Press Releases

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement regarding Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ announcement that the Department of Defense will delay its decision on a $35 Billion tanker contract until the next administration:
“While I applaud this decision, I have serious misgivings about the management of the process thus far and the fact that our troops now face a further delay in getting newer tankers to replace the aging planes in the current fleet. Our troops deserve better. However, given the short timeframe before a new administration takes over, as well as the significant problems and controversy surrounding the tanker, this was the fairest course of action for all parties involved.
“A new Administration can bring a much-needed fresh outlook and fair-minded approach to the tanker acquisition. This is the right step for our military, Boeing workers, the residents of Washington State and the American tax payers.”
“I look forward to working with the new administration to provide a fair and open tanker competition and ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated.” 
U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today applauded the passage of H.R.6599, the Fiscal Year 2009 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill. This legislation will provide $93.7 billion for veterans’ programs, an increase of nearly $6.1 billion over last year’s funding level. The bill passed the House by a vote of 409-4.
“This funding reaffirms our commitment to provide world class care for those who have faithfully served our country. Building on last year’s appropriations bill, which provided the single largest increase for veterans’ programs in the history of the VA, this bill again increases our investments to ensure veterans have timely access to top-notch VA health care and facilities,” Smith said.
Some of the key provisions of the bill include:
  • Mental Health Care: $3.8 billion for specialty mental health care to ensure that all veterans have access to mental health services and $584 million for substance abuse programs.  
  • Facility Maintenance and Renovations: $5 billion for maintenance and renovations on existing facilities to address shortfalls and ensure the facilities remain capable of providing first-class care.
  • “Priority 8” Veterans: $568 million to increase the enrollment of “Priority 8” veterans in VA healthcare by 10%. These are veterans who exceed a certain economic threshold and do not have a service-connected condition. This will be the first time there has been new enrollment for Priority 8 veterans since 2003. 
  • Assistance for Homeless Veterans: $130 million for the homeless grants program and to hire additional personnel for the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program. 
  • Travel Reimbursements: $100 million to raise the beneficiary travel reimbursement rate from 28.5 cents per mile to 41.5 cents per mile.
  • Claims Processors: Funds for 1,400 new claims processors to reduce the backlog of disability and other claims on behalf of veterans. 

In addition to providing for veterans, H.R.6599 provides $24.8 billion for military construction and other projects that will improve living conditions and quality of life for military personnel. Locally, Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base will receive $344.1 million for construction projects, including $8.6 million for a new facility for the 262nd Information Warfare Aggressor Squadron (IWAS), a project specifically requested and secured by Congressman Smith.
“The 262nd IWAS, a Washington State Air National Guard squadron, is at the cutting edge of protecting U.S. national security in today’s high-tech world. I am proud to have these cyber warriors - most of whom have civilian day jobs at local tech companies - here in the Puget Sound area. They need this new facility as the squadron takes on a more prominent role in America’s cyber-security efforts,” Smith said.
The Senate must now consider similar legislation before the bill can be signed into law by the President.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives yesterday passed landmark legislation to expand U.S. efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis around the world.  Included in the legislation were provisions proposed by Smith and Rep. Elliot Engel (D-N.Y.) to combat tuberculosis.  The bill passed by a vote of 303 - 115.

“The HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis pandemics have caused immense suffering around the globe, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.  These diseases form part of a continuing spiral of poverty and disease in developing countries that threaten prospects for economic growth and stability.  This expansion was the moral thing to do, and I hope we can continue to build on it,” Smith said.

Congress passed the original U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act on a bipartisan basis in May 2003, and appropriated $19.3 billion over the past five years for the program.  The measure, based on the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has saved millions of lives worldwide.

The bipartisan measure passed yesterday authorizes nearly $50 billion over the next five years - $20 billion more than the President’s original request – to transition from an emergency response to long-term sustainability that can be maintained by host countries.  The bill also adds emphasis to tuberculosis and malaria prevention, including Smith’s language related to tuberculosis, the “Stop TB” bill.

Smith helped shape the bill’s tuberculosis provisions, which include:

  • Requiring patient referrals between HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis programs;
  • Enhanced testing and treatment in countries with high TB rates;
  • New strategies for attacking forms of drug-resistant TB;
  • Assistance for the World Health Organization Stop Tuberculosis Partnership to cut TB deaths and infections in half by 2016; and
  • $4 billion in funding for programs to combat TB for fiscal years 2009-2013.

The President is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming days.

Today, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) paused with other Members of Congress to commemorate the 60th  President Truman’s Executive Order 9981declared that “there be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.” While the full integration of the armed services did not come until October 30, 1954, when the last racially segregated unit was abolished, President Truman’s Executive Order marked the beginning of the integration of the Armed Forces. Anniversary of President Harry Truman’s executive order to integrate the United States Armed Services.
“Today, as we commemorate this historic civil rights reform, we also take a moment to honor the valorous service of members from various communities of color who answered the call and served their nation in the Armed Services. We have come a long way since President Truman’s order, with personnel from the African-American as well as the Asian Pacific Islander and Latino communities, among others, serving in great numbers throughout our military today. I couldn’t be more grateful for their service, or more committed to ensuring our military upholds the bedrock principle of equality our country represents,” Smith said. 
Congress marked the occasion today with a ceremony in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol. Smith also voted in favor of a resolution on July 14, 2008, recognizing the 60th anniversary of the Executive Order. The resolution passed the House unanimously.

U.S. Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Mac Thornberry (R-TX) today called for a new United States strategy to combat the spread of violent terrorist ideology before a forum of 150 national security experts and practitioners.  Smith and Thornberry discussed their legislation, recently included in the House-passed Defense Authorization bill, which would require the President to develop a comprehensive, integrated strategy for strategic communication and public diplomacy.

“Strategic communication and public diplomacy were central to our fight against communism in the Cold War, and they should remain front-and-center as we work to roll back al-Qaeda’s and other violent extremists’ influence among disaffected populations.  Various organizations within our government work in some way to counter terrorist messages, but we lack a coordinated, comprehensive, adequately resourced plan to confront al-Qaeda’s ideology through a strategic message campaign,” Smith said.

Click Here to Link to a Video of the Forum

 Our nation’s multifaceted fight against al-Qaida and their allies includes efforts to counter their ideology – a war of ideas.  Terrorist groups aggressively push their narrative through new and traditional media with the aim of radicalizing and recruiting from new populations.  Through clever use of the Internet and a steady trickle of video messages distributed to and through the media, al-Qaeda drives its central messages and takes us on in the marketplace of ideas.  Numerous commissions and experts recommend improving the United States’ engagement with foreign audiences beyond traditional government-to-government relations.  Unfortunately, U.S. efforts remain insufficient to counter violent extremist narratives around the world.  Smith’s Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threat, and Capabilities repeatedly receives testimony that:

  • The U.S. doesn’t have a coherent, high-level interagency strategy on these issues;
  • The State Department and Defense Department aren’t coordinating sufficiently; and
  • We lack focus and nuance in our strategic communication messaging. 

To address these gaps in our counter-terrorism strategy, Smith and Thornberry offered their good-government amendment through bipartisan cooperation and with support of the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairmen.   The Senate and the President must approve the defense bill before the Smith Amendment becomes law.