Press Releases

Today, U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) gave a speech at the Tacoma Club focusing on meeting the challenges of global poverty. Smith, a Member of the House International Relations Committee, is passionate about global poverty issues and believes the United States has a moral obligation to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people. Smith also announced the introduction of his bipartisan bill, HR 3605, called the Global Poverty Act of 2005.

Smith stated that the bill is an “important piece of legislation [that] requires the President to develop a comprehensive strategy to vastly reduce global poverty and eliminate extreme global poverty and report back to Congress on its progress. This plan should include foreign assistance, foreign and local private investment, technical assistance, public-private partnerships and debt relief. The bill declares that the reduction of global poverty and the elimination of extreme global poverty are a priority of U.S. foreign policy and that the U.S. should work with all the players involved in this fight, including developing and donor countries and multilateral institutions to coordinate policies to address global poverty.”

In his speech, Smith said that “nearly half of the world’s population is struggling in poverty and one-sixth of the world’s population can’t meet even the most basic needs for survival. This is morally unacceptable.” Smith believes that “the United States needs a comprehensive strategy, one that currently does not exist, to help eliminate extreme global poverty.” He went on to state that “we need to leverage development aid, debt relief, technical assistance and public-private partnerships. We need to coordinate with world bodies, including the United Nations, to help impoverished countries devise plans that will work for them. The United States has a moral obligation and a strategic need to help eradicate global poverty.”

Smith outlined four concrete steps that can be taken to deal with the problems associated with extreme global poverty: ensure that developing countries have a decent infrastructure, the ability to reduce the effects of debilitating diseases on their population, access to affordable credit to help build their small businesses that drive their economies and finally access to a free, universal education system.

After outlining these four steps, Smith noted, “that the United States can have an enormous and positive impact on nations in need. However, the formula for success must include close coordination with the recipient nation as well as other donors and multilateral development organizations. The best aid programs are those that have substantial buy-in from the local policy makers and are met with a commensurate commitment to sound economic policies, social services, education, and a strengthening of political institutions.”

In discussing a strategic plan to eliminate global poverty, Smith said, “the plan would incorporate current aid programs, like the Millennium Challenge Account, and would ensure consistency with our foreign policy goals.”

Smith has been deeply focused on the issue of global poverty and in March, 2005 he participated in the Trade and Poverty Forum in Nagoya, Japan.  The forum brought together leaders from the business, political and NGO communities to develop strategies for combating poverty.  Smith understands that our nation must make a greater commitment to poverty alleviation and view these efforts as an investment that can foster global stability and security, build alliances throughout the world and reduce the sense of hopelessness for billions of people.  He is committed to helping marshal the political and social will to address global poverty.

The complete text of the speech can be found at

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) made the following statement today on the Energy Conference Report:

“The Energy Conference Report, while containing some good policies that are the product of bipartisan compromise, does not do enough to shift U.S. energy policy away from old fossil fuels and subsidies, to clean and fuel efficient energy proposals and initiatives.

This conference report is disappointing and in effect preserves the status quo. America continues to be too heavily dependant on foreign oil and this bill does too little to lessen our dependence. There are some provisions contained in the bill that are visionary and lead American energy policy in the right direction. For example, a provision by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) promotes the production of biofuels, which will one day help lessen our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil.  Her plan promotes the development of ethanol and biodiesel from a wider variety of crops, agricultural waste or even algae. Numerous studies have shown that alternative energy sources such as these can one day help provide the economic and environmental security that this country needs and deserves.

Another noteworthy provision included in the bill was a two-year extension of the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) for qualified wind energy generation facilities. I wrote a letter to Chairman Bill Thomas asking that this important provision be included in the final report. Over the last decade, wind energy generation technology has grown enormously, allowing turbines to become more efficient and generate more power. A multiple-year extension will promote this technology and help end the boom and bust cycles that have put several wind energy pioneers out of business.

Alternative energy sources such as biofuel and wind are important, but this bill does not take these initiatives or those like them far enough. In addition, this bill contains billions in subsidies for fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas; subsidies that do not make sense if we are serious about switching to alternative energy sources and lessening our dependence on foreign oil.We must be prepared to invest in forward-thinking and emerging technologies, renewable energy, and energy efficiency and conservation.

