Press Releases

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) released the following statement today on the passage of 13 additional weeks of federally funded benefits to jobless workers who have exhausted their 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits.  S. 23, the Unemployment Insurance Benefits Extension Act provides jobless workers in all states who exhaust their 26 weeks of regular benefits between now and the end of May with an additional 13 weeks of benefits.  In the three states with the highest unemployment figures, currently Alaska, Oregon and Washington, jobless workers who have exhausted their 26 weeks of regular benefits would be eligible for 26 additional weeks of benefits.  The extension is retroactive to December 28th.  Those who had their benefits cut off on that date would receive the remainder of their 13 weeks.  Those who exhausted both their 26 weeks of regular benefits and 13 weeks of extended benefits last year do not receive any additional benefits.  

“Washington state has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, 6.6 percent, and people need help now.  45,400 Washingtonians lost their desperately needed unemployment benefits on December 28 when the clock ran out on the temporary extension.  But the fact remains that there are still layoffs and budget cuts being announced daily around our state, and the state’s budget crisis only compounds our unemployment security problem,” said Smith.  “Today’s legislation will finally get critical help to needy Washington families.  But we need to make sure that Washington’s families will not just make it through the next few tough weeks, but also have greater economic security until they can get themselves back on track.  We’ve got to our economy back in the black with a short-term plan that not only includes an economic stimulus, but a long-term plan to get our budget deficits under control and grow the economy.”

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) released the following statement today on the economy in light of both the Republican economic “stimulus” package introduced by the president and the rules for the federal budget introduced by the Republican House Leadership for the coming session.

“As the Republicans take over the majority in both chambers for the 108th congress, they are endorsing dynamic scoring and automatic debt increases, both tactics that count on overoptimistic numbers and rosier projections to hide the true cost of economic budget choices.  Such irresponsible and deliberate optimism can only spell budgetary doom for years to come.

“Many economists have long argued against dynamic scoring because of a lack of reliable economic models on which to base projections.  And all that automatic debt increases would do is to hide the true cost of all government spending and tax cuts and release the government from all accountability towards balancing their checkbook.  So what the Republicans are saying today is that we should look at the economy through rose-colored glasses and press snooze on the only alarm that goes off when the spending gets too high.  It’s just ridiculous that in an era when our nation faces the challenge of balancing dwindling resources with the need to increase federal spending in critical areas, they’re arguing that we should be less careful about watching how we spend our money.  Instead we should be looking at conservative numbers and tightening our belts all the way around. 

“Congress and the White House are acting as though fiscal responsibility no longer matters and that just isn’t true.  Without a doubt, our defense and foreign affairs budgets need additional money because we have new challenges.  However, the federal government cannot continue using the war on terrorism as an excuse to abandon fiscal restraint.  Fiscal responsibility must be a cornerstone of our economic policy, and I will continue fighting to get our budget balanced.

“Yes, we must meet our most pressing priorities of protecting our country against terrorism, improving our international relations, and growing our economy.  I have said again and again that I agree with the president that these current challenges warrant small, short-term deficit spending.  However I am extremely concerned about the lack of attention to sound budgeting practices that would both address our most pressing current needs, and establish a framework for a long-term, sustainable revenue and spending plan without relying on massive borrowing.  

“We need an honest discussion of the budget, with cold hard facts and numbers, instead of relying on ‘smoke and mirror’ budget gimmicks and heroic assumptions to wish away the hard choices we face.  Unfortunately, the federal budget debate to this point has had too few voices standing up for these principles and as a result elected officials are still promising more than the federal government can possibly deliver.  

“While government by itself cannot create a good economy, it can clearly set the stage for growth in the long-term by maintaining fiscal discipline.  Fiscal responsibility still matters.  During the 90s, careful, disciplined financial stewardship yielded balanced budgets, helping to fuel economic growth.  Our economy cannot sustain a return to yearly budgets that drive us deeper and deeper into debt.  

“War and recession have brought back deficits, but they are not an excuse to undo long-range budget discipline. To get back on track, Congress and the president must have the courage to make the hard, honest choices that are necessary right now to ensure that those deficits will be small and short-term.  With retirement of the baby boom generation approaching, failure to discipline our budget in the coming years will have far reaching ramifications and add crushing new burdens on workers and taxpayers in the following decades.  We must take action now with an honest discussion of the choices we face and develop a budget that is fiscally responsible.  Dynamic scoring and automatic increases in the debt level just aren’t going to do it.”

Since heading to Congress in 1997, Rep. Adam Smith has consistently been a strong advocate of fiscal discipline and honesty in all federal budgeting.  He believes that a return to sincere and deliberate fiscal discipline must be the cornerstone of our government’s economic policy.  In the 1990s when Wall Street and Main Street saw that the government was serious about keeping its books in order and reducing the national debt, interest rates fell and private investment grew.  Businesses created jobs and all Americans benefited from lower interest rates on their mortgages, student loans and consumer credit.


Unable to attend today’s funeral due to the House of Representatives’ voting calendar, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) issued the following statement on the death of Tacoma resident and friend, Brownie Braunsteiner:

“I would like to offer my condolences to Brownie Braunsteiner’s family.  This is a hard day for all of us; Brownie will be missed.  

