Press Releases

To commemorate this occasion and remember the sacrifices made by our servicemembers during the Korean War, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) entered the following statement into the Congressional Record today:

“I would like to take a moment to honor an individual from my district who is a true American hero, Duane A. Osborn.  He is an ordinary man with an extraordinary story.  Unless you are a friend or a family member you won’t recognize his face, or ever have heard of his name.  But there are millions of Americans like him – Americans who have sacrificed so much for our country and do not receive nearly enough recognition in return for their service.  On this, the 50th Anniversary of the Signing of the Armistice of the Korean War, I’d like to introduce you to one of many forgotten warriors in a forgotten war.

“Duane A. Osborn was born in Wapato, WA on May 30, 1934. In June of 1952, shortly after his 18th birthday, he enlisted in the United States Air Force with the 8th Division.  Before he was sent to the Korean War he married Donna Elder.

“From 1950 to 1953, the United States joined with United Nations forces in Korea to take a stand against what was deemed a threat to democratic nations worldwide.  6.8 million Americans served on active-duty during the Korean War era and 1.8 million soldiers served in the Korean theater during the three-year period of hostilities.  36,940 service members made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives during the war.

“At war's end, millions of American veterans returned to a peacetime world of families, homes, and jobs – and to a country reluctant to view the Korean War as something to memorialize.  But to the men and women who served, the Korean War could never be a forgotten war.

“In October of 1955, following his service, Duane returned home to Washington state and settled in an unincorporated area that would become the city of SeaTac in my district.  He worked building county roads until an accident in September of 1973 rendered him a paraplegic.

“Duane’s hardship duty in Korea had prepared him to meet this difficult physical challenge and in 17 years of participating in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, he has won 100 gold, silver, and bronze medals – proving again and again his courage, commitment and dedication, as well as his passion for living.

“Duane continues to contribute to his community and country as a board member of the Northwest Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America where he volunteers his time to make my district and Washington state more accessible for people with disabilities.  He works tirelessly to ensure that all Americans are given the opportunities to live their lives to the fullest.

“It is the regular men and women like Duane who honorably answered their country's call to duty and went to Korea over fifty years ago today that we must also remember. Countless Americans never won medals, never were labeled “heroes,” yet they tirelessly fought for the causes they believed in – freedom and country. 

“Now home as proud veterans, these individuals know that freedom is not free, they know the costs and they continue to fight anonymously for liberties at home as they serve their communities, once again volunteering to make life better for all of us.

“I thank Duane A. Osborn and the millions of other Korean War veterans for their contributions to my community and my country, both during that War and now at home, and I ask that we remember his service and the service of so many other ordinary, inspiring individuals today.”

Today, Representatives Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) introduced two bipartisan bills in an effort to streamline government spending: H.R. 2902, the Corporate Subsidy Reform Commission Act, and H.R. 2903, the Program Reform Commission Act.

“Government should be a positive force in our lives – Americans deserve a dynamic, progressive government that constantly changes with the times to meet their needs. We cannot solve the problems of today while saddled with the bureaucracies of yesterday,” said Smith.  “To ensure this change we must be willing to seriously examine existing programs and agencies, phase out programs and corporate subsidies that are no longer useful and eliminate waste and ineffectiveness from all areas of our government.”

"The best way to ensure fiscal responsibility is to continually reexamine federal programs and subsidies, and to root-out wasteful spending," said Shays, who serves as Vice Chairman of the House Budget Committee and House Government Reform Committee.  "We need to make government more efficient and effective, and focus our limited resources on programs that truly make a difference in people's lives."

The bills would create bipartisan commissions to identify wasteful government programs and subsidies, and recommend them for elimination. Commission members will be appointed by the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders (two members each, including one co-chair each) and the House Majority and Minority Leaders (two members each).  In addition, the bills urge Congress to promptly consider legislation that would implement the Commissions’ findings and recommendations. 

Joining Reps. Smith and Shays as original co-sponsors of both bills are Reps. Ed Case (D-Hawaii), John Carter (R-Texas), John Duncan (R-Tenn.), Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), and John Tierney (D-Mass.).

 

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following brief statement on today’s hearing at the House Armed Services Committee on the agreement  between the United States Air Force and the Boeing Corporation for the lease of 100 Boeing 767s to be converted into aerial refueling tankers to replace the Air Force’s oldest KC-135 tankers:

“Today’s hearing underscored both the viability of this agreement between the Air Force and Boeing and the Air Force’s commitment to this innovative plan.  The Air Force believes that beginning to retire its KC-135Es as soon as possible will result in significant cost savings for two important reasons.  First, the operating costs of a newer, more efficient aircraft such as the 767 tanker are considerably lower than those of the KC-135Es.  Second, by retiring KC-135Es, the taxpayer will not have to pay for the expensive maintenance, upgrades, and modifications that will be increasingly necessary to keep these aircraft flying.  The cost to the taxpayer of the maintenance, upgrades, and modifications to the KC-135Es in the absence of a 767 lease would be greater than the cost of these interest payments.  There is a fiscal benefit to the American taxpayer from this lease proposal – and a cost associated with not proceeding with retirement of the KC-135Es. 

