Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement today after the House passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act, a package to protect and expand voting rights, restore integrity to government, and democracy reform put the needs and priorities of the American people ahead of special interests.

“Today, I voted with House Democrats to answer the call from the American people to restore our democracy with a broad package of reforms to take on campaign finance regulations, expand voting rights, and combat corruption with improved transparency and ethics in all three branches of the federal government. As we see a historic number of attacks and proposed restrictions on voting rights propagating in state legislatures across the country, Congress must make good on our promise to restore and protect the most basic and consequential civic duty of every American. Everyone must be guaranteed a voice in our democracy and H.R. 1 is a critical first step in restoring that promise.

“H.R. 1 will modernize voter registration and increase access to support free and fair elections with more equitable electoral practices fit for the 21st century. By instituting automatic voter registration, requiring early voting options, supporting voting by mail, and increasing voting locations especially near public transportation, this legislation will empower voters across our country and ensure their voices are heard at all levels of government. It ends the practice of partisan gerrymandering, which has allowed political parties to choose their voters when it should be voters picking their representatives. This bill will also take steps to end the dominance of big money in political campaigns by upgrading online political advertisement disclosures and requiring all organizations involved in political activity to disclose their large donors to prevent hidden sources of political spending.

“These protections will ultimately empower citizens and ensure their representatives remain transparent and accountable to them. H.R. 1 paves the way to restoring the Voting Rights Act and pushing back on the Supreme Court’s misguided Citizens United ruling. Renewing the public’s confidence in our democracy and accountability requires a comprehensive approach. I am proud to support this important step in reforming our electoral process to increase transparency and integrity in our democratic process.

For more information about H.R. 1, see the policy fact sheet here.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement after the House passed the American Rescue Plan Act, comprehensive legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis.

“Last week, the United States reached the solemn milestone of 500,000 lives lost to COVID-19. The dire health impact of the pandemic has been followed by enormous ongoing economic consequences for individuals, families, and businesses. Amidst this suffering, I believe there is finally reason for optimism with vaccine distribution expanding and disease prevalence falling. The American Rescue Plan passed in the House is enormously important to continue this progress and is crucial to help combat the virus, get our children back in the classroom safely, ramp up equitable vaccine distribution, extend and expand unemployment insurance, and provide immediate economic relief for families.

“Combatting the pandemic must be the number one priority of relief efforts. Building on the work of the Biden Administration, the American Rescue Plan Act will bolster the national vaccination plan, scale up testing and contact tracing, address shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), and resolve inequities in our health care response. The bill makes critical investments to increase the capacity of local and tribal public health agencies who are on the frontlines of pandemic response. After repeated refusals from Republicans last year, Democrats are finally providing additional resources to state and local governments that will help protect the jobs of first responders, frontline public health workers, teachers, public transit workers, social service providers, and other essential workers that we all depend on.

“Students, educators, and parents have worked tirelessly to make virtual learning work during the pandemic. The $130 billion investment in K-12 schools included in the American Rescue Plan will help make safe re-opening possible by helping local school districts secure additional PPE, hire additional support staff, and repair ventilation systems. To help close the digital divide, the bill vastly increases support for expanding broadband services in underserved communities.

“The economic support in the bill provides an immediate lifeline for those in need and paves the way for long-term recovery. It expands and extends unemployment benefits, increases direct housing and nutrition assistance, and expands access to childcare. The American Rescue Plan will also make health insurance more affordable for millions of people by significantly expanding subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, incentivizing Medicaid expansion in states, and increasing the health insurance subsidies for individuals who lose their job. The bill includes a long-sought temporary expansion of Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, lifting millions of children and individuals out of poverty. While the question of inclusion of the minimum wage increase remains unclear in the Senate, the $15 minimum wage increase for 27 million workers—many of whom have worked through this pandemic as essential workers—is a necessary step to lift them out of poverty and strengthen our economy.

“The American Rescue Plan should not be a partisan bill; it does what is necessary to meet the scope of the crisis we face. I urge the Senate to act quickly so we can get relief to people as soon as possible.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement after the House voted to pass the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act which would provide permanent protections for millions of acres of public lands and waters to conserve these iconic landscapes, promote outdoor recreation, and protect communities from the impacts of the climate crisis.

“As communities across the country feel the consequences of climate change, this important legislation recognizes the need to make the expansion and protection of public lands a key component in our response to the climate crisis. This bill permanently protects public lands and waters by designating approximately 1.5 million acres of wilderness and incorporating more than 1,000 river miles into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. It also withdraws more than 1.2 million acres of public land from new oil and gas and mining claims.

“Under the leadership of Congressman Derek Kilmer, the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act included in the package would permanently protect the last remaining acres of ancient and mature forests on the Olympic Peninsula. With the support of tribes, local communities and businesses, conservationists, and the outdoor recreation industry, this legislation will help nature-deprived communities access parks and public lands, protect areas sacred to Indigenous peoples, ensure clean and safe drinking water, preserve wildlife habitats, and promote the outdoor recreation economy.

“President Biden has proposed necessary climate goals, including protecting 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030. These designations will get us closer to that goal and promote access to clean water, clean air, and healthy outdoor recreation opportunities while supporting local economies and historically underserved communities.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement after the House voted to pass the Equality Act which would explicitly prohibit discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community.

“The Equality Act guarantees that LGBTQ people can live their lives free from the fear of discrimination. LGBTQ people deserve to enjoy and exercise the same rights and responsibilities as all other Americans. As an original cosponsor, I’m proud to join my colleagues in passing this important bill in the House today.”

