Press Releases

“I am pleased that H.R. 1815, the Fiscal Year 2006 Department of Defense (DoD) Authorization bill, passed the House of Representatives with broad bipartisan support,” said U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA).  “As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I was proud to help craft this legislation through the committee process and on the Floor of the House.  While not perfect, the Defense Authorization bill is a positive step forward in providing our Veterans and servicemen and women the resources they deserve. This bill includes a number of provisions to support the members of our Armed Forces and our Veterans and also includes much-needed improvements in troop strength and equipment.  Importantly, this legislation moves toward ending the injustice of the Disabled Veteran’s Tax and it improves bonuses for the men and women in our Guard and Reserve forces.”

IN THE PUGET SOUND REGION:

Specifically, the Authorization Bill included the following provisions that directly affect units in the Puget Sound region:

$60 million in school impact aid for schools nationwide (including schools in the Puget Sound area):

The Education Department’s Impact Aid program provides supplementary funds to school districts nationwide to support the education of nearly 600,000 children of servicemen and women. This bill authorizes $60 million in Defense Department funding for impact aid spending in FY 2006, a $10 million increase in FY 2005.

$25 million for “Up-Armored HMMWV and Tactical Truck Crew Trainers”

This top priority of the Washington Army National Guard will allow soldiers to train for convoy operations in humvees and other tactical trucks, a critical need for soldiers preparing for deployment to Iraq.

$1.5 million for construction of the Homeland Security Multi-Functional Education Center at Camp Murray, Washington

This project would consist of a 6,190 square foot, single story multi-functional Homeland Security education center. The new facility will support the 205th Training Regiment which has a Total Army School System (TASS) mission for units in the Pacific Northwest as well as agency supported activities. This project will improve the readiness of Army National Guard units as well as first responders in the Puget Sound area.

$2.0 million for Madigan Army Medical Center Trauma Assistance (Tacoma Trauma Trust)

Smith was pleased to help authorize funding for this critical military-civilian emergency health care partnership facilitated by the Tacoma Trauma Trust (TTT), a unique military-civilian partnership (MultiCare Health System, Franciscan Health System and Madigan Army Medical Center). TTT shares in the delivery of critical Level II trauma care to South King, Pierce, Kitsap and Thurston counties and southwest Washington as well as much needed trauma training for medical personnel.

$961.4 million to fully fund President Bush’s request for the Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA)

This critical program would adapt and upgrade Boeing 737s, in Boeing’s Renton plant, in order to conduct defense and homeland security-related missions. The MMA will replace the aging fleet of Navy P-3C aircraft with a technologically superior mission system that will allow it to perform anti-submarine warfare missions, homeland security surveillance and other important functions.

$2 million for M-65 Bismaleimide Carbon Fiber Prepeg development for Automated Placement Machines

This funding would go towards qualifying an improved carbon fiber tape technology used to process large, high quality aircraft structures. This technology, developed by Hexcel Structures, a company with manufacturing facilities in Kent, WA, will be used to more efficiently manufacture the military’s F-35 and F-22 aircraft.

$3.7 million for “mounted Warrior Nomad Command: Control Head Up Display (C2HUD)

For use by the Stryker Brigades stationed at Fort Lewis, the C2HUD, an integral part of the Mounted Warrior system, will increase force protection and unit lethality by providing the combat crewman’s situational awareness link to the vehicle’s command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) systems remotely via secure, encrypted means.  The head up display will operate in all soldier mission areas, employing information management systems, operations planning, situational awareness, terrain navigation, long range sensors, target acquisition, and identification systems while mounted, dismounted and at platform crew stations. The system also has significant potential for commercial spin off for the technology and is designed by Microvision, a Puget Sound-based company.

TECHNOLOGY:

“Having worked for many years to improve our military and the Pentagon through the use of technology, I am pleased that this bill also included my provision for the National Defense University (NDU) Technology Pilot program,” said Smith. “I have long supported this important program and am proud to work with the experts at NDU who are continuing to leverage our technological innovations to maintain the most advanced military in the world."

$1 million for the NDU Technology Pilot Program

The purpose of this project is to conduct research and analysis to determine how the United States can maintain its competitive edge against other military adversaries at a time when commercial information technology (IT) is readily available on the global market. Through a series of workshops, conferences, research papers and publications, the NDU has developed new strategies to deal with this issue.

OVERALL PROVISIONS IN THE FY 06 DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION BILL

PAY INCREASES:

Overall, the bill provides a 3.1% pay raise for members of the Armed Forces and increases amounts paid for active duty enlistments, reserve enlistments and active-duty re-enlistments. It also permanently increases the death gratuity to $100,000 and it increases the maximum amount of hardship pay from $300 to $750 per month.

VETERANS DISABILITY/CONCURRENT RECEIPT

Until last year, military retired pay had to be reduced by the amount of any Veterans Administration (VA) disability compensation received. Under “concurrent receipt,” disabled Veterans can receive both their Social Security and Veteran’s Disability benefits concurrently. The FY 2004 Defense Authorization Act directed that the prohibition on concurrent receipt of disability compensation and military retirement pay be phased out over 10 years for disabled Veterans wounded in combat, Veterans with combat-related injuries, including all National Guard and reserve members, and every veteran whose disabilities are rated 50% or greater.

