Press Releases

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.


Statement On Third Runway

December 13, 2002

Congressman Adam Smith today admonished the decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to grant a conditional 404 permit to the Port of Seattle to build a third runway at Seatac International Airport. 

"I am very disappointed with the Corps' announcement to grant a 404 permit to the Port of Seattle. The environmental damage and skyrocketing costs associated with the third runway cannot continue to be ignored to the detriment of the communities surrounding the airport and all of Washington state. The facts are on our side and I am confident that the science upon which our arguments have based will ultimately prevail."

"The third runway puts salmon bearing streams, important wetlands, a drinking water aquifer, and ultimately our communities at great risk. From the beginning, this runway has been an ill-conceived idea that will do little to solve the region's long-term transportation problems."

"I am committed to fighting the third runway. I will continue to work with the affected communities to explore all available options in our efforts to expose truth: the third runway is the wrong answer for our region's transportation needs.

Earlier this week, the president signed the FY 2003 National Defense Authorization Act into law, providing approximately $393 billion for the nation’s defense programs. While concerned over the failure to deliver on the nation’s promises to veterans with this bill, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) has praised the Act’s inclusion of an extension of the time limit for use of Montgomery G.I. Bill (MGIB) benefits – increasing access to education for the U.S. military.  

The Defense Authorization bill greatly improves the quality of life for the men and women in uniform – providing a 4.1 percent military pay raise, with larger pay increases for mid-grade and senior non-commissioned officers and mid-grade officers, reducing out-of-pocket housing costs for military personnel by increasing housing allowances to cover 92.5 percent of all housing costs, establishing more than $10 billion to build new military housing and working facilities for military personnel and their families and raising the number of years members of the Reserves have to use their MGIB  benefits from 10 to 14. 

“I am pleased that my colleagues on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees agreed with me in recognizing the value of providing better and more competitive education benefits to our Armed Forces.  Obviously this is a step in the right direction – making the Montgomery G.I. Bill more valuable and useful to more men and women in service,” Smith said.  “But we can, and must, do more.  My original proposal would have extended this benefit to both active duty servicemembers and reservists – expanding the pool even more.”

“At a time when recruitment and retention are more important than ever, we must work to make military service an attractive career option,” continued Smith. “We have to do a better job of providing better and more competitive educational benefits for all enlisted military members and this extension is a good first step.  I am committed to making sure that we maintain the most intelligent and highly-skilled fighting force in the world and will continue to work with my colleagues to reach that goal.”

In April of this year, Smith introduced two bills to improve the quality of life for the U.S. military through increased access to education.  The first bill, H.R.4213 “Expanding Education for Military Families Act,” would allow for full portability of MGIB benefits to the family members of enrollees in the MGIB program.  His second bill, H.R.4214 “Military Education Extension Act,” proposed extending the time limit for use of MGIB benefits to 15 years for both active duty servicemembers and reservists.  The time limit extension included in the Defense Authorization Act was limited to 14 years for reservists.

Details of Smith’s legislation to improve the quality of life for the U.S. military through increased access to education:

H.R.4213 – The Expanding Education for Military Families Act
Currently, the Montgomery G.I. Bill contains a portability provision for those with “critical military skills.”  In exchange for the transfer of some of their MGIB benefits to a spouse, a child or some combination of the two, MGIB enrollees, who have served at least six years in the Armed Forces, agree to serve an additional four years.  While this is an improvement from the original bill, the recent modification adversely affected morale among those not included under the provision.  In many cases, this portability option makes the difference in whether or not a servicemember can pay for a child’s college education. Smith’s “Expanding Education for Military Families Act” would offer this portability option to all members of the Armed Forces.

H.R. 4214 – The Military Education Extension Act 
Under current law, when Montgomery G.I. Bill active duty enrollees separate from the service or retire, they have ten years to use their benefits – after that time, any unused portions are lost.  For reservists, the ten-year clock starts ticking down from the date of their enrollment in the program, which is usually when they are processed at their first duty station.  With the “Military Education Extension Act,” Smith proposed lengthening the clock to 15 years for both active duty enlistees and reservists.  

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Adam Smith has been a strong advocate of modernizing our military and investing in tomorrow's technology, as well ensuring that Department of Defense resources are used efficiently and that America's fighting men and women have the tools and equipment they need to fulfill their missions. Improving the treatment of personnel, retirees and veterans is not only the right thing to do, but is critical to our national security.  If we want to continue leading the world in military power, we must invest in the best Armed Services.