Press Releases

Tonight, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation authorizing the creation of the new Department of Homeland Security, effectively strengthening our nation’s response to the war on terrorism.  Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement after the 295-132 vote:

“Today I am proud to join with my colleagues in the House to pass landmark legislation creating a new Department of Homeland Security.  

“While there is no silver bullet in the fight against terrorism, this new department is a step toward reorganizing our government in a manner that reflects the threats in the post-Cold War world.  I intend to monitor the implementation of this new Department closely.  If done correctly and effectively, our nation will be safer.  A coordinated structure for identifying, deterring and responding to any future attacks will go a long way toward the goal of better security.   

“I’m also pleased with the emphasis that we’ve placed on technology as a tool for securing our nation and fighting the war on terrorism.  This bill leverages our national assets - including the National Labs, universities, the private sector and small businesses - to develop and bring to bear many of the technology answers that we need.  I’m committed to continuing my efforts to make sure the government develops and procures the best and most innovative technologies in the world. 

“Working with Congressman Tom Davis (R-Va.), I was able to add an amendment to H.R. 5005 that will significantly strengthen federal cyber-preparedness by requiring all agencies to implement specific, baseline security standards established by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST).

“Recent public opinion surveys indicate that over 70 percent of Americans are concerned about Internet and computer security and 74 percent are concerned about terrorists using the Internet to launch a cyber-attack against our country’s infrastructure.   One survey shows that half of all IT professionals believe that a major attack will be launched against the Federal Government in the next 12 months.  In November of last year, a GAO-based report card on Federal agency computer security that concluded that nearly every agency deserves a failing grade for its computer security preparedness.

“This language is essential to ensuring that there are incentives for America’s technology industries to continue producing the most secure solutions possible, and that Federal Government information security is second to none.

“Despite these successes, however, I was disappointed with the failure of amendments designed to ensure that employees in the new Homeland Security Department have reasonable protections and maintain the right to collectively bargain.  I know that these rights can make a real difference in the lives of many American families and I hope these issues can be worked out in conference committee.”

Today, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed tough corporate reform legislation to create a strong, independent oversight board, increase civil and criminal penalties on corporate wrongdoers.  Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement today after the 412-3 vote to approve the House-Senate conference report on corporate reform:

“Today’s passage of the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act is an important step forward in restoring investor confidence in our economy.  

“Recent announcements that profits and earnings were inflated, devastating bankruptcies, and plummeting investor confidence demonstrated that we needed to take a look at our regulatory and legal framework for corporate oversight.  

“The bill takes an important and much-needed step towards greater auditor independence, including a GAO study of mandatory auditor rotation.  I believe rotation would substantially improve an auditor’s independence, thereby leading to more reliable audits.  While I realize the accounting industry strongly opposes rotation, I look forward to seeing this study and determining if mandatory rotation would be in America’s best interest.”

Last night, the House voted to pass the Supplemental Appropriations bill, which designated $28.9 billion for emergency purposes.  Among the projects deemed “emergency spending” were the conversion of Washington D.C.’s metro system fare vending machines to accept one dollar coins and mail service in rural Alaska.  Controversial language providing trade protections for two textile states was also included in this bill.   The Supplement also contained funds to make up for the President's cuts to important, ongoing government programs like Pell Grants and medical care for Veterans.  In order to restore funding to those programs, the House declared they were emergency expenditures, thereby assuring that these dollars are not subject to the same federal budget spending caps.  The following is a statement from Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) on his vote against the Supplemental and “emergency spending.”

“While critical needs were funded as a part of the supplemental appropriations bill, it was also yet another step towards higher budget deficits, a soaring national debt, and a raid of the Social Security trust fund.

“Without a doubt, our defense and foreign affairs budgets need additional money because we have new challenges.  However, the federal government cannot continue using the war on terrorism as an excuse to abandon fiscal restraint.  The Administration originally requested $27.1 billion in additional funding, but that number kept going up and this package was over $30 billion.  I don’t believe there was a thorough enough examination of how much money was truly needed even for these important tasks, let alone the additional non-defense related spending that was thrown into the bill.

