Press Releases

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.
     

Today U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) and his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 6406, which will extend trade preferences for developing nations and to establish permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Vietnam.  The bill passed by a vote of 212 to 184.

The measure extended the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) preference program for six months, the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for two years, and a critical provision of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for five years, in addition to establishing PNTR with Vietnam.

As a co-chair of the New Democrat Coalition, Smith supports trade preferences to help grow more robust economies and reduce poverty in underdeveloped nations.  These countries in turn provide larger, more stable markets for U.S.-made goods.  He was joined in his support for this legislation by groups including the ONE Campaign, Oxfam America, and Women’s Edge.

This measure also includes a provision to allow limits on imports from nations whose exports to the United States grow beyond certain levels or who develop beyond the need for preferential market access. 

“Impoverished countries need more than our sympathy; they need access to markets for their goods.  By extending these trade preferences, the United States shows that we are good neighbors in the global community and that we are partners in their fight to break out of the poverty trap.  America gains international credibility, increased stability in regions key to our security, and growing markets for our goods and services through these trade preference programs,” Smith said.

Smith’s support of these provisions is part of his larger effort to address global poverty.  He led a New Democrat Coalition effort to rally support among his congressional colleagues for this measure last week (see attached letter).  He is also the sponsor of the Global Poverty Act, H.R. 3605, in the House of Representatives and is an advocate for increased trade with developing nations to help them break out of the poverty trap.

By normalizing trade with Vietnam, the bill provides market access for American goods and services.  And, by approving Vietnam for World Trade Organization (WTO) membership, the United States gains a system for the resolution of trade disputes with a country that is our fastest growing export market in Asia.  Smith also hopes that this final step in normalizing relations with Vietnam will lead to greater economic and political liberalization.

“Vietnam is one of South Asia’s economic engines.  It is also a key export market for Washington State, which had $32.5 million in total exports to Vietnam in 2005.  The U.S. should not miss the chance to invest and trade in this growing market.  I am pleased this legislation permanently establishes normal trade relations with our newest WTO member.  The resulting transparency and dispute resolution process means that trade will be fairer and more likely to benefit American workers and companies,” Smith said.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) issued the following statement in response to the passage of S. 4046, a bill to extend the authority of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR):

“The Special Inspector General is essential to the oversight of Iraq spending.  The inspector general’s work has already saved American taxpayers an estimated $405 million so far, and there is no reason it should be arbitrarily terminated next year.  An expanded SIGIR mandate is key to increased oversight of the Administration’s Iraq policies as Congress and the President seek a swift and satisfactory conclusion to our commitment in Iraq.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) today issued the following statement after joining his colleagues to pass H.R. 6111, a bill that extended certain tax deductions and included a temporary fix to physician payments under Medicare.  The bill passed by a vote of 367-45:

I voted for this bill because of many of the good things it included.  However, I was very disappointed several key provisions were left out of the final package. 

Specifically, I was glad to see that we were able to extend tax deductions for state sales taxes, college tuition, and out-of-pocket teacher expenses.  These provisions help many working families stay afloat as they face economic challenges.

Unfortunately, these important tax deductions were paired with several troubling provisions.  The bill ignored the need for a timber tax deduction, something I worked hard to see included and that I plan to work for next year.  Increased ocean drilling was also needlessly included; we are not going to drill our way to energy independence, and Congress would be better served to back more funds for alternative energy research. 

While I am pleased that this bill will stop a 5.1 percent cut to Medicare physicians payments next year, Congress chose a sloppy solution that will undermine our ability to deal with this situation over the long-term.  Freezing the payment rates for physicians is merely a short-term fix.  Americans deserve better than this kind of lazy legislation; unless Congress seriously addresses this problem next year, we will once again face the same problem.  A long-term fix is critical to maintaining continuous service for Medicare recipients.  

 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) will join colleagues in meetings with both Speaker-designee Nancy Pelosi and President Bush this week to discuss the New Democrat Coalition’s agenda in the 110th Congress, as well as the needs of his constituents. 

“The New Democrat Coalition worked closely with Speaker-designee Pelosi to shape the Democratic Agenda while we were the minority party in Congress, and this week we will discuss how to implement, among other things, our Innovation Agenda now that we are in the majority,” Smith said.  “We look forward to joining with our colleagues in the Democratic Caucus to support the Speaker-designee’s ‘100 Hours’ plan.  And, we expect to work with our colleagues to enact a progressive agenda that will create broad-based economic prosperity, enhanced national security and more opportunity for all Americans.

Regarding the upcoming meeting with President Bush, Smith said: “We hope the invitation to meet with President Bush signals his willingness to set a more bipartisan tone in his congressional relations.  In the past, the Republican approach to bipartisanship has been to huddle among themselves, let Democrats know what they decided, and then demand our support.  Increased dialogue with Congress could help to bring a more balanced, thoughtful approach to our nation’s policies.” 

“I look forward to the chance to discuss specific policies with the President, including the Innovation Agenda backed by the NDC, Speaker-designee Pelosi, and the wider Democratic Caucus.  I also plan to convey my concerns about the continued deterioration of the situation in Iraq.”

Smith is a key Democratic voice in Congress:

  • Smith is the only Democrat serving concurrently on the House Armed Services and the House International Relations Committees.  This dual assignment provides him a unique perspective on the military and diplomatic issues in Iraq and around the world.
  • Smith is also the co-chair of the New Democrat Coalition, which is expected to grow to 60+ members in the 110th Congress.  New Democrats have built a reputation as the "go-to" group in Congress on the critical issues of economic growth, national security, personal responsibility, and technology development.

Information on the Innovation Agenda can be found at: http://www.housedemocrats.gov/news/librarydetail.cfm?library_content_id=557