News Releases


Thank you all for coming out today. And thanks to the Spokane Chamber for pulling this event together. I want to congratulate Scott on becoming the Chamber’s new chair.

You know, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Spokane in the last few years. And it’s really quite easy to explain why I keep coming back to support events and projects here in Spokane. Simply put, there are a lot of exciting things happening in this community. It’s really been a delight for me to support Spokane projects because you can see the vision. You’re working to – make smart transportation investments, to capitalize on the assets that are already here, and to create new high-skilled, high-wage jobs in the medical and technology fields.

The Spokane Chamber has been a leader in formulating and advancing this vision, and I’m proud to partner with you.

One very exciting project that began as part of a discussion with the Chamber in my office in Washington D.C. is the University District transportation project.

This afternoon, Chris Marr took me to the University District to see the transportation project and to discuss its economic potential.

We know there’s a strong education base in the Spokane area with Washington State University, Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University, Whitworth College the Community Colleges of Spokane, and Spokane Intercollegiate Research and Technology Institute.

There is a direct connection between university research and local entrepreneurship.

I am very excited about the University District. Working together, we were able to come up with a proposal to improve the transportation infrastructure around the University District – by enhancing and beautifying the roads and sidewalks.

I provided $1 million for this project in the Senate Transportation Appropriations bill. It’s a down payment on the University District infrastructure, and I’ll continue to work with you to finish the project and realize its potential for Spokane.

The University District transportation project is a direct result of our frequent meetings and discussions. Whether it’s in Washington, D.C. on the Chamber’s annual trip -- or here in Spokane -- our discussions have been meaningful and productive, and I want to continue that today.

So, let me give you a quick update on several important issues I’m working on that will impact Spokane. Then I’d like to open the floor and continue our dialogue.

On the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, I continue to use my seniority to help communities all across our state, including Spokane. We all know that transportation infrastructure is one of the great challenges facing our state as we seek to remain competitive now and in the future. Transportation projects are also one of the quickest ways to create jobs. It’s estimated that every $1 billion we spend on transportation construction creates 74,000 jobs.

Over these last three years, I’ve been proud to fund a record number of transportation projects here in Washington. For Spokane, over the last three years, I have included an $11 million to upgrade the North/South Freeway; over $17 million for the Spokane International airport; $3.5 million for the Spokane Transit Authority; and $3 million to rehabilitate the Monroe Street Bridge.

These funds are above and beyond the formula funding that the State of Washington receives every year from the Department of Transportation.

I know there is more work to be done on other infrastructure projects in Spokane. That’s why discussions like this one are so important to me as I seek to represent all of you in the Senate. I’m here because I need your continued input on transportation projects in this community.

Let me shift from transportation and finish my remarks with a few comments about Boeing and Fairchild. Many of you in this room were instrumental in working through the Boeing sale of the Spokane facility to the Triumph Groupe. Some of you attended the meeting I organized with Alan Mulally in Seattle to communicate the importance of this issue to Spokane. So far, we have a real success story for Spokane and for the family wage jobs in the aerospace sector.

There’s another huge Boeing issue now before the Congress that is of great importance to Spokane. For more than two years, I’ve been leading the Senate effort to allow the Air Force to lease 100 Boeing 767 aircraft for use as tankers.

We are in the final stages of this fight to get new tankers into the Air Force inventory. As the Air Force has told me, we need new tankers. If anyone doubts that, all you have to do is go out to Fairchild – as I have -- and crawl through those aircraft that are more than 40 years old. The Air Force has already announced that the very first new tanker aircraft will come here to Spokane along with $200 million in military construction projects to accommodate the new aircraft. Fairchild will be the premier KC-767 base in the country -- further strengthening Fairchild as a vital national security asset.

The Boeing tanker lease is hugely important to Washington state. I’m working very hard to clear the last Congressional obstacles to this innovative, new approach to equipping our men and women in uniform with the best technology possible.

We’ve all seen the tremendous importance of tankers since 9/11, and this proposal to lease Boeing 767 tankers is a national security priority for me.

So those are a few of the issues I’m working on in the Senate.

I know there’s more work for us to do together for Spokane, for Eastern Washington, and for Washington state. I hope we can spend the rest of our time today focusing on the many issues and opportunities before us to do great things for this community.