Kansas Common Sense
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Standing Firm on the Debt Ceiling
This week, the Senate passed H.R. 325, the House-passed legislation to suspend the U.S. debt limit for three months, by a vote of 64-34. The bill will lift the government’s $16.4 trillion borrowing limit through May 18, and places the salaries of Members of Congress in escrow after April 15 until a budget is passed. Unfortunately, H.R. 325 does not contain any spending cuts, and allows the government to continue borrowing money we don’t have. Like any family with a credit card understands, there is a reason for a spending limit. What is the point of having a debt ceiling if Congress simply extends the Treasury’s borrowing capacity each time the limit is reached? Two years ago, I made clear my belief without corresponding cuts in spending, I cannot vote to raise the debt ceiling. On Thursday, I kept my word and voted against it. Click here to watch an interview I did with Larry Kudlow on CNBC on my vote.
2,200+ Kansans Sign Letter to President Obama
Over the past week, more than 2,200 Kansans have joined me in calling for an open, honest and urgent discussion of our nation’s spending crisis. Since launching my Fight For Our Future website a week ago, thousands of Kansans from all 105 counties have signed my letter to President Obama calling for his cooperation in passing a responsible spending reduction plan to begin balancing the federal budget.
If we learned anything from the fiscal cliff negotiations, it’s that our work to tackle the debt problem must begin today. Rather than wait for another last-minute, back-room deal that gets rushed through with little input from the American people, it’s time to have an open and honest debate. Click here to read our message to the President and make your voice heard in Washington.
Introducing Legislation to Increase Consumer Protections Through Better Accountability
This week, I introduced the Responsible Consumer Financial Protection Regulations Act of 2013 (S. 205). This legislation would replace the single CFPB Director with a Senate-confirmed five-person commission – similar to the leadership structure of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Commodity Futures Trade Commission (CFTC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC). S. 205 would also subject the CFPB to the regular appropriations process like most federal agencies while also establishing a safety and soundness check. Allowing a single unelected official to define their own jurisdiction and regulate vast segments of our economy without accountability or restraint is irresponsible regardless of political party. This commonsense legislation brings a variety of perspectives to the Bureau and gives Congress the oversight authority required for such a powerful agency. I stand ready to make certain the CFPB’s mission of consumer protection is both effective and accountable. Click here to read more.
Bright Days Ahead for Kansas
On January 29, 1861, our state was founded on the ideals of personal freedom and individual liberty. As we celebrated its 152nd anniversary on Tuesday, it served as a time to challenge all Kansans to carry on the enduring legacy of our founders.
Kansans work hard to make a difference in our communities, state and nation. Throughout the years, Kansas has raised many talented leaders – from Eisenhower to Earhart – who have helped shape our state and nation and overcome challenging obstacles. But the story of Kansas is also one about the farmers, factory workers, teachers, business owners, parents and all the unsung heroes whose hard work has built our state’s economy and reputation around the globe. We have much in our history to be proud of, and even more to look forward to.
Today, Kansas continues to set itself apart as an industry leader in many fields, some well-established in our state like aviation, and some burgeoning like research and entrepreneurship. Our state’s leadership in these pioneering industries is forming a legacy of opportunity for the next generation. We want our children and grandchildren to have the chance to return home, put down roots and raise their own families in the communities we love.
After 152 years, Kansas has much to celebrate – from our rich heritage to our diverse industries. Bright days lie ahead for our state and I will do all I can to make certain we leave behind a stronger, freer and more prosperous place to call home.
Calling on Next Secretary of State to Approve Keystone XL Pipeline
On Tuesday at the weekly Senate Republican Leadership Press Conference, I called on Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, our next Secretary of State, to quickly approve the Keystone XL Pipeline in his new role. With the current economic circumstances, the issue of jobs and economic opportunity for the American people continues to be the most important issue we should address. With the confirmation of Senator Kerry, the Administration has an opportunity to do something good for the energy security of our country and for job creation. The new Secretary of State and the Obama Administration should finally issue the approval and grant the permitting process so the Keystone pipeline can move forward and our country can have a better opportunity for jobs and can reduce its reliance on foreign oil. I hope this is a turning point. Click here to watch my remarks at the press conference in their entirety.
