Press Releases

Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) was pleased that H.R. 3402, which reauthorizes the Department of Justice (DOJ) programs for fiscal years 2006-2009, passed the House of Representatives. The bill would authorize approximately $24.4 billion for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and $3.4 billion for the U.S. Marshals Service, which is charged with protecting federal courthouses and our domestic airliners, among other duties. Another $3.9 billion is authorized for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

I am proud to announce that the DOJ bill includes an important provision that creates the Crystal Judson Domestic Violence Protocol Program. This program would provide funding to law enforcement agencies, nonprofit nongovernmental victim services providers and State, tribal, and local governments for the development and implementation of training for local victim domestic violence service providers. This program would also fund victim service personnel, to be known as “Crystal Judson Victim Advocates,” which provide support services and advocacy for victims of domestic violence committed by law enforcement personnel.

“I am extremely pleased that this bill creates and authorizes the Crystal Judson Domestic Violence Protocol Program,” said Smith. “Domestic violence knows no boundaries and it’s important that victims receive the help and support they need. We can all learn from the tragic and unnecessary death of Crystal Judson that anyone who commits acts of domestic violence must be held accountable and that, as a nation, we must do better to prevent violence and protect our citizens.”

Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) voted against H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism & Illegal Immigration Control Act. The bill claims to increase security at the international border and at ports of entry into the United States. It changes immigration law by making illegal presence in the country a criminal offense, increasing penalties for immigration-related offenses and allowing new grounds for the deportation of immigrants who commit certain crimes.

“I believe in a sound and reasonable immigration policy that strengthens our homeland security,” said Smith. “We need real immigration reform that decreases the number of illegal immigrants entering this country, punishes businesses that hire illegal immigrants and will provide greater security for our borders.  This bill fails to meet that standard. 

Also, the immigration reform bill before the House today is fiscally irresponsible and puts a further strain on our overburdened first responders. The bill would dramatically increase the burden on our legal system by automatically detaining all illegal immigrants and holding them indefinitely. The cost of building new facilities and the needed legal infrastructure surrounding the number of detainees is astronomical.”

Smith goes on to note, “Of even further concern to me is that an amendment was attached to the bill that expands the existing authority for state and local law enforcement personnel to apprehend, detain, remove and transport illegal immigrants in the routine course of their duties. I’m concerned that this added burden will take away from their needed duties to fight crime and keep our streets safe. They have critically important duties to attend to like protecting our communities and fighting meth and should not also be forced to assume the federal government’s responsibility for catching illegal immigrants.”
 

Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and John Lewis (D-GA), along with 18 co-sponsors, introduced the High Performance Buildings (HPB) Act of 2005. The legislation is aimed at helping millions of families living in affordable housing units. The bill encourages communities to include sustainable development in their strategic housing plans and provides grants to non-profit organizations that increase sustainable development capacity in low-income communities. It also establishes an institute at the National Science Foundation to research indoor environmental quality and its effect on health and productivity, as well as to encourage the development and deployment of innovative energy-saving techniques.

"I have long been a proponent of incorporating new technologies and innovative ideas to improve the daily lives of Americans,” said Smith. “This bill provides the incentives to study the impact of sustainable development models and how these techniques can improve the quality of life for millions of American families. This bill also has the added benefit of creating more energy efficient construction which will reduce our nation’s energy dependence by encouraging innovation in building technologies."

"One of the ways to make a community more livable is to incorporate principles of sustainability into real life practice,” said Blumenauer. “Buildings are the second largest consumer of energy in the country.  The sooner we implement changes to make buildings more energy inefficient, the sooner we will see the dividends of our investment."

Residential and commercial buildings account for nearly two-thirds of our nation’s electricity consumption and more than one-third of our total energy use. Sustainable architecture addresses this challenge through creating buildings that use significantly more energy-efficient materials and designs.

"As the largest consumer of energy in the world, “ said Rep. Lewis, “the United States must find viable ways to conserve the resources of this little piece of real estate we call Earth.  We are not here to stay.  We are simply stewards of the land, the water, and the air and all their precious bounty.  As a nation and as a people, we have to find ways to live in harmony with nature, to use her resources wisely, and in ways that help preserve and conserve natural resources for generations yet unborn.  This bill is one important step toward demonstrating the practical benefits of energy conservation to American citizens.   Residents of sustainable housing will save money on their energy bills, and at the same time they will help extend the longevity of valuable natural commodities for the benefit of all Americans and generations yet to come."

