Press Releases

Today in the House Armed Services Committee, Ninth District Congressman Adam Smith was one of six Members of Congress to oppose the Weldon amendment to gut key provisions of H.R. 850, the Security and Freedom through Encryption Act.

Joining Smith in opposition to the Weldon amendment were Democrats Loretta Sanchez, Marty Meehan, Baron Hill, Ellen Tauscher, and Republican Mary Bono.

Despite proponents’ claims, Smith says that relaxing export restrictions will not threaten national security. “The technology has already proliferated throughout the world,” he said. “Our export restrictions are not protecting our national security, they’re simply giving foreign software companies a chance to capture the global encryption technology market.”

Smith argues that current policy is the real threat to U.S. national security. “Our self-imposed ban on 
encryption exports is disadvantaging U.S. software companies and threatening our competitiveness in this emerging new technology,” said Smith. “The real threat to our national security would be for the United States to lose its advantage in top-of-the-line technologies such as encryption. If we continue tying the hands of U.S. firms and conceding market share to foreign companies, that will be the result.”

Other countries either have much looser restrictions on encryption technology or no restrictions at all. Canada has allowed a company to export its encryption software, and it sells 128-bit encryption for less than fifty dollars. Encryption software can also be easily downloaded from the Internet.

This year, opponents of relaxing encryption export controls used the Cox-Dicks report as an excuse to keep export restrictions intact. Smith countered this argument by pointing out that Representative Chris Cox, who headed the commission that produced the Cox-Dicks report, is a co-sponsor of H.R. 850.

“We have to prioritize national security and ensure other countries don’t have access to our military secrets, but trying to wrap our arms around encryption technology and hinder U.S. companies’ ability to continue to be the worldwide leaders in this industry is like holding water with a fish net,” Smith said. 

Smith, a member of the New Democrat Coalition, criticized the Republicans and Republican Conference Chair and Armed Services Committee Member J.C. Watts for failing to protect H.R. 850. “Just a few weeks ago, we heard the Republicans profess their support for the New Economy and the technology industry,” he said. “But where were they today? Why did Congressman Watts, the Republicans’ supposed technology policy leader, vote to gut this bill that is so important to our high-tech economy and our national security?”

The next step is the Rules Committee, where committee members will weigh changes made to H.R. 850 by four different committees and produce a final product for floor consideration. Smith and other supporters of H.R. 850 will seek passage of the original bill.

Ninth District Congressman Adam Smith will join other members of the centrist New Democrat Coalition today to unveil a tax cut proposal that is touted as the reasonable, pro-growth, and pro-family alternative to the $864 trillion Republican tax cut package.

“If we enact the $864 trillion tax cut that the Republicans have proposed, we will be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory as far as balancing the budget and reducing our debt is concerned,” said Smith. “It’s probable that this $864 trillion tax cut will send our budget back into deficit; in fact, OMB estimates that we will have $47 billion deficit over ten years if we pass this tax cut. We have come so far towards a balanced budget and starting to reduce the debt, I would hate to see us take a major step backwards.”

Smith and others are instead advocating a more modest tax cut that provides benefits to families and supports policies to keep our economy strong. “The tax cut package that I and other New Democrats support will still allow us to maintain a balanced budget, reduce the debt, and ensure Medicare and Social Security are there for future generations,” Smith said.

The New Democrat tax cut proposal includes a provision authored by Smith to eliminate the estate tax for family-owned businesses.

“I strongly feel that we should eliminate the estate tax for family-owned businesses, because far too many family-owned businesses or farms are forced to liquidate or go out of business upon the owner’s death, instead of passing the business or farm on to the next generation,” Smith explained. “I am hopeful that this will be a top priority of Congress as we negotiate a final tax cut package.”

Ninth District Congressman Adam Smith voted against a Congressional pay raise yesterday and has promised to donate it to local schools and education programs.

The pay raise is an automatic cost-of-living-allowance for all Members of Congress of $4,600 for the year 2000.

