WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) introduced a bipartisan resolution Wednesday lauding the more than 100 years of firefighting cooperation and security assistance between the United States and Australia. The Senate resolution comes the same week the last brushfires were extinguished in New South Wales, the worst hit jurisdiction of the 2019-2020 Australian brush fire season. Over the course of a grueling and destructive 240 days, more than 300 American firefighters were deployed to Australia on behalf of multiple federal agencies, including the Department of the Interior and the USDA Forest Service through the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).
“America and Australia have been helping each other through the most difficult of times for generations. Our close relationship crosscuts so many areas of cooperation and mutual support,” said Senator Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Environment & Public Works and Senate Foreign Relations committees. “Regrettably, three American firefighters lost their lives while assisting in this latest collaboration. The Senate honors their sacrifice and the dedication of all those who have risked their lives to keep Americans and Australians safe from harm.”
“The United States and Australia have built a strong alliance. During difficult times, our two nations have supported each other with critical firefighting resources. I’m so proud and grateful for the 15 Wyoming firefighters who recently answered the call to help Australia fight the bushfires ravaging their country,” said Senator Barrasso. “These brave men and women routinely risk their lives to protect others. That was made startlingly clear when three Americans—including a member of the Wyoming National Guard—lost their lives in January fighting the Australian fires. This resolution honors their sacrifice. It also supports the continued partnership between the United States and Australia on sharing resources, research and best practices related to wildfire mitigation and suppression.”
Additional cosponsors include Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Steven Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kirsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).
The full text of the resolution is below and can be found at this link.
Recognizing the longstanding partnership between the United States and Australia to share critical firefighting resources during times of crisis.
Whereas Australia and the United States have long held a unique relationship, marked by close diplomatic, security, and economic cooperation;
Whereas Australia and the United States celebrated 100 years of mateship on July 4, 2018, marking the 100-year anniversary of the Battle of Hamel, which helped turn the tide of World War I;
Whereas the United States and Australia are entering the seventieth anniversary of the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUS Treaty), the 1951 collective security non-binding agreement between Australia and New Zealand and, separately, Australia and the United States, to cooperate on military matters;
Whereas the United States and Australia have shared firefighting resources, including specialist firefighters, for over 15 years;
Whereas the United States and Australia are experiencing some of the hottest and driest weather conditions on record, exacerbating the threat of wildfires and contributing to longer wildfire seasons in both nations;
Whereas over 100 Australian firefighters traveled to the United States in August 2018, to assist with efforts to contain wildfires that threatened communities in California, Oregon, and Washington;
Whereas over 300 American firefighters have been mobilized to Australia since December 2019 to help combat and contain devastating bushfires that have burned over 30,000,000 acres of land; and
Whereas multiple United States agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Fish and Wildlife Services, have provided American firefighters to help combat Australia’s bushfires: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate—
(1) recognizes the value of the longstanding partnership between the United States and Australia to share critical firefighting resources during times of crisis;
(2) recognizes the efforts and bravery of Australian firefighters who have not only risked their lives to fight wildfires in their own country but also helped contain several dangerous wildfires in North America;
(3) recognizes the efforts and bravery of American firefighters who have not only risked their lives to fight wildfires in their own country but have also provided their services to combat the bushfires currently ravaging the Australian continent;
(4) honors the ultimate sacrifice of the three American firefighters who lost their lives assisting in fighting Australia’s bushfires in the crash of the Large Air Tanker in the Snowy Monaro area of Australia on January 23, 2020, and extends deepest condolences to their families, friends, and colleagues;
(5) expresses full support for the people of Australia as they focus on recovery and rebuilding affected areas and communities;
(6) supports continued partnership between the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and United States Federal agencies to share research, technology, and best practices related to wildfire mitigation and suppression; and
(7) supports continued cooperation and greater collaboration between Australia and the United States to mitigate the underlying factors driving extended and more intense wildfire years in both countries.