Press Releases

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) reacts to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Statement on Commitment to Diversity:

“I want to take the opportunity today to applaud Steve Ballmer and the Microsoft Corporation for pledging to include diversity in the workplace as part of the company’s legislative agenda.

Microsoft is a leader in the business community on gay and lesbian rights and is taking the right approach by revisiting their legislative agenda to include policies that create a fair working environment. Supporting federal legislation that would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation is also a positive position.

I have long been an advocate for gay and lesbian rights and I am pleased to work with Microsoft in moving its agenda forward on erasing discrimination from the workplace. I will also continue my efforts on issues of shared concern such as Internet safety, intellectual property rights and a healthy business climate.

Microsoft is a leader on non-discrimination issues in corporate America. Its commitment to diversity both within and outside the company stands as a testament to its philosophy of equality for all people – regardless of their sexual orientation.”

 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) made the following statement today concerning his opposition to the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA):

“Trade is an important component of international relations and development, particularly to Washington State. We must craft a trade policy that provides American workers and businesses with real opportunity to grow and that strengthens our economy. Time and again, the Bush Administration has failed to promote an economic competitiveness policy and it is our businesses and workers who will be hurt. The Bush Administration’s most recent trade agreement, the Dominican Republic – Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), does not balance the needs of American workers and companies, nor the needs of the nations with which we trade. It is for the reasons below that I will oppose this agreement on the Floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Bush Administration’s fiscal irresponsibility -- including its misguided philosophy on spending and tax cuts -- has undermined our ability to invest in education and skills training that are desperately needed in this country. Domestically, the President has not done enough to help American workers retrain and compete on the international stage. Too often, the Administration, under President Bush, has chosen economic policies that damage our ability to have a sound policy on trade. For example, we must take strong steps forward with investment in research and development programs that allow government to partner with universities and businesses to spur innovation. The Administration’s massive tax cuts have undermined our ability to empower Americans to further their education and skills training. I am deeply dismayed that they have pursued policies that leave many workers who qualify for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) benefits without access to the program simply because the Administration either can’t or won’t provide adequate funding. If this failure to invest in TAA and other critical domestic workforce programs can be said to be a problem now, it will only get worse if the Bush tax cuts are made permanent. We cannot stand by quietly as the Administration’s fiscal irresponsibility continues to undercut necessary domestic investments.

Globally, through its trade policy, the Administration has done little to help workers overseas. With CAFTA, an opportunity has been missed to put forward an agreement that balances the need to open global markets to American workers and businesses and promotes growth and stability overseas. As negotiated by the Bush Administration, CAFTA actually weakens the existing workers’ protections currently available under the United States’ existing trade preference programs with the region. Similarly, on environmental protection, rural development and public health, this agreement falls short. While CAFTA rightly includes protections for the intellectual property rights that are so important to our region, the Administration failed to take such a serious approach on workers’ rights and environmental protections.

CAFTA and indeed many of the Administration’s economic policies falls far short of creating a cohesive and comprehensive policy on trade.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith made the following statement today concerning Cover the Uninsured Week, May 1-8th, 2005:

“Today, 45 million Americans have no health insurance, including more than 8 million children. In Washington State alone, 944,000 people are uninsured. Being uninsured means going without needed medical care. It means minor illnesses become major ones because medical care is often delayed. It also means that one significant medical expense can wipe out a family’s life savings. As the price of health care continues to rise, fewer individuals and families can afford to pay for coverage. Fewer small businesses are able to provide coverage for their employees and those that do are struggling to hold on to the coverage they offer.

There are things we can do and I have taken a number of steps in Congress to try and address this issue. First of all, I have cosponsored The Small Business health Benefits Program (SEHBP) Act of 2005. This bill would offer small business employers are affordable choices among private health insurance plans by giving them access to a large purchasing pool and negotiated rates. These employers would also receive an annual tax credit to defray part of the employer contribution for low-income workers and a bonus tax credit for paying a higher percentage of the premium. Unlike Association Health Plans (AHPs), this bill does not allow insurance plans to override state law and also SEHBPs would be transferable across the country so that you’re still covered, even if you move to another state.

I have also supported funding for Community Health Centers, which serve more than 15 million uninsured Americans each year. These Centers provide badly needed health care services to individuals who would otherwise go without access to quality medical care.

