Patty in the News

Most of the testimony on defense spending yesterday at the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing in D.C. focused on Barack Obama's planned 2012 Afghanistan war drawdown, particularly the timing and politics of ending a war we can't win. For some, withdrawal can't come too soon; for others, such as the Pentagon, extension of surge forces is the first order. But as Sen. Patty Murray is always willing to ask, is anyone budgeting for the human costs? As the Seattle Democrat said to Defense Sect. Robert Gates, who retires in two weeks when he decamps for his home in Skagit County, "I think you know, the major components of this long-term war include the fact that deaths from suicide among veterans and service members from this war are on par with combat deaths, many of our warriors are facing difficult challenges accessing needed mental health care when they return home, and that many of the service members serving in Afghanistan today are on their third, fourth, or even fifth tours.

- Seattle Weekly
What is your opinion about using digital textbooks for learning? What are their advantages and disadvantages over the printed textbooks?” were the questions U.S. Sen. Patty Murray posed to Naselle junior Austin Smith and freshman Grace Zimmerman Thursday, June 9 during a teleconference with Western Washington students from four high schools. “It can be difficult to find your place in a digital textbook if you have forgotten to bookmark where you are, especially if the book is 600 pages long,” Smith answered. “Sometimes the lighting can be a problem, but having everything on an iPad and not having to carry around a lot of books is an advantage.”

- Chinook Observer
“We do not need the courts to tell us that much more can and should be done to relieve the invisible wounds of war,” said Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the chairwoman of the committee. “Although some steps have been taken, the stigma against mental-health issues continues within the military, and VA care is still often too difficult to access. This has had a tragic impact.”

-The News Tribune
Members of Washington's Congressional delegation introduced legislation that would create an even larger market for biofuels: the U.S. military. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, along with Rep. Jay Inslee, are sponsoring a bill that would increase the length of time in contract between the military and biofuel producers.

- HeraldNet
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., joined nine other U.S. senators in telling the National Labor Relations Board to ignore political pressure in its complaint against the Boeing Co. Last month, the labor board's general counsel accused Boeing of illegally retaliating against its Machinists union for strikes in Washington when it picked South Carolina for a second 787 production line. Boeing has denied the allegation. A hearing on the complaint is set for June 14 in Seattle.

- HeraldNet
Called the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, it's aimed at reducing an unemployment rate of 27 percent for veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

- The News Tribune
According to Murray, more than 8 million students across the country in grade 4-12 read below grade level.

“That is absolutely unacceptable,” she said, adding later, “Here we are in the 21st century and we know literacy is not a luxury, it is a necessity.”

- The Bellingham Herald
“One of the biggest barriers they face upon returning is finding a job,” Murray, who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said in an interview Tuesday. “With their training, leadership abilities and skills, they should be at the top of the list for jobs, and too often they go to the bottom of the pile.”

- The Washington Post
Reversing itself, the Department of Veterans Affairs said Tuesday that it will pay thousands of family members who care for severely wounded soldiers at home under a new and expanded program approved by Congress last year... the program has been a disappointment for military families, late in getting started and excluding many who thought they would qualify. Some of the loudest complaints had come from members of Congress, led by Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, the chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

- The News Tribune
Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray toured Ballard's Pacific Fisherman Shipyard with local workers, businesses owners and students to discuss the importance of making sure workers have the skills and training they need to fill local jobs. Doug Dixon, General Manager of the Pacific Fisherman Shipyard, led the tour and pointed out the various new editions to the shipyard funded by a $1 million dollar Small Shipyard Stimulus Funding Grant under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This funding also paid, in part, for worker training, Dixon said.

- Ballard News Tribune