Press Releases

Early this morning, the House of Representatives passed legislation to provide Trade Promotion Authority and expand health care and unemployment assistance to workers dislocated by global competition.  For the first time ever, Trade Adjustment Assistance includes a new health care benefit for laid-off workers and doubles funding for job training.  The trade package also extends eligibility for both health care and job training to “downstream” workers - for example, suppliers to factories that have shut down - and workers whose factories have relocated overseas.  The following is a statement by Congressman Adam Smith: 

“There are two statistics related to trade that stand out in my mind.  First, 96 percent of people live someplace other than the United States.  Second, despite comprising only four percent of the world’s population, the United States is still responsible for 20 percent of the world’s consumption.  If we wish to expand and grow our participation in developing global markets, we need to gain access to those markets. 

“What’s more, for the first time ever, this bill puts environment and labor concerns on par with other negotiating objectives.  That is a big step forward from the legislation that was passed in 1997, which prohibited labor and environment from being a part of trade agreements.  

“70 percent of world ranks below us in labor and environmental standards.  Does that mean we’re not going to trade with them, that we’re not going to interact with them?  That we’ll erect a protectionist barrier?  The only way to make improvements in global standards and to secure global stability is to move forward and interact with foreign markets.  Without the ability to negotiate reduced tariff barriers to other countries we cannot move forward.  

“I opposed the original version of trade promotion authority because nothing was done to help American workers.  I’m very pleased that the U.S. Senate successfully added many provisions to improve the bill, most notably the addition of Trade Adjustment Assistance.

“In today's economy, workers need to update their skills constantly.  This bill triples the assistance available to laid-off workers through the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.  For the first time ever, there will be a health care benefit to offset the high cost of health care premiums.  Funding for job training is doubled.  Undoubtedly, this is an extremely solid worker benefit package that will help tens of thousands of laid-off workers take care of their families and update their skills so that they can succeed in the 21st century economy.

“Passage of Trade Promotion Authority is just the first step.  As Congress and the White House work together on a trade agenda that advances our foreign policy goals, strengthens American's economy and provides opportunity to America’s workers, we need to push other countries to improve their labor and environmental standards and help give them the tools to do so.  We need to ensure that future trade agreements don’t put environmental and health regulations at risk.  We need to open overseas markets to American goods and services.  I am committed to working constructively to advance all of these goals in the coming years.”

For more information on Congressman Adam Smith’s position on Trade Promotion Authority and Trade Adjustment Assistance, visit www.house.gov/adamsmith.

Tonight, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation authorizing the creation of the new Department of Homeland Security, effectively strengthening our nation’s response to the war on terrorism.  Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement after the 295-132 vote:

“Today I am proud to join with my colleagues in the House to pass landmark legislation creating a new Department of Homeland Security.  

“While there is no silver bullet in the fight against terrorism, this new department is a step toward reorganizing our government in a manner that reflects the threats in the post-Cold War world.  I intend to monitor the implementation of this new Department closely.  If done correctly and effectively, our nation will be safer.  A coordinated structure for identifying, deterring and responding to any future attacks will go a long way toward the goal of better security.   

“I’m also pleased with the emphasis that we’ve placed on technology as a tool for securing our nation and fighting the war on terrorism.  This bill leverages our national assets - including the National Labs, universities, the private sector and small businesses - to develop and bring to bear many of the technology answers that we need.  I’m committed to continuing my efforts to make sure the government develops and procures the best and most innovative technologies in the world. 

“Working with Congressman Tom Davis (R-Va.), I was able to add an amendment to H.R. 5005 that will significantly strengthen federal cyber-preparedness by requiring all agencies to implement specific, baseline security standards established by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST).

“Recent public opinion surveys indicate that over 70 percent of Americans are concerned about Internet and computer security and 74 percent are concerned about terrorists using the Internet to launch a cyber-attack against our country’s infrastructure.   One survey shows that half of all IT professionals believe that a major attack will be launched against the Federal Government in the next 12 months.  In November of last year, a GAO-based report card on Federal agency computer security that concluded that nearly every agency deserves a failing grade for its computer security preparedness.

