Press Releases

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) today voted to make college more affordable by halving the interest rate on subsidized student loans for undergraduates over the next five years.  When fully phased in, the bill cuts the interest rate from 6.8% to 3.4%.  The measure cuts the interest rate in half in five steps:  from 6.8% to 6.12% in 2007; 5.44% in 2008; 4.76% in 2009; 4.08% in 2010; and 3.4% in 2011. 

The House passed the bill this afternoon by a vote of 356 to 71.

“In Washington State, there are 47,631 four-year college students with subsidized student loans who all would benefit from this bill.  Once fully phased in, the bill would provide $4,671 in savings to our state’s average four-year college student starting school in 2011 with subsidized student loans over the life of their loans,” Smith said.      

“Puget Sound’s economy depends on having a highly-skilled and well-educated workforce.  Making college more affordable is key to our remaining strong in the face of an increasingly competitive global economy.  We must do everything possible to address rising costs so that no qualified student is prevented from going to college because of the price,” Smith added. 

“Cutting interest rates on student loans is only the first step Democrats will take to make college more affordable.  Later this year, House Democrats will also introduce legislation aimed at increasing the maximum Pell Grant scholarship and take other important steps to reduce the financial barriers to a college education,” Smith said. 

The bill is fully paid for by making modest reductions in certain lender and guaranty agency subsidies in order to make the student loan program more efficient and effective for students and for American taxpayers.

This bill is supported by dozens of organizations, including the American Council on Education, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, American Association for State Colleges and Universities, American Association of Community Colleges, Alliance for Equity in Higher Education, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, College Board, College Parents of America, and the Institute for Higher Education Policy.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) today announced he was chosen by House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC) to serve on the Whip Team for the 110th Congress.  In this leadership role, Smith will help Clyburn gather support for the Democratic agenda. 

“House Democrats have already accomplished several pieces of our ‘100 Hours’ agenda, including broad ethics reforms and passage of bills to raise the minimum wage, implement several 9/11 Commission recommendations, and expand embryonic stem cell research.  I’m excited about working with Majority Whip Clyburn’s whip team.  I look forward to helping to pass the new majority’s agenda,” Smith said. 

“This is a great opportunity to make sure my constituents’ points of view are given even more consideration by the Democratic Caucus,” Smith added.

The word “whip” is a British term derived from the fox-hunting position “whipper-in,” the rider who kept fox hounds gathered behind their mission.  The whip’s job in Congress is to gather support for legislation when it comes to the floor for a vote.  The Democratic Caucus relies on the whip team to deliver votes to pass its agenda.

Smith’s selection for the Whip Team is the latest of several developments that will help him represent his constituents even more effectively in Congress.  Earlier this week, Smith was named chairman of the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee.  He also secured a post on the Air and Land Forces Subcommittee.  Both subcommittees are part of the larger House Armed Services Committee.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) today issued the following statement on H.R. 3, a bill to expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.  The bill passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 253 to 174.

“More than 70 percent of Americans support stem cell research.  House Democrats promised to expand funding for this potentially life-saving and life-changing science.  I’m pleased to report that in the first 100 hours of the 110th Congress, we made good on our promise. 

“Local institutions like the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington could benefit from passage of this bill, so I hope we can get it to the President’s desk quickly.  President Bush should listen to the will of the people and sign it without delay.”
 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) today announced he will chair the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee on the Armed Services Committee.  Smith also secured a seat on the Air and Land Forces Subcommittee when committee members chose their assignments today.  Smith’s seniority allowed him early picks from among the available positions.

“Our special ops teams need the best tools.  Our forces need protection from improvised explosive devices and other attacks.  They need better technology faster.  We need a new, better way forward in the global war on terror.  These are the challenges I look forward to addressing as chairman of the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee,” Smith said.

Smith added: “My new position on the Air and Land Forces Subcommittee will enhance my ability to support the critical work of our soldiers and airmen at Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base.” 

The Air and Land Forces Subcommittee has jurisdiction over all Army and Air Force acquisition programs, and over National Guard and Army and Air Force Reserve equipment.

Background information on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities follows.

House Armed Services Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities

The subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes:

Department of Defense (DoD) counter-terrorism programs and counter-proliferation initiatives.

  • Counter-terrorism.  Refers to instruments of national power to execute the Global War on Terror.  Examples include assistance to allied indigenous forces in the fight against terrorist groups and classified authorities for the use of Special Operations Forces (SOF) in foreign nations.
  • Counter-proliferation.* Involves finding and destroying WMD. Much of counter-proliferation involves Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). 