“This plan is a good one and it is important that we move forward on this to get the Air Force the tankers they need as soon as possible.  In recent military operations, airlift capabilities have proved critical.  At a time when our forces are active around the world, it is critical that we take the action the Air Force has requested to enable them to serve that key role. I’ve argued for years that we need to modernize our military and invest in tomorrow's technology, to ensure that America's fighting men and women have the tools and equipment they need to fulfill their missions.  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.”

Congressmen Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) and Jay Inslee (D-Bainbridge Island) announced today that Redmond’s Friends of Youth will receive a $223,538 Economic Development Initiative (EDI) grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Friends of Youth operates a treatment center, the Griffin Home, in Renton, WA, for severely troubled adolescent boys with a history of juvenile offenses or aggressive sexual behavior.  The Griffin Home is currently in dire need of repair due to many years of wear and tear.

 “As both a policymaker and a parent, I am very excited about today’s EDI grant announcement for Griffin Home,” Smith said.  “Based in Renton, Griffin Home is a one-of-a-kind resource for Puget Sound that has successfully changed the lives of thousands of troubled adolescent boys in the region for almost 50 years.  Today’s funding, in addition to the $425,000 we successfully secured for them last year, will allow the Friends of Youth to preserve and improve their Renton community-based treatment facility.  The services they provide there are critical for our community and for our children in trouble, and I’m pleased to be able to support them once again.”

Said Inslee, “I am very pleased to announce federal funding for an outstanding youth rehabilitation program on the Eastside.  I am very impressed with Friends of Youth treatment program for troubled boys.  This program is valuable to our community because focusing efforts on potential abusers is probably one of the most effective ways to prevent sexual abuse.  More importantly, the services provided by the Griffin Home are scarce, so we must do more to fund this needed treatment in order to make our communities safer.  I am proud to announce this EDI grant and look forward to working in Congress to maintain and expand these valuable services.”

Inslee and Smith worked to gain support from other members of the Washington state delegation for this appropriation request.  Both made a specific appropriation request on behalf of Friends of Youth last year, and today’s EDI grant announcement is particularly significant given the highly competitive nature of these grants and current fiscal concerns with state and federal budgets.

 

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) introduced a bill at the end of last week to improve the quality of life for the U.S. military through increased access to education. 

Smith’s “Expanding Education for Military Families Act of 2003,” H.R. 2764, would give all active-duty personnel the option of transferring their educational assistance under the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) to family members if they agree to serve at least 10 years and would extend the time period for service members to decide whether or not to sign up for MGIB benefits to six months.

“I am absolutely committed to ensuring that our Armed Forces are the most highly skilled, intelligent fighting force in the world.  At a time when recruitment and retention are more important than ever, we must work to make military service an attractive career option,” said Smith. “We have to do a better job of providing better and more competitive educational benefits for all enlisted military members and these bills are a good first step.”

Portability Requirements in the Expanding Education for Military Families Act of 2003

Currently, the MGIB contains a portability provision only for those with “critical military skills.”  These MGIB enrollees, who have served at least six years in the Armed Forces and agree to serve at least four more years, are permitted to transfer of some of their MGIB benefits to a family member.  While this is an improvement from the original bill, the recent modification adversely affected morale among those not included under the provision.  In many cases, this portability option makes the difference in whether or not a servicemember can pay for a child’s college education. Smith’s “Expanding Education for Military Families Act of 2003” would offer this portability option to all members of the Armed Forces with a 10 year service requirement.  Similar legislation has passed the Senate twice in recent years, but has yet to pass the House.  Smith introduced a similar measure last year that gathered strong support and hopes to carry last year’s momentum into the 108th Congress.

Enrollment Timeframe under the Expanding Education for Military Families Act of 2003

Smith’s bill would give active and reserve members more time to make a decision about whether or not to sign-up for MGIB benefits.  Currently, at initial military training enlisted soldiers are given a one-time, irrevocable MGIB enrollment opportunity at a cost of $1,200.  They must agree to have $100 per month deducted from their pay for the first twelve months of their service.  If they do not agree to this, they have lost their only opportunity to enroll in the MGIB.  Smith wants enlisted soldiers to have the time and resources to make an educated decision about whether or not to take advantage of MGIB benefits and is proposing that soldiers be given six months to make this decision.

The Expanding Education for Military Families Act of 2003 has been sent to both the House Veterans' Affairs Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, on which Smith sits.