Press Releases

Smith Hails Veterans Funds

January 17, 2008

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today hailed the President’s release of $3.7 billion in additional veterans funding provided by Congress.  These funds, combined with others approved last year, total a $6.7 billion increase in 2008, the largest single funding increase in the 77-year history of the Veterans Affairs Department (VA).

“Last year we learned that returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans faced a care crisis at home, and Congress responded with this funding increase and our Wounded Warrior Act reforms.  The 110th Congress took major, concrete steps in our first session to honor our promises to our veterans,” Smith said. 

Today’s funds, when taken together with other funds provided over the last year by the 110th Congress, add up to $6.7 billion.  These funds will:

Strengthen health care for 5.8 million patients, including about 263,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, in the fifth year of the war in Iraq;
Invest in maintenance for VA health care facilities and treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury for returning veterans;
Reduce the backlog of veterans (400,000 claims) waiting for their earned benefits by adding 1,800 claims processors; and
Build on other steps by this Congress in 2007: increasing veterans’ health care and benefits by $5.2 billion for improved care and shorter wait times.
Most veterans receiving VA health care are struggling to get into the middle class, with a median annual income of $23,000.

This increase won widespread support and praise from America’s leading veterans’ organizations including:

  • The American Legion
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars
  • Military Officers Association of America
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America
  • AmVets
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
  • National Association for Uniformed Services
  • Disabled American Veterans 

According to the VA, 617,723 lived in Washington state as of 2006.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) led senior congressional staff to visit U.S. Pacific Command, Special Operations Forces and the U.S. State Department in Hawaii, the Philippines and Malaysia.  The trip provided a better sense of SOCOM's work to prevent terrorism and reinforced relations with partner governments.  Smith visited Iraq and Afghanistan earlier this year; this trip helped provide a picture of SOCOM's work in other countries facing serious threats from infiltration by radical extremist groups affiliated with al-Qaida.

"During our trip, we were able to learn more about SOCOM's excellent work in Southeast Asia and get a better sense of the global challenge we face from the spread of a violent, totalitarian ideology.  One thing is clear following this trip: the next president faces an enormous challenge in rebalancing our worldwide force distribution to adequately fight terrorism in nations other than Iraq," Smith said.

In Hawaii, Smith's group met with United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) officers and enlisted troops, in addition to meeting U.S. Navy SEALs.

In Malaysia, the delegation met with U.S. Ambassador Keith and his staff, Malaysia's NSC Secretary Dato' Muhammad Hatta, Internal Security Ministry Deputy Secretary General Ahmad Fuad and with Defense Intelligence Director General LTG Salleh.

In the Philippines, Congressman Smith conducted informational meetings with Ambassador Kenney, her staff and U.S. Special Operations Forces in the Southern Philippines. During the visit the congressman meet with Republic of the Philippines President Arroyo, Secretary of National Defense Gilberto Teodoro and Armed Forces of the Philippines Vice Chief of Staff LTG Romero.  Additionally the congressman and his delegation laid a wreath in dedication to the American and Filipino soldiers buried at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. 

Visit to view a photo of U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and constituents serving in the Marines at the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09.) voted with a bipartisan majority in favor of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Reauthorization Act. The bill renews and improves SCHIP, providing health care coverage for 11 million children – preserving coverage for the 7 million children currently covered by SCHIP and extends it to 4 million uninsured children who are currently eligible for, but not enrolled in, SCHIP and Medicaid.

“The reauthorization of SCHIP is a major victory for children in Washington state and across the country,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “The renewal provides millions of children with one of their most fundamental needs – quality healthcare.”

SCHIP was created in 1997 to help families get medical care when they made too much money to get Medicaid but not enough to buy private insurance.  The bill passed by the House today will provide states resources needed for outreach to enroll eligible families in the program.

Congressman Smith was particularly pleased to see significant gains for Washington state in today’s bill.  The legislation allows Washington state to use a larger portion of its federal allocation, above the 20% previously allowed, for SCHIP through FY 2013. When SCHIP was first implemented, Washington state already covered SCHIP-eligible children under our state’s Medicaid program.  Because of this it is considered a ‘qualifying’ state and has not been allowed to transfer kids from Medicaid to SCHIP or use the full federal allotment for SCHIP on the Medicaid kids.

Further, the bill will provide matching funds to assist with the state’s planned expansion to cover kids up to 300% of the federal poverty line. The bill also includes a provision – another benefit to Washington state -- that would give states the option of covering legal immigrant children who have been less than five years under SCHIP and Medicaid.  It covers children – legally here – sooner than a five-year waiting period, in order to prevent critical health problems from going unchecked. Washington is one of 22 states that uses state funds to cover this population and current federal law prohibits them from being eligible for SCHIP in their first 5 years of residency.

“The renewal of SCHIP is a win for our country and a win for Washington state,” said Smith. “With unemployment rising, causing many to lose healthcare for their children and their families, this reauthorization is exceptionally important.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement regarding the upcoming retirement of House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos (D-Calif.).  Smith is a senior member on the committee.

“It has been a great privilege in my career in Congress has been to serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee under Chairman Lantos.  As the only survivor of the Holocaust to serve in Congress, he has been a consistent advocate for the human rights of all people, exemplified in his founding membership in the Congressional Human Rights Caucus.  With his retirement, Congress loses one of its clearest voices on foreign policy.

“I am deeply saddened by news of his illness and his decision not to seek reelection.  I congratulate him on his 27 years of service to our country and wish him all the best.”


U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement regarding the suicide bombing that killed Benazir Bhutto and dozens of others at a rally in Pakistan.  Smith chairs the terrorism subcommittee on the House Armed Services Committee and is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee:

“The horrendous mass murder of dozens of Pakistanis today – including former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto – is a tragedy for all of us who value democracy.  Madam Bhutto fought for democratic reforms in the face of numerous attempts on her life, and her courage in the face of repression inspired reformers all over the world.  I offer my deepest condolences to the people of Pakistan, and especially to those who lost loved ones in today’s tragedy.

“This kind of cowardly, criminal violence is absolutely unacceptable, and those responsible must be found and brought to justice.  Bhutto and her fellow reformers fought to make exactly this kind of outrageous action obsolete within the context of Pakistan’s political life, and the United States and our allies must renew our commitment to this vital area of the world so that terrorists and political extremism do not carry the day. 

“I urge the government of Pakistan to respond to this tragedy with a renewed commitment to the rule of law, starting with free, fair elections for which Madam Bhutto and her reformers gave so much.”