Special Operations Command (SOCOM) acquisition programs and policy.   Includes procurement and research, development, and testing and evaluation (RDT&E) accounts and an advisory role for SOCOM personnel policies. 

Force Protection Policy.  Covers measures and policies to protect deployed troops, including counter-IED protection measures and prevention of attacks against overseas bases.

Defense Advance Research Projects Authority (DARPA).  Responsible for the early-stage R&D and “radical innovation” required to develop new technology for use by the military.  DARPA’s charter is aimed at preventing “technological surprise.” 

Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).  Combat-support agency of the DoD.  Analyzes and provides contingency plans for threats to the U.S., both homeland and abroad.   Includes destroying WMD and developing technologies to reduce the threat of WMD.

DoD Information Technology.  Covers information systems, shared infrastructure (communications, computers, etc.), information assurance (computer security), and related technical activities. 

Science and Technology (S&T) policy.  Includes DoD R&D funding for basic research as well as the more applied R&D.

DoD Homeland Defense.  Covers DoD roles in homeland security, disaster response, etc.  Governs activities, policies and technology-sharing activities within the office of DoD’s Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and U.S. Northern Command (Colorado Springs, CO).  Allows for jurisdictional claim to many National Guard and other DoD border-related activities.

Chemical-Demilitarization program.  Destroys the U.S. stockpile of chemical weapons, as required under the Chemical Weapons Convention, ratified by the U.S. in 1997.

DoD Chemical and Biological defense program.  Provides chemical and biological defense capabilities.  Executed within DARPA, DTRA and the U.S. Army. 

Related intelligence support related to Special Operations Forces (SOF).   Classified.  Includes both policies and programs within the purview of SOCOM and also those larger and DoD-wide national programs within the jurisdiction of the Strategic Subcommittee (as they affect SOF).

*Counter-terrorism programs are distinct from non-proliferation programs, such as the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program, which focus on diplomacy and assistance to secure post-Soviet WMD.

 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) yesterday voted in favor of H.R. 1, legislation to implement many of the remaining 9/11 Commission recommendations.  Smith was pleased that House Democrats acted so quickly during their new majority in Congress to make Americans safer.  The bill passed by a vote of 299 to 128.

“Improving explosive detection capabilities and ensuring our emergency responders can effectively communicate with each other in an emergency are just two ways this bill will make the American people safer,” Smith said.  “This bill will go a long way toward protecting us from -- and better managing the consequences of -- a terrorist attack.”

Smith added, “The overall bill is a positive measure that will increase security, but I am concerned about the 100 percent air cargo and seaborne container screening requirement.  I look forward to working out the difficulties with this issue when the bill is sent to conference."

Earlier this week, 9/11 Commission Vice Chair Lee Hamilton stated, "The bottom line is that if this bill, H.R. 1, is enacted, funded and implemented, then the American people will be safer. ...  The bill carries out the recommendations that [the Commission] has made." 

The bill included several steps intended to improve homeland security, including:

  • Distributing state homeland security funding based on risk;
  • Creating a stand-alone grant program to provide first responders with the type of equipment that allows them to communicate with each other during emergencies;
  • Phasing in a requirement of 100 percent inspection of the cargo carried on passenger aircraft over the next three years;
  • Phasing in a requirement of 100 percent scanning of U.S.-bound shipping containers over the next five years;
  • Quickly accelerating the installation of explosive detection systems for checked baggage at the nation’s airports; and
  • Improving explosive detection systems at passenger checkpoints at the nation’s airports.

The bill also includes provisions to better prevent terrorists from acquiring WMD, such as:

  • Strengthening the Cooperative Threat Reduction (“Nunn-Lugar”) program that focuses on securing loose nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union;
  • Providing increased tools for the Proliferation Security Initiative, through which the U.S. and participating countries interdict WMD; and
  • Establishing a U.S. Coordinator for the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism at the White House, who would serve as a presidential advisor on proliferation.

Finally, the bill also includes provisions to reduce the appeal of extremism, including:

  • Providing for the establishment of a Middle East Foundation, to promote economic opportunities, education reform, human rights and democratic processes in the countries of the Middle East; and
  • Promoting quality educational opportunities for youth in Arab and other predominantly Muslim countries, including expanding U.S. scholarship and exchange programs.