Press Releases

On January 30, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) received the Washington Credit Union League’s “2003 Anchor Award.” 

The Washington Credit Union League gives this award annually to elected and other government officials who have advanced the financial well-being of the people of Washington state through support of credit unions.  Smith was nominated for the award for his commitment and dedication to working with the financial services industry and specifically the credit unions of Washington State. 

Since coming to Congress in 1997, Smith has worked closely with the Credit Union League on a variety of issues.  For example, he has worked hard to advance reasonable and balanced bankruptcy reform legislation that would require individuals who have the ability to repay their debts to do so, while preserving the important safety net of bankruptcy under Chapter 7 for those who truly need it and adding important new consumer protections such as requiring enhanced credit card disclosure information and encouraging participation in consumer credit counseling.  Most recently, Smith has supported legislation to help small non-profit religious organizations gain access to, and choice in, business loans through their community-based credit unions.  This access will help these organizations obtain essential sources of funds for vital community projects.

“This award is a very great honor,” Smith said.  “As a Representative in the Unites States Congress, I have worked on our nation’s policies regarding credit unions because I believe in the mission of credit unions – investment in our communities, expanding our communities, and strengthening our communities.  It’s been very easy for me to support their efforts because of their close and positive relationship with their neighbors.”

 

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) was appointed to the House International Relations Committee this week.  He remains on the House Armed Services Committee.  

“I am very excited to have been appointed to this committee at this critical time,” said Smith. “I intend to play an active role in the development of our nation’s foreign policy agenda.  Whether we’re talking about trade, military strategy, diplomacy or energy policy, there are very real consequences to the policies we advance and implement overseas.  Americans should – and must – care about foreign relations; we cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the rest of the world.”

“We must work to determine how best to we deal with the international community, and I am excited to be a part of that conversation,” Smith continued.  “I believe that we can build vibrant diplomatic and military alliances that not only improve our nation’s security, but also forge an international consensus for human rights, freedom and democracy.  We can marshal our resources and expertise to reduce poverty, improve health care and provide education to children who represent the best hope for much of the developing world.  We have to make changes in our foreign policy.  We need to be a more positive player on the global stage, and that will require an enormous amount of commitment by both leaders and the American public.  It’s vitally important, and I am looking forward to working on this task in my new position.”

The House International Relations Committee deals with oversight and legislation relating the deployment and use of United States Armed Forces; enforcement of United Nations or other international sanctions; the Agency for International Development; State and Defense Department activities involving arms transfers and sales, and arms export licenses; international law; promotion of democracy; international law enforcement issues, including terrorism and narcotics control programs and activities; and other matters relating to international economic policy and trade.  For a complete description of the Committee’s activities, visit http://www.house.gov/international_relations/.

For the text of a speech outlining Smith’s vision of a modern foreign policy in the post cold-war world, visit
 http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/wa09_smith/021029pr.html.

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) issued the following statement in response to President George Bush’s State of the Union address this evening:

“A couple of things struck me tonight.  First of all, I was surprised and pleased that the president declared rhetorical support for energy independence.  The energy plan he introduced last year would have made America more, not less, dependent on fossil fuels, so I look forward to working with him to meet the challenge of energy independence he laid out tonight.

“But what I found incredibly important was what the president didn’t talk about – the exploding federal debt.  Last year in his State of the Union speech, the president promised that the budget would run a deficit that would be small and short-term, but now we’re hearing from his own administration that the deficit this year will be $300 billion with deficits as far as the eye can see.  That’s not a small deficit, nor is it short-term.

“The 2001 tax cut, coupled with defense increases as a result of both September 11 and Iraq preparations, has quickly led us back into deficit spending and raised the national debt to an unprecedented level.  What's particularly disturbing is that Bush’s tax cuts will explode the federal debt at precisely the same time as our Medicare and Social Security bills become due. 

“Tonight the president promised that we won’t pass along our problems to other Congresses and other generations, but his agenda will clearly pass along the bill.  This speech tonight promises everything to everybody – he says we can increase spending on a variety of domestic programs, create brand-new programs and dramatically cut taxes yet again.  Unfortunately, his math doesn't add up, and I fear this agenda is a recipe for disaster – a return to the enormous deficits of the 1980s, adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years, and still no improvement to an economy that has faltered for two years.

“The president’s rhetoric is right.  Our country desperately needs a plan to get our economy moving again.  Our economy needs a jump-start and we need to get Americans back to work.  We must do something about the exploding cost of health care, and the many Americans who go without health insurance.  We need to secure America from terrorist attacks, and we need to fund our substantial efforts overseas.  But all the rhetoric in the world can’t accomplish that.  We need to take a good hard look at our options and make some tough choices and I haven’t yet seen the president’s commitment to meet that challenge.

“I applaud the president for taking the time to talk honestly about the serious threat of Iraq and Saddam Hussein.  I agree that we cannot permit Saddam Hussein to possess weapons of mass destruction, and that we must ensure he lives up to the U.N. resolution that required him to disarm and subject himself to vigorous and thorough inspections.

“However, I remain unconvinced that the inspections currently underway will never work and that war is needed imminently.  I do not wish to rush to war, and we should do everything we can to avoid it, while at the same time making it clear that the United States will accept nothing less than full disarmament and cooperation with U.N. inspections.  I believe we must give the inspectors more time to do their job and do the hard work necessary to build an international coalition should military action be necessary.”

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) is concerned about the lack of attention to government reform efforts.  The Senate last week squashed a request of $45 million for the e-government fund for fiscal year 2003, and instead allocated just $5 million - the same amount as in 2002.  Lawmakers had authorized $45 million for the fund through the E-Government Act of 2002, but as Senate appropriators pared spending, the e-government fund came under the axe.  

“In many ways, government is no longer efficient and responsive enough to the needs of the people. We need to utilize technology to bring government closer to people, make federal agencies more user-friendly, and improve the communication between elected officials and their constituents,” said Smith.  “This has been a top priority of mine since coming to Congress and e-government is a critical step in our reforms to ensure that government is customer-service oriented and truly meeting the needs of the citizenry.  Frankly, I’m concerned that these cuts indicate the lack of commitment to real government reform in Washington, D.C.”

 

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) today expressed dismay over the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) announced cutbacks in VA health care enrollment.

“For years, the VA has been consistently underfunded and now those decisions are coming back to haunt us.  The program needs adequate funding and, clearly, better management.  We need a long-term plan for how to run the VA and make it effective and efficient,” said Smith.  “But instead of trying to tackle that problem, the Bush administration is making arbitrary decisions to cut corners and cover the lack of efficacy.  As a result they’re making decisions that are not sustainable and are setting a bad precedent.  This is not good management and I would expect better from a MBA administration that talks consistently about the need for government efficiency and responsibility.  The fact is that we need fundamental reform to the VA that focuses on healthy outcomes, gives veterans health care options, and ensures the program is viable for future generations.  When you combine this news with their flawed approach to concurrent receipt, it’s clear that the Bush administration’s veterans policies are in complete disarray and that they are unwilling to uphold the promises made to those who have served our nation.