Press Releases

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) congratulated Pierce County Fire Department District 17 on being awarded a $291,393 grant from the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Fire Administration.

“This money is critical to improving the safety conditions and efficiency of our firefighters. Over the last couple years, this program has become increasingly competitive and I applaud the department for its efforts in receiving this grant.” said Congressman Adam Smith. “The funding will not only protect the health and well-being of our firefighters, it will also improve their ability to protect the health and well-being of the residents they serve. Our nation’s fire departments are the first responders to almost every emergency situation and sometimes communities struggle to find the funding necessary to ensure their local fire departments function as safely and efficiently as possible. This grant program is one of the ways that we can help to ensure they have the funding necessary to protect our communities and themselves.”

The grant will provide funding to purchase new radio devices to improve communication and install an exhaust removal system in all four of its stations. Currently, the department has no formal exhaust removal system. The new systems will dramatically reduce firefighters’ exposure to harmful toxins released by vehicle exhaust and trapped in the garage. The new radios will significantly increase communication abilities within the department and allow emergency response to be coordinated more effectively.

The primary goal of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and emergency medical services organizations. The grant, which has existed since 2001, helps firefighters and other first responders obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards. The grant is administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.

Rep. Adam Smith released the following statement on the recent attacks in Mumbai, India:

“The terrorist attacks that took place last week are extremely unfortunate and saddening. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the people of India.”

“These coordinated and ruthless attacks on innocent civilians demonstrate the severe and urgent threat of violent extremism that the whole world faces. I hope this incident will remind people around the world that we must work together to root out violent extremism wherever it exists. This threat is not confined to a single nation or alliance of nations, it’s an ideology that spans the globe and so must our effort to stop it.”

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), Chairman of the House Armed Services Terrorism Subcommittee and Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement on President-elect Barack Obama’s choices for his administration’s national security team:

“President-elect Obama has demonstrated, once again, that he will be a pragmatic, thoughtful leader detached from partisan politics and grounded in his commitment to restoring America’s standing in the world and safeguarding our security here at home.

“Retaining Secretary Gates is an excellent decision. Over the last two years, he has restored accountability to the Department of Defense and done a tremendous job managing extremely difficult situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gates is a highly competent leader who commands respect and can help President-Elect Obama shift gears in Iraq responsibly and place greater emphasis on Afghanistan.

“Senator Hillary Clinton is a very good choice for Secretary of State. She is respected around the world and has an understanding of the international system and how the United States can lead more effectively within it. Her appointment will be well received around the globe and her service will help to restore our standing in the world.

“I am pleased with all of President-elect Obama’s appointments to his national security team.  In particular, Gen. James Jones and Dr. Susan Rice, both of whom I have worked with and come to respect immensely over the years, will make an excellent National Security Adviser and Ambassador to the United Nations, respectively.  As demonstrated by the recent attacks in Mumbai and the attacks in Iraq today, difficult global challenges will continue to confront the next administration and it’s imperative that President Obama be surrounded by dedicated professionals who share his vision and compliment his sound judgment. With the appointments today, President-elect Obama has ensured this.”

Today, the President signed into law H.R. 6867, the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2008, which extends unemployment insurance benefits for more than 2 million Americans. The bill, supported by Congressman Smith, passed the House on October 3, 2008, was cleared by the Senate yesterday.

“With the unemployment rate at a 16-year high and a weakening economy, it is imperative that Congress act to protect struggling Americans,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Not only are people losing their jobs, but individuals out of work are struggling to regain their financial footing. This extension of unemployment insurance benefits provides critical support and a measure of economic safety in these troubling times. I applaud the Senate for passing this bill and am pleased the President quickly signed it into law.”

The Unemployment Compensation Extension Act, H.R. 6867, provides an additional seven weeks of unemployment insurance benefits for workers who have exhausted their regular unemployment compensation, and an additional 13 weeks for workers in states with an average seasonally-adjusted unemployment rates of 6% or higher for three months. Washington state is currently experiencing an unemployment rate of 6.8 percent, based upon October 2008 Department of Labor data.

H.R. 6867 will provide relief to America’s workers and stimulate the economy. Extending these benefits is one of the most cost-effective and fast-acting ways to stimulate the economy because the money is spent quickly, according to the Congressional Budget Office. 

Some key components of the bill include that it will provide:

Approximately $6 billion in benefits to be paid from the Federal unemployment trust fund, which has more than enough reserves to cover the cost;
An additional 7 weeks of extended unemployment benefits for workers who have exhausted regular unemployment compensation; 
An additional 13 weeks of benefits workers in high-unemployment states.

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

“Today we honor the brave men and women who have served in defense of our country and its values and ideals. Over the course of history, millions of brave Americans have served as the shield of America’s freedom at home and as a beacon of hope abroad. They have served selflessly to protect the promise of America and the citizens who embrace her. Through the valor and strength of our veterans and our current servicemembers, America has repeatedly stood firm in the face of tyranny and terror. For this service we are forever grateful and indebted.”

“As someone who is privileged to represent thousands of military personnel, veterans, and their families in the Puget Sound Region, it is an honor to ensure they receive the benefits and support they deserve. I will continue to work with and listen to our veterans to ensure their needs are being met. I will be meeting with local representatives to get their ideas on how to improve housing for our veterans and visiting injured soldiers to ensure their healthcare is adequate. Next month, I am hosting a Town Hall meeting that will bring veterans together with local and federal service providers to ensure their needs are being met and answer any question they may have. Over the last few years we have made historic budget increases for veteran services, and in the 111th Congress I will continue to work in a bipartisan way to expand services for our veterans.”

“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. This Veterans Day, let us remember their courage, their sacrifices, and our commitments to them.”