Press Releases

Saying that it should be a national priority, Ninth District Congressman Adam Smith introduced legislation to improve benefits for veterans, military retirees and active personnel.

“The men and women who have served our country deserve fair and just compensation for all that they have sacrificed for America,” Smith said. “I am very proud to introduce legislation that will help move Congress towards better treatment of our military personnel, veterans, and retirees.”

The Enhancement of Military Benefits Act (EMBA) would do four important things:

  • Provide a 4.8% pay increase for all military personnel; 
  • Increase the Survivor Benefit Plan to allow surviving spouses of retirees 55% of spouse pay instead of just the current 35%; 
  • Allow military retirees to opt into the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program; 
  • Expand Medicare subvention from a pilot program to a universal program so that all veterans and retirees can take advantage of Medicare subvention 

“This bill will provide critical health care benefits for our retirees and veterans, a much-needed pay raise to the men and women currently serving in the Armed Forces, and additional benefits to surviving spouses,” explained Smith. 

Smith argues that improved treatment of personnel, retirees and veterans is not only the right thing to do, but is critical to our national security. “If we want to continue leading the world in military power, we have to have the best Armed Services,” he said. “Young people won’t consider the military an attractive career choice, especially in this strong economy, if they see servicemen and their families on food stamps or they see promises we made to our veterans and retirees broken. This needs to be one of Congress’s top priorities.”

Ninth District Congressman and New Democrat Coalition Communications Coordinator Adam Smith, joined by a bipartisan group of Members of Congress, today announced that he is an original co-sponsor of legislation to raise the H-1B caps and invest heavily in education and training efforts for U.S. workers.

“The strength of the U.S. economy, and the high-tech sector in particular, have led to a situation where we don’t have the people we need to fill highly-skilled jobs,” Smith said. “I believe that American companies should be able to recruit the best and the brightest from around the world to grow our economy, create jobs for American workers, and help us keep our competitive edge in the industries of the future.

“What’s more, the legislation doubles the H-1B employer fee to $1000 per visa, generating nearly $200 million annually in money for education and training,” Smith continued. “Those funds will be used for education and training programs to grow the next generation of highly-skilled Americans. The programs we’ve selected are aimed at bridging the digital divide, so that all Americans have the opportunity to succeed in the New Economy, encourage students to study math, science, and computer science, and retrain American workers.

I’m proud that Members of the New Democrat Coalition have worked to generate bipartisan, broad support for this legislation. I am hopeful that this bill will be passed quickly so that our technology industry continues to power our economic engine.”

Ninth District Congressman Adam Smith today voted to repeal the Social Security earning test, saying that it would provide great benefits to both senior citizens and businesses.

The earnings limit originated in the 1930’s and it remains despite the vast changes in the economy and the lives of senior citizens that have taken place over the last 60 years.

Under current law, seniors who claim Social Security benefits before they reach 69 are subject to a reduction in benefits if they continue to work. For seniors 65 to 69, benefits are reduced by $1 for every $3 that their earnings exceed the limit - $17,000 in 2000, rising to $30,000 in 2002 and indexed after that. HR 5 would repeal this limit entirely, effective immediately.

“This change will benefit senior citizens who want to work and businesses who need the employees,” said Smith. “It makes no sense to penalize senior citizens for participating in the workforce. People remain healthy and vigorous longer than they did in the 1930’s and it makes sense to repeal this obsolete and punitive limit.”

Congress passed H.R. 5 today, and President Clinton has promised to sign the bill into law.

Ninth District Congressman Adam Smith has co-sponsored legislation to reduce the federal tax on vaccines from 75 cents to 25 cents.

“This legislation will save consumers and states money,” said Smith. “This is common sense legislation that substantially reduces the cost of vaccines, an important part of basic health care for children and adults alike, without negative effects.”

The purpose of the vaccine excise tax was to fund the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which now has a $1.4 billion surplus. Taxes generate well over $100 million a year, and the surplus generates another $60 million in interest. Payouts and administrative costs each year are less than $60 million. Lowering the excise to 25 cents will ensure that the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program still has a surplus, albeit growing at a slower rate.

“Washington state taxpayers will save over $1.9 million each year,” Smith explained. “Furthermore, vaccines will be cheaper for everyone.”

H.R. 2118 the Vaccinate America’s Children Now Act, has been endorsed b y the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“I am hopeful that Congress will take up this important bill soon,” Smith said. “It is legislation that should be supported by all Members of Congress, regardless of political party.”

Ninth District Congressman Adam Smith today voted for legislation to substantially increase research in long-term information technology and networking.

H.R. 2086, the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act, provides a 92 percent increase in information technology funding over the next five years for the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Energy Department, the National Institute for Standards and Technology, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Our predecessors made a wise decision to invest in science and technology research,” Smith said. “To succeed in the New Economy, we must ensure that we have the best science and technology in the world, and that all our citizens are empowered to take advantage of it. This bill will help ensure the economy continues to grow, providing opportunity to as many people as possible.”

The measure authorizes a total of $3 billion for the National Science Foundation from 2000 to 2004. This funding would include grants for research on high-end computing, software, the social and economic consequences of information technology, network stability, security, and privacy.

Education is also prioritized in the legislation. The bill also provides $95 million for colleges and universities to establish internship programs in information technology research with private sector companies, and authorizes $56 million for NSF to establish a research program to develop and analyze information technology applications for elementary and secondary education.

“The education piece of this bill is very important,” Smith explained. “We need to improve all students’ computer literacy, from elementary school to universities.”

Ed Lazowska, Professor and Chair of the Department of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington was in Washington D.C. today to lend his support to the bill.