Thank you, General Lowenberg, U.S Representative Cathy McMorris, State Representative John Ahern, Fire Chief Bobby Williams, Spokane City Administrator Jack Lynch, commissioners, council members and friends.

I'm so honored to join with all of you as we start a new chapter in safety here in Spokane.

As we break ground on this new center, we're sending a clear message that we're safer and stronger when the people who protect us work side-by-side. In that spirit, I want to thank everyone who came together to help us reach this milestone.

Six years ago, the National Guard, community leaders, and first responders asked our Congressional delegation to bring together the National Guard and local first responders. They wanted to make sure everyone could train together so they could efficiently respond to any incident. Given the environment we now live in, it's clear that all of you were well-ahead of the rest of country in planning to protect our communities.

This new facility says that our first responders and our National Guard members share a common purpose, and they deserve a new facility that makes it easier for them to work together and protect all of us.

Every day the men and women of the National Guard and our local first responder agencies stand ready to protect our people from natural disasters and acts of terrorism. It is our duty in Congress to support them and ensure they have all the tools and training they need to do their job safely and successfully. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I was especially proud to secure the funding needed to make this center a reality.

I'm especially pleased by how many partners this project brings together – including – the National Guard, the Washington State Department of Emergency Management and local partners like the Spokane Police Department, the Spokane Fire Department and the Spokane Emergency Management Department.

The bottom line is this – The Spokane Combined Readiness Center will make us safer, and that is a great service for the entire community.

So, I want to thank our military service men and women, who carry the tremendous responsibility of protecting our way of life, and the local first responders, who put their lives on the line when anything goes wrong here at home. I want to personally thank you all for choosing to serve our country and our communities. This building will always stand a symbol of our respect for you and our gratitude for your service.