Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Adam Smith introduced the Social Security Equity Act, legislation to provide relief to some of those workers and retirees who see their Social Security benefits reduced because of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).
The Social Security Equity Act helps to keep many workers and retirees from experiencing benefit cuts due to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). The WEP reduces payments to many retirees who split their careers between jobs that were covered by Social Security and in positions where they earned even minimal public pension benefits.
“Hard-working Americans should not experience a significant hit to their Social Security benefits because they happened to work for an employer that provided a pension, in addition to facing low wages, inconsistent work opportunities, or the need to take time away from work. By simply changing the WEP formula, Congress can make this aspect of Social Security less regressive and allow more retirees to collect full Social Security payments,” said Congressman Adam Smith.
First implemented in 1983 as part of broader efforts to bolster the Social Security program’s finances, the WEP was intended to reduce excess benefits, or “windfalls,” accruing to workers who spent much of their career earning a pension instead of paying into the Social Security program—in jobs most often found in the public sector—but who also received benefits from relatively short tenures in Social Security-covered employment.
Unfortunately, the WEP disproportionally hurts those who earned lower wages and experienced less consistent employment outside of jobs where pensions were available. Receiving even a small pension from relatively brief employment not covered by Social Security places those who did not work full-time, earned lower wages at Social Security-covered jobs, took time away from work to care for loved ones, or those forced to go on disability, at risk of being hit by the WEP. For example, a public school teacher who earned a modest pension from a teaching position that was not covered by Social Security, then took a number of years away from work to care for a family member, and returned to work in part-time and relatively low paying positions for the remainder of their career, could see their Social Security benefits reduced under the WEP.
To avoid these cuts, retirees must have worked long enough and made enough each year in Social Security-covered employment to qualify for an exemption. In many years, full time work for the full calendar year at the federal minimum wage would still not be enough to help that worker avoid the WEP when he or she retires.
The Social Security Equity Act reduces, from 30 to 25, the number of years in Social Security-covered employment required to become exempt from the WEP. The bill also decreases the annual earnings threshold for each of those years to count toward a WEP exemption—also known as the substantial earnings floor.
By lowering barriers to achieving a WEP exemption, this legislation provides WEP relief to more retirees of blended career histories and will allow retirees to receive more of their Social Security benefits.
Washington, D.C. – This week, Congressman Adam Smith introduced the House Intern Pay Act, legislation to set aside funds so that interns in each congressional office can be paid.
“Paid internships help to provide equality of opportunity for all and ensure Congressional offices in Washington, D.C. and local district offices benefit from a strong diversity of ideas and backgrounds to best represent constituents,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “It is important to provide everyone in our community the opportunity to engage in our legislative process and civic service, regardless of their wealth.”
Every year, hundreds of students and recent graduates come to Capitol Hill seeking to learn about and serve in Congress. In the past, many young people have had to begin their careers in policy and public service in unpaid internship positions. For many others, working and interning without pay is simply not possible. Unpaid internships severely limit the opportunities available to those who cannot afford to work for free, but who want to learn and serve.
The House Intern Pay Act would help alleviate this problem by allowing for the payment of a living wage to interns in each Members’, Delegates’, and Resident Commissioner’s congressional office in the House of Representatives. Specifically, this bill authorizes amounts to fund a full-time, year-round internship position in each Member’s Capitol Hill or district congressional office at a rate of $15 per hour.
Congress must do its part to ensure that a person’s means is not a barrier to civic engagement and public service.
This legislation is cosponsored by the following Members of Congress: Don Beyer (VA-8), Nydia Velázquez (NY-7), Madeleine Bordallo (Guam), Mark Pocan (WI-2), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Suzanne Bonamci (OR-1), Judy Chu (CA-27), Ted W. Lieu (CA-33), Denny Heck (WA-10), Betty McCollum (MN-4), Pramila Jayapal (WA-7).
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), the Ranking Member on the House Armed Services Committee, today announced the inclusion of a package of provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that will provide critical support for the U.S. Department of Energy’s ongoing cleanup mission at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state.
“It is the federal government’s moral and legal obligation to ensure that the communities surrounding Hanford are cared for, the employees working on the clean-up are respected and safe, and our environment is remediated and protected. Our country’s security owe much to the sacrifices made by the Hanford workers and their communities in support of the nuclear defense programs that created the nuclear waste a currently stored at Hanford,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “The provisions contained in this year’s NDAA contribute to ensuring that the federal government fulfills its obligation to the Pacific Northwest for the safe remediation of the Hanford nuclear facility.”
