News from Congressman Adam Smith
Smith Applauds Re-Opening of Tanker Competition, Pledges Close Scrutiny
Defense Secretary Gates announced on July 9, 2008 that the Air Force would rebid the refueling tanker contract. As details on the new process become available, Congressman Adam Smith will continue to remain vigilant in his quest to ensure that the selection process is transparent, fair and takes the true cost of development and long term operation into account.
“The Pentagon made the right decision – and the only reasonable one – to correct the Air Force’s mistakes and re-compete the tanker contract. The GAO’s investigation made clear that the original acquisition process was unfair and disadvantaged Boeing’s bid in several respects. I hope this will mean that Boeing and our Washington State workers will get a fair shot at the new contract, but I’ll be watching this new process carefully to make sure that’s the case.”Adam said.
As you may know, on June 18, 2008, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) upheld Boeing Corporation’s appeal of the Air Force’s tanker acquisition process for the $40 billion KC-X aerial refueling tanker contract.
In its decision, the GAO found that the Air Force made “a number of significant errors” that likely affected “the outcome of what was a close competition.” According to the GAO, the Air Force failed to judge the competitive bids based on the Air Force’s own evaluation criteria, and made significant mistakes in considering the life-cycle costs of each of the two aircraft. After the release of the GAO’s ruling, Adam released the following statement:
“The GAO’s decision is an unequivocal vindication of our position regarding the bidding process for the Air Force’s refueling tanker contract. The process was not fair and did not provide equal consideration for both companies’ products based on the Air Force’s solicitation. GAO recommends what amounts to a complete reopening of the bidding process which could result in the termination of the contract awarded to Northrop Grumman. In addition to ensuring that American workers get a fair shot at the contract, I hope this decision will also cause our government to reevaluate the wisdom of awarding major contracts to companies that have benefited from illegal government subsidies.”
In addition, Adam signed a letter to the Acting Secretary of the Air Force asking him to implement the recommendations of the GAO, including re-opening discussions with the bidders and revaluating revised proposals in order to make a fair and impartial decision.
Smith Secures $8.6 million for McChord Cyber-Warfare Center
Adam is pleased to announce that he secured $8.6 million in funding to build a new cyber-warfare facility at McChord Air Force Base. The funding was approved on June 24, 2008, by the House Appropriations Committee. The $8.6 million will fund the construction of a state-of-the-art training and operational facility for the 262nd Information Warfare Aggressor Squadron (IWAS) at McChord Air Force Base. The facility will house classrooms and multiple, highly secured computer networks, and a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) for the storage of Top Secret information.
“This Washington State Air National Guard squadron is at the cutting edge of protecting U.S. national security in today’s high tech world. I am proud to have these cyber warriors – most of whom have civilian day jobs at local tech companies – here in the Puget Sound area. They need this new facility as the squadron takes on a more prominent role in America’s cyber-security efforts.”
A new facility is urgently needed, as the current facility is a Korean War-era building without adequate space or security protections.
The work of the 262nd IWAS involves a range of cyber-security missions, including replicating the cyber-attack capabilities of potential adversaries to the U.S. The capabilities of the 262nd will benefit significantly through the construction of this new facility.
While the Appropriations Committee’s approval of the funding is a positive step in the process towards securing federal funds, the bill must still pass both the House and Senate before becoming law.
Smith Honors the 4-2 Infantry Brigade on House Floor
On June 26, 2008, Adam addressed the House and paid tribute to the 4thBrigade-2nd Infantry Division, a Stryker Brigade from Fort Lewis that returned from a 15 month deployment in Iraq on June 30th.
The video of his speech on the House floor can be viewed directly through the following link:
House Boosts Support for Homeless Veterans
On July 9th, 2008, Adam helped pass House legislation to expand housing assistance and supportive services for homeless veterans. H.R.3329, the Homes for Heroes Act, which Adam cosponsored, overwhelmingly passed by a vote of 412-19.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 400,000 veterans are homeless at some point during the year, with nearly 200,000 homeless on any given night. This makes up a quarter of the entire homeless population of the United States. Many more low income veterans and their families live at the margins and are at risk of becoming homeless in the absence of permanent housing solutions and supportive services. In fact, 1.5 million veterans have incomes that fall below the federal poverty level, including 634,000 with incomes below 50 percent of the poverty line.
“It is an absolute shame that after years of faithful service to their country, thousands of veterans spend their nights sleeping on the streets or are under the constant threat of becoming homeless. We must do more to support these individuals who served their country. The legislation passed today is a step in the right direction to ensure these heroes receive the support and services they need,” Adam said.
Specifically, the Homes for Heroes Act:
· Authorizes $200 million for an assistance program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for supportive housing and services for low-income veterans
· Directs HUD to provide at least 20,000 rental vouchers a year for homeless veterans.
· Establishes the position of Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs within HUD to coordinate and oversee the Department’s assistance programs for veterans.
· Requires HUD to submit a comprehensive annual report to Congress on the housing needs of homeless veterans and the steps HUD has taken under the programs provided for in this bill.
The Senate must now consider H.R. 3329 before the President can sign it into law.
Smith Applauds Air Force Funds for McChord Clear Zone
Adam applauded the recent release of Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI) funds by the Air Force for the purpose of purchasing more land that is privately held within McChord’s north runway Clear Zone. Statistically, this area has a greater risk of aircraft accident than any other around an airport.
“Keeping this area free of development is a safety issue that has needed to be addressed for decades. I am pleased that my office, working in conjunction with the local, visionary coalition formed last year, has beenable to move the issue forward,” said Adam.
$1,080,000 of REPI funding will be combined with $500,000 from Pierce County, $150,000 from the city of Tacoma, $250,000 from McChord Air Force Base, and matched with $580,000 from the State of Washington’s Military Communities Infrastructure Projects grant program to buy fee-simple title or development rights on parcels of land located within the Clear Zone. This effort builds upon funds that were raised last year byPierce County, the State of Washington and the City of Lakewood to get the initiative started.
“In addition to increasing safety, restoring the Clear Zone also helps abate a growing encroachment problem. As we saw in the last round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), communities that did not address encroachment issues found themselves at greater risk for closure,” Adam noted.
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Adam led a coalition of members to increase REPI funding by $21 million over the President’s request in the FY2009 National Defense Authorization Act, and has pledged to work hard to make sure that the progress continues.
House Moves on Local-Interest Veterans Bills
The late Washington State resident, Elwood "Bud" Link, was honored by the House as H.R. 2245, naming the VA outpatient clinic in Wenatchee as the Elwood "Bud" Link Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic, passed unanimously. Adam and the rest of the Washington Delegation signed a letter in May asking that the VA committee schedule a vote on the bill. Bud Link, who passed away in 2003, was a very active veteran inWashington State who helped improve the quality of life for veterans.
Also of interest, Adam cosponsored H.Res.1248, a resolution that honors men who served aboard the USS Farenholt. The resolution recognizes the service of the USS Farenholt and her men who served on the Navy destroyer in the South Pacific during World War II. The bill was brought to Adam’s attention by a constituent of the Ninth Congressional District who served on the USS Farenholt.