Press Releases

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) introduced the Military Family Leave Act of 2009, a bill that will provide military families with the ability to spend quality time with their deployed or deploying loved ones. Specifically, this legislation would provide two weeks of unpaid leave to the spouse, children, or parents of a member of the military who receives notification of deployment or is currently deployed.

“As a member of Congress who represents thousands of military personnel and their families, I see the stress deployment can put on a family,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Military families make a tremendous sacrifice for our country and they should not have to be concerned about how their employer will respond if a loved one is deployed. This bill relieves some of that stress by ensuring family members have adequate time away from work to spend time with their deployed or deploying loved one, allowing them ample time to handle issues that arise over the course of a deployment.”

While the Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act added a provision to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allowing military families to take time off for a number of reasons connected with a deployment, not all employees are eligible under current law. The Military Family Leave Act of 2009 seeks to ensure that all military families have the ability to take two-weeks of unpaid leave in response to an upcoming or current deployment of a loved one.

Senator Ron Wyden recently introduced similar legislation in the Senate.
Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) voted to bolster funding to improve education, social services and health care for the American people. Locally, Smith was also able to secure funding for a variety of important projects and programs that will enhance Washingtonstate’s educational and health care systems as well as job training programs.

“In this slow economy, funding health care, education and housing is vitally important. People are struggling and these funds are more important now than ever before,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “This bill supports a number of local initiatives and programs that will improve our state’s educational system, health care and train our workforce for the jobs of the future.”

The Labor, Health and Education Appropriations Act shores up programs that serve as crucial social safety nets for many Americans struggling in this recession. It includes funding to provide jobs, meals and other support services to impoverished seniors, as well as critical energy assistance programs. The bill also funds grants that allow states to provide health care to more of their uninsured residents.  

The bill provides funding for projects and programs requested by Congressman Smith including:

  • $250,000 for the Competitive Supply Chain Management Workforce. This project will help fund a program to conduct local outreach and training for the trade, transportation, and logistics industry and workforce, as well as help build the infrastructure to support employers and workers in these fields.
  • $115,000 for the Rural Safety-net Provider Access Network (SPAN). This project will identify and implement efficiencies among rural health care providers for care coordination, reduce inappropriate emergency room use and unnecessary repeat primary care visits, maximize efficient use of existing health capacity, and facilitate regional approaches for quality improvements.
  • $750,000 for Aviation High School. The funding will be used for the acquisition of laboratory equipment to support Aviation High School’s innovative science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum.
  • $325,000 for Washington Center for Undergraduate Education's Curriculum for the Bioregion Initiative at Evergreen State College.   Funding will support the Curriculum for the Bioregion Initiative to help educate hundreds of undergraduates in the Puget Sound region in the fields of environmental sustainability and stewardship.
  • $400,000 for the Tacoma College Success Foundation.  This funding will help establish an independent Tacoma College Success Foundation with the primary goal of doubling the number of Tacoma low-income students enrolling in college.

The Labor, Health and Education Appropriations Act is one of 12 annual appropriations bills that fund Federal Government programs and services.  For a full summary of the bill visit the House Appropriations Committee.

The bill must be passed by the Senate before the President can sign it into law.

Washington State Congressmen Adam Smith and (WA-09) and Dave Reichert (WA-08) introduced legislation, the Earmark Transparency and Accountability Reform Act (H.R. 3268), to reform the broken earmark system in Congress that has wasted taxpayer dollars and been abused for personal gain. This bipartisan effort, led by two members of Washington State’s congressional delegation, would set standards for accountability and transparency through more stringent measures as the earmarks are vetted through the Congressional budget process.

“Transparency ensures accountability,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “While many congressional earmarked projects – when vetted correctly and thoroughly – make positive and needed investments in our communities, some groups have found ways to manipulate the system in their favor. This must end and that is why I joined Congressman Reichert in introducing this legislation. We must continue to work to reform and bring transparency to the earmark process. This bill does just that.”

“Congress’ action to reform earmarks simply hasn’t gone far enough, and that is why we have taken the lead to reform the system with the best ideas from both sides,” said Reichert. “We are holding ourselves to these high standards and encouraging Congress to adopt them, bringing much-needed accountability to the entire process. Member projects or “earmarks” play an important role in our communities when they put federal dollars to good use, whether it’s to rebuild a road, or assist a hospital with a new project to save lives, but they must be done in a way that is accountable, transparent, that protects the taxpayer, and through a system the public can trust.”

