Press Releases

Today Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) voted in favor of “The Armed Services Tax Fairness Act,” H.R. 1307, to provide $835 million in tax relief for men and women serving abroad and their families. 

“I am proud to support the men and women of the armed services who are working hard to keep our country safe,” said Smith.  “Those in the military give so much to preserve the security and prosperity of this country, and they deserve to be recognized and rewarded for their service.  This common sense tax relief for members of our military is one way that we can begin to repay their efforts.”

The Armed Services Tax Fairness Act provides tax relief to members of the armed services including provisions to extend the deadline for filing tax returns, exempt from taxes the death gratuity payments for survivors, create a tax deduction (whether or not an individual itemizes) for reservists and members of the National Guard of up to $1500 for travel more than 100 miles from home, and suspend the requirement that uniformed service members must have owned and used a home as a principal residence for at least two of five years to avoid capital gains taxes.  The act will save military families $85 million in taxes in 2003 and $835 million over the next decade.   

“Now more than ever, our task is to stand behind our courageous men and women in uniform and to stand beside their families.  The coming weeks will be difficult for us all, but especially hard on our troops and their families here at home,” said Smith.  “I am proud to represent Fort Lewis and McChord, as well as the thousands of military retirees, veterans, military families, and reservists in our area and I will continue to work to ensure their safety, their success and their security – at home and abroad.”

With state-side families firmly in his mind, Smith is currently working on a bill to restore Impact Aid funding, cut in the president’s budget, to assist elementary and secondary schools that teach large numbers of children of military personnel.  The funding helps schools, like the Clover Park schools serving Fort Lewis Army Base and McChord Air Force Base families, address relocation and deployment stress issues, increase security and force protection for schools on military installations, and foster partnerships between schools and installations. 

The Montgomery G.I. Bill (MGIB) has traditionally been one of tools used to make military service an attractive career option.  But we have to do a better job of providing better and more competitive educational benefits for all enlisted military members, and so Smith is working on legislation, similar to the MGIB bills he introduced last year, to extend the MGIB “enrollment period” so that service members have more time to make a decision on whether or not to enroll in the program, provide an enrollment opportunity for military members who declined enrollment in the Veterans Education Assistance Program from December 31, 1976 through July 1, 1985, and allow active-duty service members to transfer their GI benefits to a spouse or child after agreeing to sign up for an additional four years of duty. 

“It is critically important that we do all we can to support both our troops overseas and their families here in the states, and unfortunately the president made a huge mistake when he cut funding specifically for schools serving military families while sending parents to fight overseas,” said Smith.  “We’re going to work hard to make sure that mistakes like that don’t happen again while we’re fighting this war.  Combined with the Armed Services Tax Fairness Act the House passed today, the changes I’m proposing in Impact Aid and to the Montgomery G.I. Bill are a good first step in taking care of our military service members and their families – both during the current conflict and beyond.”

 

Today Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) will vote in favor of the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act,” H.R. 975, to overhaul bankruptcy law to require debtors to take responsibility for their debts and repay them when they are financially able.

“Requiring people to pay off the debt they incur when possible is a very basic tenet of personal responsibility,” said Smith. “People who can afford to repay their debts should do so.  The formula in this bill is very balanced and fair.  There are exemptions that ensure that if you earn up to four times the poverty level, which works out to around $80,000 a year, this legislation doesn’t affect you.  What it does do is make sure that you, the average American consumer, aren’t paying to retire the debts of people making hundreds of thousands of dollars.  This is a bill that will help, not hurt, low- and middle-income people.”

Under current law, bankruptcy filers may file under Chapter 7 and be absolved of all debt, or file under Chapter 13, preventing repossession of property but agreeing to repay some or all of their debt. H.R. 975 institutes a needs-based formula to steer more debtors into Chapter 13 and thereby require greater debt repayment.

This bill has no effect on people living below the median income of $80,000.  Only those living above the median income and who have the ability to pay off some or all of their debt are required to enter a repayment plan.  H.R. 975 provides allowances for living expenses, exempts child support payments, secured debts such as mortgage and car payments, retirement and education savings and determines an individual’s ability to pay their debt.  If there are extenuating circumstances, such as job loss or medical emergency, a judge can still opt to forgive the debt.  If it is determined that the debtor can afford to repay some of the debt, he or she is required to do so.

“Frankly, bankruptcy needs to be more of a last resort instead of a first action.  This conference report requires greater personal responsibility from debtors by ensuring that those who have the ability to pay off some of their debt do,” said Smith.  “It supports consumers by reducing irresponsible bankruptcy filings.  It is unfair that many higher-income families are declaring bankruptcy even when they have the ability to repay some of their debts, costing the average family hundreds of dollars a year in higher prices, limits access to credit (especially for those who already have trouble getting credit.”

Small businesses are another victim of irresponsible bankruptcy filings, according to Smith. “A small business can be devastated by just one or two debtors declaring bankruptcy and not paying their bills,” he explained. “The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act will change this by only allowing those consumers truly in need of bankruptcy filing to be absolved of their debts.” 

Since coming to Congress in 1997, Representative Adam Smith has been a leading Democrat in favor of Bankruptcy reform.  As a leader of the New Democrats in the House, Smith has long fought for common sense changes to bankruptcy laws.  The New Democrat Coalition has co-sponsored bankruptcy reform for the last three session of Congress and has continually provided key Democratic support for the issue.  Last March when the House considered H.R. 333, "The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2001," it was approved by a vote of 306-108, with 75 percent of all voting New Democrat members voting yes.