Today, U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) voted for H.R. 2830, the Pension Protection Act of 2005. HR 2830 is a comprehensive pension reform bill that would apply to both single- and multi-employer pension plans.  The bill would increase the funding requirements for defined pension benefit plans, shorten the period of time over which funding shortfalls must be eliminated, require sponsors to disclose more information about pension funding, restrict benefit payments and benefit accruals in underfunded plans, and increase the premiums that plan sponsors pay to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC).

“I supported this legislation because we need to ensure that American workers pensions are protected,” said Smith. “Americans have worked too hard, for too long, to lose their pensions overnight. Voting for this legislation takes a step in the right direction.”

In general, plans would be required to fund 100% of their “funding target” which under current law is referred to as the plan’s “current liability.”  The plan would have to repay any funding shortfalls over seven years.  Under current law, a plan’s unfunded liability can be repaid over periods of up to 30 years.  Additionally, this bill would raise the base annual PBGC premium from $19 to $30 per participant per year.  For those plans that are 60% or less funded, benefits would be frozen and no new benefits could be earned until the company reached a funding level of at least 80%.  It is Smith’s hope that the bill will help ensure greater transparency and accountability in the PCBG, inclusion of shutdown benefits for older wokers, and the overall tightening of rules so that companies will meet their financial obligations to their employees and retirees.

“Although I voted for today’s legislation, it is my hope that in the Conference Committee process, many of the concerns that I have will be addressed,” Smith continued. 

Smith expressed concern that these reforms could encourage employers to terminate their pension plans and in turn, the PBGC will pick up the tab for these pensions.  He noted the cases of the airline and steel industries, where pension plans that are taken over by the PBGC were bad for taxpayers as well as workers.  He further stated that because the PBGC will only guarantee a capped amount per person, employees may end up receiving less money than what they were originally promised. Smith also regrets that the bill lacks language to ensure fairness between pensions for workers and executives.

“I believe that the objective of pension reform should be to strengthen retirement security for workers and retirees, while also addressing the economic pressures facing businesses today,” said Smith. “It is also my hope that the airline industry specific language in the Senate version of this bill will be included in the final Conference Report. I will continue to work with my colleagues to create policy that helps retirees keep the pensions that they have earned and allows businesses to flourish in the dynamic U.S. economy.”

Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) voted against H.R. 3010, the conference report for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act for FY06.

“This conference report is the latest example that the Republican majority in Congress is out of touch with the values and needs with the majority of Americans,” said Smith. “As a matter of fact, the Republicans will have spent more on tax cuts this year than they will on all education and labor programs. This is unacceptable.”

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program, an important tool in rehabilitating America’s troubled public schools, is cut by more than $700 million. Funding for Title I, which is the core of NCLB’s efforts to improve reading and math skills for disadvantaged children, received the smallest increase for Title I in 8 years, which means 3.1 million low-income children will be negatively affected by this cut. Also, Pell Grants, which help many lower-income students attend college, remain at $4,050 for the 4th straight year, despite the 35% increase in college costs since 2001.

“States and local school districts are also hurt by this bill,” said Smith. “The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B state grants received the smallest increase in a decade – this is a step backward in the effort to fully fund IDEA.”

Smith also said, “As a supporter of innovation and technology to help educate Americans, I was disappointed to see that the Education Technology Program was cut by $221 million or 45%,” said Smith. “When the United States is struggling to maintain its technological edge in the face of ever greater global competition, these policy decisions not only hurt American families and businesses, but also our long-term economic strength.”

With record prices for electricity and gas, Americans are going to need help heating their homes this winter and yet the Republican majority failed to increase funding for LIHEAP home heating assistance, which helps keep the heat on for low-income seniors and children.

“I will continue to work with my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, on a positive agenda that moves America forward and that helps all Americans, through commonsense, fiscally sound spending legislation. I will work to develop policy that educates more people and that provides assistance to those that need it the most,” said Smith.