Press Releases

Recognizing the fact that millions of Americans carry cell phones with them throughout the day, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced a concurrent resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives expressing the sense of Congress that all Americans should program their cell phones and other portable electronic devices to show personal emergency contacts under the acronym ICE (In Case of Emergency) to enable emergency personnel to contact family and friends in the event of an emergency.

“This is a non-partisan issue and is a simple step that Americans can take right now,” said Smith. “We never want something bad to happen, but if a situation arises where a person is incapacitated, someone on-scene can grab the person’s cell phone or Blackberry and get in touch with their emergency contacts. This is something that can take less than a minute to program, but when time is short, this easy step can save hours and provide peace of mind to individuals and their families.”

Smith hopes that he will get bi-partisan support on his resolution and that the House passes it swiftly.

e call to evacuate.  Despite this understanding, no action was taken to accommodate those who could not evacuate their city.”

The letter concludes that “the tragic events caused by Hurricane Katrina have left hundreds of thousands of Americans with shattered homes and families and without food and water.  We are committed to joining together to provide relief and to save as many lives as possible.  

We have seen the compassion of Americans as volunteers, donations and financial assistance has flowed into the southeast region.  We must now do our part to repair the damaged region and assist in rebuilding the lives of many of our citizens. 

An important first step in this effort is new leadership at FEMA.  We strongly urge you to replace Director Michael Brown immediately.”

The complete text of the letter follows:

# # #

Dear President Bush,

We are writing today to urge you to replace Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director Michael Brown.  Brown and his senior leadership team have demonstrated a stunning level of ineptitude that made the disaster of Katrina and the loss of life and property much worse than it had to be.  This tragic event has made clear that your team is not up to the job of protecting Americans from either natural disasters or from any possible terrorist attack.  Security is a paramount concern to us and Americans deserve a competent and able emergency management agency.  Now that it is proven that this team is incapable, we can’t afford to wait to replace Director Brown. 

We also strongly disagree with the suggestion – made by many in your Administration – that Americans shouldn’t “point fingers” or play the “blame game” as the relief effort continues.  Thousands of lives are at stake right now.  We are also spending billions of public dollars on the recovery and those resources must be spent effectively and efficiently.  We need an experienced team now to implement the government’s plan for repairing the southeast region, not after a lengthy review process.  While we support that broader review, one thing is immediately clear: the director of FEMA is plainly not up to the important job at hand. 

 Consider the following critically important facts.

Despite days of warning, FEMA did virtually nothing to prepare for the impact of Katrina.  Director Brown reportedly waited five hours after Katrina struck before he proposed to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff that he send 1,000 Homeland Security workers into the region to support rescuers.  Even then, his letter gave personnel two full days to arrive on the scene to begin offering assistance.  It was five agonizing days before FEMA and DHS showed up in any significant numbers with adequate supplies to help the tens of thousands of people in New Orleans. 

Equally disturbing are the efforts of FEMA and others in your Administration to explain away these inexcusable actions.  Claims have been made that local leaders in Louisiana did not ask for help and that the federal government could not have foreseen that the levees around New Orleans would be breeched in the event of a significant hurricane.  The utter absurdity of these claims makes it even clearer that we need new leadership at FEMA if Americans are to have any confidence that the agency will wisely and effectively deal with the continuing crisis in the Gulf Coast, much less prepare for future natural disasters or terrorist attacks.  

First, locals did ask for help before the storm hit and FEMA assumed responsibility for dealing with the fallout from Katrina.  Louisiana’s Governor Kathleen Blanco declared a state of emergency for Louisiana on August 26th and on August 27th, she requested federal support. On that same day, and acting on your authorization, Director Brown responded to Blanco's request for assistance and declared that FEMA would "mobilize equipment and resources necessary to protect public health and safety by assisting law enforcement with evacuations, establishing shelters, supporting emergency medical needs, meeting immediate lifesaving and life-sustaining human needs and protecting property, in addition to other emergency protective measures." 

Second, the coming disaster was clear.  Max Mayfield, the Director of the National Hurricane Center has confirmed that both Director Brown and Secretary Chertoff listened to his agency’s briefing on Katrina’s likely impact.  Maxfield made repeated warnings about the hurricane and was quoted by the New Orleans Times-Picayune as saying, "We were briefing them (FEMA and DHS) way before landfall. It’s not like this was a surprise. We had in the advisories that the levee could be topped."  It is alarming that, given this knowledge, FEMA thought it was appropriate to sit back and wait instead of aggressively preparing for the disaster. 

