Press Releases

The leaders of the New Democrat Coalition expressed their frustration today with the inactivity in the House of Representatives on critical legislation.  Since Congress’ return to session, the Republican leadership has failed to schedule a vote on legislation that enjoys broad bipartisan support and that they themselves have declared to be high priorities - Bankruptcy Reform and the Export Administration Act.  Meanwhile, with the fiscal year on the verge of expiring, the leadership has allowed intra-party politics to bring the appropriations process to a grinding halt.

Today New Democrat Coalition co-chairs Reps. Jim Davis (D-Fla.), Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement:

“While the House leadership is scheduling little more than non-controversial suspensions for debate, widely supported bankruptcy reform legislation has been repeatedly pulled from the floor because a small group of far-right Republicans are holding their own leadership hostage.  One piece of legislation labeled a White House priority, the Export Administration Act, has languished for months as the Republican leadership has failed to seek a compromise between the two Committees’ chairmen.  At the same time, Congress is well behind on the appropriations process, with the House having only taken up five of the 13 regular appropriation bills needed to fund the federal government for the fiscal year beginning October 1.

“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.  Our group has consistently made this legislation a top priority and has delivered a wide base of support for the bill.  

“Most recently, on September 3rd, 30 New Democrats sent a letter to Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) expressing support for this year’s fair, balanced and reasonable bankruptcy reform conference report.  We pledged to work hard with leadership to make sure that this legislation passed this year.  But rather than moving forward in a bipartisan fashion, the Republican leadership bowed to pressure from the extreme elements of their party and withdrew the bill from the calendar, yet again.

“The Export Administration Act has also languished thanks to Republican Party in-fighting.  Many of the nation's leading defense experts recognize the need to fundamentally revamp the way we protect our nation's security, and the bottom line is that export control reform is critical to the future of U.S. global economic, technological and military leadership.  For years, New Democrats have been working to change the debate on export controls from a false choice between profits and national security to a matter of improving national security while maintaining U.S. competitiveness.  

“It seems clear that the White House is committed to ensuring passage of appropriate export control legislation and the New Democrats continue to be willing and eager to work with them to make that happen.  Unfortunately, despite our regular offers of support, and requests for meetings to discuss a bipartisan plan to move this crucial legislation forward, the House Republican leadership has continued to ignore all calls for action and reform.  Instead, they have proven unwilling to work with their own party’s chairmen to pass legislation that the White House has asked to see on the floor.

“Meanwhile, with the end of the fiscal year rapidly approaching, the leadership is also refusing to bring to the floor the appropriations bills that we must pass to keep our government running.  Apparently, the leadership, in another bow to their right-wing Republican members, would rather send the House home for another long weekend than spend this Friday voting on any of the four appropriations bills that are ready for floor debate. 

“We, as members of the New Democrat Coalition, wonder what the Republican leadership is waiting for.  We see them torn between the two competing interests of intra-party politics and effective legislating.  We ask them to choose bipartisan action on these, and other, important issues and not to allow the narrow special interests in their own party handicap the legislative business of this nation.”

Today Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), joined by fellow Washington state Reps. Norm Dicks, Rick Larsen and George Nethercutt, sent a letter to all members of the House of Representatives urging support of military transformation currently exhibited at Ft. Lewis, WA with the Stryker and the Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCTs). 

“We need to make smart investments in our military by developing and deploying cutting-edge technology that plays a critical role in the United States’ military transformation.” said Smith. “We must modernize our forces to make sure our soldiers have the equipment and training necessary to do their job, and investing in strong tactical power programs, such as the Stryker and the accompanying Stryker Brigade Combat Teams, is key to preparing our forces not just for the challenges we face today - but for tomorrow's fight.  I'm proud of the role Ft. Lewis plays in Army transformation.”

In the letter to their colleagues, the Representatives wrote “All six SBCTs the Army intends to field represent a transformation in warfighting capability that will ensure our battlefield commanders have the tools they need to immediately respond in the War on Terrorism and other conflicts.  The Stryker vehicle also represents a transformation in the weapon system acquisition process.  The first Stryker was fielded in February, less than two years after contract award, and there are now nearly 200 delivered to the Army.”

