Press Releases

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) is disappointed that the Republican majority failed to pass fully-funded concurrent receipt and eliminate the Disabled Veteran’s tax.  A Democratic motion to recommit, proposed during consideration of the fiscal year 2004 Department of Defense authorization bill, would have eliminated the law which reduces a veteran’s retirement benefit on a dollar-for-dollar basis by the amount the veteran receives in disability compensation.  The measure would have fully funded both benefits to veterans. It failed by a vote of 217-188.

“In effect, this is a Disabled Veterans Tax, which taxes our veteran’s income at 100%,” said Smith. “On the eve of Veteran’s Day, it is disappointing that a majority of the House can’t see fit to stand up for our veterans. In my District alone, veterans are losing $33.5 million a year in benefits.  It is unfair to impose this tax on the men and women who have served our country so proudly and who have sacrificed for the freedoms that we enjoy every day.”

Acknowledging that this was a partial victory for veterans, Smith voted for final passage of the authorization bill which included partial relief to approximately one-third of eligible individuals (20-year retirees with a Purple Heart or combat-related disability, including Guard and Reserve). The agreement phases in over 11 years full concurrent receipt for the retirees with at least 50% disability, leaving two-thirds subject to the disabled veterans’ tax.

Smith has cosponsored the Retired Pay Restoration Act of 2003, passage of which would end the Disabled Veterans Tax for any veteran with over 20 years of military service.  Smith also signed the discharge petition associated with this bill that would force the bill to the floor for a vote and is actively engaging other Members of the House of Representatives to sign the petition and support the Retired Pay Restoration Act.

The current offset dates back to 1891, and it affects approximately 560,000 disabled military retirees.  Military retirees are the only federal employees affected by the offset.  For 18 years, legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives to correct this long-standing inequity.  The Retired Pay Restoration Act has received strong bipartisan support in Congress.

“I believe that all our veterans should be justly compensated for their service,” said Smith.  “I remain committed to seeing fully-funded concurrent receipt enacted and will do all I can to further its progress.”

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) is pleased to congratulate the King County Sheriff’s Office, the Green River Task Force and King County Sheriff Dave Reichert on solving the nation’s largest serial killer case. Over the last 20 years, detectives have worked through thousands of tips, followed up on missing women cases, collected thousands of pieces of evidence and eliminated potential suspects.

“I hope that the conclusion of this case will bring a sense of closure and comfort to the families of the victims,” Smith said. “I am proud of the efforts by the men and women involved in solving this case. Over the last few years, I am pleased that my staff and I were able to secure federal funds to help bring this case to a successful conclusion.”

Since fiscal year 2002, Smith was able to secure $750,000 for the King County Sheriff’s Office for DNA testing  and electronic records, which aided detectives in eliminating suspects and gathering evidence.  Smith was also instrumental in securing funding for task force members based upon the extraordinary scope and magnitude of the investigation.

“These grisly murders have haunted my state and district for over 20 years.  I am thankful that the case has been solved.”

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma), along with seven other members of the Washington state delegation have signed a letter to the chairmen of the Congressional appropriations committees that in the final version of the supplemental appropriations bill extending TRICARE medical insurance coverage to National Guard and Reserve members who are unemployed or otherwise have no employer-provided health insurance coverage.

“This is a readiness issue,” said Major General Timothy Lowenberg, Adjutant General, Washington state military department. “We need to ensure that our most valuable resource, our servicemen and women and their families, are taken care of when our nation calls them to serve.”

Currently, TRICARE benefits are provided only when a Guard or Reserve soldier is mobilized for federal service and actually deploys.  Currently, 21% of Guard and Reserve members have no health insurance which often results in health problems that delay deployments or leave soldiers medically unfit for deployment.  This added language would ensure that every member of the Guard and Reserve, and their families, have medical insurance year-round.  In addition, the language would make TRICARE coverage available when a member receives orders to deploy, rather than withholding coverage until the member actually deploys.  It would also allow members and their families to retain TRICARE benefits for up to six months following their return from deployment to ease the transition back to employer-provided private health insurance.

“At this critical time in our Nation’s history, it is vital that we do all we can to support the servicemen and women and their families,” Smith said. “The members of our military are sacrificing everyday for the people on the home front and it’s important to make sure that they and their families are taken care of so that they can focus on the mission at hand.”

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) announced today that he will oppose the Iraq supplemental funding legislation.

