Press Releases

On Saturday November 9, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash) received the Washington state Department of Veteran Affairs’ “Outstanding Male Non-Veteran” award for his service to veterans at a Veterans Day luncheon in Auburn.  Smith was nominated for the award for his commitment and dedication to veterans’ issues, specifically his work on the American Lake VA Medical Center, which provides care for more than 17,000 veterans.  The number of patients continues to grow because of the large density of military bases in the immediate area – Army, National Guard, Air Force and Navy – and Smith has worked hard to ensure both the quality and the availability of care for the veterans at the center.  The following is a statement from Smith on the award: 

“This award is a very great honor.  As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have worked to craft our nation’s policies regarding national defense as well as benefits for military retirees and veterans.  All of us owe the men and women who have served our country an enormous amount of gratitude and respect.  Many of these men and women have chosen to live here in the Puget Sound region, and I feel honored to represent so many of them in Congress.

“One of the biggest challenges facing our veterans and military retirees is health care.  I am committed to improving access to health care and expanding coverage for those who have served our nation.  Further, many retirees are eligible to receive health care at both VA and DOD facilities – I have worked to make sure retirees do not have to choose between these programs.

“We must also honor our veterans and military retirees by helping provide for their spouses, who have also sacrificed so much to our nation.  I strongly support the Survivor Benefits Plan.  Spouses are often hit hardest by a reduction in family income, and can scarcely afford to live on less. 

“I am also an ardent supporter of concurrent receipt, working hard to permit retired members of the armed forces with service-connected disabilities to be paid both military retired pay and veterans' disability compensation. By faithfully fulfilling the required length of service, our veterans earned the retired pay, for service performed in the past. These veterans have also suffered debilitating injuries in the line of duty, and as a result should be compensated. Disabled veterans, particularly those who spent their lives protecting our nation in military careers, have a right to expect responsiveness from their elected representatives. 

“Concurrent receipt is a critical issue not only for our military retirees and their dependents, but also for those who are considering a career in the military.  Above all, improving the treatment of personnel, retirees and veterans is not only the right thing to do, but is fundamental to our national security.  If we want to continue leading the world in military power, we must have the best personnel.  Denying benefits like concurrent receipt tells active duty personnel and those considering a career in the military that our nation fails to keep its promises to the men and women in uniform who make sacrifices everyday for our country.  We cannot permit this injustice to continue any longer.  Veterans have given so much to preserve the security and prosperity of this country, and in the midst of the war on terrorism, our debt of gratitude is more apparent than ever and we must take action.

“I remain committed to our veterans and will work diligently to provide them with the best benefits available.  Thank you again for honoring me with this award.”

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) announced today that the Bucoda Volunteer Fire Department was awarded a grant of $182,074 through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and United States Fire Administration (USFA) to purchase new lifesaving equipment and provide more firefighter training.  

“This grant will provide Bucoda’s firefighters with the tools they need to do their jobs safely and more efficiently,” Smith said.  “Our nation’s fire departments are the first responders into almost every emergency situation and this grant program is one of the ways that we can help to ensure their continued safety as they face a variety of threats.  This was a very competitive grant process, involving a national peer review process with over 300 fire service leaders.  With their receipt of the award, the Bucoda department has successfully demonstrated their commitment to ‘safety first’ for their team.”

Awarded jointly by FEMA and USFA, the Assistance to Fire Fighters Grant Program is designed to increase the effectiveness of fire fighting operations, fire fighter health and safety programs, new fire apparatus, EMS programs, and Fire Prevention and Safety Programs.  The Bucoda Fire Department received $182,074 to help address firefighter safety issues and improve the basic fire fighting services they provide to the community.

The co-chairs of the New Democrat Coalition, Reps. Jim Davis (D-Fla.), Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.), criticized the Republican leadership for permitting the extreme elements of their party to defeat critical bankruptcy legislation when it was finally brought to the floor after they held it hostage for five months.  The conference report for the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2001 would overhaul bankruptcy law to require debtors to take responsibility for their debts and repay them when they are financially able. 
The New Democrat Coalition has continuously offered support to the House Leadership on bankruptcy reform.  Last year, bankruptcy legislation passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support including the votes of 50 members of the New Democrat Coalition and several members of the Democratic leadership.  The New Democrats have consistently made this legislation a top priority and have delivered a wide base of support for the bill.   

“I’m really frustrated that a group of right-wing, conservative Republicans, led by new Majority Leader Tom DeLay, were able to kill this important economic legislation.  Frankly, the provisions they claimed to object to wouldn’t have changed current law at all,” said Rep. Adam Smith, (D-Wash.).  “As New Democrats, we’re working to find common sense solutions to our nation’s problems and advance the principles of fairness and personal responsibility. It’s really distressing that we couldn’t find enough moderate Republicans to pass this bill, and I hope this isn’t representative of the kind of leadership we’re going to see in the coming year.” 

“In a sad indication of things to come, the Republican party has once again allowed their most conservative members to hold hostage a good piece of bipartisan legislation - bankruptcy reform - that the business community had made their top priority this year,” Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) added.  “Unlike the Republicans apparent obeisance to extremist dogma, the New Democrat Coalition will continue to pursue pro-growth legislation that will advance our nation's economy.” 

