Press Releases

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) will be traveling to Honduras January 10th – 15th, 2004 to study the impact of sustainable development on Honduras and Central America.  During his trip, sponsored by Global Partnerships and the Seattle Initiative for Global Development, Smith will meet with several groups, public officials, and NGO leaders to examine the range of issues, opportunities and challenges facing America’s relationship with Honduras and this critical region.  Highlights of the trip include a visit to the Mixed Cooperative of United Women (COMIXUL), which is a microfinance institution that focuses on microcredit and its impact; a visit to microcredit programs where Smith can see firsthand the impact of solidarity groups and village banking methods and he will visit local people who have participated in microcredit lending.  Smith will also receive briefings from the U.S. Embassy in Honduras on the impact of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and will conduct field visits to small and micro enterprise development programs to see, first hand, rural development programs at work.

“This trip is critical to my understanding of the economic and social situation in Honduras and Central America as a whole,” said Smith. “It is important to see first hand the impact of good, sustainable development programs in this growing economy.”

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) is pleased to announce that the SeaTac City Fire Department received a federal grant totaling $136,665.  This grant money will be used to improve the department’s technology and will also allow the department to purchase a GPS tracking system that will be used to track firefighters during an incident.  This is the second year in a row that the SeaTac City Fire Department was awarded funds to improve their technology.

“This money is critical to improving the safety conditions of our firefighters,” said Smith. “The GPS tracking system and other technology upgrades will greatly enhance firefighter safety and effectiveness.”

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) announced his dissatisfaction with the passage of the seven-bill, $ 820 billion Fiscal Year 2004 omnibus spending package.  The thirteen annual appropriations bills are usually reviewed and passed individually, but for a second year in a row there has been one Omnibus spending package that funds most of the governments operations.  When passing an Omnibus instead of the individual bills, the package tends to include many harmful riders and not focus on fiscal discipline.

“The House of Representatives passed all 13 spending bills individually, but now we are throwing in the towel and taking the easy road by passing one bad bill instead of working with the Senate on individual conference reports,” said Smith. “This is not the way Congress should conduct business on important pieces of legislation.”

Among the many policy riders that Smith objected to was the inclusion of changes to the Labor Department’s overtime regulations, despite the fact that it was agreed to by solid majorities in both the House and the Senate.  Also, a provision supported by the House, Senate and conferees was stripped out behind closed doors that would bar the FCC from allowing media conglomerates to increase the number of stations they own nationally, raising the percentage of American households they reach from 35% to 45%. 

“While I am pleased that the Omnibus bill increased funding for veterans medical programs at a higher level than originally passed by the House of Representatives, it still provides $700 million less than the amount included in the House passed 2004 Budget Resolution and $900 million less than the amount proposed by veterans’ organizations,” Smith said. “The Omnibus also does serious damage to other veteran programs. The most dramatic is the cut in funds needed to speed up the processing of applications for veteran benefits. By shortchanging those who have fought for America, this bill sends a horrible message to those currently deployed throughout the world to safeguard our nation.

Also, the Omnibus bill reduces state and local law enforcement funding levels $500 million below those of FY2003. 

“At a time when our state government is struggling financially we cannot pull federal funds that help secure our borders and our ports,” said Smith.

Finally, one of the most blatant shortcomings in this Omnibus bill is that while funding for “No Child Left Behind” programs is nominally above last year’s level, it is only sufficient to cover inflation and provides local schools with no additional resources to meet federal mandates. The Omnibus provides a total of $24.5 billion for these programs - $7.8 billion below the amount promised for fiscal year 2004 by the “No Child Left Behind” authorization.

“It is a shame that Republicans want to push forward with fiscally irresponsible legislation that not only hurts middle-class Americans, but also strikes at the heart of those most vulnerable, our seniors and children.  This is not the type of leadership Americans expect from their Representatives,” said Smith.

 

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) announced his decision to vote against the Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003.  Prescription drug coverage in this bill is discontinuous and leaves many seniors paying a monthly premium while not receiving any benefits.  After the initial coverage limit of $2,200, beneficiaries are forced to pay 100 percent of the cost until total drug spending reaches approximately $5,100, after which the plan will pick up the majority of costs.  This confusing patchwork quilt of coverage results in an insufficient program for beneficiaries.

“The access and affordability of prescription drugs is critical to our health care system,” Smith said. “It is important that consumers are able to obtain affordable prescription drug coverage immediately, that the consumers who need help the most get it, and that the new prescription drug plan fits within the constraints of the federal budget.  The current bill before Congress does not conform to these principles.”

Beginning in 2010, this bill also includes a “premium support demonstration program” that would move towards privatizing Medicare, coercing seniors into HMO’s, and raising premiums for traditional Medicare beneficiaries.  Additionally, the legislation creates a $12 billion slush fund to subsidize and induce HMO’s into participating in the new program.  This puts Medicare at an immediate disadvantage and results in adverse selection where those seniors who stay with traditional Medicare pay more for their health coverage.  Medicare was created because the private health care system could not effectively provide affordable health insurance coverage for seniors.

“At the beginning of the 108th Congress, I introduced the “Medicare Rx Now Act of 2003”, with several of my colleagues. I am proud to have offered an affordable prescription drug benefit that provides coverage to the people who need the most help, is fiscally responsible, and permits coverage to go uninterrupted,” Smith said. “I am disappointed that the House did not consider this bill and instead chose to go forward with a plan that will undermine the structure of Medicare, threaten those seniors who have good drug coverage now through retiree health plans, is not continuous, forces seniors to pay a monthly premium while not receiving any benefit and is not fiscally responsible.

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) is pleased to announce today that the Department of Homeland Security, through the Urban Area Security Initiative, has given the City of Seattle and Sound Transit more than $17 million to help enhance their overall security and preparedness level to prevent, respond and recover from acts of terrorism. 

 “Washington state, like many other states, has been feeling the financial burden of needing to increase security for our ports, infrastructure, water sources, power plants and airports,” Smith said. “I’m glad that the Administration is recognizing this critical need and are taking the necessary steps in funding our homeland security.”

As one of the largest grant recipients, Seattle was granted over $16 million, based upon a Department of Homeland Security formula that takes into consideration a city’s critical infrastructure, population density and credible threat information.  In addition to these funds, another $800,000 was awarded to Sound Transit to enhance the security of its passengers and assets.  Sound Transit was chosen based upon the number of annual riders and overall track mileage.  Allowable uses of the funds include installation of physical barricades, area monitoring systems, integrated communication systems and prevention planning, training and exercises.