Congressman Smith successfully fought to ensure that the following provisions were included in the NDAA:
Washington, D.C. – Today, Representatives Smith, Khanna, O’Rourke, and Pocan made the following statements about major provisions on Yemen that House Armed Services Committee Democrats negotiated into the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA.) The bill passed the House today by a vote of 359-54.
“There is a terrible humanitarian crisis occurring in Yemen, and it deserves our attention in Washington,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “That’s why I successfully fought to include the following provisions while negotiating the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):
“These will be major steps promoting accountability regarding Yemen’s civil war. I am pleased that we are able to make concrete progress on this issue,” Congressman Smith added. “I strongly urge all sides of this conflict to implement a countrywide cease-fire, and work with the U.N. Special Envoy to negotiate a peaceful resolution to this violence. In Congress, we will keep fighting for transparency and accountability on Yemen. We must be willing to continue to act in the face of this growing crisis.”
“I’ve taken bold actions since coming to Congress and worked to remedy the current humanitarian crisis in Yemen being caused by the Saudi-led war in Yemen,” said Congressman Ro Khanna.“As we break for August recess, I want to make it clear to the Saudi-led coalition that Congress is watching. We find additional military hostilities in Hodeida unacceptable and such action will prompt new congressional action. We hope the Saudi-led coalition will work with Martin Griffiths to choose diplomacy over war.”
“We are participating in the war in Yemen — I’m grateful that these provisions will ensure that more Americans have a better understanding of our involvement and its consequences,” said Congressman Beto O-Rourke.
“The provisions in this bill reflect deep, bipartisan concern in Congress over the mass hunger, cholera, and poverty engulfing the country of Yemen. The Trump Administration has expanded U.S. military participation alongside the Saudis and Emiratis in Yemen without Congressional authorization, aggravating the suffering of 8 million Yemenis on the brink of starvation. I look forward to Secretary Pompeo’s compliance with required reports to Congress on good-faith efforts being made by the Saudi coalition to end the war and alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Should the Trump administration tolerate a renewed escalation of hostilities, such as a siege on the vital city of Hodeida, I stand ready to work with my Democratic and Republican colleagues to end U.S. involvement in the conflict,” said Congressman Mark Pocan.
Highline priority passes as part of National Defense Authorization Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, and U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Commerce Aviation Operations, Safety, & Security Subcommittee, today announced the inclusion of an provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to provide Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding for noise mitigation projects at schools in the Highline School District in Burien, WA.
“This is a great example of how all levels of government can come together to solve a problem. Highline School District has been working tirelessly to meet the terms of the agreement with the FAA to help mitigate noise pollution that the schools experience. The provision in the NDAA was crafted with bipartisan, bicameral support and will help ensure that promises made to our local schools are kept. I thank Senator Cantwell and the Port of Seattle for their advocacy on this critical issue. Having grown up in SeaTac myself, I know it is important to fight for our children’s right to a safe and healthy learning environment,” said Congressman Smith.
“These noise mitigation projects are critical to the Highline School District and providing a comfortable and productive learning environment for all students,” said Senator Cantwell. “I was proud to work with Congressman Smith, the Port of Seattle, and Highline School District to get this critical funding across the finish line.”
Sea-Tac Airport is located in the center of Highline School District and many of the district’s schools are impacted by airport noise. A 2002 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Port of Seattle, the FAA, and Highline School District outlined noise mitigation for a number of Highline School District schools. Since the MOA was signed, the Port and the Highline School District met their portion of the funding obligation. During that time, the noise contours around the airport changed, leaving the two schools in areas where they did not qualify for the previously agreed upon funding.
In May, Smith offered an amendment to the NDAA – pushed by Sen. Cantwell in the Senate – to fix the issue by allowing the FAA to provide noise mitigation funding to schools like Highline that no longer qualified for the previously committed funding because of the noise contour changes. The amendment will give the district access to more than $14 million in FAA Airport Improvement Grants for noise mitigation projects including replacement of doors, windows, and the installation of through-the-wall AC units, or for new construction to include noise mitigation.
