Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter. Please feel free to forward it on to your family and friends if it would interest them. On Friday, the House passed a continuing resolution – legislation to continue funding for most government operations through December 15th at current levels and defund the Affordable Care Act. This week, the Senate will take up this resolution.
Congressional Action Necessary to Investigate Benghazi Attack
The families of those lost in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi one year ago continue to search for answers, and they are not receiving the response they deserve from the State Department or the Administration. It is clear we must increase the efforts to uncover the truth. I believe Congress should establish a joint committee to investigate and report on the attack in Benghazi, and have cosponsored the Senate resolution calling for this committee to be established. It is my hope that a joint select committee can make certain those involved are held accountable, help bring closure to the families of the four Americans killed that tragic day, and prevent any future tragedies.
Keystone XL Five Year Anniversary
Wednesday was the five-year anniversary of the initial permit application for the Keystone XL Pipeline. For five years, the President has had the opportunity to create jobs for Americans simply by approving the permit application, but he continually refuses to do so. The five-year review has taken more than twice as long as it will take to build the pipeline. It is time to put Americans to work and provide an opportunity to grow local, state and national economies while taking a vital step toward energy security. The original Keystone pipeline already moves crude oil from Steele City, Neb., to the processing facility in Cushing, Okla. The Keystone XL Pipeline would use the existing infrastructure to move crude through Kansas. As the ongoing operation of the original Keystone pipeline illustrates, crude oil can be moved safely over long distances. Click here to learn more.
KLA Feedyard Leadership Program Visit
This week, Senator Roberts and I met with representatives from Kansas Livestock Association’s Feedyard Leadership Program. The Kansas Livestock Association (KLA), formed in 1894, is a trade association representing more than 5,700 members on legislative and regulatory issues. KLA members are involved in all segments of the livestock industry, including cow-calf, stocker, feedlot and dairy operations. The Feedyard Leadership Program is designed to provide an industry-leading educational and career development opportunities for select members of the KLA Cattle Feeders Council. This year-long, tour-based educational program provides participants with experiences and relationships that position them for success in the cattle feeding industry. KLA’s commitment to preparing the next set of leaders is invaluable for the success if the livestock industry.
U.N. Arms Trade Treaty Update
This week, the Obama Administration is expected to sign the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. This event follows years of U.N. negotiations on the treaty, which included the United States only after the Administration reversed the policies of Presidents Bush and Clinton, and willingly broke its own “red line” negotiating principles.
Over the past two years, I have led multiple Senate efforts to express concern to the Administration about the ATT, and regret that those concerns have been ignored. The ATT is wildly unpopular among Senators of both parties; 53 Senators voted against funding any implementation of the ATT during the budget debates this March. It is clear that this treaty, which threatens our national sovereignty by allowing internationally-defined authority to impose control upon the U.S., will not receive the two-thirds majority required to receive Senate ratification. In the coming days, my colleagues and I will be notifying the Administration once more that we do not regard the U.S. as bound to uphold the object and purpose of the Arms Trade Treaty.
Former Army Captain Will Swenson to Receive Medal of Honor
On Monday, the White House announced that former Army Captain Will Swenson will receive our nation’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor, on Oct. 15, 2013. On Sept. 8, 2009, in Ganjgal, Afghanistan, Capt. Swenson saved numerous lives after his team was ambushed by insurgents in an attack killing and wounding a number of U.S. servicemen and Afghan soldiers. At the time of his selfless acts, Will was deployed from Fort Riley and wore the 1st ID badge as a member of a Military Transition Team working with Afghan soldiers. For almost two years, I have continued to ask about Will’s nomination with the Department of the Army and the White House to make certain he was justly recognized for his honorable acts. Much time has passed, but I’m happy to see that Will’s nomination has finally received Presidential attention and he is getting the recognition he deserves. Will is the sixth living service member to receive the nation’s top valor award for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan — he is truly an American hero.
