Patty in the News

Sen. Patty Murray heard from local veterans and some of the organizations set up to help them at a listening session Thursday at Skagit Station downtown. Many expressed concerns about the outdated Veterans Affairs system that leaves them waiting up to 16 months for benefit claims to be processed. As chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Murray said she is acutely aware of the program's shortcomings and that a few things are in the works to improve it. "We have a VA system that hasn't gone into the 21st century," Murray said, going on to describe a visit to the Seattle VA office, which was filled with paper and little electronic filing. Veterans also said they and their comrades have struggled to find work after retiring from military service. A proliferation of serious stress disorders associated with combat has made returning to the civilian world even harder, they said.

- Skagit Valley Herald
It seems like everyone is talking about the J word lately. That would be JOBS. The President was on the road in the Midwest talking about them this week. Now Democratic Senator Patty Murray spent a couple hours at a local Seattle factory talking about how to keep them, how to create them and how to train people for them. Murray showed up at Machinists Inc., a parts manufacturer in South Park, to talk about the unmet demands for skilled labor in the manufacturing industry. A thought that seems counter-intuitive in these times of such high unemployment. There are 19,000 open positions in the Seattle area, said Murray, and they'll remain vacant until workers receive proper training to fill them. "This doesn't make sense to me," she said. "We have workers who want to work. We have businesses that want to hire. So we have to do a better job as a nation at bridging that skills gap." The best way to do that, said Murray, is by updating the nations Workforce Investment Act, which has remained unchanged since it passed back in 1998.

Despite the nation’s budget problems, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray believes funding must be continued to train people for manufacturing jobs in the categories and communities where they're needed. The Washington Democrat spoke Wednesday at Machinists Inc., a South Seattle machining company that is starting a 17-person apprentice program, with state and federal help, to train people in machinist skills the company needs to expand. “One of the solutions we need, is to make sure people unemployed are getting the right kind of training for jobs that are growing,” Murray said. During a tour of the some of the company’s 100,000 square feet of manufacturing space, company President Hugh LaBossier said he’s currently constrained from growth by lack of specific machining skills.

- Puget Sound Business Journal
On Monday, the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber provided opportunities for businesses to speak with two United States Senators in one day. The Chamber hosted an advocacy breakfast held at the Pacific Grill Events Center with U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (below) and then an afternoon session for a small group of business leaders with U.S. Senator Patty Murray at the Chamber office. At the advocacy breakfast attended by about 100 people, Sen. Cantwell spoke on priorities such as access to capital under the Small Business Jobs Acts and expanding infrastructure improvement lending for roads and freight while highlighting accomplishments like the ASARCO cleanup and airborne tanker jobs. Sen. Cantwell also took questions from the audience. At the Chamber's afternoon advocacy session, Sen. Murray largely listened to comments from a group of business representatives. Sen. Murray asked about the business climate. Points raised included not losing sight of the multiple deficits in education and a skilled workforce while working on options for people who have lost jobs but are starting new businesses.

- Tacoma Daily Index
Senator Patty Murray met with veterans and advocates in Southwest Washington Tuesday. Her wide-ranging discussion touched on everything from suicide prevention to the slow delivery of military paychecks. "We have a long ways to go, to meet the needs of our nation. We've been in conflict now for almost ten years, and we have returning veterans who can't get the services and support they need. At a time when we're cutting budgets, we have to be very cognizant that we can't take anything away from the people who have defended our country," Murray said. Murray was recently named to co-chair the so-called super-committee.

- Oregon Public Broadcasting
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, in Vancouver Tuesday for a “listening session” with veterans and their advocates, said she’ll do her best to protect veterans’ benefits as she steps into a high-profile role as co-chair of the new deficit-reduction supercommittee. The 12-member panel is assigned the task of finding another $1.5 trillion in federal budget cuts by Thanksgiving. But in response to pundits who say her spending decisions could be influenced by major defense industry campaign donors, Murray said no one should prejudge any of the committee members — three Democrats and three Republicans each from the Senate and House. By law, the committee must begin its work by mid-September. “I have reached out individually to each member of the committee,” Washington’s senior senator told The Columbian. “I’ve been impressed that they consider this a serious responsibility.” Not only is the nation’s fiscal health at stake, she said, but committee members understand that they must “show that a democracy can work.”

- The Columbian
The bucolic Fallen Leaf Lake stood silent in the background as U.S. Sen. Patty Murray addressed a small audience gathered for a Tuesday afternoon ceremony recognizing the city’s purchase of 55 acres of land, including the lake. Murray, D-Wash., celebrated the leadership and teamwork it took to make the $2.05 million local project come to fruition then turned her remarks to an item of national importance with trillions of dollars in the balance. Murray was recently named the co-chair of a “supercommittee” tasked with developing a debt-reduction plan. She participated in the Fallen Leaf Lake Park dedication ceremony after holding a 90-minute meeting with veterans in Vancouver. “As many of you know, I have taken on a tough new challenge that will create a lot of stress in my life,” Murray told the Camas crowd without the benefit of a microphone. The device lost power earlier in the program.

- The Columbian
Washington, D.C., seems light years away from the Tri-Cities sometimes, not just in miles but in values.
Here, as there, we differ on how to get things done and what things we need to do. But we tend to work these things out, one local interest group to another, without a lot of drama.
There, the numbers are immensely larger but the concepts are quite similar -- finding the right balance between money and services. It is against this background that we welcome, enthusiastically, the appointment of Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., to co-chair the debt reduction supercommittee with Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas.

- Tri-City Herald
Seven months before graduation, Alex Dimas toured aviation manufacturer GE Aviation Systems and applied for a job. Then, the company and his instructors at Perry Technical Institute worked with him to strengthen his skills until he graduated. Three years later, he's still at the company, working as a machinist building hydraulic fuses for 737s. "They gave me the confidence to know I can come in here and know what I'm doing," the 29-year-old married father of two said. State and local officials say making that caliber of training available to young and laid-off workers is crucial to filling the available jobs, not just in Washington state, but nationally. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray calls it a deficit of infrastructure and innovation.

- The Seattle Times
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray was in town Monday, wearing her trademark tennies and sporting a listening ear. And there was plenty to hear as Murray, D-Wash., and her assembled panel sat in a room packed with veterans and others at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 992. Led by facilitator Doug Bayne, director of the Walla Walla Community College Foundation, panelists took turns explaining to the senator the issues they see in the universe of veterans. Housing challenges, for example. Renee Rooker, of Walla Walla Housing Authority, told Murray there are nearly 150 homeless veterans in the area. While there are programs in place to help get those men and women into housing, actually getting that done is a problem. "There is a lack of funding for deposits, security and utility deposits, to get veterans into a permanent home." Coupled with communication gaps between federal agencies that are supposed to help veterans and a retroactive 17 percent reduction in administrative fees -- that cut screening staff -- it all equals an inability to fully serve a vulnerable population, Rooker told Murray. She gets it, Murray assured her audience. Her father served in World War II. His war-caused injuries affected every component of family life.

- Walla Walla Union-Bulletin