Press Releases

Today Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) will vote in favor of the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act,” H.R. 975, to overhaul bankruptcy law to require debtors to take responsibility for their debts and repay them when they are financially able.

“Requiring people to pay off the debt they incur when possible is a very basic tenet of personal responsibility,” said Smith. “People who can afford to repay their debts should do so.  The formula in this bill is very balanced and fair.  There are exemptions that ensure that if you earn up to four times the poverty level, which works out to around $80,000 a year, this legislation doesn’t affect you.  What it does do is make sure that you, the average American consumer, aren’t paying to retire the debts of people making hundreds of thousands of dollars.  This is a bill that will help, not hurt, low- and middle-income people.”

Under current law, bankruptcy filers may file under Chapter 7 and be absolved of all debt, or file under Chapter 13, preventing repossession of property but agreeing to repay some or all of their debt. H.R. 975 institutes a needs-based formula to steer more debtors into Chapter 13 and thereby require greater debt repayment.

This bill has no effect on people living below the median income of $80,000.  Only those living above the median income and who have the ability to pay off some or all of their debt are required to enter a repayment plan.  H.R. 975 provides allowances for living expenses, exempts child support payments, secured debts such as mortgage and car payments, retirement and education savings and determines an individual’s ability to pay their debt.  If there are extenuating circumstances, such as job loss or medical emergency, a judge can still opt to forgive the debt.  If it is determined that the debtor can afford to repay some of the debt, he or she is required to do so.

“Frankly, bankruptcy needs to be more of a last resort instead of a first action.  This conference report requires greater personal responsibility from debtors by ensuring that those who have the ability to pay off some of their debt do,” said Smith.  “It supports consumers by reducing irresponsible bankruptcy filings.  It is unfair that many higher-income families are declaring bankruptcy even when they have the ability to repay some of their debts, costing the average family hundreds of dollars a year in higher prices, limits access to credit (especially for those who already have trouble getting credit.”

Small businesses are another victim of irresponsible bankruptcy filings, according to Smith. “A small business can be devastated by just one or two debtors declaring bankruptcy and not paying their bills,” he explained. “The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act will change this by only allowing those consumers truly in need of bankruptcy filing to be absolved of their debts.” 

Since coming to Congress in 1997, Representative Adam Smith has been a leading Democrat in favor of Bankruptcy reform.  As a leader of the New Democrats in the House, Smith has long fought for common sense changes to bankruptcy laws.  The New Democrat Coalition has co-sponsored bankruptcy reform for the last three session of Congress and has continually provided key Democratic support for the issue.  Last March when the House considered H.R. 333, "The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2001," it was approved by a vote of 306-108, with 75 percent of all voting New Democrat members voting yes.

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today sent the following letter to President Bush urging the U.S. to begin bilateral talks with North Korea immediately.  Smith will work with colleagues in the coming days to pressure the administration to pursue a multilateral diplomatic approach to the situation in the Korean peninsula.

March 17, 2003

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC  20500

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing to express my deep concern over the failure of this Administration to effectively address the growing crisis involving North Korea.   This situation impacts the entire region – and indeed, the rest of the global community – and American leadership is needed to break the current diplomatic stalemate.

While I recognize that there are perhaps no good options with respect to managing this crisis, starting bilateral talks is the best policy at this time.  The current policy of doing nothing is leading us into an increasingly dangerous situation.

Since acknowledging the existence of their nuclear program last fall, North Korea has grown increasingly bellicose and unpredictable.  They apparently removed from the Yongbyon reactor spent nuclear fuel rods which, if reprocessed, could yield enough plutonium for as many as six nuclear weapons.  They have announced an intention to withdraw from the Nonproliferation Treaty, expelled International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, removed IAEA safeguards and disabled monitoring equipment at the Yongbyon facility.  Recently, North Korean fighters have engaged American surveillance aircraft in international airspace.  Further, North Korea’s failing economy, large conventional forces and growing proliferation of chemical and biological weapons pose a grave threat to international stability.

Based on recent official statements, it is clear that the Administration remains unwilling to marshal the appropriate diplomatic resources and engage in a direct dialogue with North Korea.  This is not a tenable strategy.  I strongly urge you to appoint a high level envoy charged with engaging in high level, direct dialogue with North Korea.  This person should also be responsible for working with South Korea, Japan, Russia, China and other nations that have influence over North Korea - or a stake in resolving North Korea's nuclear status diplomatically.  At the very least, the Secretary of State and National Security Advisor must aggressively develop a short term strategy for engaging North Korea.

Talks should begin immediately.   We should not simply stand aside while a dangerous and unpredictable dictator builds nuclear weapons.  The risk involved in allowing this to happen far outweighs the problems of agreeing to bilateral talks with North Korea. 

I request that you inform the Congress of your plans to resolve the crisis in North Korea as soon as possible.

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to your response.

                                                                        Sincerely,
                                                                        Adam Smith
                                                                        Member of Congress

Last night, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) was named to the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee and the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.  

“I am very eager to continue my work on the House Armed Services Committee in the areas of “Air-Land” Forces and Terrorism.  With two military bases in my district and the clear need for greater national attention to terrorism and homeland security issues, these Subcommittees are great opportunities for me to work on issues that are critical to the Ninth District,” said Smith.  “Over the years on the Armed Services Committee, I’ve worked on modernizing our military and investing in tomorrow's technology, as well ensuring that Department of Defense resources are used efficiently and that America's fighting men and women have the tools and equipment they need to fulfill their missions.   I am proud to represent two bases, the Fort Lewis Army Base and the McChord Air Force Base, as well as thousands of military retirees, veterans, military families, and reservists.  I understand how important it is to recruit and retain the best and brightest for our Armed Services, and to do so, we must work to make military service an attractive career option.”