“Brownie was the chairperson of the Pierce County Veterans Advisory Council, but that doesn’t begin to describe either who he was or the depth of his commitment to life.  A man with a big heart, Brownie fought for issues he believed in.  After serving our nation with a decorated career in the Army, Brownie worked tirelessly for the rights of veterans.  Brownie was a passionate, dedicated citizen who gave so much to Pierce County and our nation.  He was patient and kind in teaching me not just about veterans and military issues, but also a wide range of other concerns close to his heart.  

“Brownie was a leader within the veterans community.  We worked together on veterans’ issues ranging from concurrent receipt to VA health care to continuing education and reform of the Montgomery GI Bill.  Brownie was not only a critical participant in conversations about improving the quality of life for veterans, but was also instrumental in rallying the community behind positive change.  

Brownie was someone who was so well respected it defies belief.  Everyone in the veterans’ community, every elected official, everyone in Pierce County knew him and loved him.  His tireless work earned him not only the respect, but also the love of everyone who knew him.”


Pierce College in Lakewood will be one of 12 new colleges and universities to begin offering on-line courses in 2003 through eArmyU, the U.S. Army’s largest e-learning virtual university program with more than 30,000 enrolled soldiers. Pierce College will be one of 32 institutions of higher education offering on-line college level courses to U.S. Army personnel throughout the world, according to IBM Business Consulting Services, which operates eArmyU.  Pierce College is the only education institute in Washington state to partner with IBM to help the U.S. Army supply long-distance learning and higher education quickly and efficiently to soldiers at home and abroad.  

“I’m very excited by this announcement and want to congratulate Pierce College for taking on this opportunity that will only add to the economic development momentum for this area.  This is a natural pairing for Washington state.  Pierce College is a terrific educational institution located in our state and they have demonstrated a tremendous commitment over the years to the military community.  Pierce has also been a leader in using technology to deliver quality education and I think that they are in a terrific position to work with this program,” said Smith.  “The eArmyU program helps ensure that our soldiers are the most highly skilled, intelligent fighting force in the world.  At a time when recruitment and retention are more important than ever, eArmyU also offers current soldiers, and those considering a career in the Army, a great incentive to stay in the Army.  In February, Fort Lewis became one of the newest eArmyU sites, and with Pierce College’s affiliation with eArmyU our local soldiers will have more options and greater access to quality education.  This is a great opportunity both for Pierce College and for the local military community.”  

eArmyU offers soldiers a free online education in exchange for their continued enlistment.  The program offers educational opportunities from a diverse consortium of colleges, universities and technical schools linked by computer technology. Soldiers can access on-line courseware anytime, anywhere so that deployments overseas would not interfere with their progress towards technical certification, associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees.  As part of the program, each soldier is issued a tech package consisting of a laptop computer, printer, Internet access and technical support. 

The academic institutions chosen will offer more than 3,000 courses and more than 150 academic degree programs, tripling the degree programs since eArmyU’s inception.  eArmyU has delivered educational opportunities online to more than 30,500 enlisted soldiers since the program began in January 2001 and will enroll approximately 80,000 soldiers by 2005 at military installations around the world. The program is accessed at

For more information on Pierce College’s acceptance into the eArmyU program, contact Dale Stowell at (253) 964-6780 or and for information on eArmyU, contact Judy Welles at (703) 516-8626 or


Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) announced today that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and United States Fire Administration (USFA) have awarded Central Pierce Fire and Rescue and the Pierce County Fire District No. 11 grants through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program for Fire Operations and Firefighter Safety.  Both fire units are first-time applicants for federal funding and both received extraordinary award packages from FEMA to purchase new and safer equipment.  

“First of all, it’s very exciting that in the last six months we’ve had a terrific rate of success securing grants for the Ninth district, especially for these first-time grant writers.  On top of today’s competitive grant awards, back in August, Federal Way secured $475,000 from the same program with their first application.  This is a great way for the federal government to help out our local communities as these grants provide our local firefighters with the tools they need to do their jobs safely and more efficiently,” Smith said.  “Our nation’s fire departments are the first responders into almost every emergency situation and this grant program is one of the ways that we can help to ensure their continued safety as they face a variety of threats.  This was a very competitive grant process, involving a national peer review with over 300 fire service leaders.  With their receipt of the award, both departments have successfully demonstrated their commitment to ‘safety first’ for their team.  This is a great program for our local first responders and I'm looking forward to expanding the number of Ninth district applicants to federal grant programs like this one in the future.”

Awarded jointly by FEMA and USFA, the Assistance to Fire Fighters Grant Program is designed to increase the effectiveness of fire fighting operations, fire fighter health and safety programs, new fire apparatus, EMS programs, and Fire Prevention and Safety Programs.  Central Pierce Fire and Rescue, based in Tacoma, received $201,037, 70 percent of the total project cost, to purchase thermal imaging units and new more protective bunker equipment to improve the basic fire fighting services they provide to the community.  Pierce County Fire District No. 11, which serves a Puyallup area community of fewer than 50,000 residents and therefore qualifies for a 90 percent federal contribution, has been using the same bunker equipment for the last 20 years and received $48,372 towards its purchase of new equipment.  The newer type of bunker equipment that both departments are looking to purchase is safer, lighter, and more compact than current equipment. Approximately 28 percent lighter than older equipment, the purchase of cutting edge bunker gear will result in less fatigue to these firefighters and allow them to be more mobile and efficient.  

For more information about the Central Pierce Fire and Rescue Unit, contact Karen Johnson at (253) 548-6400.  For more information about Pierce County Fire District No. 11, contact Steve Tyree, Assistant Fire Chief at (206) 353-3280.