Third, the vulnerability of the levees was well established.  Last year, FEMA conducted a simulation involving the potential evacuation of New Orleans as a result of a Hurricane.  For many years experts had been predicting that the levees could be breached by a hurricane and that the results would be disastrous, costing thousands of lives and billions of dollars.  In 2001, the Army Corps of Engineers conducted a study and found that the levees in the region needed to be updated, raised, and the pumping systems modernized.  In the event of a category 4 or 5 hurricane, like Hurricane Katrina, the levees would fail and the cities within the levees would be at risk of flooding.

Perhaps most troubling, federal officials knew from news reports and from Mayor Ray Nagin’s comments that tens of thousands of New Orleans residents would not be able to respond to the call to evacuate.  Despite this understanding, no action was taken to accommodate those who could not evacuate their city. 

We are deeply troubled by what this failure of leadership could portend for another disaster or attack.  Some of FEMA’s top positions have been staffed with individuals who have ample political and campaign experience, but virtually no understanding of how to prepare for and respond to a disaster of any magnitude.  We expect state and local responders to be well trained and qualified.  The same must be true of FEMA’s leaders.  There is no doubt that a new and better skilled leadership team at FEMA is required in order to best protect our nation.

The tragic events caused by Hurricane Katrina have left hundreds of thousands of Americans with shattered homes and families and without food and water.  We are committed to joining together to provide relief and to save as many lives as possible.  

We have seen the compassion of Americans as volunteers, donations and financial assistance has flowed into the southeast region.  We must now do our part to repair the damaged region and assist in rebuilding the lives of many of our citizens. 

An important first step in this effort is new leadership at FEMA.  We strongly urge you to replace Director Michael Brown immediately.  We look forward to your response.

//SIGNED//                              //SIGNED//

Adam Smith                             Ellen Tauscher

Member of Congress                Member of Congress

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) made the following statement today concerning the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission’s final votes on the proposed Joint Base Lewis-McChord:

“The BRAC Commission tackled a difficult assignment in shaping the future of our military forces to ensure that they continue to be the world’s best and most effective fighting force.

Throughout the entire BRAC process, I along with other Members of the Washington State delegation, have asked questions and raised concerns, particularly on the implementation of the proposed Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the proposed reduction in jobs affiliated with McChord Air Force Base (AFB). Having written two letters to the Commission, outlining these concerns, I was pleased to note that the Commission is taking an approach that allows affected military units to give input into how manpower levels should be derived as opposed to the original proposal from the Department of Defense that directed a prescribed number of jobs to be cut.

On the much larger question of the current BRAC round and the proposed Joint Base Lewis-McChord, I applaud the Commission’s recognition of the important military assets we have in the Northwest. Our distinctive geography, unique military assets and dedicated servicemen and women, combine to position Northwest facilities as highly valuable for our nation’s security. I also applaud the Commission’s efforts to better leverage local assets and improve efficiency through joint basing, particularly the proposed Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Since this is a new concept, it is difficult to foresee the full implications of the proposal, but the concept has merit and I am encouraged that the Commission gave power to the local commanders to have direct input into how the realignment will be implemented. The Joint Base concept has the potential to bolster efficiency and joint operations, which are critical to a modern-day fighting force.

I was also pleased to see that the Commission will propose an amendment that will allow for members of the Air Force to continue to receive medical treatment at McChord, while moving the bulk of military families and retirees to the much larger medical facility located next door at Fort Lewis. While questions still remain concerning the impact on jobs that this move will create, I believe that this is a step in the right direction and represents progress in addressing our concerns.

I will continue to monitor the military situation both in the 9th District and throughout the country and I will work to ensure that our military and those who serve in it are given the best equipment and the right assets to continue to do the great and heroic work that they do each and every day.”
 

Today, U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) gave a speech at the Tacoma Club focusing on meeting the challenges of global poverty. Smith, a Member of the House International Relations Committee, is passionate about global poverty issues and believes the United States has a moral obligation to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people. Smith also announced the introduction of his bipartisan bill, HR 3605, called the Global Poverty Act of 2005.