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today sent the following letter to President Bush urging the U.S. to begin bilateral talks with North Korea immediately.  Smith will work with colleagues in the coming days to pressure the administration to pursue a multilateral diplomatic approach to the situation in the Korean peninsula.

March 17, 2003

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC  20500

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing to express my deep concern over the failure of this Administration to effectively address the growing crisis involving North Korea.   This situation impacts the entire region – and indeed, the rest of the global community – and American leadership is needed to break the current diplomatic stalemate.

While I recognize that there are perhaps no good options with respect to managing this crisis, starting bilateral talks is the best policy at this time.  The current policy of doing nothing is leading us into an increasingly dangerous situation.

Since acknowledging the existence of their nuclear program last fall, North Korea has grown increasingly bellicose and unpredictable.  They apparently removed from the Yongbyon reactor spent nuclear fuel rods which, if reprocessed, could yield enough plutonium for as many as six nuclear weapons.  They have announced an intention to withdraw from the Nonproliferation Treaty, expelled International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, removed IAEA safeguards and disabled monitoring equipment at the Yongbyon facility.  Recently, North Korean fighters have engaged American surveillance aircraft in international airspace.  Further, North Korea’s failing economy, large conventional forces and growing proliferation of chemical and biological weapons pose a grave threat to international stability.

Based on recent official statements, it is clear that the Administration remains unwilling to marshal the appropriate diplomatic resources and engage in a direct dialogue with North Korea.  This is not a tenable strategy.  I strongly urge you to appoint a high level envoy charged with engaging in high level, direct dialogue with North Korea.  This person should also be responsible for working with South Korea, Japan, Russia, China and other nations that have influence over North Korea - or a stake in resolving North Korea's nuclear status diplomatically.  At the very least, the Secretary of State and National Security Advisor must aggressively develop a short term strategy for engaging North Korea.

Talks should begin immediately.   We should not simply stand aside while a dangerous and unpredictable dictator builds nuclear weapons.  The risk involved in allowing this to happen far outweighs the problems of agreeing to bilateral talks with North Korea. 

I request that you inform the Congress of your plans to resolve the crisis in North Korea as soon as possible.

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to your response.

                                                                        Sincerely,
                                                                        Adam Smith
                                                                        Member of Congress

Last night, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) was named to the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee and the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.  

“I am very eager to continue my work on the House Armed Services Committee in the areas of “Air-Land” Forces and Terrorism.  With two military bases in my district and the clear need for greater national attention to terrorism and homeland security issues, these Subcommittees are great opportunities for me to work on issues that are critical to the Ninth District,” said Smith.  “Over the years on the Armed Services Committee, I’ve worked on modernizing our military and investing in tomorrow's technology, as well ensuring that Department of Defense resources are used efficiently and that America's fighting men and women have the tools and equipment they need to fulfill their missions.   I am proud to represent two bases, the Fort Lewis Army Base and the McChord Air Force Base, as well as thousands of military retirees, veterans, military families, and reservists.  I understand how important it is to recruit and retain the best and brightest for our Armed Services, and to do so, we must work to make military service an attractive career option.”

“I also believe that going forward, we must use technology as a tool for securing our nation and fighting the war on terrorism,” continued Smith.  “This means leveraging our national assets – including the National Labs, universities, the private sector and small business – to develop and bring to bear technologies designed to protect critical infrastructure, identify threats and prevent potential attacks, for example.  I will continue to work on these issues with my new assignments.” 

The House Armed Services Committee Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee is responsible for all Army and Air Force acquisition programs (except strategic weapons and lift programs, special operations and information technology accounts). In addition, the subcommittee will be responsible for all Navy and Marine Corps aviation programs, National Guard and Army and Air Force reserve modernization, and ammunition programs.  The Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee is responsible for Department of Defense counter proliferation and counter terrorism programs and initiatives. In addition, the subcommittee will be responsible for Special Operations Forces, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, information technology policy and programs, force protection policy and oversight, and related intelligence support.  For a complete description of the Committee and Subcommittee’s activities, visit http://www.house.gov/hasc/.

For the text of a speech outlining Smith’s vision of a modern foreign policy in the post cold-war world, visit http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/wa09_smith/021029pr.html.

For the press release announcing Smith’s appointment to the House International Relations Committee, visit http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/wa09_smith/030131pr.html.

Late last night, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) was appointed to the Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee. 

“This is a very exciting subcommittee appointment for both me and Washington state,” said Smith.  “Our state has strong ties with Asia, both culturally and in terms of trade, and American 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,” continued Smith.  “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.  It’s vitally important, and I am looking forward to working on this task in my new assignment.”

The House International Relations Committee deals with oversight and legislation relating the deployment and use of United States Armed Forces; enforcement of United Nations or other international sanctions; the Agency for International Development; State and Defense Department activities involving arms transfers and sales, and arms export licenses; international law; promotion of democracy; international law enforcement issues, including terrorism and narcotics control programs and activities; and other matters relating to international economic policy and trade.  The Asia and Pacific Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee is charged with the oversight of all U.S. interests in East Asia.   For a complete description of the Committee and Subcommittee’s activities, visit http://www.house.gov/international_relations/.

For the text of a speech outlining Smith’s vision of a modern foreign policy in the post cold-war world, visit http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/wa09_smith/021029pr.html.

For the press release announcing Smith’s appointment to the House International Relations Committee, visit http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/wa09_smith/030131pr.html.