Further, I have cosponsored The Bipartisan Commission on Medicaid that would create a commission to conduct a comprehensive review of the Medicaid program and make recommendations on how to improve service delivery and ensure that Medicaid recipients receive high quality health care.

These are just a few of the priorities I’ve pursued in my effort to expand access to health care for all Americans. I am committed to continuing my work on this vital issue.”

 

Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement in honor of Earth Day:

“Today marks 35 years since the first Earth Day. We, as a nation, have come a long way in terms of protecting our environment and our outlook on our responsibilities towards the environment. As a native Washingtonian, I have always valued the clean air and water in the Pacific Northwest. I have worked on legislation to protect these natural wonders and I have also been active on environmental issues including funding programs that will encourage the use of more efficient technology. For example, I have supported responsible funding increases for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program. The Energy Star program has a cost-effective, proven track record of saving energy and money. In fact, for every dollar spent on program costs, the Energy Star program produces average energy bill savings of $75 and sparks $15 in investment in new technology.

Investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy are particularly effective strategies for lowering energy costs. A mix of sustainable energy technologies offers one of the most cost-effective options for reducing the export of U.S. dollars to pay for burgeoning oil and natural gas imports. Renewable energy technologies also have the unique potential to tap domestic resources and create new sources of energy like solar and wind power. I have made several efforts on this front including supporting a long-term extension of the wind production tax credit which provides a 1.8-cent (adjusted periodically for inflation) per kilowatt-hour credit for electricity produced from a wind farm during the first 10 years of its operation.

 

There is still much more to be done and I am committed to continuing the progress. I am currently exploring ways for the promotion and development of next-generation building technology. The Department of Energy recently stated that buildings consume 39 percent of the energy used in the United States, more than cars or manufacturing plants. I’m pleased to see that Washington will become the first state in the nation to require new prisons, offices, schools, colleges and other publicly funded buildings meet a national environmental standard. This is a step in the right direction and I’m encouraged that in the future we will be able to incorporate cutting-edge technology that makes our buildings safer and more sustainable."

Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement today concerning his vote against H.R. 6, the Energy Policy Act of 2005:

”The first generation of U.S. environmental laws and regulations enacted in the 1960s and early 1970s were state-of-the-art public policies at that time. They cleaned up air and water, and were rightly emulated in much of the developing world. They also gave rise to a new sector of the economy: thousands of jobs were created in the construction of water treatment plants and other infrastructure necessary to meet the new environmental standards. Yet the bill that is before the House today does not have the same vision for the future as these bills had.

It should be a top national security priority of the United States to significantly reduce its consumption of foreign oil, yet the Republican-sponsored bill, does virtually nothing to stop this foreign dependence. In fact, traditional energy sources such as oil and natural gas reap 93 percent of the tax incentives in this bill, equivalent to $7.5 billion. In fact, this bill would provide more than $22 billion to the oil, gas, and other energy industries in tax breaks, direct spending and authorizations. Meanwhile, renewable energy and conservation initiatives receive only 7 percent.

We must invest in emerging technologies, renewable energy, and energy efficiency and conservation. It is vital for our economy that our country’s economic growth is not constrained by the price of oil. The Bush Administration’s backward-looking energy and environmental polices have left the United States ill-equipped to compete with other nations in the booming global market for environmentally clean technologies. For example, the U.S. wind power generation capacity of 6,370 megawatts – enough for approximately 6 million homes – is dwarfed by Germany’s 14,600 megawatts. We can, and should, do better. By making investments in emerging technologies and renewable energy resources, the United States has the potential to be a net exporter of renewable energy, not an importer of foreign oil.

Finally, this bill is anti-environment. I, along with many of my Democratic colleagues, voted for an amendment that would strip the provision to allow the drilling of gas and oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. We were not successful. Once drilling is allowed in one of the most natural, pristine places in the country, where will our environment be protected? In fact, this bill makes it easier for oil drilling in the protected areas off our coastlines as well.

The time is now for the United States to adopt a real energy policy: a policy that will invest in new technologies, new energy resources and that will increase our national security by decreasing our dependence on foreign oil. It is time for us to adopt an energy policy that not only makes the United States a net-exporter of renewable energy but that protects our environment as well. This bill does none of this, and I had to vote against the Energy Policy Act of 2005 for these reasons.”