Protecting Military Pay During Fiscal Crisis
Also on Tuesday, Senator Mark Udall of Colorado and I introduced legislation to make certain our men and women in uniform and the civilians supporting them do not go without pay in the event Congress is unable or unwilling to get its fiscal house in order. The readiness of the troops serving this country, at home and deployed overseas, must not suffer due to the fiscal realities of Washington. All Americans, but especially military members deserve better than the uncertainty of a paycheck and worrying about how they will continue to care for their families. Senator Udall and I decided to introduce this language because our military men and women should be spared the consequences of Washington's indecision if the President and Congress cannot confront our nation's spending and fiscal challenges. I am hopeful a resolution may be reached instead of pushing responsibilities to govern off to a future date.
Startup Innovation Credit Will Encourage Economic Growth and Job Creation
Continuing my efforts to grow the economy, I joined my colleague Senator Chris Coons of Delaware on Thursday morning in introducing the Startup Innovation Credit Act. This legislation comes from a provision in my jobs bill, Startup Act 2.0, that would allow startups to claim a tax credit for research and development (R&D) done to create a new product. Allowing young companies to hold on to more of their money means these startups will have a greater opportunity to grow and create jobs. This R&D credit is an important piece of Startup Act 2.0, which will soon be reintroduced.
Meeting with Kansas Head Start Association
On Thursday afternoon, I had the opportunity to visit with representatives of the Kansas Head Start Association (KHSA) and parents of children in Kansas Head Start programs. KHSA represents the 27 Head Start programs in Kansas. Representing KHSA were Lori Alvarado, Linda Broyles and Laura Fisher, and parents Sanjuanita Yanez, Danielle Hollins and Andrea Carpenter. The group was in Washington, D.C. to attend the National Head Start Association’s Winter Leadership Institute. Head Start is a federal early childhood education and child care program serving preschool-age children. The program is focused on enhancing the cognitive, social and emotional development of children. In addition, many Head Start programs help provide a range of family services, such as marriage therapy and financial planning. I was delighted to meet with these parents and learn how these programs have made a positive impact on the development of their children and strengthened their families.
Discussing Kansas Issues with the VA Secretary
This week, I met with the Secretary of Veteran Affairs, Eric Shinseki. As a Member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with Secretary Shinseki before and have questioned him during Congressional hearings. This personal meeting provided me the opportunity to discuss several issues that face veterans in Kansas and across the country.
I told Secretary Shinseki that veterans in Kansas are tired of waiting for the Department of Veteran Affairs to respond to personal inquiries and requests for assistance. The Secretary assured me that he is working to resolve this “backlog.” The Secretary said the Department is determined to increase access and is working on a new management tool to help veterans navigate the process online. I also reminded the Secretary of an issue that I raised during a hearing of the Committee on Veterans Affairs: the need for physicians and registered nurses in our rural community veterans clinics. The Secretary expressed that he would address the issue with his staff and would be following up to see how the Department can support our rural areas in need.
Vote Against Sale of Military Equipment to Egypt
On Thursday, I voted for Senator Rand Paul’s amendment to stop the sale of fighter planes and other military equipment to Egypt. Egypt is unstable and President Morsi’s commitment to peace with Israel and respect for human rights is uncertain. Since the Egyptian Revolution in 2011, the Egyptian government has been unable to prevent mob attacks on our embassy in Cairo, that of Israel’s, and has taken action in the Sinai Peninsula that violate the 1979 peace accord with Israel. No less concerning is its failure to protect women and religious minorities from horrific treatment. Allowing Egypt to purchase deadly military equipment is not in America’s best interest at this time.