Smith stated that the bill is an “important piece of legislation [that] requires the President to develop a comprehensive strategy to vastly reduce global poverty and eliminate extreme global poverty and report back to Congress on its progress. This plan should include foreign assistance, foreign and local private investment, technical assistance, public-private partnerships and debt relief. The bill declares that the reduction of global poverty and the elimination of extreme global poverty are a priority of U.S. foreign policy and that the U.S. should work with all the players involved in this fight, including developing and donor countries and multilateral institutions to coordinate policies to address global poverty.”

In his speech, Smith said that “nearly half of the world’s population is struggling in poverty and one-sixth of the world’s population can’t meet even the most basic needs for survival. This is morally unacceptable.” Smith believes that “the United States needs a comprehensive strategy, one that currently does not exist, to help eliminate extreme global poverty.” He went on to state that “we need to leverage development aid, debt relief, technical assistance and public-private partnerships. We need to coordinate with world bodies, including the United Nations, to help impoverished countries devise plans that will work for them. The United States has a moral obligation and a strategic need to help eradicate global poverty.”

Smith outlined four concrete steps that can be taken to deal with the problems associated with extreme global poverty: ensure that developing countries have a decent infrastructure, the ability to reduce the effects of debilitating diseases on their population, access to affordable credit to help build their small businesses that drive their economies and finally access to a free, universal education system.

After outlining these four steps, Smith noted, “that the United States can have an enormous and positive impact on nations in need. However, the formula for success must include close coordination with the recipient nation as well as other donors and multilateral development organizations. The best aid programs are those that have substantial buy-in from the local policy makers and are met with a commensurate commitment to sound economic policies, social services, education, and a strengthening of political institutions.”

In discussing a strategic plan to eliminate global poverty, Smith said, “the plan would incorporate current aid programs, like the Millennium Challenge Account, and would ensure consistency with our foreign policy goals.”

Smith has been deeply focused on the issue of global poverty and in March, 2005 he participated in the Trade and Poverty Forum in Nagoya, Japan.  The forum brought together leaders from the business, political and NGO communities to develop strategies for combating poverty.  Smith understands that our nation must make a greater commitment to poverty alleviation and view these efforts as an investment that can foster global stability and security, build alliances throughout the world and reduce the sense of hopelessness for billions of people.  He is committed to helping marshal the political and social will to address global poverty.

The complete text of the speech can be found at http://www.house.gov/adamsmith/startPage/Globalpoverty.htm

ve Adam Smith today declared victory in their efforts to secure critical federal funding for the South Sound's transportation priorities.  The three secured over $41 million for the region in legislation reauthorizing surface transportation spending through 2009.

SAFETEA-LU, which the House will pass tonight and is expected to clear the Senate tomorrow, sets the funding levels for highways, ferries, and transit programs through 2009. 

"With the leadership of Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, I'm pleased that we have been able to provide urgently needed dollars for projects in our state and the Ninth District," said U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Tacoma). "While more needs to be done to relieve congestion and improve the quality of life for our citizens, the SAFETEA-LU transportation bill represents real bipartisan progress in addressing our regional needs. I will continue working with local stakeholders and others in our delegation to craft real transportation solutions that will enhance our productivity and ensure that the South Puget Sound remains a great place to live and do business."

"I am proud to have partnered with Rep. Smith and Sen. Cantwell to stand up for the transportation needs of the South Puget Sound," Senator Murray said.  "In a tough budget year, under tough conditions, we stood together to make the investments that will create jobs, improve safety and lay the foundation for our region's future economic growth."

"We need to think of these federal funds as an investment.  These are well spent dollars that will create jobs, improve our quality of life, and literally keep our economy moving," Senator Cantwell said.  "I'm proud of the way the delegation has worked together in these tight financial times to make sure Washington gets the improvements our communities need."

The following is a list of Ninth District projects:

State Route 167 - $9.5 million

This funding will help complete State Route 167, which will connect the Port of Tacoma at State Route 509 to Puyallup at State Route 161.  This project will improve freight mobility, provide congestion relief, and enhance safety. 

