Press Releases

Congressman Adam Smith made the following statement today regarding raising the Federal Debt Limit:

“Today the House Republican leadership is bringing S. 2986 to the House floor for a vote – this measure increases the limit on the federal debt by $800 billion to $8.18 trillion. I will vote against this troubling bill.  Their lack of fiscal discipline has forced the Republican Leadership to pass three separate increases to the debt limit in the last three years including the 2003 increase of $984 billion, the largest increase in history.   Since 2002 Congress has increased the debt limit over two trillion dollars.  The Republicans’ irresponsible policies have left them no choice but to raise the limit on the amount of debt America can incur. But there is a choice in how it is raised.

We can continue to pass ineffective legislation that would simply raise the debt limit or we can implement true economic reform by implementing the tried and true ‘pay-as-you-go’ (PAYGO) policies which were so effective in the 1990s and which produced the record budget surpluses that the Bush Administration inherited. Since 2001 the Republican held White House, Senate, and House has turned a $5.6 trillion surplus into a $ 3.5 trillion deficit with record spending that includes over $ 2 trillion in tax cuts.  We need to be fiscally responsible with any spending during this time of economic recovery.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) the debt will continue to increase and is estimated to reach over $ 13 trillion by 2014 if Congress does not change its budget policy.   If the Republican leadership chooses to go forward with the President’s proposed spending and tax cut policies then it could push the debt limit to $ 14.5 trillion, nearly double the current limit, by 2014.  This is not only irresponsible, but it is immoral and will hinder our country’s abilities in the future to meet critical needs for our nation as a whole, as well as risking the future for our children and grandchildren. The fight for the future starts now and Congress must make tough decisions in order to provide a more secure and brighter tomorrow for all Americans."

As our nation struggles to jumpstart the economy and address the outsourcing of U.S. jobs, 15 members of the House New Democrat Coalition have introduced legislation to help bolster U.S. competitiveness.  Last night the group introduced H.R. 5254, the Up-Skilling Tax Credit Act, to encourage employers to invest in their employees and H.R. 5255, a bill to establish a competitive grant program to promote further education and job training opportunities in the fields of math, science, engineering and technology.

Since August 2003, nearly 90 percent of the newly created U.S. jobs are in the lower paying service sector industry.  To promote the creation and retention of jobs in high tech, high wage and high growth industries, we must ensure that America’s workers have skills and training necessary to succeed in the jobs of the 21st Century.

H.R. 5254, the Up-Skilling Tax Credit Act, will promote a more highly skilled and productive workforce by giving an incentive to employers who provide valuable lifetime learning opportunities for their employees.  Specifically, the bill would:

-     Allow employers to use 20 percent of the costs of providing technical training to their employees as a credit against their income tax expenses. 

-     Eligible employers could receive a credit of up to $1,000 per employee per year over the next 5 years. 

-     Eligible training courses must lead to an industry-recognized license or certificate.   

H.R. 5255 would create a competitive grant program through the National Science Foundation for institutes of higher education working to implement innovative programs to encourage students to study and pursue careers in the high demand fields of math, science, engineering and technology.  Funding may be used for creating interdisciplinary programs in these fields or for research equipment, facilities construction, repair and upgrades, textbooks, and other purposes.  Under this legislation, schools will:

-     Provide financial incentives (such as scholarships and stipends) to students entering and persisting in the higher education study of math, science, engineering and technology

-     Expose students to different industries through internships, fellowships, part-time work and mentors to make students more aware of opportunities in these fields.

-     Aim to increase the number of traditionally underrepresented students in science, math, engineering and technology.

“We may not be able to anticipate the next bend in the economic road, but one thing stays constant - education opens doors,” said NDC co-chair Jim Davis (D-FL).  “The New Democrat Coalition recognizes that by improving access to education and on-the-job training, we can help America’s workers move up the career ladder and prevent unemployment before it occurs.”

NDC Co-Chair Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) said, “we should increase investment in research and development, improve math and science education in K-12, enhance training and professional development for workers, open markets for American goods and renew the government’s focus on promoting innovation.  By doing so, we can make sure that our economy remains the most vibrant and competitive one in the world.”

“Unfortunately, the United States is currently falling behind other countries in the number and quality of math, science, and engineering graduates,” said NDC co-chair Ron Kind (D-WI).  “H.R. 5255 is meant to provide some of the crucial assistance needed to reverse this trend, and the Up-Skilling Tax Credit Act will help workers in these fields keep their skills up-to-date.”

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) made the following statement today on the National Defense Authorization Bill:

“I am pleased that Congress has finished work on the National Defense Authorization bill. The final product shows the commitment of Congress to our service men and women, retirees, veterans and their families. I have long been an advocate for our military and veterans and am pleased that we have included many provisions in the final bill that will help to improve their lives. I would like to highlight some of the key provisions included in the final bill that I have been priorities for me:

PAY RAISE

We were able to give our service men and women a 3.5% pay raise across the board. We recognize the work and sacrifice that our men and women in uniform give each and every day and we need to live up to our responsibilities and give them the financial means to support themselves and their families.