“We are deeply grateful to Rep. Smith and Senator Cantwell for their efforts to ensure that the FAA follows through on its commitment to fund noise insulation at our schools impacted by SeaTac International Airport. Our students deserve the highest quality learning environments we can provide them and this will help us do just that,” said Highline Superintendent Susan Enfield.
“The Port is committed to economic opportunity and quality of life for all local residents, and there is no more important investment in our communities than modern, clean, and quiet schools for our students. Senator Cantwell and Congressman Smith’s leadership to ensure federal noise-insulation funding for these Highline School District schools is a major victory in that effort,” said Christine Gregiore, President of the Port of Seattle Commission.
Sen. Cantwell offered the language last year in the Senate’s FAA Reauthorization bill, and similar language was offered in the House version of the FAA bill. Rep. Smith ensured its inclusion and ultimate passage in the final NDAA bill. Following today’s passage of the NDAA in the House, the legislation is expected to pass in the Senate and be signed by the president.
Washington, D.C. – Today, House Armed Services Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement about President Trump’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin:
“We should all be gravely concerned about whatever discussions President Trump has had with President Putin behind closed doors. At every turn of his trip to Europe, President Trump has followed a script that parallels Moscow’s plan to weaken and divide America’s allies and partners and undermine democratic values. There is an extensive factual record suggesting that President Trump’s campaign and the Russians conspired to influence our election for President Trump. Now Trump is trying to cover it up. There is no sugar coating this. It is hard to see President Trump siding with Vladimir Putin over our own intelligence community and our criminal investigators as anything other than treason.”
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Adam Smith (WA-09) today joined U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (WI-02), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) in introducing the Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act. The legislation would convene a commission of experts to provide a roadmap for Congress to implement a humane immigration enforcement system that upholds the dignity of all individuals, which includes terminating the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) within one year of enactment.
“We need to change the way we do immigration enforcement. Our current system is inhumane; it is separating children from their parents, deporting and detaining too many people, and ripping families apart. None of this is making us any safer. Unfortunately, Speaker Ryan is trying to demagogue the issue. This bill isn’t about stopping immigration enforcement or open borders. It is about shining a light on the injustices of our current system, and changing the way that we conduct immigration enforcement.”
“Across my district and throughout our country, ICE is ripping families apart. They are raiding workplaces, invading homes, showing up at courthouses, schools, and hospitals, detaining individuals indefinitely, and instilling fear throughout our communities. We must put a stop to this. President Trump has weaponized this agency to accomplish his racist and harmful agenda. To bring an end to these rampant human rights violations, we must terminate ICE and convene a commission of experts to make recommendations to Congress on the redistribution of ICE’s essential enforcement functions to other government agencies. ICE has strayed far from its original purpose and has failed to enforce immigration laws and protect national security in a humane and just way. I am proud to join several of my colleagues in cosponsoring this necessary legislation, and I will continue to fight to protect the dignity of all individuals.”
Congress created ICE in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks with the primary mission of preventing “acts of terrorism by targeting the people, money, and materials that support terrorist and criminal activities.” However, since then, ICE has become synonymous with immigration raids, home invasions, family separation, abusive detention practices, and chronic noncompliance with the law.
Recently, ICE agents themselves recognized the irreparable damage being done by President Trump’s actions when nineteen ICE agents wrote to Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, stating that investigations, “have been perceived as targeting undocumented aliens, instead of the transnational criminal organizations that facilitate cross border crimes impacting our communities and national security.” The authors of the letter agree that the agency is now failing to perform its core mission and that the best path forward would be to end it and start fresh.
Ending ICE and developing a more humane immigration system that complies with constitutional protections, domestic law, and binding international treaties, while treating every person with respect and dignity is a strong step forward.
The Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act would:
The legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (WI-02), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Jim McGovern (MA-02), José E. Serrano (NY-15), and Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07).
The bill text of the Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act is available here.
A fact sheet on the Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act is available here.
A section-by-section breakdown on the Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act is available here.
Washington, D.C. – This week, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Smith (D-WA) led all 27 of his Committee Democratic colleagues in sending a letter to the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee urging the Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee to conduct oversight of President Trump’s plans to house migrants on military bases.
“I am deeply concerned that the Department of Defense is preparing to house tens of thousands of migrant families and children in tents on military bases,” said Smith. “Congress must fulfill its oversight duties and demand answers from DoD. To this end, my colleagues and I are requesting that the Republican lead House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations immediately look into the support and infrastructure DoD intends to provide.