“President Biden pledged to make LGBTQ rights a priority of his first 100 days in office – signing the Equality Act into law would be a huge step in making good on that promise. Dozens of states already provide protections for LGBTQ people and it is time to end the patchwork set of laws that grant people constitutional rights based on their zip code. In more than half the country, a same-sex couple could be married one day and be fired from their jobs or evicted from their apartment the next day.

“No one should face discrimination for the way they look, who they are, or who they love. The Equality Act will amend existing federal civil rights laws to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, education, housing, credit, jury service, public accommodations, and federal funding. It is critical that we remedy these disparities at the federal level by signing the Equality Act into law.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives Adam Smith (WA-09), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-08), and Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) and Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today sent a letter to Director Carvajal of the Bureau of Prisons and Director Washington of the U.S. Marshals Service regarding the concerning COVID-19 outbreak at Federal Detention Center (FDC) SeaTac.

“According to information from the FDC, there were 206 COVID-19 cases on January 6, 2021 – almost a third of the population positive at one time,” the members wrote. “An outbreak leading to such a high percentage of positive cases raises significant questions about the COVID-19 prevention and mitigation measures in place at the FDC.

“Members of Congress have repeatedly called on BOP to take more actions to prevent and contain COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities,” they continued. “It is known that congregate settings such as prisons are at higher risks for transmission and outbreaks of diseases such as COVID-19.”

You can read the full letter here and below:

Dear Mr. Carvajal and Mr. Washington:

We write with grave concern regarding the COVID-19 practices at the Federal Detention Center (FDC) SeaTac. According to information from the FDC, there were 206 COVID-19 cases on January 6, 2021 – almost a third of the population positive at one time. An outbreak leading to such a high number of cases raises significant questions about the COVID-19 prevention and mitigation measures in place at the FDC.

Members of Congress have repeatedly called on BOP to take more actions to prevent and contain COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities. It is known that congregate settings such as prisons are at higher risks for transmission and outbreaks of diseases such as COVID-19. Please provide responses to the below questions and requests for information by March 5, 2021:

  • How many incarcerated individuals were transferred into the FDC between August 1, 2020 and December 22, 2020 when the moratorium on transfers began? For each week during this period, please provide the number of individuals transferred into FDC and the facility that they came from.
  • What procedures were in place to screen incarcerated individuals for COVID-19 during transfer to the FDC and prior to release into the general population at the FDC? This should include, but is not limited to, procedures for quarantining individuals transferring into the FDC, restrictions on interactions between guards and recently transferred individuals, and COVID-19 testing protocols.
    • Did these transfer screening procedures change in any way between August 1 and December 22, 2020? What was the reasoning for changing or deciding not to change the COVID-19 screening and mitigation procedures for transfers?
  • Did any individuals transferred to the FDC between August 1 and December 22, 2020 test positive for COVID-19 during screening and prior to being released into the general population? If so, please provide the number of individuals, the types of test used to determine infection, the dates of their positive tests, and the facility they were transferred from.
    • What steps were taken if an individual tested positive after arriving at the FDC, but prior to release into the general population? This should include, but is not limited to, procedures for isolating individuals transferring into the FDC, restrictions on interactions between guards and COVID-19 positive individuals, and other relevant information.
    • Were any attempts made at contact tracing for any individual who tested positive within two weeks of transferring into the facility?
  • Were any of the COVID-19 cases at the FDC between October 1, 2020 and January 5, 2021 diagnosed in individuals who had been transferred to the FDC in the prior 30 days. 
  • According to your office, the moratorium on transfers to the FDC ended on January 6, 2021.
    • What rationale is there for lifting this moratorium?
    • What changes to the transfer process have been made since January 6, 2021 to better screen for and prevent COVID-19 outbreaks? Will the facility’s test specimens be sequenced to detect emerging COVID-19 variants?
    • Since January 6, 2021, how many incarcerated individuals have been transferred to the FDC? What is the breakdown of the facilities that the individuals were transferred from?
  • What resources, equipment, and/or mitigation measures are in place to protect facility staff from COVID-19 infections? What type and frequency of testing is available to staff to detect COVID-19?
  • How has the BOP used its discretion to reduce the population at the FDC in accordance with March 26, 2020 memorandum from Attorney General Barr, and the provisions in the First Step Act and the CARES Act granting authorities to transfer vulnerable individuals through compassionate release and elderly home confinement? How many incarcerated individuals at the FDC have been identified as eligible for safe release? How many individuals at the FDC have been released under these authorities?
  • Legal advocates have expressed difficulties communicating with their clients at the FDC throughout the pandemic. During the recent outbreak, the FDC added even more restrictions on the ability of individuals who had tested positive to communicate with their legal counsel including prohibiting access to telecommunications. These restrictions on access to counsel are alarming.
    • What steps is the FDC taking to not overly restrict and improve the ability for legal counsel to communicate with their clients?
    • What investments are being made and other actions being taken at the FDC now to ensure future restrictions on telecommunications will not be necessary even in the event of another outbreak?
  • In response to a clear failure to contain COVID-19 at the FDC, what actions has the FDC taken to alter its prevention and mitigation practices to prevent future outbreaks?
  • What are the FDC’s current vaccine distribution plans, and when does the facility plan to start vaccinating those who are in custody? When does the facility plan to start vaccinating those who work at the facility?

Thank you for your attention to this critical matter.

Sincerely,

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