Since coming to Congress in 1997, Representative Adam Smith has been a critical voice on the House Armed Service Committee for making the military more efficient and utilizing technology to improve our readiness and soldiers' quality of life.  He helped draft legislation to raise the pay of every service member by between five and ten percent, the largest pay increase since 1982. This legislation also authorizes funding to continue the process of modernizing and "transforming" the U.S. Army so that it is a lighter, more lethal force capable of fighting the battles of the 21st Century.  Representative Adam Smith has also worked hard to keep Ft. Lewis, located in the Ninth District, a model for the Army's continuing transformation.

Click here to view letter

The following is a statement from Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.): 

“I am pleased that the President is addressing the United Nations this morning to make the Administration’s case for regime change in Iraq.  Ousting Saddam Hussein may be necessary; however, the President has not yet articulated a compelling justification for military action to either the American people or the international community.  

“His address to the UN is an important step toward that goal.  The case for regime change must be so compelling that the risks of inaction outweigh the risks of putting many thousands of servicemen and women in harm’s way.  

“I believe strongly that our allies must be involved in any effort to secure regime change - that begins with making clear to Hussein that the international community requires that weapons inspectors have nothing less than full, unfettered access to Iraqi sites.  I also believe that we must set a deadline for such inspections.  If Hussein fails to meet that requirement, then military action may be necessary - but that must be the last, not the first, option. 

“The President must also detail the Administration’s vision for Iraq after a regime change.  Clearly, the international community - from both a practical and financial standpoint - must be deeply engaged in building a new Iraq.

“Finally, I have been encouraged by the President’s recent commitment to seek both the counsel and the assent of Congress.  This is essential.  If the American people are to broadly support our military personnel risking their lives in Iraq, they must be confident that the decision to deploy was made in a deliberative manner with a clear strategy for victory.”

Representatives Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Cal Dooley (D-Calif.), and Jim Davis (D-Fla.) today strongly urged the Republican leadership to bring important bankruptcy reform legislation to the floor this week.  The Republican leadership has failed to make a firm commitment to schedule a vote this week on the conference report, which enjoys strong bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.  

Today they issued the following statement:

“The New Democrat Coalition has been working aggressively for years with the business and financial services community to advance responsible bankruptcy reform legislation.  The NDC has consistently made the legislation a top priority and has delivered a wide base of support for the bill.  As New Democrats, we support policy that advances the principles of fairness and personal responsibility.  

“In spite of broad bipartisan support, the Republican leadership is threatening to hold up one of the most important bills this session because of the objections of a few fringe pro-life groups.  In the past few weeks, leaders of the New Democrats, who have supported this legislation from the beginning, have been garnering support for the rule and we are confident that we will get significant bipartisan support for this legislation.  Yet, even with this support, there is growing concern that the Republican leadership could bow to pressure from the extreme elements of their party.  

“We, as members of the New Democrat Coalition, wonder what the Republican leadership is waiting for.  If they schedule a vote, the bill will pass with a strong bipartisan majority.  Its time to stand up to the far-right wing and bring this important legislation to the House floor.”

 

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today sent a bipartisan letter to Speaker Hastert and Minority Leader Gephardt endorsing the suggestion that September 11, 2002 should be the target date for enacting legislation to establish a cabinet level homeland security department.

Representatives Jane Harman (D-Calif.), William "Mac" Thornberry (R-Texas), Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), Jim Gibbons (R-NV), Diane Watson (D-Calif.), Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.), Lane Evans (D-Ill.), Joe Barton (R-Texas), Ralph Hall (D-Texas), Ron Kind (D-Wisc.), John Baldacci (D-Maine), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Michael Castle (R-Del.), Cal Dooley (D-Calif), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Harold Ford (D-Tenn.) and Max Sandlin (D-Texas) also signed the letter, saying, "We strongly endorse the suggestion that we set 9-11-02 as the target date for completing Congressional action to fine tune and enact into law the President's Department of Homeland Security proposal."

Click here for the full text of the letter: www.house.gov/adamsmith/pdf/Sept112002letter.pdf