Press Releases

On January 10th, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) led members of the Northwest Congressional delegation in a letter to Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) Administrator Steve Wright and Northwest Power Planning Council Chairman Larry Cassidy in support of renewable energy and energy efficiency. The letter attracted the support of all 11 members of the Washington state delegation as well as four other Northwest lawmakers - Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, and Oregon Reps. Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, and Darlene Hooley.  It encourages the development of alternative energy sources throughout the 2006-2026 contract period currently being discussed by BPA and the utilities.

“Our country's energy policy is vitally important to our economy, our environment and our national security,” said Smith. “I strongly believe we need to make an aggressive effort to develop and implement energy technologies of the future that will allow us to wean our dependency on fossil fuels.  As we move through the contract process with BPA and the utilities over the coming months, I am hopeful we can take advantage of renewable energy and energy efficiency resources to make a difference in the quality of life in the Northwest, help grow our economy and protect our environment.” 

The full text of the letter follows.  

“We write regarding the Northwest Power Planning Council's Recommendations on the Bonneville Power Administration's role in regional energy supply after 2006. As you know, we are encouraged by the efforts of a number of BPA customer representatives to reach consensus on the many thorny issues this topic raises. In addition, we hope that as BPA begins to formulate its own post-2006 proposal, you will keep in mind a number of our key concerns.

“We have closely followed the progress of discussions aimed at locking up for 20 years the benefits of the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) in a manner that will benefit all sectors of the Northwest economy, including residential, commercial and industrial consumers. We must ensure that any such contractual arrangements are legally and practically sustainable across variable market conditions, and will not result in harmful or unintended consequences for Northwest utilities, industries and ratepayers. Temporary solutions that are not durable across a range of circumstances will only serve to undermine the very same certainty this dialogue was designed to provide for the Northwest energy industry and its customers.

“Without prejudging the benefits of allowing certain entities to assume responsibility for meeting their own load growth, we also believe that any changes in BPA's relationship to its traditional customers must not jeopardize the region's ability to fulfill its long-standing stewardship obligations. These include investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy development, low-income energy services and fish and wildlife protection and restoration. It is important that any such modification meet legal obligations to recover endangered salmon and retain the ability to fully implement the salmon recovery plan, and possible future modifications to the Plan.

“The Northwest's economic and environmental future depends on development and deployment of clean energy technologies, diversifying our resource base and capturing all the benefits that result from making our energy system as efficient as possible. Investment in these areas will not only help meet the growing demand for electricity in our region and take pressure off the FCRPS, but it is a key to job creation within the Northwest's burgeoning energy technology and renewable energy industries. 

“We believe that BPA must continue in its role as an engine for innovation and economic development when it comes to investment in cost-effective efficiency and renewable energy. A sustained region-wide commitment to these initiatives will ultimately improve reliability, lower costs to consumers, provide cleaner air to the public and enhance our environmental quality, while simultaneously positioning the Northwest for economic growth.

“As you continue in the effort to preserve and enhance the benefits of the FCRPS, a meaningful public participation process must also be a critical component of your work. Citizens of the Northwest should be apprised of what's at stake and fully included as BPA, the Council and other stakeholders endeavor to make critical decisions about the future of our energy system."

On Wednesday January 15, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) will meet with his Technology Advisory Council to discuss several issues that will come up in the new legislative session, including the tax and stimulus plans, homeland security implementation, privacy policies, copyright law and digital rights management, broadband policy (both tax incentives and national plan), cybersecurity and spectrum relocation.  In addition to describing some of his proposals to begin to address these and other cutting edge technology issues, Smith will listen to suggestions and concerns from his advisory council on area specific changes.   

One of the most recent members to join Smith’s Technology Advisory Council is Pierce College.  Recently Smith congratulated them on their recent announcement as an educational partner in eARMYU, a technology delivered education initiative for the military that Smith has worked for years to bring to the Puget Sound area.  eARMYU leverages technology to help deliver real choices for education and training to members of the Army, supplying long-distance learning and higher education quickly and efficiently to soldiers at home and abroad.  