“I voted against the pay raise because I don’t think Congress has regained the trust of the American people enough to justify it,” Smith said. “That is also why I will donate my $4,600 pay raise to local schools and education programs.”

Smith’s pay raise goes into effect January 1, 2000, and he will donate his pay raise to various programs around the Ninth District as he receives it.

Fresh off a recent tour of Silicon Valley, the New Democrat Coalition unveiled their E-genda today and criticized House Republicans for failing to include a permanent extension of the research and development tax credit in their tax cut package.

The e-genda outlines the centrist Democrats’ priorities for the New Economy. “Encouraging growth of the New Economy and the high-technology industry translates into opportunity for the American people,” said Representative Adam Smith (D-Washington). “New Democrats have been working on these issues relentlessly for nearly three years, and our e-genda outlines our achievements and goals in this area.”

The five points of the e-genda are:

• Leadership in the Global Economy, including export control reform and engagement with China;
• Ensuring a Skilled Workforce, including technology training, education reform, and H-1B visa expansion;
• Reducing Taxes to Encourage Investment, including a permanent extension of the research and experimentation tax credit and education tax credits;
• Encouraging the Growth of E-Commerce; including digital signature and access to broadband technology; and
• Fostering Innovation in the Marketplace, including patent reform and FDA reform.

New Democrats criticized House Republicans for failing to include a permanent extension of the research and development tax credit in their tax cut package reported out of the Ways and Means Committee yesterday.

“After all the hype over Dick Armey’s ‘e-contract’, the Republicans should have backed it up with meaningful action,” said Representative Cal Dooley (D-California). “Instead, they demonstrate that they still don’t get it on New Economy issues. Ask the people who have generated jobs and growth through amazing technological and biological innovation what we can do to ensure the growth continues, and they unanimously answer: give us a permanent extension of the R&D tax credit. It is one of the most important things we can do, and the Republicans failed to do it.”

Over the Fourth of July recess, 22 New Democrats visited San Francisco and Silicon Valley and met with the high-technology community. The group of centrist Democrats is the largest group of elected officials ever to visit the area.

Many freshmen Members of Congress joined the tour to learn about the high-technology industry. Among the themes they heard consistently was education. Freshman Congressman Ken Lucas (D-Kentucky) said, “The technology industry spoke loud and clear. I’m glad to see that the technology community is on board to improve our education system -- to empower our kids with the tools to succeed in the new economy.”

Ninth District Congressman Adam Smith will host a summit in August to bring public officials and leaders of the high-technology community together for a discussion of high-technology policy issues.

The summit will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 11, at the Bell Harbor Center in Seattle. Tentatively scheduled is a press conference on Tuesday, August 10, at 3:00 with key participants at a location to be determined.

Commerce Secretary Richard Daley has been invited to be the keynote speaker. The day’s program will also include five panels:
• Bandwidth and Telecommunications Competition;
• Electronic Commerce on the Internet;
• Export Controls, Encryption, and Piracy;
• Work Force Development and the Information Technology Skills Gap Challenge;
• Members of Congress Discuss Congressional Agenda

After each panel’s presentation, audience members will have the opportunity to ask questions. Panel members will also be available in a separate room immediately after the presentation for press questions. 

Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Harry Reid (D-NV), and Representatives Cal Dooley (D-CA), Tom Davis (R-VA), Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Brian Baird (D-WA), Jay Inslee (D-WA), David Wu (D-OR), Bobby Etheridge (D-NC), and William Delahunt (D-MA) are tentatively scheduled to attend the summit. Sponsors include Microsoft, Boeing, APCO Associates, Battelle, GTE, Hewlett-Packard, the Port of Tacoma, US West, and Washington Mutual.

Reporters interested in attending are strongly encouraged to RSVP to Alixandria Weise at (202) 226-8456. Others interested in attending or who want more information should call Linda Danforth at (253) 926-6683.