“It is appalling and unacceptable that the federal government is planning to detain migrants in tents at such an unprecedented scale in the first place. Individuals do not have to be held in detention at all; there are safe, humane, and effective alternatives to detention that we can and should be implementing, such as the Family Case Management Program. While I continue to push for an end to the mass detention of individuals and families, DoD must provide answers regarding their plans to house up to 32,000 migrant families and unaccompanied children on military bases. We must hold the Trump Administration accountable.”
All Armed Services Committee Democrats joined the letter: Rep. Robert A. Brady (D-PA), Rep. Susan A. Davis (D-CA), Rep. James R. Langevin (D-RI), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), Rep. Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU), Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rep. Marc A. Veasey (D-TX), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Rep. Salud O. Carbajal (D-CA), Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), Rep. Stephanie N. Murphy (D-FL), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Rep. Thomas R. Suozzi (D-NY), and Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA).
The letter can be found at this link, and its contents read as follows:
The Honorable Mac Thornberry
House Armed Services Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Thornberry:
We write to express concern over the Administration’s handling of unaccompanied minors, migrant families, and those seeking asylum in the United States. While the Committee on Armed Services does not maintain jurisdiction over immigration matters, the Department of Defense has been tasked with providing temporary housing for up to 32,000 unaccompanied minors and migrant families at military installations. In addition, the Department has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Justice to provide military lawyers to assist civilian federal prosecutors in immigration-related proceedings.
The Committee on Armed Services has valid equities in the Administration’s tasking of the Department of Defense in its handling of these issues, given the Department’s broad support to several outside agencies including the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Homeland Security. Therefore, we request that the Committee conduct focused oversight, to include open hearings, to examine the support that the Department of Defense has provided or will provide to other Federal agencies on border and immigration-related matters. Normally, an issue of this magnitude should be handled at the full committee level, but given the intensity of conference and the need for immediate oversight, we feel the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation (O&I) is uniquely postured to conduct a robust investigation into these matters.
An earnest subcommittee effort would afford Members the opportunity to hear from the Department of Defense and to derive answers to the following critical questions:
1) What forms of assistance to other Federal agencies related to unaccompanied minors, migrant families, and those seeking asylum in the United States have been requested of or tasked to the Department of Defense?
2) How has the Department of Defense, including the military departments, assessed these requests or tasks and how have determinations been made for accommodating or fulfilling such requests or tasks?
3) What funding accounts and legal and regulatory authorities is the Department of Defense using to provide support until such support is reimbursed under sections 1535 and 1536 of Title 31, United States Code?
The use of military infrastructure, real property, and personnel for functions outside of core Department of Defense mission areas, warrants Congressional oversight from this Committee. With these pressing concerns in mind, we request that that you promptly initiate an O&I Subcommittee investigation, and we look forward to your response. Thank you for your kind attention.
Ranking Member, House Armed Services Committee
Ranking Member, House Armed Services Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee
Robert A. Brady
Susan A. Davis
James R. Langevin
Madeleine Z. Bordallo
Marc A. Veasey
A. Donald McEachin
Salud O. Carbajal
Anthony G. Brown
Stephanie N. Murphy
Thomas R. Suozzi
Washington, DC – This evening, Representatives Adam Smith (D-WA) and Dave Reichert (R-WA) spoke on the House floor in support of their legislation, the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Act (H.R. 1791). Shortly after, the House of Representatives passed the bill unanimously.
“In my home state of Washington, we know well how spectacular the Mountains to Sound Greenway is and why this area is so deserving of this National Heritage Area designation,” said Rep. Reichert. “Today’s vote confirms this area is special to people from all across the country and globe who come to Washington State eager to experience its lush forests and rugged mountains. After years of working on this designation with my colleague, Representative Smith, I am proud to see this bipartisan legislation overwhelmingly pass the House. Now, I urge the Senate to take up this important legislation, so that the Mountains to Sound Greenway receives the full recognition it deserves.”
“The passage of the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Act, the first such designation in the Pacific Northwest, reflects the sustainable relationship between Washington state residents and nature in the Puget Sound Region,” Rep. Smith said. “The Mountains to Sound Greenway will help preserve and promote the area’s scenery, resources and history for future generations. I thank Congressman Reichert for his stalwart leadership, the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust for their tireless advocacy, and the engaged community members that made it possible for us to join together in preserving this natural treasure.”