Provisions in the bill to reform the system include:
  • Brings unprecedented transparency by requiring that any bill with an earmark be available online for review at least 72 hours before the legislation is brought to the House floor, all earmark requests be posted online for public review on the House Clerk’s website, and all earmark language must be incorporated into the text of the bill;
  • Enacts line item veto authority for earmarked bills;
  • Establishes a regular audit process for federally funded projects;
  • Requires disclosure of money spent by private groups lobbying on behalf of earmarks; and,
  • Prohibits earmarks from being slipped into bills after House/Senate passage.

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) secured funding for two local transportation projects that will make key investments in local infrastructure to reduce traffic congestion and modernize public transportation.

“In order to sustain long term economic growth we must make wise investments in our national infrastructure. This bill represents our commitment to ensuring that we continue to have the infrastructure necessary to compete in a global economy now, and into the future,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Additionally, these projects will help modernize our local public transportation, reduce traffic and create jobs.”

The project funding was secured in the Fiscal Year 2010 House Transportation and Housing Appropriations Bill, which provides critical resources to maintain and improve our nation’s airports, highways, passenger rail and transit systems.  
This bill builds on the work of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and our long term economic plan to invest in job development for those hurt most by the economic downturn.  Additionally, it makes improvements for highways, public transit, and airports that will put our economy on sound footing for the future.  

Smith secured funding for the following projects:

  • $300,000 for the 70th Avenue East & Valley Avenue East Corridor Project.  This project will widen Valley Avenue East and intersectional segments of 70th Avenue East in order to reduce existing congestion and delays, reduce accident potential, and improve freight movement.
  • $500,000 Clean Fuel Buses in Pierce County. This project will fund the purchase of six clean fuel buses in order to help Pierce Transit modernize its aging fleet and continue to provide high-quality transportation services throughout the Pierce County region in a cost-saving environmentally-responsible manner.

Washington D.C. – Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) urged action to repair the Howard Hanson Dam and the levees along the lower Green and Puyallup Rivers. As the rain and flood season approaches, “the need for action and resources is imperative,” said Smith. In turn, Smith enlisted the support of Congressman Ed Pastor, Chairman of the House Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, which provides funding for the Army Corps of Engineers to repair and rehabilitate local levees and dams.

An excerpt and video of the exchange between Congressman Smith and Congressman Pastor is below. Click on the image below to view the full video.

Excerpt of exchange:

Mr. Smith: The Green and Puyallup Rivers, located in the Ninth District of Washington, were flooded by record levels of water in January 2009, causing cities along these rivers to sustain major damage.  Levees along these rivers are now in need of repair and rehabilitation, and when added to the other levees that were already priorities for the Seattle District, the need for resources and action is imperative.
Following the record high level of water behind the Howard Hanson Dam on the Green River, significant structural weaknesses were discovered.  Because of this damage, water levels at the Howard Hanson Dam are being held at lower-than-normal levels, drastically increasing the possibility of flooding along the banks below.  

This is extremely troubling as we are rapidly approaching the upcoming rain and flood season.  If the Dam were to fail, or if a strong storm brings a heavy level of rain, then the levees below are at a serious risk of being breached, causing significant property damage and driving large numbers of people from their homes and businesses.

I respectfully ask to work with the Gentleman to ensure that the Seattle District of the Army Corps of Engineers is responsive to the flood prevention needs of those along the lower Green and Puyallup Rivers, and will make the repair of their levees a top priority.  I also ask to work with the Subcommittee to make the resources needed to fix the Howard Hanson Dam available in a timely manner, as they are identified.

Mr. Pastor:  I thank the gentleman for drawing the Subcommittee’s attention to this very serious issue.  He has been a dedicated advocate for the people of the Ninth District of Washington and the surrounding areas.  We will work with the gentleman to ensure that the Seattle District of the Corps is responsive to the needs of the cities and people along the lower Green and Puyallup Rivers, and that adequate resources are available to repair the Howard Hanson Dam.