Press Releases

Ranking Member Adam Smith Statement on Terrorist Attacks in Paris

Washington D.C. – Congressman Smith released the following statement on the terrorist attacks in Paris:

November 13, 2015

“My thoughts are with the people of France after tonight's brutal terrorist attacks. While the extent of the attacks is still unknown, these horrific acts of terror highlight the continued challenge we face in the fight against terrorist networks. We must stand strong as an international community and remain steadfast in our belief that freedom and justice will prevail.” 

Congressman Smith Statement on Veterans Day

Congressman Smith released the following statement today in recognition of Veterans Day:

November 11, 2015

“On Veterans Day, we honor the brave and heroic service of all of our veterans. The men and women of our Armed Services risk their lives around the world every day to protect our freedoms and keep us safe.  In return, it is critical that we ensure that they and their loved ones are cared for when they return home.  I am honored to represent thousands of veterans who live in the 9th District in Washington state.

Congress should do everything possible to ensure that the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who serve our country come home to good, family-wage job opportunities and receive the care and assistance that they earned. I look forward to working with both the veterans in our community and my colleagues in the House of Representatives to improve the lives of those who have served.”

Congressman Adam Smith Calls for Criminal Justice Reform

Congressman Smith released the following statement about the need to comprehensively reform our criminal justice system, highlighting current efforts at the federal level that can begin the process:

November 6, 2015

“The American criminal justice system is fundamentally broken.

“As a nation, we incarcerate more of our own citizens than any other country in the world – often times for non-violent drug offenses. Past reforms meant to keep our communities safer have resulted in disproportionately high incarceration rates among people of color, splitting families apart and helping to perpetuate cycles of poverty. Despite the creation of innovative tools at the local level in King County to institute diversionary “safety valve” mental health, drug rehabilitation, and veterans treatment courts, these resources do not currently exist at the federal level. Communities of color still face disproportionate mandatory minimum sentences, with charges often stacking on top of one another. The vast majority of inmates leaving prison face long-term unemployment, with employers often unwilling to consider them due to their records. Make no mistake, I believe that the justice system must work to protect the innocent, and hold those committing crimes accountable – but a central goal of our corrections system must also be rehabilitation and reintegration. As a society, we must do more.

“As a former prosecutor, I have had a unique exposure to the intricacies of our judicial system. The men and women who work in law enforcement, as prosecutors, public defenders, judges, and corrections officers shoulder the immense duty of keeping our communities safe. These individuals must balance this responsibility while at the same time assuring that the system remains fair and balanced, and that individuals are treated and judged equally under the law.  I believe the time has come to make important adjustments to the way we handle criminal justice in our country.

“I applaud the President’s recent statements on the need for criminal justice reform, including his Executive Action to “ban the box” on initial paperwork for federal employment applications, which mirrors legislation that I became a cosponsor of earlier this year. Banning the box is a good start, however, there is no singular solution—we must make across-the-board changes if we are to truly reform our broken justice system and begin to address the unintended negative consequences of the 1994 Crime Bill. This bill has been criticized for its enactment of mandatory minimum sentences and other reforms that have disproportionately harmed disadvantaged communities.

“To address our broken system, I have laid out a “roadmap” of criminal justice reform initiatives to make improvements throughout the judicial system. Congress should pass the SAFE Justice Act, a comprehensive bill that I cosponsored which utilizes evidence-based, state-tested reforms across the spectrum of criminal justice – from sentencing reform and safety valve programs, to changes in post-release supervision. I support establishing federal grant programs for Body Worn Cameras (BWCs) because we must work with and support our men and women in law enforcement, promoting accountability and transparency. I also strongly support funding for legal help to low income individuals, as well as legislation that implements evidence-based changes in our prisons and supports the reentry of those who have completed their sentences back into society. Leveling the playing field on federal job applications by “banning the box” is a crucial step, but we must go further.

“As we work towards common-sense reforms to our criminal justice system, I greatly value the continuing information, opinions and experiences shared with me by my constituents about these critical topics. We must chart a new course if we are to build a stronger tomorrow.”

“Congressman Smith will be an invaluable partner in building support across party lines to pass comprehensive criminal justice reform,” stated Congressman Bobby Scott, the lead Democratic cosponsor of the SAFE Justice Act.  “His dedication to educating our colleagues about evidence-based practices and addressing the underlying causes of recidivism have been a great help as we continue to push for meaningful reform in Congress.”

