Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA, 9th), joined the entire Washington state congressional delegation in pushing President Trump to issue a major disaster declaration to help address the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state. This declaration would open up a full suite of Individual Assistance Programs as requested by Governor Inslee for Washington state, including Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Disaster Legal Services, Disaster Care Management, Crisis Counseling Assistance, and Training Program, Individuals and Households Program Assistance, Voluntary Agency Coordination, and Mass Care and Emergency Assistance. Congressman Smith joined U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), as well as U.S. Representatives Rick Larsen (D-WA, 2nd), Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA, 5th), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA, 3rd), Suzan K. DelBene (D-WA, 1st), Denny Heck (D-WA, 10th), Derek Kilmer (D-WA, 6th), Dan Newhouse (R-WA, 4th), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA, 7th), and Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-WA, 8th) in the letter.

“Taken together, the effects of this virus are unprecedented,” the Delegation wrote. “Governor Inslee and the Washington Emergency Management Division have implemented necessary precautions in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, since this public health crisis began state and local government resources have been overwhelmed. This is unsustainable for our state and highlights why federal support is necessary.”

The Delegation continued: “We fully support Governor Inslee’s request for a major disaster declaration and ask that you grant the full suite of Individual Assistance programs as soon as possible.”

COVID-19 has caused, and continues to cause, unprecedented disruption of normal community functions including lifesaving and life-sustaining services, essential community services, and the overall health and safety of all residents in Washington state. Schools have been closed across the state, impacting students’ access to nutritious meals and more. Additionally, with major employers closing their doors or encouraging employees to work from home, small business, hospitality, and entertainment commerce has dropped precipitously across the state, especially in the Puget Sound region. The additional programs granted to the state under a major disaster declaration would go a significant way towards getting local and state governments the resources they need to meet these challenges.  

Read the full letter below or HERE.

Dear Mr. President:

We write in support of Governor Jay Inslee’s March 20, 2020 request for a declaration of a major disaster for the State of Washington. On January 20, 2020, the first domestic case of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) was reported in Washington state. Since that time, our constituents have grappled with 1,376 confirmed cases of COVID-19, of which 74 have resulted in fatality as of March 19, 2020. These numbers are anticipated to grow as the disease spreads rapidly in the coming weeks. Specifically, we urge you to authorize the full suite of Individual Assistance Programs as requested by Governor Inslee, including Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Disaster Legal Services, Disaster Care Management, Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program, Individuals and Households Program Assistance, Voluntary Agency Coordination, and Mass Care and Emergency Assistance.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused, and continues to cause, unprecedented disruption of normal community functions including lifesaving and life-sustaining services and essential community services. COVID-19 threatens the overall health and safety of all residents in the state. The rapid spread of the virus has led to extensive closures of schools and cancellations of gatherings, public events, and conferences, straining state and local economies, and placing a considerable burden on state and local public health workers, emergency responders, health care systems, and government officials.

In order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the state, the Governor has suspended in-person classroom instruction for school districts and institutions of higher education have been advised to create plans for distance learning. Closures of schools have created issues for vulnerable families who struggle to afford child care, food, and other services provided by schools. For example, the 1,106,784 children in Washington state who regularly receive free and reduced meals are no longer able to easily access these meals.

The small business community in our state has suffered substantial economic losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Major employers are closing their doors or encouraging employees to work from home. Small businesses have been forced to close, while hospitality and entertainment commerce has dropped precipitously across the Puget Sound region. Many businesses do not have sufficient capital to withstand closures lasting multiple weeks, forcing them to take drastic measures, including temporary lay-offs, to stay afloat and several tribal-owned businesses have closed.

Taken together, the effects of this virus are unprecedented. Governor Inslee and the Washington Emergency Management Division have implemented necessary precautions in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, since this public health crisis began state and local government resources have been overwhelmed. This is unsustainable for our state and highlights why federal support is necessary.

We fully support Governor Inslee’s request for a major disaster declaration and ask that you grant the full suite of Individual Assistance programs as soon as possible. Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON, D.C.Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement tonight after the House voted to pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), which strengthens the federal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak and addresses the impacts of the coronavirus on financial security and the economy:

“The economic impacts of the coronavirus outbreak have been devastating to working families across the country. Americans desperately need relief right now and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act is a strong start toward delivering just that.

“We must not forget our most important job: protecting the health and safety of the American people. They need and deserve free coronavirus testing, paid sick leave, enhanced unemployment benefits, expanded food assistance programs, and additional funding for states, local jurisdictions, and health systems responding to the outbreak.