This bill is also fiscally irresponsible, containing $11 billion in subsidies that are not off-set by reductions in other spending. With a projected federal deficit of over $400 billion, we cannot afford to continue to pass spending bills and tax cuts that are not offset.

The Bush Administration’s backward-looking energy and environmental polices have left the United States ill-equipped to compete with other nations in the booming global market for environmentally clean technologies. We can, and should, do better. By making investments in emerging technologies and renewable energy resources, the United States has the potential to be a net exporter of renewable energy, not an importer of foreign oil.

The time is now for the United States to adopt a real energy policy: a policy that will invest in new technologies, new energy resources and that will increase our national security by decreasing our dependence on foreign oil. It is time for us to adopt an energy policy that not only makes the United States a net-exporter of renewable energy but that protects our environment as well. This bill does not go far enough, and it is for these reasons that I voted against the Energy Conference Report.”

ve Adam Smith today declared victory in their efforts to secure critical federal funding for the South Sound's transportation priorities.  The three secured over $41 million for the region in legislation reauthorizing surface transportation spending through 2009.

SAFETEA-LU, which the House will pass tonight and is expected to clear the Senate tomorrow, sets the funding levels for highways, ferries, and transit programs through 2009. 

"With the leadership of Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, I'm pleased that we have been able to provide urgently needed dollars for projects in our state and the Ninth District," said U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Tacoma). "While more needs to be done to relieve congestion and improve the quality of life for our citizens, the SAFETEA-LU transportation bill represents real bipartisan progress in addressing our regional needs. I will continue working with local stakeholders and others in our delegation to craft real transportation solutions that will enhance our productivity and ensure that the South Puget Sound remains a great place to live and do business."

"I am proud to have partnered with Rep. Smith and Sen. Cantwell to stand up for the transportation needs of the South Puget Sound," Senator Murray said.  "In a tough budget year, under tough conditions, we stood together to make the investments that will create jobs, improve safety and lay the foundation for our region's future economic growth."

"We need to think of these federal funds as an investment.  These are well spent dollars that will create jobs, improve our quality of life, and literally keep our economy moving," Senator Cantwell said.  "I'm proud of the way the delegation has worked together in these tight financial times to make sure Washington gets the improvements our communities need."

The following is a list of Ninth District projects:

State Route 167 - $9.5 million

This funding will help complete State Route 167, which will connect the Port of Tacoma at State Route 509 to Puyallup at State Route 161.  This project will improve freight mobility, provide congestion relief, and enhance safety. 

Cross Base Highway - $3.2 million

Funding will help build a new six-mile highway from I-5 to State Route 7, between Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base.  It will also link I-5 with the mid-Pierce County area, where the Frederickson High Intensity Employment Center (including the Boeing plant) and the Dupont area (located approximately 5 miles south on I-5 and the site of the Intel computer chip manufacturing and R/D plant) are located. 

Yelm 510/507 - $2 million

Funding is provided to conduct engineering, design and right-of-way acquisition for the construction of an alternative route to two highways that bisect the heart of downtown Yelm.  Once constructed, the Yelm "Loop" would divert traffic around the backlogged intersections of State Route 510 and State Route 507.  This project would create a smoother flow of traffic and create greater capacity for economic growth in Yelm.

Renton 405/167 - $1.6 million

Funding rebuilds the interchange of two vital transportation corridors, State Route 167 and Interstate-405, by adding additional lanes.  It will help to reduce long waits in traffic at a critical choke point in the regions traffic flow and ease the commute of thousands of people in the Puget Sound region.

Tukwila Urban Access - $2.550 million

This funding addresses necessary congestion improvements to the Southcenter Parkway, between Tukwila Parkway and 61st Avenue South and South 168th Street.  This area is the primary entry/exit point into this major regional retail and warehousing area. 

State Route 518 from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to I-405 - $5 million

This project funds improvements along the State Route 518 corridor.  It will increase access to Sea-Tac Airport and the surrounding cities of Burien, SeaTac and Tukwila.  It provides for the safe and efficient movement of people and goods in the region.

Port of Tacoma Road - $400,000

This funding allows for a second left turn lane to be constructed from westbound Pacific Highway to Port of Tacoma Road.  Identified as a necessary improvement, this project is critical to the planned extension of State Route 167 into the Port of Tacoma and will increase capacity at a highly congested intersection.  In addition, the project will also include pedestrian and bicycle improvements along the full length of the project. 

