Press Releases

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) yesterday voted for H.R. 365, the Methamphetamine Remediation Act, a bill to help communities clean up methamphetamine labs and the toxic mess they leave behind.  The bill requires the Environmental Protection Agency develop health-based guidelines to help state and local authorities clean up former meth lab sites. The bill passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 426 to 2.

“Methamphetamine use is declining in Washington State, but our communities still have to deal with the toxic residue from meth labs,” Smith said.  “Unfortunately, meth labs are found often in residential settings, so it’s vital that the EPA develop guidelines for proper cleanup to protect Washington families.”  

In addition to establishing health-based meth lab cleanup guidelines, the bill would also:

  • Direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology to consult with EPA in developing technologies to detect meth labs, emphasizing in field test kits for law enforcement.
  • Require the National Academy of Sciences to study the long-term health impacts of meth exposure on first-responders and on children taken from meth lab sites.

According to a 2006 National Drug Threat Survey of state and local law enforcement agencies across the nation, meth was named most often as the greatest drug threat in communities.  The National Drug Intelligence Center said in 2005 that “the production, transportation, distribution, and abuse of methamphetamine” comprise the primary drug threat to the Pacific Region. 

The U.S. Senate must now consider H.R. 365 before it can be signed into law by the President.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) today issued the following statement regarding President Bush’s budget request for fiscal year 2008:

“The President’s budget request again hides the true cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  While the budget contains war costs for the coming year, it discontinues funding in 2009. The President has said ending the war in Iraq is a decision he’ll leave to another President, and he is increasing troop levels in Baghdad.  It is clear he believes his strategy will keep us in Iraq well beyond 2009.  President Bush is not being honest with the numbers. 

“President Bush wants to slash funds for Medicare, Medicaid, education, and environmental protection to pay for tax breaks for multi-millionaires.  This budget throws even more help to those who don’t need it and cuts the safety net from under those who need help most.

“Congress has a lot of work to do to fix the problems in the President’s budget, and we’re ready to go to work.  Democrats and members of the NewDem Coalition in particular will respond to this request with a progressive, pro-growth alternative to benefit all Americans and win the fight against terrorists without squandering more taxpayer dollars on failed strategies.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) today voted for House Joint Resolution 20, a continuing resolution to provide funds for the federal government for fiscal year 2007.  The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 286 to 140.  Smith issued the following statement:

“Today the House had to make difficult choices to clean up the mess Republicans made last year when they failed to pass nine of 11 appropriations bills to fund the United States government.  While not perfect, this continuing resolution will allow us to move past the irresponsibility of the last Congress and actually function as a governing body with oversight responsibilities over the President’s impending budget proposal for next year.

“Those in the minority party today complained of a closed process.  I understand their concern, but much of it seems to come from a case of selective memory on the part of House Republicans.  Over the last ten years, the House has considered 75 continuing resolutions and all of them were considered under a closed process with no amendments.  Further, Republicans had an entire year to provide input into this budget when they were in control, but they instead walked away from their responsibility.

“The resolution was written with input from Republicans in both houses of Congress.  This process is the only way to give the Senate time to consider this legislation to prevent a government shutdown. 

“Today’s continuing resolution is an effort to make the best of a bad situation and perhaps the only feasible way to clean up the Republican mess.  This measure has been stripped of earmarks and funds critically important priorities like Veterans Affairs, Defense Department housing, and research at the National Institutes of Health.  Also, it freezes congressional pay until the American people get their minimum wage hike, and it will allow us to move on to the President’s budget and exercise some real oversight for the first time in years.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) today voted to make college more affordable by halving the interest rate on subsidized student loans for undergraduates over the next five years.  When fully phased in, the bill cuts the interest rate from 6.8% to 3.4%.  The measure cuts the interest rate in half in five steps:  from 6.8% to 6.12% in 2007; 5.44% in 2008; 4.76% in 2009; 4.08% in 2010; and 3.4% in 2011. 

The House passed the bill this afternoon by a vote of 356 to 71.

“In Washington State, there are 47,631 four-year college students with subsidized student loans who all would benefit from this bill.  Once fully phased in, the bill would provide $4,671 in savings to our state’s average four-year college student starting school in 2011 with subsidized student loans over the life of their loans,” Smith said.      

“Puget Sound’s economy depends on having a highly-skilled and well-educated workforce.  Making college more affordable is key to our remaining strong in the face of an increasingly competitive global economy.  We must do everything possible to address rising costs so that no qualified student is prevented from going to college because of the price,” Smith added. 

“Cutting interest rates on student loans is only the first step Democrats will take to make college more affordable.  Later this year, House Democrats will also introduce legislation aimed at increasing the maximum Pell Grant scholarship and take other important steps to reduce the financial barriers to a college education,” Smith said. 

The bill is fully paid for by making modest reductions in certain lender and guaranty agency subsidies in order to make the student loan program more efficient and effective for students and for American taxpayers.

This bill is supported by dozens of organizations, including the American Council on Education, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, American Association for State Colleges and Universities, American Association of Community Colleges, Alliance for Equity in Higher Education, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, College Board, College Parents of America, and the Institute for Higher Education Policy.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) today announced he was chosen by House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC) to serve on the Whip Team for the 110th Congress.  In this leadership role, Smith will help Clyburn gather support for the Democratic agenda. 

“House Democrats have already accomplished several pieces of our ‘100 Hours’ agenda, including broad ethics reforms and passage of bills to raise the minimum wage, implement several 9/11 Commission recommendations, and expand embryonic stem cell research.  I’m excited about working with Majority Whip Clyburn’s whip team.  I look forward to helping to pass the new majority’s agenda,” Smith said. 

“This is a great opportunity to make sure my constituents’ points of view are given even more consideration by the Democratic Caucus,” Smith added.

The word “whip” is a British term derived from the fox-hunting position “whipper-in,” the rider who kept fox hounds gathered behind their mission.  The whip’s job in Congress is to gather support for legislation when it comes to the floor for a vote.  The Democratic Caucus relies on the whip team to deliver votes to pass its agenda.

Smith’s selection for the Whip Team is the latest of several developments that will help him represent his constituents even more effectively in Congress.  Earlier this week, Smith was named chairman of the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee.  He also secured a post on the Air and Land Forces Subcommittee.  Both subcommittees are part of the larger House Armed Services Committee.