Smith believes that our citizens need real choices for education and training and that we should support programs that provide students with the tools they need to succeed in the New Economy.  With the intersection of education and technology in mind, in the afternoon following his meeting with his Technology Advisory Council, Smith will visit the Intel Computer Clubhouse in Lakewood.  

The Intel Computer Clubhouse is an after-school, design-based learning program that provides youth ages 10 to 18 access to high-tech equipment and professional software. Youth who visit the Computer Clubhouse create digital artwork, produce their own music CDs, shoot and edit video, and design Web sites. Professional staff and volunteer adult mentors help Clubhouse members develop self-confidence and enthusiasm for learning skills needed to create career opportunities.

During the day, Congressman Adam Smith will also participate in a closed door brainstorming session at the University of Washington - Tacoma over the development of a concentration of courses meeting the security education and research needs of industry and government at UW-T Institute of Technology's Computer and Software Systems Masters program.

Members of the media are invited to attend both the Technology Advisory Council meeting and the visit to the Computer Clubhouse.  For further information on the meetings or to speak with Smith during the day, please contact Katharine Lister at (202) 226-8454. 

    10:00a.m. - 11:00a.m.   
    Quarterly meeting with Technology Advisory Council to discuss upcoming technology 
    issues in the 108th Congress. 
    Where: University of Washington - Tacoma, Tacoma Room 
    3:00p.m. - 3:30p.m.    
    Visits with youths at Intel's new Computer Clubhouse in Lakewood.  
    Where: Intel Computer Clubhouse in Lakewood, at Pierce College

    Directions:   
    Take I-5 to the Gravelly Lake exit and cross the freeway  
    Stay left at the Y (follow signs to Pierce College)  
    Pass Lakewold Gardens entrance; turn left onto Washington and go about a mile 
    Turn left onto Alameda and go one block 
    Park in the lot next to the Community Center  
    Enter playground through the gate; go down the ramp to Clubhouse entrance

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) released the following statement today on the passage of 13 additional weeks of federally funded benefits to jobless workers who have exhausted their 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits.  S. 23, the Unemployment Insurance Benefits Extension Act provides jobless workers in all states who exhaust their 26 weeks of regular benefits between now and the end of May with an additional 13 weeks of benefits.  In the three states with the highest unemployment figures, currently Alaska, Oregon and Washington, jobless workers who have exhausted their 26 weeks of regular benefits would be eligible for 26 additional weeks of benefits.  The extension is retroactive to December 28th.  Those who had their benefits cut off on that date would receive the remainder of their 13 weeks.  Those who exhausted both their 26 weeks of regular benefits and 13 weeks of extended benefits last year do not receive any additional benefits.  

“Washington state has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, 6.6 percent, and people need help now.  45,400 Washingtonians lost their desperately needed unemployment benefits on December 28 when the clock ran out on the temporary extension.  But the fact remains that there are still layoffs and budget cuts being announced daily around our state, and the state’s budget crisis only compounds our unemployment security problem,” said Smith.  “Today’s legislation will finally get critical help to needy Washington families.  But we need to make sure that Washington’s families will not just make it through the next few tough weeks, but also have greater economic security until they can get themselves back on track.  We’ve got to our economy back in the black with a short-term plan that not only includes an economic stimulus, but a long-term plan to get our budget deficits under control and grow the economy.”

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) released the following statement today on the economy in light of both the Republican economic “stimulus” package introduced by the president and the rules for the federal budget introduced by the Republican House Leadership for the coming session.

“As the Republicans take over the majority in both chambers for the 108th congress, they are endorsing dynamic scoring and automatic debt increases, both tactics that count on overoptimistic numbers and rosier projections to hide the true cost of economic budget choices.  Such irresponsible and deliberate optimism can only spell budgetary doom for years to come.