“Since 1997, Congress has been trying to reform our broken bankruptcy system,” concluded Rep. Jim Davis (D-Fla.).  “The New Democrat Coalition has repeatedly reached across the aisle to work hand-in-hand with Republicans in advancing bankruptcy reform.  Now, as Congress is on the verge of succeeding, the Republican Party has allowed an interparty squabble to railroad this important reform legislation.  I can only hope that we will see stronger leadership in the 108th Congress.”

 

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) announced today that the City of Tukwila was awarded a grant of $177,030 through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and United States Fire Administration (USFA) to purchase new lifesaving equipment and provide more firefighter training.  

“This grant will provide Tukwila’s firefighters with the tools they need to do their jobs safely and more efficiently,” Smith said.  “Our nation’s fire departments are the first responders into almost every emergency situation and this grant program is one of the ways that we can help to ensure their continued safety as they face a variety of threats.  This was a very competitive grant process, involving a national peer review process with over 300 fire service leaders.  With their receipt of the award, the Tukwila department has successfully demonstrated their commitment to ‘safety first’ for their team.”

Awarded jointly by FEMA and USFA, the Assistance to Fire Fighters Grant Program is designed to increase the effectiveness of fire fighting operations, fire fighter health and safety programs, new fire apparatus, EMS programs, and Fire Prevention and Safety Programs.  The Tukwila Fire Department received $177,030 to help address firefighter safety issues and improve the basic fire fighting services they provide to the community.

 

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash) supported passage of H.R. 4546, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003.  The bill, which provides approximately $393 billion for the nation’s defense programs, was approved by voice vote.  It now awaits Senate action before being sent to the president for his approval.

Last month, Smith, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, voted to instruct conferees on the bill to agree to Senate language providing full concurrent receipt for veterans, reinforcing the nation’s commitment to veterans.  Unfortunately, some of the president’s senior advisors had pledged to recommend that he veto the defense authorization measure if either more complete concurrent receipt provisions from the House and Senate had been included in the final bill.  

The Defense Authorization bill greatly improves the quality of life for our men and women in uniform.  The bill provides a 4.1 percent military pay raise, with larger pay increases for mid-grade and senior non-commissioned officers and mid-grade officers, reduces out-of-pocket housing costs for military personnel by increasing housing allowances to cover 92.5 percent of all housing costs and provides more than $10 billion to build new military housing and working facilities for military personnel and their families.

“This bill provides the essential and fundamental tools to fight the global war on terrorism and secure the homeland.  It focuses on three vital objectives for our military:  protecting and defending America’s homeland, supporting U.S. service members and their families, and better equipping troops with training, equipment and weapons to fight and win the war against terrorism.  In order to effectively fight and win the war on terrorism, our military must have the best equipment and training available and this bill moves us firmly in that direction,” said Smith.  “Despite the progress that we have made in the quality of life for our men and women currently serving in the military, I am very concerned about the failure to deliver on our promise to our veterans.  Retirement pay is a hard-earned benefit for our veterans and we have only begun to fulfill the commitment we have made to our nation's veterans.  I am extremely disappointed by the failure to fully fix concurrent receipt with this legislation.  After many conversations with veterans and after attending the rally just two days ago with Sen. John Kerry, I am more determined than ever to make sure that all our veterans are justly compensated for their service and dedication.  I will continue to press for fully enacted, fully funded concurrent receipt.”

The bill creates a new payment for all military retirees who were wounded in combat and received the Purple heart and those retirees who were severely disabled in combat-related incidents.  Monthly payments would range from $103 to $2,100 each month, depending upon the level of disability, and would represent a partial to full offset of the reduction in retired pay required by current law on concurrent receipt.

“While this represents progress in the fight for concurrent receipt, we clearly have a long way to go.  I look forward to working with my likeminded colleagues in both the House and the Senate to fulfill our promises to this nation’s veterans,” Smith concluded.

Under present law, service-disabled military retirees must surrender a portion of their retired pay if they want to receive the disability compensation to which they are entitled.  Congress enacted this unjust law in 1891, and it affects approximately 550,000 disabled military retirees.  Military retirees are the only federal employees affected by the offset.  For 17 years, legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives to correct this long-standing inequity.
  
Other highlights of H.R. 4546 include:

Combating Terrorism:  More than $15 billion for programs to combat terrorism and defend the homeland against weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.

Funding the War Against Terrorism:  The bill authorizes $10 billion for ongoing costs of the War Against Terrorism.

New Weapons/Equipment:  The bill authorizes approximately $130 billion to develop, test, and build new military weapons and equipment.

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam Smith has been a strong advocate of full funding for concurrent receipt.  He believes that health care is a critical issue not only for our military retirees and their dependents, but also for those who are considering a career in the military.  Improving the treatment of personnel, retirees and veterans is not only the right thing to do, but is critical to our national security.  If we want to continue leading the world in military power, we must have to have the best Armed Services.