Lincoln Avenue Grade Separation Project in Tacoma - $2.3 million

The Lincoln Avenue grade separation project in Tacoma will construct an 1,100 foot, four lane concrete viaduct over five existing railroad lines.  This is part of several planned improvements in the Port area of Tacoma and will eliminate the long waits that currently hamper freight mobility at this rail crossing.

Valley Avenue/70th Avenue - $800,000

The project would widen both 70th Avenue East and Valley Ave East in Pierce County.  The project widens 70th Avenue East from 2 to 5 lanes, from 20th Street East to Valley Avenue East, and will also widen Valley Avenue East from 2 to 4 lanes, from 70th Avenue East to Freeman Road East.  Once completed, the improvements will reduce congestion and enhance safety at an important point of access for freight to the Port of Tacoma.

Kent Willis UP Tracks - $800,000

The Willis Street (SR 516) UP Railroad Grade Separation Project will construct a bridge for the Union Pacific railroad and reconstruct Willis Street to pass underneath the UP tracks.  This project is a critical step towards providing a more seamless passage for rail and truck freight through the Green River Valley.  It eliminates rail/vehicle at-grade conflicts that slow the movement of truck freight between the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma and the warehousing complex in the Valley.

 Federal Way Triangle - $5.6 million

 The Federal Way Triangle project will reconstruct the interchange at the intersection of I-5, State Route 18 and State Route 161.  This overburdened interchange is the fifth-busiest in the State and has been identified by the Washington State Department of Transportation as a "High Accident Location."  This project will provide relief and increased safety for commuters and businesses moving goods in the region.

Burien Town Square Roadway and Pedestrian Improvements -- $4 million

 The City of Burien is redeveloping 10 acres of underutilized property in downtown Burien to support economic development and affordable housing.  This funding will allow for an extension of 6th Avenue, connections to Burien's transit center with an emphasis on pedestrian use and safety, and the development of streets within the Town Square project.

Tukwila Southcenter Parkway Extension -- $3 million

Funding will be used to relocate, widen, and improve Southcenter Parkway between south 180th Street and south 200th.  This extension will provide access to the Tukwila South Development project.

Kent I-5/272nd Street SPUI - $800,000

This single point urban interchange (SPUI) under Interstate-5 will be constructed at South 272nd Street.  This project will relieve congestion and add capacity for an integrated regional HOV-transit system.  The community surrounding the interchange will benefit with the efficient movement of freight, faster commutes and increased safety.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) is disappointed that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives refused to address the health care crisis that the United States is facing and chose instead to help those least in need. He made the following statement:

“The U.S. House of Representatives had an historic opportunity this week to help the more than 45 million Americans without health insurance,” said Smith. “Instead, the Republican majority passed bills that protect Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) and not doctors and patients. We also passed an Association Heal Plans (AHPs) bill that only helps a small fraction of uninsured Americans.

H.R. 5, the Medical Malpractice Reform Act is a bad bill because it broadly defines “medical malpractice action” to protect HMOs, insurance companies, nursing homes and drug and device manufacturers from a broad range of liabilities, including suits by physicians against those companies. The bill provides a cap on punitive damages that is far too low and would hurt those at the bottom end of the income scale.  It will also seriously restrict the rights of injured patients from being fully compensated for their injury by imposing an impossibly high standard of proof needed to bring a successful case against negligent defendants.  Instead of penalizing innocent victims of medical malpractice, Congress should be focusing on reducing the number of mistakes made.  Medical errors and rising malpractice insurance rates are important issues that must be dealt with but unfortunately this bill does not fix these problems.  

I was also disappointed about the passage of H.R. 525, the Small Business Health Fairness Act, which creates AHPs. If this legislation is enacted, these AHP’S sold by associations would be exempt from state insurance law and regulatory oversight. The right of states to apply a large body of insurance laws and regulations would be removed, undermining consumer protections, solvency and fair marketing practices, grievance and appeals procedures, premium taxation and prohibitions on discrimination. This bill would create a big government program and expand federal control by giving the government sole regulatory authority over these entities. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that only 600,000 of the more than 45 million uninsured will be provided new coverage by AHPs. This is not only unfair and does nothing to help solve the health care crisis that our country faces.