Celebrating Kansas Beef Day
To show my support for Kansas School Lunch Week, I celebrated Kansas Beef Day by having lunch with my interns on Wednesday. We enjoyed hamburgers and discussed the agricultural industry’s importance to our state and nation. Kansas School Lunch Week, a collaboration between the Kansas Beef Council, Kansas Department of Agriculture and Kansas Department of Education highlighted different foods grown and served in Kansas. Monday was Kansas Corn Day, Tuesday was Kansas Sunflower Day, Wednesday was Kansas Beef Day, Thursday was Kansas Milk Day and Friday was Kansas Wheat Day. Events like this are a good way to recognize an essential state industry, agriculture.
Cheering on the Jayhawks
This Saturday, I was invited by University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little to visit Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence to watch the Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball team compete against the Oklahoma State Cowboys and attend a meeting with state legislators. I enjoyed the opportunity to watch the Jayhawks play their 34th consecutive home game in what Jason King of ESPN recently described as the “best home court in college basketball.” I commend Coach Bill Self, his staff and his players on a good start to their season. I look forward to watching the Hawks compete in the 2012 Phillips 66 Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City starting March 13 and the 2013 NCAA Tournament on March 19.
Tribute to Adele Hall
Kansas City lost one of its greatest civic champions this week with the passing of Adele Hall. As a long-time resident of the Kansas City community, Adele was well known and well-loved for her acts of service and kindness to others. When she wasn’t serving on the board for a nonprofit, she was raising funds for a worthy cause or volunteering with children. In fact, she was probably doing all three things at once.
In a time when we often wonder what one person can do, Adele showed us that you can make a difference – one life at a time. And it starts when an individual stands up and says that there is no better use of our time, talents and resources than to give back to the communities in which we live. Her involvement in the Kansas City community and her selflessness serves as an inspiration to all Americans.
I extend my deepest sympathies to her husband, Don; sons Donald and David and daughter Margaret and her grandchildren. Adele will be greatly missed.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office including the Kansans listed below:
A Box 4 U
Ross Draney of Wichita
American Association of Orthodontists
Scott Hamilton of Topeka
American Society of Bone and Mineral Research
Lynda Bonewald of Kansas City
Johnson County Sheriff's Office
Major Daryl Reece of New Century
Ryan Rezzelle of Olathe
Captain Mike Rauning of Olathe
Captain Tom Sybesma of Olathe
Captain Robert Bieniecki of Tonganoxie
Lieutenant Mike Pfannenstiel of New Century
Kansas Association of School Boards
Rod Steward of Washington County
Jean Clifford of Garden City
Keith Becker of Canton-Galva
Jerry Seim of Salina
Dennis Depew of Neodesha
Fred Patton of Seaman
Frank Henderson of Seaman
Patrick Woods of Topeka
Janet Sprecker of Derby
Don Shimkus of Oxford
Barbara Fuller of Wichita
John Heiw of Shawnee
Kansas Head Start Association
Lori Alvarado of Lawrence
Linda Broyles of Arma
Andrea Carpenter of Augusta
Sanjuanita Yanez of Wichita
Danielle Hollins of Wichita
Laura Fisher of Wichita
National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors
Bob Reynolds of Salina
Rhonda Knudson of Great Bend
National Association of School Nurses
Christine Tuck of Topeka
Kansas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
Lisa Brookover of Effingham
Crobin Witt of Salina
Kansas Wheat Growers
Gary Millershaski of Lakin
Ken Wood of Chapman
Dalton Henry of Manhattan
Jules Glanzer of Hillsboro
Many Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the U.S. Capitol this week including:
Richard & Marsha Miller
Honored to Serve You in Washington
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. In recent weeks, I’ve been listening to Kansans calling and writing in to share their thoughts and opinions on the debt crisis and big issues our country faces. Whether your thoughts are in the form of letter, a Facebook comment or a phone call, please know that I am listening and I appreciate messages from Kansans who wish to make their voice heard.
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