“I also believe that going forward, we must use technology as a tool for securing our nation and fighting the war on terrorism,” continued Smith.  “This means leveraging our national assets – including the National Labs, universities, the private sector and small business – to develop and bring to bear technologies designed to protect critical infrastructure, identify threats and prevent potential attacks, for example.  I will continue to work on these issues with my new assignments.” 

The House Armed Services Committee Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee is responsible for all Army and Air Force acquisition programs (except strategic weapons and lift programs, special operations and information technology accounts). In addition, the subcommittee will be responsible for all Navy and Marine Corps aviation programs, National Guard and Army and Air Force reserve modernization, and ammunition programs.  The Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee is responsible for Department of Defense counter proliferation and counter terrorism programs and initiatives. In addition, the subcommittee will be responsible for Special Operations Forces, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, information technology policy and programs, force protection policy and oversight, and related intelligence support.  For a complete description of the Committee and Subcommittee’s activities, visit http://www.house.gov/hasc/.

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.

For the press release announcing Smith’s appointment to the House International Relations Committee, visit http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/wa09_smith/030131pr.html.

Late last night, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) was appointed to the Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee. 

“This is a very exciting subcommittee appointment for both me and Washington state,” said Smith.  “Our state has strong ties with Asia, both culturally and in terms of trade, and American policy in Asia faces growing challenges.  The region is both the largest overseas market for American goods and our largest source of merchandise imports, but the combination of recent economic crises, policy changes and America’s war on terrorism have left the region vulnerable to economic nationalism, Pan-Asian thinking and resentment of the United States.  These developments pose great risks to America’s position in East Asia and to our vital interest in peace in the region.  We must move carefully.” 

“I believe that we must pursue the expansion of our contacts in Asia, rather than removing or downsizing our presence in the region,” continued Smith.  “We must use all the tools at our disposal - trade, aid, exchange programs, participation in WTO and other regional and international organizations - to engage East Asia in productive dialogues towards progress on human rights issues and our national security.  It’s vitally important, and I am looking forward to working on this task in my new assignment.”

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.  The Asia and Pacific Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee is charged with the oversight of all U.S. interests in East Asia.   For a complete description of the Committee and Subcommittee’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.

For the press release announcing Smith’s appointment to the House International Relations Committee, visit http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/wa09_smith/030131pr.html.

Over the last four months, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) has reorganized positions in his offices and welcomed some new staffers. 

In Washington, D.C.:

  • John Loy has assumed the mantle of Legislative Assistant covering energy, environment, education, government affairs, women, families and children.  Prior to his promotion, Loy served as staff assistant for Smith.  He graduated in 2000 from the University of Virginia with a B.S. in Commerce and a minor in French. 
  • Taking on the position of Legislative Assistant for labor, health care, Social Security and pensions, transportation and veterans is Milton Reimers who has been with Smith for five years in Tacoma as a Field Representative handling military, vets, transportation, labor, environment and maritime.   Reimers is a graduate of the University of Washington. 
  • Smith’s new Scheduler is Kate Gibbons of Spokane.  She graduated from Washington State University in 2001 and most recently worked for Congressman Rick Larsen as Staff Assistant. 
  • Mark de la Iglesia joins the D.C. office as the new Staff Assistant.  He hails from Federal Way and graduated from Northwestern University in 2002.  Prior to joining Smith’s office, he worked for four months as a research intern at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in the Americas Program. 
  • Also, with Smith’s recent appointment to the House Committee on International Affairs, Legislative Director John Mulligan will add work related to that Committee to his portfolio of technology, science, foreign affairs, military and House Armed Services Committee work. 

In Tacoma:

  • In the fall, Jordan Triplett made the move from Legislative Assistant in D.C. to serve as the Field Representative in charge of environment and energy, transportation, K-12 education, women’s issues, children’s issues, Social Service groups, minority communities, arts and humanities and tribes.  Triplett will also serve as the liaison with King County cities and elected officials.  Triplett was previously Smith’s Legislative Assistant for many of those issues, before that a Legislative Correspondent and began as a Staff Assistant in his office in 1999 after graduating from University of Washington. 
  • Chelsea Mason rejoins the office, this time in Tacoma, after working as Field Director on his 2002 re-election campaign.  She is now the Field Representative in charge of outreach to the labor community and managing the “Bringing Congress to Your Door” program.  Before working on Smith’s campaign in 2002, Mason interned in the D.C. office for three years while she attended George Washington University. 
  • Tina Johnson is the new Constituent Services Representative and Grants Coordinator for Smith.  She joins Team Smith after her most recent experience working as the Gifts and Grants Coordinator of Pt Defiance Zoological Society.  She’s lived in Edgewood since 1989 and has a wealth of experience with non-profit organizations in the Puget Sound region. 
  • The district office’s new Office Assistant is Lakewood resident Joseph Hooks.  Before joining Smith’s office, he worked for Thompson Consulting Group, Norm Dicks Campaign, and Harold Moss, Chairman of the Pierce County Council.  Currently finishing his degree at Evergreen College, Hooks sits on the Urban League Board of Directors and was appointed by the Tacoma City Council to the board of Tacoma Reads Together.
  • Returning to the Tacoma office, after a stint as the 2002 Campaign Director, is Sean Eagan.  He has been promoted to Deputy District Director and will direct outreach to seniors, military, veterans, health care, law and crime, financial services groups and housing and will also serve as the liaison with Thurston County cities and elected officials.