 

Ranking Member Adam Smith Statement on Passage of NDAA

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement following the passage of the revised National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016:

November 5, 2015

“Today, House Democrats and Republicans agreed on a revised National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016. This bill provides the Department of Defense with a stable and predictable budget with which to plan for the next two years. This bill reflects what Congress can do when it takes a bipartisan approach to the issues of the day. The robust discussion and participation from both Democrats and Republicans produced legislation that supports our troops, advances acquisition reform, and protects our national security.

While the bill is much better than where we started, it still contains a number of problematic provisions. The bill does not address the need to reform how Overseas Contingency Operation funds are used and does not close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The $5 billion cut from the President’s budget will create difficulties but was necessary under the terms of the Congressional Budget Agreement passed by the House last week.

Make no mistake: the issue of sequestration and budget caps has impacted our national security.  Other departments charged with protecting the nation, such as the Departments of State, Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury, and others, deserve budgets, certainty, and the opportunity to plan.  Until we directly address these issues, our security will be at risk and key national priorities will continue to suffer. The past five years have made it very difficult for the Pentagon—and many others—to plan in a manner that best advances our national security interests. 

I support this bill. The National Defense Authorization Act has never been perfect, and it will never be perfect. We must empower those charged with protecting our nation’s security by giving them the means to plan.  Moving forward, the House, Senate and President must continue to work together to eliminate sequestration altogether and implement a long-term spending plan that provides certainty to our economy, the Department of Defense, and the entire federal government.” 

Smith Statement on Joining Democratic Whip’s Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity

Today, Congressman Smith joined the Democratic Whip’s Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity, chaired by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Congressman Smith released the following statement regarding his new membership in the Task Force:

November 3, 2015

 “Today, I am honored to announce that I have joined the Democratic Whip’s Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity, chaired by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. This Task Force examines inequities in our society and looks at policy proposals to expand opportunity in areas including higher education, job training and employment, and stable housing. I look forward to engaging with my colleagues on the Whip’s Task Force to work to remove barriers that stand in the way of hard-working Americans reaching the middle class. Over the past few decades we have institutionalized barriers that too often keep people in poverty and limit economic prosperity. This cannot stand and we must do better.

Americans today are confronted with a system where upward mobility has become increasingly out of reach. As the son of a ramp serviceman at the SeaTac airport, I often wonder how my family would fare under the same circumstances today. My father made upwards of $15 an hour with benefits for United Airlines in the 1980s. In today’s economy, similar jobs in our region often only earn $9.47, an amount that simply isn’t enough to provide for a family in King County.

I am committed to increasing the jobs here at home and ensuring that we have a strong, well-trained workforce.  Throughout my time in Congress, I have been working to do just that.  Not only have I supported robust investments in education and workforce training and development, but I have also supported programs to assist American manufacturers access new markets. Additionally, I have pushed to increase the minimum wage to ensure our workers are compensated fairly for their work and can be part of our country’s middle class.

In the coming months, the Task Force will continue to consult with key stakeholders and work closely with the Administration to develop support for a national strategy to eradicate poverty. We will evaluate the impact of anti-poverty programs, as well as the long-term economic outcomes of the Americans who receive assistance; and remove barriers and obstacles that prevent low-income Americans from joining the middle class. I am looking forward to working with the Task Force to develop policies that reduce poverty and create a better future for all Americans.”

“I am thrilled to have Congressman Adam Smith join the Whip’s Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “In Congress, Rep. Smith is a tireless champion for working families and good paying jobs. His work to advance American manufacturing in the Puget Sound region and across the country has helped lift families into the middle class. I look forward to working with Rep. Smith to build pathways out of poverty by raising the minimum wage, creating good paying jobs, and strengthening our safety net for vulnerable families.”

“I’m pleased to welcome Rep. Smith to our Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality, and Opportunity,” said Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer. “From pushing for an increase in the minimum wage to supporting investments in workforce development and training, Rep. Smith has been a tireless advocate for working men and women. I thank him for his dedication to lifting more of our people out of poverty and into the middle class, and I look forward to working with him to continue to advance our agenda of job creation and economic opportunity for all Americans.”