“If the costs associated with this spending bill were offset, I would support this bill,” Smith said. “However, this funding package before Congress today is fundamentally flawed, irresponsible and it is unacceptable. I am of the firm belief that we must pay for it now. We should not simply add the $87 billion to the already growing federal debt, as this bill wants us to do. If we are not willing to make this sacrifice today, we are piling on the enormous debt future generations of Americans will inherit.”

Smith still believes that the only responsible policy to protect both the Iraqi people and our national security is to support our troops and support rebuilding efforts in Iraq.  “I don’t agree with those that want to bring all of our troops home and abandon our mission in Iraq,” he said.  “I am hopeful that this specific spending package will be rejected, and the White House will work with us in finding a way to pay for these costs.”

Smith attempted to offer an amendment that would pay for the President’s request by scaling back the tax cuts going to Americans in the top tax bracket over the next ten years – those earning over $311,000 a year would receive $600 billion in tax cuts, instead of $690 billion under the existing Bush tax cut plan.

“Unfortunately, the Republican leadership in Congress did not permit my amendment to be considered,” Smith said. “We should have been given the opportunity to consider this proposal, as well as any spending cuts people would like to put on the table.  I am open to all options to find a way to pay for this spending.”

“I am voting against this bill in the hope that it will be rejected, and that President Bush will come to Congress and work with us to fully fund our troops and the rebuilding of Iraq, but does so in a fiscally responsible manner.  It would be in the best interest of our military, the Iraqi people, and our country to do so.”

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) announced today his support in a letter circulating through the House of Representatives for HR 3150 and S. 1634 which are amendments to the supplemental appropriations bill which would offset the spending request to fund operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

To pay for the $87 billion price tag of the request, this proposal would reduce the tax breaks given to the wealthiest one percent of Americans, those whose adjusted income is over $300,000 per year or more. 

“We simply cannot afford to put the cost of these operations on a credit card,” Smith said. “The $87 billion request should be paid for.  The budget deficit will total $455 billion in 2003 and $475 billion in 2004.  I support repealing the top tax rate cut to pay for the bulk of the operations because this is the fairest way to share the sacrifice of war, and it will have a much lower impact on our economy and the American people than dramatically cutting health care services or infrastructure investments.”

The total cost of the first Persian Gulf War was $80 billion and our allies paid for the vast majority of this burden.  In 2002 dollars, that war cost the U.S. taxpayers only $4 billion, just 5 percent of the war’s cost.

The letter calls, “on the Administration to make good on the promise of shared sacrifice and fiscal responsibility by paying for the cost of the supplemental proposal.”

The complete text of the letter follows this release. 

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October 3, 2003
The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to express our strong support for HR 3150 and S. 1634, which was recently debated in the Senate as an amendment to the supplemental appropriations bill. This proposal would offset the spending request to fund operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

To pay for the $87 billion price tag of your request, this proposal would reduce the tax breaks given to the wealthiest one percent of Americans, those whose adjusted income is over $300,000 per year or more. The rate adjustment would be made during the final six years of the 10-year tax cut plan; instead of receiving $690 billion in tax cuts during that decade, America's wealthiest would still receive about $600 billion in cuts.

We strongly support the American military personnel who are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have fought bravely and have risked their lives to bring security and democracy to these troubled nations. We all agree that Congress and the Administration must do whatever it takes to do right by our servicemen and women and to succeed in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Clearly, this will require additional funds. We look forward to working with you to secure the needed funding; however, we simply cannot afford to put the cost of these operations on a credit card.

The $87 billion request should be paid for. The budget deficit will total $455 billion in 2003 and $475 billion in 2004. Repealing the top tax rate cut to pay for the bulk of the operations is the fairest way to share the sacrifice of war, and it will have a much lower impact on our economy and the American people than dramatically cutting health care services, funding for homeland security or infrastructure investments, for example

If we are not willing to make this sacrifice today, future generations will inherit an enormous national debt. Every day our soldiers put their lives at risk so that the Iraqi people - and ultimately the people of the entire Middle East as well as the United States -- will have a secure, stable and prosperous future. Meanwhile, their families back home have made enormous personal and financial sacrifices, struggling to make a living and raise a family. Despite these sacrifices by our men and women in uniform we have not asked enough of our nation's wealthiest citizens.

As you are aware, the total cost of the first Persian Gulf War was $80 billion and our allies paid for the vast majority of this burden. In 2002 dollars, that war cost the U.S. taxpayers only $4 billion, just 5 percent of the war's cost. We call on the Administration to make good on the promise of shared sacrifice and fiscal responsibility by paying for the cost of the supplemental proposal.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,