AERIAL REFUELING TANKERS

The conference report authorizes a multiyear procurement of 100 new aerial refueling tankers, replacing a leasing deal. It also establishes competition for the contract to maintain the new tankers and leaves in place previously-mandated studies to determine refueling needs and the correct approach to meeting them.

I’m pleased that we’ve taken clear steps to meet Air Force requirement for new tanker aircraft. By doing so, we enhance the readiness and projection capabilities of our Air Force while at the same time bolstering the American commercial aircraft production base. I’m confident that we’re now able to move forward on this key program and it’s my expectation that it is in the best interest of the Air Force and taxpayers.

The tanker agreement means that our Air Force will be better able to face the challenges of tomorrow and meet the tasks we ask of them – we’re giving them the tools they need to support missions and win.

CONCURRENT RECEIPT FOR 100% SERVICE-CONNECTED DISABLED VETERANS

I’m pleased that we have finally ended the veteran’s tax on some of our deserving veterans. The bill provides for full concurrent receipt to military retirees with service-connected disabilities rated as 100 percent beginning January 1, 2005.

TRICARE FOR NATIONAL GUARD AND RESERVISTS

Non-active duty reservists who have been called to active duty on or after September 11, 2001, for more than 30 days and commit to continue serving in the national guard or reserves would be eligible for health care coverage.  For each 90 days of continuous active duty, a reservist would be entitled to one additional year of coverage.  The bill would also authorize one year of coverage for a member who may otherwise be eligible but was unable to fulfill the requirement due to an injury, illness or disease incurred while deployed.

This is critical in retaining the best all-volunteer military in the world. With the sacrifices that our service men and women make every day, we must ensure that they have access to the health care that they need.

END STRENGTH

While not a complete solution to the problem facing the shortage of troops in our military, the bill does provide for an increase in the end strength of the Army by 20,000 and the Marine Corps by 3,000 in FYT 05. I would like to see these numbers increase, with an end strength of the Army of at least 40,000, but this bill is a good start on that goal.

DOE SICK WORKER COMPENSATION

The bill transfers the responsibility of handling claims by former Department of Energy (DOE) employees from the Department of Energy to the Department of Labor.  DOE has mishandled the claims of 25,000 nuclear weapons production workers who developed serious illnesses after exposure to toxic or radioactive materials at DOE sites.  We must ensure that those who have been affected by working at Hanford get their cases handled in a timely and effective manner and this bill does that.  The bill also provides for medical benefits and compensation to these workers and their survivors.  Former uranium workers are also made eligible for these payments.

These are just some of the highlights of this important piece of legislation. As our troops are involved in conflicts around the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan, we must do everything that we can to ensure that we are upholding our promise to them:  provide them the best equipment and training in the world, a first-class health care system and ensure that their families are taken care of on the home front. This bill recognizes the sacrifice that our service men and women make and I am proud to support this piece of legislation.”

 

Co-chairs of the House New Democrat Coalition today stated they are pleased repatriation provisions similar to their Invest in America legislation will be included in H.R. 4520, slated to be passed later tonight or tomorrow.

“This has been a key New Democrat Coalition priority since this Congress began,” said NDC Co-chair Adam Smith (WA).  “We believe it’s critical to provide incentives for companies to bring foreign profits back to invest here in America.”

In March of 2003, Smith (WA) introduced H.R. 1162, the Invest in America Act, which provides tax incentives for foreign subsidiaries to bring profits back to the United States. Twenty-nine House Democrats co-sponsored the measure, including NDC Co-Chairs Jim Davis (FL) and Ron Kind (WI).

The repatriation provisions of H.R. 4520 would temporarily give companies a lower tax rate – from 35 percent to 5.25 percent – for income earned overseas but reinvested in the United States.  Independent studies estimate that such a provision would result in $135 billion to $300 billion brought back and reinvested in the United States.

Smith noted, “It has been a long, difficult fight, and we are pleased that we’ve succeeded in getting repatriation sent to the President’s desk.”

 

Today, the Democratic Leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives appointed Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) to the conference committee on the Defense Authorization Bill for FY 2005. This is the first time that Smith has been appointed to a conference committee and it will give him the opportunity to shape the final version of the bill that will be voted on by Congress.

“I am honored that I have been chosen to sit on this conference committee,” said Smith. “Having two military bases, as well as one of the largest veteran populations in the United States, gives me a unique perspective into the needs of these important communities. I will endeavor to make sure that this bill ensures that our brave service members obtain their pay raises, family housing, healthcare improvements and other benefits. It is important that Congress approves this important piece of legislation in a timely manner.”