Press Releases

Today, Senator Maria Cantwell along with U.S. Rep. Adam Smith  sent a letter to the Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao applauding the Department's decision to "allow, for the first time, workers who produce 'intangible products,' like software, to benefit from TAA [Trade Adjustment Assistance]," that "represents an important and long-overdue change in the Department's policy."

However, the letter notes that the decision to extend TAA eligibility to workers who produce software "was made only after several years of litigation and represents just a small step towards ensuring that the TAA program meets the needs of today's diverse workforce."

"This is fundamentally about fairness," said Cantwell. "In today's global market where so much of our economic growth is in the IT sector, we need to make sure that  IT workers have access to the same retraining opportunities when they are displaced as other workers currently do. Every American worker deserves access to additional training and education so they can update their skills and continue to contribute to the growth of our economy."

The letter also notes that legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Baucus and sponsored by Cantwell (S. 1309) and introduced in the House by Smith and Rangel (H.R. 4156) to extend TAA benefits to all service sector workers adversely impacted by foreign competition, "including information technology (IT) workers, engineers, customer services and call center employees."

"Extending TAA benefits to all service workers must be a priority," said Smith. "Hard-working Americans will be better able to compete in the global marketplace if we make a real investment in education and retraining opportunities."

The letter also urges support for efforts to broaden the eligibility criteria for TAA to include all service workers.

"It is time for the U.S. Government to recognize that the global economy is changing," said Marcus Courtney, President of the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, a local chapter of the Communications Workers of America. "Today service sector workers, like their manufacturing counterparts, need TAA assistance to retrain themselves to meet the changing demands of the labor market. Congress should use the new decision by the Department of Labor as the guide post that TAA program does need to include more workers and pass TAA reform legislation this year" 

Today, Congressman Adam Smith voted against the latest attempt by the Republican majority to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska. The bill on the House floor today, H.R. 5429, repeals the prohibition against production or leasing of oil and gas resources in ANWR and is similar to recent efforts to open the Coastal Plain of ANWR for exploration and drilling.

Smith said, “Our country needs to develop a long term sustainable energy policy. It is in our national interest to become more energy self-sufficient.  However, drilling in ANWR will not provide us with enough oil to reduce our dependence on Middle East oil in a meaningful way.  Estimates show that drilling in ANWR would only account for six months of our nation’s entire oil supply, and that assumes we are able to extract every last drop of oil.  The percentage of our oil supply that comes from domestic sources would increase by just a very small amount.  Also, we could not even begin to use that oil for at least ten years.  The bottom line is that we are dependent on oil, and this bill does nothing to reduce that dependence. Instead of drilling in ANWR, we must reduce our reliance on fossil fuels by developing real alternatives.”

“I am committed to crafting an energy plan that focuses on the long term needs of our country,” said Smith.  “A balanced, forward-thinking plan takes into account our dependency on fossil fuels, but also harnesses the technologies of the future, to make our current energy use far more efficient, and to develop new, cleaner sources of energy.”

Smith also notes, “We have made great strides in the past 100 years in developing numerous technologies that have vastly improved our standard of living. Those accomplishments demonstrate our capability to take on any challenge by developing new innovations.  We should work towards making the United States a net exporter of energy rather than a net importer within our children’s lifetime.  With new energy sources such as solar panels, fuel cells, and geothermal under development, our country could one day serve as the largest energy provider to the world.  We would fulfill not only our own energy needs, but have other countries rely on us to fulfill theirs, a complete reversal from the present situation we find ourselves in.”

“The bill that was before the House today did not have the vision to lessen our dependence on oil,” said Smith. “I voted against this bill because we should make the commitment to developing alternative energy sources, not drilling in pristine nature reserves.”

Today, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) voted against the Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year (FY) 2007, House Concurrent Resolution 376. Smith made the following statement concerning his vote.

“Each and every year that they have controlled Congress, the Republican majority has passed a budget that brings massive deficits and huge amounts of long-term debt. In January of 2001, a 10-year surplus of $5.6 trillion was projected. Five years later, in 2006, we have a projected deficit of $423 billion and an overall national debt of $8.3 trillion that continues to rise. Passage of today’s bill increases our debt limit by another $653 billion. This is a failure of leadership by the Republican majority and it is fiscally unsustainable.

To have a fiscally responsible budget it must focus on three main areas of reform: tax reform, health spending and entitlement reform.

In the area of taxes, the Republican majority budget reduces revenues by $228 billion over the next five years, with the majority of those benefits going to those Americans who make in excess of $200,000 per year. It is clear that we can not continue to spend at the current rate while reducing tax revenues through cuts which do not benefit the majority of Americans. Congress must re-look at our overall tax system, including tax cuts, in an effort to simplify our tax code and produce more revenue.

Secondly, healthcare spending is out of control. We must look at the root causes of this dramatic increase in healthcare spending – such as rising prescription drug costs, inefficiencies in the healthcare system, and over util ization.  Overall healthcare spending has risen faster than the rate of inflation with no end in sight and as a result, healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid are increasing spending faster than almost any other part of the federal budget.  By getting health care inflation under control, we can help balance the federal budget. 

Addressing our rising health care costs will help address the third issue in need of reform: entitlement spending. The Republican budget also fails to provide a reform agenda to meet the rising costs of our entitlement programs. Tackling health care inflation is a must to get the budget in order and we must also take a serious look at the costs associated with reforming Social Security.

