Press Releases

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) invalidated Section Four of the Voting Rights Act, a key provision that protects voting rights in nine states that historically have had discriminatory voting practices.  The decision found that Section Four of the law had an outdated formula that placed undue federal burden on the nine states.  Congressman Smith released the following statement after the decision:  
 
“I am very disappointed in the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act.  In the last election, low income voters and people of color, mainly Hispanic and African Americans, waited in line nearly twice as long as white voters.  It is clear that we must do more, not less, to protect the rights of all people and ensure we have equal access to the polls. The Voting Rights Act has played a critical role in protecting individuals’ right to vote regardless of race, ethnic background, or level of income. By striking Section Four, the Supreme Court limited the federal government’s ability to implement Section Five, consequently rendering this section of the Voting Rights Act powerless and threatening the right to vote for many Americans.  Any state can now implement Voter ID laws and redraw district lines to dilute the voices of large populations of mainly racial and ethnic minorities without federal oversight.
 
“President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act to fix the disenfranchisement of targeted voters - mainly African Americans. Decades since, the Voting Rights Act has been reauthorized and supported by Presidents and Members of Congress of both parties.  To ensure a thriving democracy, Congress must come together again to create a new formula that will ensure all Americans have their voices heard at the ballot box.  I remain committed to doing all I can to ensure that no voter experiences discrimination.”  
 
Even with the striking down of Section Four, Congress can still impose a new formula to determine which states’ voting practices still need federal oversight.  Congressman Smith had previously signed an Amicus brief in support of Section Five of the Voting Rights Act and is a cosponsor of the Voter Empowerment Act.
 

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Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), made the following statement following the Army’s announcement on force structure changes:

“I am disappointed with today’s announcement that the Army will deactivate the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), resulting in a reduction of approximately 4,500 soldiers.  While this is a major loss to the Puget Sound community, JBLM’s 26,500 soldiers will continue to play an important role in the Pacific Northwest and, in combination with the Air Force capabilities at McChord, will remain an important installation that allows the Army to project power to the Pacific.  
 
“These reductions are part of a larger plan to cut 80,000 troops nationwide by 2017 that is largely a consequence of the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, which mandated major cuts to the Department of Defense (DoD) budget.  The BCA became law when the Republican majority refused to lift the debt ceiling without legislation that forced $900 billion in immediate cuts to discretionary programs, including $487 billion to defense programs.  I voted against this legislation due to my concerns about these indiscriminate cuts and their effects on DoD as well as transportation, education, Medicare, and aid to the poor.

“Since that time, Congress has made it very difficult for the Department to implement these cuts. For example, the Department of Defense attempted to save money by retiring a number of ships it does not need, by requesting authority for a BRAC, which would allow the military to save money by consolidating and reorganizing its infrastructure, and by making changes to its health care systems. Congress blocked each and every one of these attempts and has now forced the military to make very difficult choices.  
 
“Given the drawdown in Afghanistan, the Army can manage this reduction in troops, but the real hazard to military effectiveness will persist as long as Congress fails to act on sequestration. If sequestration is not removed, then more extensive force structure changes will need to be made to accommodate the severity of the sequester cuts.  Earlier this year, I put forward a reasonable solution to sequestration. Unfortunately, Republican leadership in the House has not put my plan to a vote and now Congressional paralysis has placed our military in a very difficult position. It’s time that Congress and the President come together to prevent an additional $1.2 trillion in cuts through sequestration.”

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Congressman Adam Smith made the following statement regarding his vote against the farm bill, which would have cut Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by $20.5 billion:
 

“I was pleased to see that the Farm Bill did not pass the House of Representatives.  I supported parts of the Farm Bill, but the cuts to SNAP were simply unacceptable.  This bill would have changed eligibility requirements for SNAP that would result in reduced benefits for recipients in Washington State and nationwide.  In total, the legislation would have cut $20.5 billion from SNAP over the next 10 years, which would have forced 2 million people nationwide off SNAP and reduce benefits for millions more.
 
“These cuts are just wrong.  For one-fifth of our children suffering from food insecurity, many of our veterans transitioning to civilian jobs, and families recovering from our economic downturn, SNAP provides essential support.  For this reason, as our economy continues to recover, it is critical that we maintain SNAP assistance.  There was an amendment to the Farm Bill offered by Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) that would have restored the $20.5 billion in cuts by eliminating unnecessary subsidies.  I cosponsored this amendment and supported it on the floor, but unfortunately it failed to be included in the final bill due to overwhelming Republican opposition.  I will continue to fight to protect families in need of nutrition assistance.”

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At the urging of U.S. Representatives Adam Smith, Denny Heck and Derek Kilmer, the U.S. Army has approved funds to construct a National Guard Readiness Center to replace the old Tacoma Armory. The three Members of Congress wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Army earlier this year highlighting the need for a replacement.

Funding for the new Tacoma Readiness Center will come by reprogramming dollars from existing Army construction projects that came in under budget.

"This is fantastic news not only for the Washington Guard, but for the entire state of Washington," said Major General Bret Daugherty, Washington's adjutant general. "A new readiness center ensures state of the art training for our citizen soldiers and helps us maintain the highest level of readiness possible to protect our communities during emergency situations. I commend the work of our Congressional delegation - and appreciate the tireless effort of the National Guard Bureau to help secure this funding."

“This is very welcomed news as it is past time that the Tacoma Armory be replaced. Several members of the delegation have raised the pressing need to replace this aging facility, and I'm pleased to see the Army finally agree. The new readiness center will provide the Washington Guard with a new and safe facility to help them train and prepare for missions,” Congressman Adam Smith said.

“Replacing the Tacoma Armory is necessary to make sure the Washington Guard continues excelling at its mission. This is a smart, efficient use of existing federal dollars to support our local citizen soldiers and airmen,” Congressman Denny Heck said.

“A safe, modern training facility for the Washington National Guard is great news for our citizen soldiers, the Washington Guard’s mission, and our entire community,” Congressman Derek Kilmer said.

The old Tacoma Armory, built in 1902, was damaged beyond repair by severe weather and flooding in 2012. The site of the new Tacoma Readiness Center is still being determined.

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Seven members of the Washington State Congressional Delegation sent a letter urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to respect the will of Washington State voters as it pertains to marijuana.  In the letter, led by Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA-09), Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA), and Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01), Denny Heck (D-WA-10), Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06), and Jim McDermott (D-WA-07) asked that DOJ provide clarity and certainty for their constituents and work with state regulators to protect the rights of those obeying state law.

“As DOJ considers its response to Washington and Colorado laws, we hope that you will exercise your significant discretionary authority by choosing not to pursue preemption of these laws, or prosecute our residents and state employees acting in compliance with these laws,” the Members wrote.  “We also urge DOJ to announce its decided course of action as soon as possible to provide legal certainty for our citizens, businesses, and lawmakers.”

Seven months after Washington State voters approved Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana in small quantities and established a regulated licensing system for its sale, DOJ has still not announced a course of action, leaving Washington State residents, businesses, and investors in a state of uncertainty.  This letter urges DOJ to respect state law and to provide clarity for Washington State.  

Full text of the letter here.

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