“Furthermore, Congress did not pay for this new spending.  We already know that our deficit has exploded this year, and new spending measures that aren’t paid for will only make the situation worse.  Just because a program is important doesn’t mean we should break the bank for it.  We need to develop a new, fiscally responsible budget that fully funds the war on terrorism and sets the stage for a strong economy.

“My concern is that Congress and the White House are acting as though fiscally responsibility no longer matters because of our new challenge in fighting terrorism.  That just isn’t true.  Fiscal responsibility must be a cornerstone of our economic policy, and I will continue fighting to get our budget balanced.”

Today, the House rejected an attempt to reverse normal trade relations with Vietnam.  The following is a statement from Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) on his support for continuing trade relations with Vietnam.  

“I supported the renewal of the Jackson-Vanik amendment for Vietnam in 1999 and I support the renewal again this year.  I believe that overturning the waiver would have serious negative implications for our relations with Vietnam and our larger interests in Southeast Asia.  We are well on our way towards developing a bilateral trade agreement with Vietnam that would bring us closer to promoting stability in this often-volatile region.

“Trade with Vietnam has doubled in the last few years.  As Asia’s fourth largest nation, Vietnam is our second-fastest-growing source of imports.  Since the end of the trade embargo in 1995, a dynamic commercial relationship has developed between the two nations, ranging from American sales of cotton, semiconductor chips and computers to Vietnamese exports of coffee and shrimp.

“American trade 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.  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.  Cutting off trade with Vietnam would be a step backwards, not forwards, in our efforts.”

At a forum today on the uninsured crisis in America, Congressman Adam Smith (D-09, Tacoma) called on Congress to take action to help states deal with the ballooning numbers of uninsured individuals.  

The forum offered a look at the nation’s pending uninsured crisis, discussed ways in which small businesses in Washington can provide coverage to their employees at reasonable cost and presented both long- and short-term strategies to combat the problem.  

 “Health care costs continue to rise, and an increasing number of Americans feel unsure about the quality of their health care and whether or not they will have insurance a year from today,” said Smith.  “Washington state, like many other states around the country, is currently experiencing budgetary shortfalls, and with our economy in a downturn as well, it is crucial that people have the tools to take care of themselves and their families.  Access to quality health care is one of those fundamental needs.”

 “From annual check-ups to specialist visits to affordable prescription drugs, many of our neighbors aren’t getting the basic services they need.  To combat this, I believe we must make it a goal that every American has health insurance,” continued Smith.  “Not only will this clearly help the 43 million who currently do not have health care, but it makes good economic sense for all of us - people who don't have health care get their medical attention through costly emergency room services, for which taxpayers end up footing the bill. We need to get these uninsured people paying into the insurance system and the way that makes the most sense right now, given our economic situation and the demographics of this uninsured population, is through employers.  But Congress has to step in and make sure that there are incentives for businesses to do so.  We need to take the lead and offer proactive help to the states here.”

 “Eight out of ten uninsured Americans come from wage earning households” said Alan Mertz, Executive Vice President of Healthcare Leadership Council, one of the participants in Smith’s forum. “Today’s forum helped local business groups better understand the options available to Washington State employers and the steps Congress can take, including refundable tax incentives, to make sure more Americans are covered.”

Tackling the problem of the large numbers of uninsured individuals in the state is one more way in which Smith is working to make sure that no matter what the economy is doing, we maintain a high quality of life for all our citizens under a fiscally responsible banner.  Smith is the lead co-sponsor in the House of the "MediFAIR Act," H.R. 4850, which would ensure that Washington’s seniors are treated on par with seniors around the country.  It will stop punishing Washington state’s health care system and our seniors and instead reward the efficiency and good results the state has produced.  He is also introducing a comprehensive Unemployment Insurance reform package to modernize the program for today's economy.