Cross Base Highway - $3.2 million

Funding will help build a new six-mile highway from I-5 to State Route 7, between Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base.  It will also link I-5 with the mid-Pierce County area, where the Frederickson High Intensity Employment Center (including the Boeing plant) and the Dupont area (located approximately 5 miles south on I-5 and the site of the Intel computer chip manufacturing and R/D plant) are located. 

Yelm 510/507 - $2 million

Funding is provided to conduct engineering, design and right-of-way acquisition for the construction of an alternative route to two highways that bisect the heart of downtown Yelm.  Once constructed, the Yelm "Loop" would divert traffic around the backlogged intersections of State Route 510 and State Route 507.  This project would create a smoother flow of traffic and create greater capacity for economic growth in Yelm.

Renton 405/167 - $1.6 million

Funding rebuilds the interchange of two vital transportation corridors, State Route 167 and Interstate-405, by adding additional lanes.  It will help to reduce long waits in traffic at a critical choke point in the regions traffic flow and ease the commute of thousands of people in the Puget Sound region.

Tukwila Urban Access - $2.550 million

This funding addresses necessary congestion improvements to the Southcenter Parkway, between Tukwila Parkway and 61st Avenue South and South 168th Street.  This area is the primary entry/exit point into this major regional retail and warehousing area. 

State Route 518 from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to I-405 - $5 million

This project funds improvements along the State Route 518 corridor.  It will increase access to Sea-Tac Airport and the surrounding cities of Burien, SeaTac and Tukwila.  It provides for the safe and efficient movement of people and goods in the region.

Port of Tacoma Road - $400,000

This funding allows for a second left turn lane to be constructed from westbound Pacific Highway to Port of Tacoma Road.  Identified as a necessary improvement, this project is critical to the planned extension of State Route 167 into the Port of Tacoma and will increase capacity at a highly congested intersection.  In addition, the project will also include pedestrian and bicycle improvements along the full length of the project. 

Lincoln Avenue Grade Separation Project in Tacoma - $2.3 million

The Lincoln Avenue grade separation project in Tacoma will construct an 1,100 foot, four lane concrete viaduct over five existing railroad lines.  This is part of several planned improvements in the Port area of Tacoma and will eliminate the long waits that currently hamper freight mobility at this rail crossing.

Valley Avenue/70th Avenue - $800,000

The project would widen both 70th Avenue East and Valley Ave East in Pierce County.  The project widens 70th Avenue East from 2 to 5 lanes, from 20th Street East to Valley Avenue East, and will also widen Valley Avenue East from 2 to 4 lanes, from 70th Avenue East to Freeman Road East.  Once completed, the improvements will reduce congestion and enhance safety at an important point of access for freight to the Port of Tacoma.

Kent Willis UP Tracks - $800,000

The Willis Street (SR 516) UP Railroad Grade Separation Project will construct a bridge for the Union Pacific railroad and reconstruct Willis Street to pass underneath the UP tracks.  This project is a critical step towards providing a more seamless passage for rail and truck freight through the Green River Valley.  It eliminates rail/vehicle at-grade conflicts that slow the movement of truck freight between the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma and the warehousing complex in the Valley.

 Federal Way Triangle - $5.6 million

 The Federal Way Triangle project will reconstruct the interchange at the intersection of I-5, State Route 18 and State Route 161.  This overburdened interchange is the fifth-busiest in the State and has been identified by the Washington State Department of Transportation as a "High Accident Location."  This project will provide relief and increased safety for commuters and businesses moving goods in the region.

Burien Town Square Roadway and Pedestrian Improvements -- $4 million

 The City of Burien is redeveloping 10 acres of underutilized property in downtown Burien to support economic development and affordable housing.  This funding will allow for an extension of 6th Avenue, connections to Burien's transit center with an emphasis on pedestrian use and safety, and the development of streets within the Town Square project.

Tukwila Southcenter Parkway Extension -- $3 million

Funding will be used to relocate, widen, and improve Southcenter Parkway between south 180th Street and south 200th.  This extension will provide access to the Tukwila South Development project.

Kent I-5/272nd Street SPUI - $800,000

This single point urban interchange (SPUI) under Interstate-5 will be constructed at South 272nd Street.  This project will relieve congestion and add capacity for an integrated regional HOV-transit system.  The community surrounding the interchange will benefit with the efficient movement of freight, faster commutes and increased safety.