“This bill provides free coronavirus testing to all individuals who need a test, regardless of whether they are insured or uninsured. Additionally, we also increase federal funds for Medicaid to support the state and local governments and health systems that have already expended significant resources responding to this crisis.

“It is imperative that we support those who experience financial burdens during this health crisis. The bill establishes two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave. It also strengthens food assistance programs to help keep food on the table for children, families, and seniors.

“The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is a critically important step by Congress to support our ability to respond to this crisis, but it cannot be the last action Congress takes. More support is clearly needed to protect our public health, and we must expedite the delivery of medical supplies and test kits, alleviate the stress put on our health care system, and mitigate against the economic impacts of the crisis.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C.Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement tonight following the President’s address to the nation on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak:

“We need competent, high-level leadership from this Administration to help move us through this public health and economic crisis. Economic assistance and bailouts will amount to nothing if we do not act now on the most important issue at hand: protecting the health and safety of the American people. We must take the necessary actions to address deficiencies within our health care system and reevaluate the insufficient response to the coronavirus epidemic.

“First, we must accelerate the availability and capacity for testing. While progress has been made in the state of Washington on this front with new labs opening to conduct more and more tests each day, the ability for individuals to get tested by their health care provider is still inadequate. This will only get worse as the virus spreads. The president failed to even mention testing during his speech tonight.

“Second, we must provide support to our already strained health care system. This means proactively making available existing resources and boosting medical supply chain capacity to ensure hospitals, providers, and public health agencies have the supplies, equipment, and personnel they need to care for our communities. To minimize strain on hospitals and provides, we also must have a whole-of-government approach to educating the public and implementing mitigation measures such as social distancing. 

“Lastly, in parallel, it is essential that we support individuals, families, and small businesses who may struggle with significant financial burdens during this health crisis. Deferring tax payments or putting a pause on payroll taxes is woefully insufficient. Congress should expand unemployment insurance, guarantee paid sick leave, make emergency small business loans available, and take immediate action to put money and resources directly in the hands of impacted people who need to pay rent and put food on the table for themselves and their families.

“COVID-19 is here. Travel restrictions will not change that. Public health officials and leaders throughout Washington State are working night and day to respond to this crisis. It is imperative we have the leadership from this Administration that reflects the gravity of this crisis and dedication required to effectively respond.”

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SEATTLE, WASHINGTONCongressman Adam Smith (D-WA) sat down with community leaders from International Community Health Services (ICHS), Asian Counseling and Referral Services (ACRS), Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda), and Kin On to discuss coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Local and state health workers across Washington are working around the clock to combat the coronavirus outbreak and I thank them for their lifesaving efforts. We need to make sure agencies, physicians, and community health centers have the resources they need to continue responding, containing, and treating members of our community while keeping workers safe and healthy as they operate on the front lines.

“It is critical that members of the community follow guidance of health experts and avoid misinformation about coronavirus. Misinformation has led to the stigmatization of those of Asian descent based on fear and xenophobia – this is a danger to the wellbeing of our communities and to public health. We must remain unified and vigilant at this critical time to combat this epidemic and to uphold our resilient and diverse communities.

“I applaud ICHS, ACRS, SCIDpda, Kin On, and other community partners for their dedication to protecting the health and wellbeing of all of our community members.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement today as the Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments in June Medical Services v. Russo. This case could restrict access to abortion and reproductive freedom across the country, particularly in states where lawmakers have already begun chipping away at the rights protected by Roe v. Wade.

“What is happening in Louisiana is part of a coordinated effort by Republicans across the country to dismantle abortion care without explicitly touching Roe v. Wade. Four years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that a nearly identical law in Texas was unconstitutional. That law, as well as the one currently before the Supreme Court, was medically unnecessary and only made it harder for women to access the care they need.

“By imposing unreasonable and unnecessary restrictions around reproductive rights, the Louisiana law would result in the closure of every abortion clinic in the state except one, putting this crucial care out of reach for many patients, especially people of color and those lacking the means to travel far distances to access their constitutionally-protected rights.

“Access to abortion care should not depend on your zip code. I urge the Supreme Court to respect precedent and recognize that this law poses an undue burden on those who wish to exercise the rights protected by the ruling in Roe v. Wade. I will continue to support policies that respect bodily autonomy and allow women to make their own decisions related to their reproductive health.” 

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