This legislation was first introduced by Representatives Reichert and Smith in the 113th Congress as H.R. 1785, the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area Act. In November of 2014, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed the bill, but the full House never considered it. After receiving feedback over the past four years, Reps. Reichert and Smith reintroduced an improved and strengthened bill in March of 2017. This new bill (H.R. 1791) includes important protections for individual rights, private property owners, and tribal communities. It has the support of over 6,000 individuals and groups from government agencies and officials, businesses, outdoor recreation groups, and conservation and heritage organizations, including the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and Outdoor Alliance. In June, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed the bill.
“The Greenway is a model for working cooperatively to conserve the environment while supporting a strong economy,” said Jon Hoekstra, Executive Director of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. “We’re ecstatic that Congressman Reichert and Congressman Smith have succeeded in ushering this bipartisan bill to passage in the House. With Senators Cantwell and Murray as champions in the Senate, our region will soon reap the benefits of this innovative designation.”
National Heritage Areas are congressionally designated partnerships between the National Park Service, states, and local communities through which the Park Service supports local and state efforts to preserve natural resources and promote tourism. National Heritage Areas are not part of the National Park System. No federal regulations are imposed, and no private land is affected or acquired. Rep. Reichert’s legislation does not force private property owners to participate in any activity or provide public access on their land; it does not affect land use planning; and it does not alter, modify or extinguish treaty rights, water rights, or limit the authority of the state to manage fish and wildlife, including hunting and fishing regulations.
Heritage Area designations are eligible for federal grants and this designation can help draw financial contributions from state, local, and private sources. On average, each Heritage Area generates about $263 million in economic activity and supports about 3,000 jobs, primarily through tourism and visitor spending.
Washington, D.C. – In light of reports that military bases are being considered to house migrant children, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith and Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jack Reed sent the following letter to Defense Secretary Mattis requesting assurances that Members of Congress will be able to conduct necessary oversight over any Department of Defense sites used to house migrant children.
Ranking Member Smith released the following statement on the letter, “I will continue to do everything I can to stop this administration’s inhumane policy toward children and their families. It’s unconscionable that we are even in this position in the first place and we must hold the federal government accountable for the care of children within their custody.”
“President Trump’s new Executive Order doesn’t solve anything. Congress must exercise meaningful oversight and the Pentagon and the administration must be transparent about the true costs of housing these individuals on military bases,” said Senator Reed.
June 20, 2018
The Honorable James N. Mattis
U.S. Department of Defense
1100 Defense Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301
Dear Secretary Mattis:
We understand that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is considering using Department of Defense (DOD) sites to temporarily house unaccompanied migrant children. We write to request assurances that Members of Congress will have access to any DOD lands and facilities, including those on military bases, being used to house unaccompanied migrant children to facilitate appropriate and necessary Congressional oversight.
Pursuant to requests from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) at HHS, it is our understanding that DOD provides information about potential facility and land options for HHS to consider for housing unaccompanied migrant children. While we recognize that these children are in the custody of HHS, we expect DOD to work with HHS to ensure that Members of Congress will be able to exercise Congressional oversight over any housing of unaccompanied migrant children on DOD property. Given the expected continued increase in the number of children in the custody of ORR, and the importance of ensuring appropriate care and safety of these children, it is essential that Members of Congress have access to these facilities even in circumstances where short-notice is provided.
The Administration’s “zero tolerance policy” is simply cruel and inhumane. It is unconscionable that children are being separated from their parents at the border, many of whom are legally seeking asylum or humanitarian aid from violence they face in their home country. This abhorrent policy does nothing to improve our national security or address the factors that led these families to flee their home country. It is detrimental to our standing in the world and directly counter to the values our country was founded on. We will continue to fight against the separation of children from their families.
Congress must be able to conduct direct oversight to ensure these children are receiving the care they need and deserve while they are in the custody of the federal government. Given the Administration’s continued implementation of this objectionable policy, we request your confirmation that Members of Congress will have access to DOD sites selected by HHS for temporary housing of migrant children.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Adam Smith Jack Reed
Ranking Member Ranking Member
House Armed Services Committee Senate Armed Services Committee