Press Releases

Today, Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) voted to provide local firefighters with the tools and resources they need to prevent and fight fires, and keep our communities safe.

“At a time when many towns and cities in Washington state are facing budget shortfalls and cuts to basic services, this bill helps to ease the burden on local fire departments by providing federal funding to help provide training, purchase equipment and vehicles, and hire personnel,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Countless lives are saved every day by the courageous efforts of first responders, firefighters and EMTs and we must ensure they get the resources they need to protect our communities.”

Specifically, the Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2009 authorizes $1 billion in each of fiscal years 2010 through 2014 for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Assistance to Firefighters Grants program, which provides funds for local fire departments and emergency medical services organizations to purchase equipment. It also authorizes $1.2 billion in each of fiscal years 2010 through 2014 for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program, which provides grants for hiring and retaining personnel.

The bill also makes it easier for local fire departments to access these critical funds by lowering matching requirements and modifying time commitments, which will allow more fire stations to apply for the grants.  Grant recipients would be required to match 10% of the grant’s funding, and the bill allows the Administrator of the program to waive or reduce the matching requirements for applicants that have demonstrated economic hardship.

In fiscal year 2008, which is the most current data available, Washington state was awarded nearly $9.5 million through the SAFER Grant Program and nearly $11.4 million through the Assistance to Firefighters Program.

 

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) introduced legislation to help ensure that veterans have quality, well-paying job opportunities. The bill, Veterans to Work Pilot Program Act of 2009, will expand job opportunities by creating a 5-year pilot program to enroll military veterans in apprenticeship programs and employ them on military construction projects.

“We should be doing everything possible to ensure that the brave men and women who serve our country come home to good, family-wage, quality job opportunities when they return from their assignments abroad,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “By calling upon the Department of Defense to explore the utilization of veteran apprentices in military construction projects, we are working to find innovative ways to help our veterans secure employment and ease the transition into civilian life.”

The legislation would specifically require the Secretary of Defense to designate at least twenty military construction projects per year where, to the maximum extent feasible, the utilization of veteran apprenticeship labor would be required. At the end of each year, and at the conclusion of the pilot program, the Secretary would be required to submit a report to Congress that, among other things, evaluates the benefits of employing apprentices who are veterans on Military Construction projects.

“Our veterans, military personnel and their families make enormous sacrifices on our behalf, and they deserve our support and gratitude. I am proud to be a strong advocate for them in Congress and I will continue to seek ways to improve their quality of life and improve the benefits they receive for their service.”

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Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) released the following statement in regard to the memorial service at Fort Lewis today honoring seven local soldiers killed in combat on October 27, 2009.

“Today, we honor the soldiers who died on October 27, 2009 and offer our condolences to their families and friends. As we saw on the tragic day when these seven brave soldiers were killed and with the confirmation of two additional Fort Lewis soldiers passing yesterday, our local military personnel continue to bear the brunt of the conflict in Afghanistan.

“We owe our brave men and women in uniform our deepest gratitude, and not just when they make the ultimate sacrifice. As a member of Congress who represents thousands of our military personnel, their families and our Veterans, I am constantly working to ensure they the support and benefits they deserve.

“Our local military personnel and their families play an important role in both our combat operations abroad and in our communities here at home. In combat, they are the brave men and women who selflessly put themselves in harms way to protect the greater good. At home, they are the individuals and families that make Washington state a wonderful place to live. For this, we are forever indebted to them.”

 

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) made the following statement in observance of Veterans Day:

“In 1918, on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, on the 11th month major hostilities of World War I ceased. As the impact of this conflict began to set in and the world took stock of the damages one thing was clear: the valiant service of our brave men and women had defeated tyranny and pushed back the threat of terror. American ideals and the forces of democracy prevailed that day, and American service members led the way. This day, this moment in history, became known as Veterans Day.

“In the years since, millions of Americans have worn the uniform, taken the oath and fought to keep America safe. Millions have perished in this pursuit, and countless more have been injured, but the bravery and valor of our soldiers has never wavered. These are the men and women that enable all aspects of the American way and stand as the safeguard that defends us from those who wish to do us harm.

“America boasts the best-trained, most professional troops in the world. They and their families make enormous sacrifices on our behalf, and they have earned our support and gratitude. I am humbled by their service, and I am proud to represent so many of them in Congress. This Veterans Day, let us remember their courage, their sacrifices, and our commitments to them.”

Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in response to the shooting at Fort Hood Thursday, November 5, 2009. A Memorial Ceremony to honor the victims of the shooting will be held tomorrow.

“The recent shooting at Fort Hood is a grave tragedy. Our brave men and women selflessly put themselves in harms way to protect us and should not have to worry about incidences of violence taking place while on American soil. They face enough danger while they are abroad.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the fallen and injured soldiers and their families. As we grieve for the lost soldiers and pray for the recovery of the injured, we should also reaffirm our broader commitment to ensuring that our military personnel and their families receive the benefits and support they deserve.

“In the days and weeks ahead, I will play an active role in evaluating the incident and help to make policy adjustments to reduce the likelihood of a similar event occurring in the future.”