I voted for an alternative bill to AHPs that would have established a health insurance plan similar to the plan enjoyed by Federal employees. Unlike, AHPs, this alternative would not have allowed insurance companies to cherry pick younger healthier workers. Everyone would be on equal footing and older and sicker Americans would not be forced to pay higher insurance premiums or have no insurance at all. Most importantly, under this alternative bill, participating insurers would remain subject to state laws applicable to the states in which they cover residents.

America needs a real solution to our mounting health care crisis. The bills that passed the House of Representatives this week are not a step forward and do not address the needs of the more than 45 million uninsured. Alternatives that would have helped America were proposed but did not pass. I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that Americans get the healthcare coverage they need and deserve."

U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) made the following statement today concerning his disappointment in the passage of the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement:

“I am disappointed that the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Dominican-Republic Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), “said U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, (D-WA). “I am an advocate of free trade, but CAFTA is a fundamentally flawed trade agreement that does not balance the needs of American workers and companies, nor the needs of the nations with which we trade.

It is clear that America needs to have a discussion and build a real consensus, one that does not currently exists, around the issues of trade, globalization and international competitiveness.

To build this consensus at home, America needs a modern, clear-eyed approach to the challenges of globalization. Competition has grown more fierce, more markets and consumers have become available, technology is changing the game, our workers are not prospering and we don’t really know how to factor in very real environmental concerns.

To build a consensus abroad, we must understand that workers’ rights and effective labor and environmental enforcement mechanisms are crucial to ensuring that developing nations fully and effectively participate in the global economy.

Our current debate over CAFTA barely touched on these new realities. 

My hope is that we can begin to talk not just about narrow trade agreements, but about what strategies we must adopt as a nation to ensure we meet the new 21st century challenges of globalization head on, allowing our companies to prosper, our world to grow closer together, our environment protected and our workers to succeed.   By doing so, we can move our nation and our trading partners forward in a way that makes real and sustainable progress toward opening markets, growing our economy and lifting developing states out of poverty.

This consensus must be grounded in balancing the interests and needs of American workers with those of private companies.  Time and again, the Bush Administration has chosen economic policies that undermine our ability to invest in education and skills training that are desperately needed in this country. Domestically, we must aggressively implement policies that help Americans succeed in the increasingly competitive global economy.  We must invest in providing skills training and lifelong learning opportunities so that American workers have the opportunity to upgrade their skills or get new jobs. We must invest in K-12 education, particularly in math and science, to ensure that we continue to lead the world in innovation. We must invest in research and development and partner with universities, businesses and entrepreneurs in developing new technologies and encouraging innovation that will drive our economy and create the jobs of the future. The American workforce and companies must be prepared to take on the challenges and reap the rewards of globalization.

Internationally, we must seek to improve workers’ rights – and raise the standard of living – in developing nations throughout the world.  Better protections for workers and a genuine effort to improve worker’s rights internationally are essential to forging this new consensus. Clearly, we do not expect workers in developing countries to instantly have the same legal protections as workers in the United States. However, there is no reason that our standard for worker protections can’t match those of the Jordan trade agreement. That agreement not only required Jordan to enforce their existing labor laws but to also make progress towards meeting all International Labor Organization standards.  At the same time, the enforcement provisions for the worker protection language should be on the same footing as robust intellectual property and investor’s rights.

With CAFTA, an opportunity has been missed to put forward an agreement that balances the need to open global markets to American workers and businesses and promotes growth and stability overseas. As negotiated by the Bush Administration, CAFTA actually weakens the existing workers’ protections currently available under the United States’ existing trade preference programs with the region. Similarly, on environmental protection, rural development and public health, this agreement falls short. While CAFTA rightly includes protections for the intellectual property rights that are so important to our region, the Administration failed to take such a serious approach on workers’ rights and environmental protections.

The United States must craft a competitiveness policy that provides American workers and businesses with real opportunity to grow and that strengthens our economy. We must build a trade policy that creates foreign markets for our products, not only a vast pool of unskilled laborers who have no hope of fully participating in a global economy. We believe that our nation must be bold in crafting policies to deal with the current economic realities.  We must rise to meet the historic challenge presented by globalization. By doing so, we can build a real consensus on trade that is bipartisan, comprehensive and puts our nation’s workers and businesses in a stronger position to compete and win in the global marketplace.

CAFTA and indeed many of the Administration’s economic policies falls far short of creating a cohesive and comprehensive policy on trade.”