“Many economists have long argued against dynamic scoring because of a lack of reliable economic models on which to base projections.  And all that automatic debt increases would do is to hide the true cost of all government spending and tax cuts and release the government from all accountability towards balancing their checkbook.  So what the Republicans are saying today is that we should look at the economy through rose-colored glasses and press snooze on the only alarm that goes off when the spending gets too high.  It’s just ridiculous that in an era when our nation faces the challenge of balancing dwindling resources with the need to increase federal spending in critical areas, they’re arguing that we should be less careful about watching how we spend our money.  Instead we should be looking at conservative numbers and tightening our belts all the way around. 

“Congress and the White House are acting as though fiscal responsibility no longer matters and that just isn’t true.  Without a doubt, our defense and foreign affairs budgets need additional money because we have new challenges.  However, the federal government cannot continue using the war on terrorism as an excuse to abandon fiscal restraint.  Fiscal responsibility must be a cornerstone of our economic policy, and I will continue fighting to get our budget balanced.

“Yes, we must meet our most pressing priorities of protecting our country against terrorism, improving our international relations, and growing our economy.  I have said again and again that I agree with the president that these current challenges warrant small, short-term deficit spending.  However I am extremely concerned about the lack of attention to sound budgeting practices that would both address our most pressing current needs, and establish a framework for a long-term, sustainable revenue and spending plan without relying on massive borrowing.  

“We need an honest discussion of the budget, with cold hard facts and numbers, instead of relying on ‘smoke and mirror’ budget gimmicks and heroic assumptions to wish away the hard choices we face.  Unfortunately, the federal budget debate to this point has had too few voices standing up for these principles and as a result elected officials are still promising more than the federal government can possibly deliver.  

“While government by itself cannot create a good economy, it can clearly set the stage for growth in the long-term by maintaining fiscal discipline.  Fiscal responsibility still matters.  During the 90s, careful, disciplined financial stewardship yielded balanced budgets, helping to fuel economic growth.  Our economy cannot sustain a return to yearly budgets that drive us deeper and deeper into debt.  

“War and recession have brought back deficits, but they are not an excuse to undo long-range budget discipline. To get back on track, Congress and the president must have the courage to make the hard, honest choices that are necessary right now to ensure that those deficits will be small and short-term.  With retirement of the baby boom generation approaching, failure to discipline our budget in the coming years will have far reaching ramifications and add crushing new burdens on workers and taxpayers in the following decades.  We must take action now with an honest discussion of the choices we face and develop a budget that is fiscally responsible.  Dynamic scoring and automatic increases in the debt level just aren’t going to do it.”

Since heading to Congress in 1997, Rep. Adam Smith has consistently been a strong advocate of fiscal discipline and honesty in all federal budgeting.  He believes that a return to sincere and deliberate fiscal discipline must be the cornerstone of our government’s economic policy.  In the 1990s when Wall Street and Main Street saw that the government was serious about keeping its books in order and reducing the national debt, interest rates fell and private investment grew.  Businesses created jobs and all Americans benefited from lower interest rates on their mortgages, student loans and consumer credit.

 

Unable to attend today’s funeral due to the House of Representatives’ voting calendar, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) issued the following statement on the death of Tacoma resident and friend, Brownie Braunsteiner:

“I would like to offer my condolences to Brownie Braunsteiner’s family.  This is a hard day for all of us; Brownie will be missed.  

“Brownie was the chairperson of the Pierce County Veterans Advisory Council, but that doesn’t begin to describe either who he was or the depth of his commitment to life.  A man with a big heart, Brownie fought for issues he believed in.  After serving our nation with a decorated career in the Army, Brownie worked tirelessly for the rights of veterans.  Brownie was a passionate, dedicated citizen who gave so much to Pierce County and our nation.  He was patient and kind in teaching me not just about veterans and military issues, but also a wide range of other concerns close to his heart.  

“Brownie was a leader within the veterans community.  We worked together on veterans’ issues ranging from concurrent receipt to VA health care to continuing education and reform of the Montgomery GI Bill.  Brownie was not only a critical participant in conversations about improving the quality of life for veterans, but was also instrumental in rallying the community behind positive change.  

Brownie was someone who was so well respected it defies belief.  Everyone in the veterans’ community, every elected official, everyone in Pierce County knew him and loved him.  His tireless work earned him not only the respect, but also the love of everyone who knew him.”