What the Republican budget does instead is to make severe cuts in a lot of small programs such as Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) grants, Pell Grants and Community Development Block Grants. Cuts to these small programs cannot solely fix our growing national debt; this would only nibble at the edges of the problem while its impact would be drastic to our states and localities.

Finally, the Republican budget fails to reinstate Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) rules. The PAYGO rules that were in place in the 1990s require any new mandatory spending or revenue legislation to be fully offset. PAYGO rules have proven effective in the past in eliminating budget deficits and a fiscally responsible budget must include these rules.

This budget continues the fiscal irresponsibility continually demonstrated by the Republican majority. If we don’t show true leadership in our budgets, we will pass on these enormous debts to future generations of Americans. I voted against this bill because of its fiscal recklessness and its inability to address the needed reforms to get the American budget back on the path of fiscal responsibility.”

“I am pleased that I supported H.R. 5122, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 Department of Defense (DoD) Authorization Bill, which passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives and onto the U.S. Senate with broad bipartisan support,” said U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Tacoma). “Our servicemen and women, and their families, sacrifice each and every day for the freedoms that we enjoy. This critical legislation fulfills the commitment we owe them, particularly in this time of war. Also included was $50 billion in so-called bridge funds to cover the first portion of war costs for the coming fiscal year. The war in Iraq has been ongoing for over three years and we have a good sense of the costs associated with operations there and in Afghanistan. It only makes sense to authorize this spending. While not perfect, this bill addresses many of the concerns that have been raised over the past few weeks while this bill has been debated both in the House Armed Services Committee, on which I serve, and on the Floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Some of the highlights include additional funding for better equipped vehicles for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and for improvised explosive device (IED) protection.”

Smith goes on to state, “last week, I announced several provisions and Puget Sound-based programs that I felt were important when this bill was passed out of the House Armed Services committee last week.  A list of these provisions is located at on my Web site at: http://www.house.gov20060504pr.html.”

The bill that passed tonight includes the provisions below:

TRICARE for all Guard and Reservists

The bill grants full, affordable access to TRICARE for all Guard and Reservists, regardless of activation or employment status.” This provision is a key aspect of an earlier bill that Smith introduced, H.R. 4468, which is a quality-of-life bill for Guard and Reservists.

No TRICARE Fee Increases for Retirees

The bill also rejected the Department of Defense’s (DoD) plan to increase TRICARE premiums and enrollment fees for retirees. The provision bars any fee increases in FY07 and creates a task force to study the potential impacts and savings generated by DoD’s plan.

End Strength

The bill provides for an overall end strength increase of 30,000 troops for the Army and 5,000 Marines for the Marine Corps. Additionally, the bill authorizes the Army National Guard at its full end strength of 350,000. Also, $300 million was added for National Guard equipment, ensuring that the Guard will be able to recruit, train and equip their forces at robust levels.

Pay Increase

Also included in the bill is a 2.7% pay raise for all service members, as well as targeted pay raises for warrant officers and senior and mid-grade noncommissioned officers.

Impact Aid

The bill authorizes $50 million for Impact Aid to assist schools that are located near military installations.  In addition, $15 million is specifically intended for schools that receive additional students because of force structure changes due to the recent round of Base Realignments and Closures (BRAC).

The bill authorizes additional funding for force protection needs in support of on-going Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, including up-armored Humvees, Humvee IED protection kits and gunner protection kits, improved IED jammers and state-of-the-art body armor.

Body Armor

As mentioned above, the bill includes $930 million for continued production of enhanced body armor and body armor components. Additional funds continue rapid procurement of enhanced ballistic inserts, for greater troop protection.

Vehicles

The bill supports our frontline troops by increasing the strength of their vehicles to handle the dangerous situations that our servicemen and women face every day, engaged in locations around the world.

  • Up-armor Humvees: An increase of $635.5 million addresses U.S. central Command’s requirements for more vehicles.
  • Up-armor Humvee IED Fragmentation Kits and Gunner Protection Kits: An increase of $364 million buys kits that add protection to doors, door frames, fuel tanks, and underbody areas and provides added protection for turrets, such as “transparent armor” gun shields
  • Armored Security Vehicle (ASV): An increase of $83 million for the ASV, which provides ballistic, overhead and landmine convoy protection.

Jammers

The bill also requires 100% of U.S. Military wheeled vehicles in harms way to have IED Jammers. In effect, the bill would require the Secretary of Defense to equip 100% of U.S. military wheeled vehicles operated in Iraq and Afghanistan outside of military compounds with effective IED jammers by the end of FY07. While jammers do not provide 100% protection against all threats, they have proven extremely effective saving lives and preventing injury to countless members of our armed forces.

Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement today about President Hu Jintao’s visit to Seattle and the United States:

“I was pleased that President Hu visited Washington State as part of his state visit,” said Smith. “China and the Northwest are significant trading partners and this relationship holds many benefits for Washington State’s businesses and workers alike. Pursuing a mutually beneficial partnership with China is an important aspect of our efforts to further broad-based economic development.

There are many areas in which the United States and China have a clear and shared interest. By working together to address nuclear issues with North Korea and Iran and by working on critically important environmental matters, I believe we can pave the way for a more peaceful and stable world.

While I am pleased with the ongoing and deep relationship with China, I also understand that there are matters that present challenges.  For example, I believe that China must make real progress toward complying with international trade obligations, including intellectual property rights, and currency valuations. I’m also concerned about China’s record on human rights.

I’m optimistic that our two nations will continue to build upon the successes of our relationship and work towards mutually beneficial solutions to the issues that we face.”