The bill moves up the date for full receipt for 100% disabled veterans – defined by being unemployable – to October 1, 2009, four years and three months earlier than currently scheduled.

TRICARE FOR GUARD/RESERVE

The bill expands the military health care system, TRICARE, for Guard and Reserve program to include dental benefits. This means that Guard and Reserve members, who are eligible for TRICARE health coverage beginning 90 days before their call-up and for 180 days after their deployment, are now also available for dental care coverage.
 

Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement today on H.R. 1815, the FY 2006 National Defense Authorization Act:

“I’m pleased that this bill includes a number of provisions to support our troops and veterans including a 3.1% pay increase across-the-board for all our servicemen and women, incentives and bonuses for our Guard and Reserve, including a $15,000 enlistment bonus, and $3.3 billion for better force protection for our troops, including more up-armoured Humvees, body armor and jammers. As more servicemen and women encounter the stresses of combat, I’m pleased that the House adopted an amendment that would improve the awareness of mental-health treatment availability and to reduce the stigma associated with mental health care for our servicemembers.”

PLEASE NOTE: A more comprehensive press release of provisions included in the bill, particularly those affecting the Puget Sound region, will be available tomorrow.

Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement today concerning the passage of H.R. 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act:

“I was pleased that the U.S. House of Representatives took the initiative and passed the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. This is a step in the right direction that will allow the United States to maintain its scientific and technical edge. Increasing the number of stem cell lines available to scientists is vital to realize the full potential of embryonic stem cell research. It is important that people realize that the bill that was passed today implements strong ethical guidelines to ensure federal oversight of the research. These guidelines include using embryos that were created for fertility treatment purposes only and are in excess of clinical needs.  Another requirement is that the individuals choosing to donate excess embryos must provide written consent and cannot receive any financial compensation.”

The 22 stem cell lines currently in existence are aged, contaminated with mouse cells and were developed with outdated techniques. With passage of this bill, the United States will be able to do advanced medical research that could lead to cures for numerous diseases and afflictions including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis, which affect millions throughout the world.

I will be hosting a Life Sciences Forum at the Renton City Hall on Wednesday, June 1st from 1:00-4:30 p.m. that will be focusing on the role that local, state and federal governments can play in encouraging research and development in the life sciences arena. Embryonic stem cell research is fundamental in ensuring that the United States remains the home of the latest advances in medicine and science.”

Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) made the following statement concerning the announcement from the Pentagon on the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC):

“Today, the Pentagon released the results of the BRAC Commission and announced that the Department of Defense (DoD) will be undertaking an unprecedented initiative in Washington State by creating joint-base Lewis-McChord. As a result, installation management functions will be consolidated at Fort Lewis.  According to the Defense Department estimates, as a result of this action, the economic impact will be limited to .2 percent of the economic area employment. The Pentagon has said the primary rationale for this recommendation is to promote jointness and reduce excess capacity. Also, the Navy-Marine Corps Reserve Center in Tacoma, Washington will be closed with a resulting 20 members of the military being transferred to other locations. I will be working closely with leaders in the community to ease the transition as a result of this decision.

The BRAC Commission has recognized the fact that the Northwest is home to military assets with joint capability that are flexible, are prepared to mobilize at a moment’s notice, and are located in a strategic region with easy access to the Pacific Theater.

As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have worked closely on force structure issues, and I’m proud to represent thousands of military servicemen and women and their families. Those stationed in Washington State have been a central component in the War on Terrorism and the war in Iraq. Over 6,000 active-duty troops based at Fort Lewis along with almost 4,000 National Guardsmen from the State have fought in Iraq. Also, over 2000 Washington State based airmen and women have been involved in air refueling and transport operations in Iraq. Additionally, sailors stationed in Everett aboard the USS Lincoln, and airmen at McChord Air Force Base, both active-duty and reserve, aided in recovery efforts in helping out the South Asian tsunami victims. Washington State is ideally located for a number of contingencies.

Today’s decision is a testament not only to the flexibility and jointness of the military forces in Washington State, but to the hardworking community leaders that have done so much to make the military an integral part of the fabric of our communities and our everyday lives.

I am proud of the work our servicemen and women do across the United States. In the coming weeks, we will be learning more details about troop movements and realignments and their impact on our community. I, along with my Congressional colleagues, will be focusing on this issue and I look forward to working with communities in my own District and across the State in ensuring that our military servicemen and women get the resources that they need as well as the communities that will be affected by any realignments.”

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith, (D-Tacoma), made the following statement today on the failure of the COPS Funding:

“Once again, the Republican majority has failed to support legislation that would fund the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. Today, a motion on the Floor of the U.S. House of Representatives would have allowed an amendment to reauthorize the COPS program for FY 2006 -2008. The vote failed 227 – 198, along party lines. The program has been one of the most effective crime prevention efforts authorized by Congress. In Washington State alone, the COPS program has provided funds to add over 400 officers to Washington State law enforcement agencies.

Without full funding, Washington State law enforcement will suffer as will the safety and security of all those living in the state. Cutting this funding will have a detrimental effect that will resonate in every state in the country. Since 1994, COPS has distributed billions of dollars to advance community policing efforts. As a former prosecutor, I know the positive impact that community policing efforts can have in our cities and states. We must fund this important program and give local law enforcement the help they need in their fight against crime.”