Press Releases

SEATTLE, WA – Today, Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) sent Secretary of Treasury Janet L. Yellen and Acting Comptroller Michael J. Hsu a letter urging the Treasury Department (the Department) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to address the lack of banking access for money service businesses (MSBs) and take steps to support a state-level initiative in Washington State to get community and regional banks to serve MSBs.
“Many MSBs in Washington and across the country, especially those serving certain higher risk foreign countries, have been unable to obtain banking services,” wrote Representative Smith. “The lack of a bank account has a negative impact on the MSB’s long-term viability and their ability to serve consumers and presents a safety and security issue. Unbanked MSBs that have been forced to store large amounts of cash in their premises have become victims of armed robberies. These challenges disproportionately affect immigrant communities and communities of color. A study by The Right to be Banked Campaign showed that twenty-five percent of licensed MSBs in Washington State are unbanked and most of these businesses are owned by people of color. The lack of banking access also presents a barrier to federal relief – unbanked MSBs were unable to access the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and other federal assistance programs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic due to not having a banking relationship.”
Money service businesses (MSBs) make it possible for people in the Puget Sound and across the United States to send money to family and loved ones in other countries. These remittances serve as a lifeline for countless people and can help alleviate poverty, especially in developing countries. Unfortunately, many MSBs – primarily those that serve countries that are perceived to be higher risk – have been unable to gain access to the banking services that make it possible to transmit money abroad. 
In his letter, Representative Smith urges the Treasury Department to collaborate with Washington stakeholders to develop creative solutions to address the ongoing MSB banking access crisis. The letter comes as the Treasury Department is set to develop a strategy to combat ‘de-risking’ by banks, one of the primary practices that has led to banks not serving MSBs. The Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – led by Representative Smith – included a provision requiring the Treasury Department to undertake a comprehensive review of, and develop a strategy to, combat de-risking and its adverse consequences.   
Representative Smith concluded the letter, “I applaud President Biden and the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advancing racial equity and strengthening underserved communities, including improved access to the financial sector. Taking immediate steps to alleviate de-risking and unbanked MSBs, the vast majority of whom are owned by people of color and supporting communities of color, fits directly into this mission. Washington state would be a perfect place to begin fixing this problem facing our communities.”
A full copy of the letter can be found here.
SEATTLE, WA – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today issued the following statement after the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) was signed into law for the 61st consecutive year by President Joe Biden. S. 1605, the bipartisan, bicameral final text of the FY22 NDAA, passed the House by a vote of 363-70 and the Senate by a vote of 88-11.
“After months of working together on a bipartisan, bicameral basis, this week the President signed the NDAA into law for the 61st consecutive year. It is crucial that Congress passes this bill every year so that the legislative branch can continue to exercise our oversight responsibilities over the Department of Defense. This year’s NDAA also makes progress on several important issues. Specifically, the NDAA will improve the lives of our service members and their families, promote the health and future of our planet, and support diverse and equitable communities to meet our nation’s biggest challenges.
“One of the issues that sets this year’s NDAA apart from prior defense bills is a package of significant modifications to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which will dramatically change how the U.S. military will handle sexual assault crimes. These reforms empower a new special prosecutor to take control of the charging and prosecution of all sex crimes and any crime related to a sex crime, removing these responsibilities from the normal chain of command. Removing the prosecution of these crimes from the chain of command is a dramatic change that is strongly supported by advocates for survivors of sexual assault. These updates to the UCMJ will create a strong pathway for survivors to achieve justice and for perpetrators to be held accountable – representing the most transformational change to the UCMJ in my 25 years of service on the Armed Services Committee.
“Passing any legislation is difficult – particularly legislation that wins such broad and bipartisan support – and the hard work required to craft this year’s bill, which is now the law, has paid off.”
The final text of the FY22 NDAA includes the following.
Improving the Lives of our Service Members and Their Families
The FY22 NDAA supports the thousands of service members at Washington State’s military bases and all the service members and military families across the country.
  • The NDAA makes transformational reforms to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) – which are supported by longstanding advocates for survivors of the sexual assault crisis in the military. The reforms will take the prosecution of all sex crimes in the military away from the control of the military commander. Instead, qualified, independent, uniformed attorneys — ultimately overseen by the civilian Service Secretaries — will have the sole authority for charging decisions and the responsibility to prosecute those charges. The NDAA also includes solutions to tackle the military's sexual harassment crisis, making the military justice system the first and only jurisdiction in America where sexual harassment is a criminal offense.
  • Building on previous attempts to close the pay gap, the NDAA supports a well-deserved pay raise of nearly 3 percent for our men and women in uniform.
  • After many years of advocacy from nutrition advocates here in Washington State such as Food Lifeline, the bill authorizes a basic needs allowance for qualified service members.
  • The bill increases allowable parental leave for primary and secondary caregivers, including foster parents, and expands the in-home childcare pilot program, providing financial assistance for in-home childcare, and supporting military families who have family members with special needs.
  • The bill supports our service members by creating a pilot program to provide direct assistance for mental health care and requiring a thorough review of suicide prevention and response programs.
  • The bill establishes a three-year pilot program to provide employment support to spouses of members of the U.S. military through a paid fellowship with employers across a variety of industries.
Promoting the Health and Future of our Planet
To address the existential threat of our time – climate change – the FY22 NDAA builds on ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote green energy, and enhance energy resiliency within the military. Notably, the NDAA pushes the Department of Defense (DOD) to be a leader in clean energy by requiring military instillations like those in Washington State to increase clean energy usage, making our communities healthier, safer, and more resilient.
  • The bill requires the DOD to ensure that a portion of its major military installations achieve energy, water, and waste net-zero by 2035 and requires energy and water efficiency targets to be set for DOD data centers – helping to mitigate the Department’s impact on the environment. The NDAA also establishes a new initiative within the DOD, working with the Department of Energy, to promote the development of long duration energy storage technologies and help spur their use as a tool to promote clean energy and energy resiliency.
  • Washington State faces immense challenges with detecting and cleaning up harmful, long-lasting pollutants known as PFAS, a huge financial burden for state and local governments and a threat to public health. The NDAA will ensure that the DOD adequately addresses PFAS contamination in and around military installations by authorizing $517 million above the President’s budget request for cleanup of impacted military communities and puts in place important restrictions to help minimize future PFAS contamination at military instillations.  
Supporting Diverse and Equitable Communities to Meet our Nation’s Biggest Challenges
The FY22 NDAA invests in America's rich pool of diverse talent to meet our biggest national security challenges by prioritizing diversity and inclusion initiatives across the U.S. military and promoting equity and fairness across America's research and development landscape, which includes top research universities in Washington State.
  • The NDAA updates outdated diversity training requirements to ensure ongoing training includes diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programming to reduce discrimination and bias based on race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity, among other items.
  • The bill makes significant new investments in academic partnerships, and it more than doubles the President's budget request for support for activities at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
  • To support minority institutions' efforts to compete more effectively for federal research funding opportunities, the NDAA requires the Secretary of Defense to develop a plan to promote defense research at minority institutions.
  • The bill also authorizes funding for research and development in areas such as energy, technology, and innovation conducted at leading universities like the University of Washington.
Additional Wins for Washington’s Ninth District
  • The NDAA includes Rep. Smith’s bill, the Promoting Affordable Housing Near Transit Act. This bill, which is supported by local and national housing organizations, will help facilitate creative ways to develop new, affordable housing units along transit lines. Transit entities like Sound Transit will now be able to transfer unused land to community and housing organizations for the purposes of building affordable, transit-accessible housing for those who need it most. As we invest in the expansion of public transit and work to combat the housing crisis, the Promoting Affordable Housing Near Transit Act gives our communities another tool to increase affordable housing along public transit corridors.

