.

“It is contradictory and irresponsible to cut programs that are lifelines for Katrina survivors, citing a budget crisis, and then provide massive tax breaks to those who need it least with no regard for the cost.

“On the ground in New Orleans, the return to normalcy has slowed to a crawl.  The city’s water system still leaks massive amounts of water, utilities have not been restored in many neighborhoods, and sinkholes caused by broken pipes are destroying many of the remaining roads. 

“But one year after Katrina, just over half of the money allocated for reconstruction has been spent.  Eighty percent of small business owners affected by Katrina with approved Small Business Administration loans still wait for the money.   Roughly 7,500 families still wait for trailers promised by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and many who received them now find any number of keys can open their locked doors.

“Incredibly, when Congress appropriated billions of dollars for disaster relief, Congress and the Administration failed to establish procedures to track the money.  FEMA reports to Congress on their relief spending, but several other federal agencies have slices of relief funds to distribute, and they do not report their expenditures.  In many cases, these agencies do not even track whether the money has actually been spent. 

“If Congress were serious about fiscal responsibility, they would appoint a special inspector general to oversee Katrina spending.  I cosponsored a bill, House Resolution 3737, to do just that.  Months later, House Leadership has yet to bring this common-sense measure up for a vote.

“In addition to failing to oversee tax dollars, Congress and the Administration have failed to live up to many of the President’s promises to survivors.  Both the President’s proposed Worker Recovery Accounts and the Urban Homesteading Act, billed as needed help to get evacuees working and in their homes, have stalled in Congress and have not moved since January.

“All this led us to where we are today in New Orleans:  fraud and continued delays getting relief money where it is needed, infrastructure and housing still in disarray, and a growing health and mental health crisis burgeoning among the survivors.  Cost estimates for reconstruction continue to balloon, painting a dark picture of our nation’s fiscal future.

“The track record for this Administration and Congress before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina shows they do not understand effective government.  Fiscal responsibility and effective planning are nowhere to be found.  The problem is systemic:  we see it in our Katrina response, in our Iraq troubles, and in our lack of fiscal discipline. 

“Americans want more than just tax cuts from their government.  Liberals, moderates, and conservatives can all agree that we want our government to spend our tax dollars wisely and to provide effective disaster response.  Cutting taxes and increasing spending during times of crisis is neither responsible nor conservative; it’s reckless and dangerous.

“The American people know what good governance looks like.  Unfortunately, as a result of the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina, they surely know what corruption and incompetence look like:  decimated neighborhoods untouched by rebuilding efforts while billions of dollars in reconstruction money float around federal accounts without accountability or oversight.  Katrina’s aftermath is a symbol for the wrong direction in which our country is headed. 

“We deserve effective, efficient government that spends money wisely in line with our values and priorities.  But a year later, Congress and the Bush Administration have not corrected mistakes made before, during and after Katrina.   It is time for a new direction.  Americans deserve more than just a ‘heck of a job’ and it is time for Congress to give it to them.”