“This language is essential to ensuring that there are incentives for America’s technology industries to continue producing the most secure solutions possible, and that Federal Government information security is second to none.

“Despite these successes, however, I was disappointed with the failure of amendments designed to ensure that employees in the new Homeland Security Department have reasonable protections and maintain the right to collectively bargain.  I know that these rights can make a real difference in the lives of many American families and I hope these issues can be worked out in conference committee.”

Today, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed tough corporate reform legislation to create a strong, independent oversight board, increase civil and criminal penalties on corporate wrongdoers.  Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement today after the 412-3 vote to approve the House-Senate conference report on corporate reform:

“Today’s passage of the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act is an important step forward in restoring investor confidence in our economy.  

“Recent announcements that profits and earnings were inflated, devastating bankruptcies, and plummeting investor confidence demonstrated that we needed to take a look at our regulatory and legal framework for corporate oversight.  

“The bill takes an important and much-needed step towards greater auditor independence, including a GAO study of mandatory auditor rotation.  I believe rotation would substantially improve an auditor’s independence, thereby leading to more reliable audits.  While I realize the accounting industry strongly opposes rotation, I look forward to seeing this study and determining if mandatory rotation would be in America’s best interest.”

Last night, the House voted to pass the Supplemental Appropriations bill, which designated $28.9 billion for emergency purposes.  Among the projects deemed “emergency spending” were the conversion of Washington D.C.’s metro system fare vending machines to accept one dollar coins and mail service in rural Alaska.  Controversial language providing trade protections for two textile states was also included in this bill.   The Supplement also contained funds to make up for the President's cuts to important, ongoing government programs like Pell Grants and medical care for Veterans.  In order to restore funding to those programs, the House declared they were emergency expenditures, thereby assuring that these dollars are not subject to the same federal budget spending caps.  The following is a statement from Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) on his vote against the Supplemental and “emergency spending.”

“While critical needs were funded as a part of the supplemental appropriations bill, it was also yet another step towards higher budget deficits, a soaring national debt, and a raid of the Social Security trust fund.

“Without a doubt, our defense and foreign affairs budgets need additional money because we have new challenges.  However, the federal government cannot continue using the war on terrorism as an excuse to abandon fiscal restraint.  The Administration originally requested $27.1 billion in additional funding, but that number kept going up and this package was over $30 billion.  I don’t believe there was a thorough enough examination of how much money was truly needed even for these important tasks, let alone the additional non-defense related spending that was thrown into the bill.

“Furthermore, Congress did not pay for this new spending.  We already know that our deficit has exploded this year, and new spending measures that aren’t paid for will only make the situation worse.  Just because a program is important doesn’t mean we should break the bank for it.  We need to develop a new, fiscally responsible budget that fully funds the war on terrorism and sets the stage for a strong economy.

“My concern is that Congress and the White House are acting as though fiscally responsibility no longer matters because of our new challenge in fighting terrorism.  That just isn’t true.  Fiscal responsibility must be a cornerstone of our economic policy, and I will continue fighting to get our budget balanced.”

Today, the House rejected an attempt to reverse normal trade relations with Vietnam.  The following is a statement from Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) on his support for continuing trade relations with Vietnam.  

“I supported the renewal of the Jackson-Vanik amendment for Vietnam in 1999 and I support the renewal again this year.  I believe that overturning the waiver would have serious negative implications for our relations with Vietnam and our larger interests in Southeast Asia.  We are well on our way towards developing a bilateral trade agreement with Vietnam that would bring us closer to promoting stability in this often-volatile region.

“Trade with Vietnam has doubled in the last few years.  As Asia’s fourth largest nation, Vietnam is our second-fastest-growing source of imports.  Since the end of the trade embargo in 1995, a dynamic commercial relationship has developed between the two nations, ranging from American sales of cotton, semiconductor chips and computers to Vietnamese exports of coffee and shrimp.

“American trade 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.  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.  Cutting off trade with Vietnam would be a step backwards, not forwards, in our efforts.”