SEATTLE, WA – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), today issued the following statement after President Biden announced his intent to appoint Teresita Batayola, President and Chief Executive Officer of International Community Health Services, to the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI):
“Teresita Batayola is a true leader in our region and a champion for the health and wellbeing of the Asian and Pacific Islander community in Washington State. As President and Chief Executive Officer of International Community Health Services – Washington state’s largest Asian and Pacific Islander non-profit health center – Teresita has been, and continues to be, a strong advocate for health care access, equity, and addressing social determinants of health. Her work has helped countless people, many of them immigrants and refugees, get access to affordable and comprehensive health care.”
“I commend President Biden’s decision to appoint Teresita to his Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, which will advise the President on the many ways we can advance equity and opportunity for every AANHPI community. The work of this commission will also be critical to our collective response to the disturbing rise in incidents of anti-Asian xenophobia and violence. Teresita will be a leading voice in these conversations, where she will bring her extensive knowledge and experience from her work in the community to the table.”
“Congratulations to Teresita on your appointment. I look forward to seeing all the great work you do for the AANHPI community across the country and in Washington State.”


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement after the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced a $395.6 million grant award of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to King County Metro Transit in Seattle, Washington. 
“As the Puget Sound Region continues to grow, strengthening and expanding our transit network is crucial. The funds from the American Rescue Plan awarded this week will allow King County Metro to advance its mission of creating an accessible, affordable, and reliable transit system that helps the people of King County get where they need to go. Additionally, King County Metro has committed to move to a 100 percent zero-emissions fleet powered by battery-electric buses no later than 2040. This initiative puts us on a path towards a carbon free economy, and the funds announced today will help us move forward on that path.”
“As we all know, the transportation sector has been hit especially hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding will help King County Metro maintain service and retain jobs as we continue to recover. The riders and the employees of King County Metro will benefit greatly, as will our region.”
“The American Rescue Plan was signed into law by President Biden in March of this year and its impacts have been felt across the country, enabling communities to come back stronger from the pandemic. I am proud to see these funds come to Washington State. As federal agencies begin to distribute funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which was signed into law in November, and as Congress works to pass President Biden’s Build Back Better Act, we will continue to work towards our vision of an expansive, effective, and sustainable transportation system.”
SEATTLE, WA – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today issued the following statement on the passing of former Congresswoman Jolene Unsoeld. 
“With the passing of Congresswoman Unsoeld, Washington State – and the entire country – have lost a true champion for women, children, and the health of our planet. Congresswoman Unsoeld understood that few things are more important than protecting our environment, and she was a force for women’s rights. My thoughts are with Congresswoman Unsoeld’s family and loved ones as they mourn their loss.”