Meeting with Secretary of the Air Force Nominee
On Tuesday, it was a pleasure to meet Deborah Lee James, the nominee to be the new Secretary of the Air Force. We discussed the future home of the KC-46A tankers, the “supertanker” base of the nation, Wichita's McConnell Air Force Base. Ms. James was complimentary of the McConnell and Wichita community for being supportive to members of our Air Force. We had an opportunity to talk about the transition of tankers starting in 2016 and making certain that McConnell has sufficient military construction funding to support and maintain the new tanker fleet. We also discussed the important role of Forbes Airfield to air mobility missions around the world. Ms. James testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday as part of her nomination process and touched on the importance of the new KC-46A tanker fleet to our country. If confirmed, I invited Ms. James to visit Kansas to see the tanker capacity and capability McConnell and Forbes bring to support Air Force air mobility.
Kansan Wins Boys and Girls Clubs National Youth of the Year
On Wednesday, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) announced its national teen ambassador in Washington, D.C. Kiana Knolland of Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas in Wichita was named the 2013-14 National Youth of the Year. To win this national award, Kiana advanced through local, state, and regional competitions. I had the honor of meeting with Kiana the day before she won this prestigious award. Kiana, who graduated this past May from Wichita Collegiate School and is now attending Howard University, will serve as the official BGCA teen spokesperson, advocating for nearly four million Boys & Girls Club youth over the next year. This honor recognizes youth who have overcome odds and demonstrated exceptional character and accomplishments and includes more than $60,000 in college scholarships.
It was a pleasure to visit with Kiana and learn about her aspirations and how she has given back to the Wichita community. Being named the Youth of the Year is an outstanding achievement and Kiana, and the Boys & Girls Club of South Central Kansas should be extremely proud. Through experiences in organizations such as Boys and Girls Clubs, our state and country’s next generation of leaders are being equipped with the skills and values necessary to reach their full potential and become successful in life. Click here to read more about Kiana’s accomplishments.
Naval Academy Midshipmen Visit the Senate
Twenty Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy visited my office on Friday where they met with military policy experts before touring the United States Capitol. I had the pleasure of meeting some of these young men and women during my trip the Academy last fall. It is always an honor to spend time with these future leaders. Their professionalism and commitment to our country gives me great confidence that the future of our Navy is in good hands.
Supporting Alzheimer’s Research
September is World Alzheimer’s Month. On Tuesday, I spoke on the Senate floor about the need to commit to defeating this devastating disease. Every 68 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease – a devastating and irreversible brain disease that slowly destroys an individual’s cognitive functioning, including memory and thought. It is difficult to comprehend the anguish this terrible disease causes for individuals and their loved ones. Alzheimer’s currently affects 5.2 million people in the United States and more than 35.6 million worldwide. As our population ages, the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s after age 65 will double every five years, while the number of individuals 85 years and older with this disease will triple by 2050. Already, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and there is currently no cure, no diagnostic test, and no treatment for this terrible disease.
As the baby boomer generation ages and Alzheimer’s disease becomes more prevalent, the need to confront the pending health care crisis has become ever more urgent. The financial costs alone cannot be ignored. Caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is expected to cost $203 billion this year, with $142 billion covered by the federal government through Medicare and Medicaid. And, the cost of dementia care is projected to double over the next 30 years, surpassing health care expenses for both heart disease and cancer. Without a way to prevent, cure or effectively treat Alzheimer’s, it will be difficult – if not impossible – to rein in our nation’s health care costs. Alzheimer’s has become a disease to define a generation, but if we focus and prioritize our research capacity, it does not need to continue as an inevitable part of aging.
It is time to truly commit to defeating this disease in the next decade. A breakthrough against Alzheimer’s that delays the onset of the disease by five years would mean an annual savings of $362 billion by 2050. A sustained federal commitment to research for Alzheimer’s will lower costs and improve health outcomes for people living with the disease today and in the future. The health and financial future of our nation are at stake and the United States cannot afford to ignore such a threat.
On Tuesday evening I attended the Alliance for Aging Research (AAR) 20th Annual Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C. AAR works to improve the health and independence of older Americans through a broad spectrum of biomedical and behavioral research. I was honored to receive AAR’s 2013 Distinguished Public Service Award at this event.
Honor Flight with Dick Stoops
On Wednesday, I was able to greet Korean War veteran Richard “Dick” Stoops, who was a part of the Honor Flight visiting Washington, D.C. I had met Mr. Stoops at a town hall I held this summer in Liberal, Kansas, and I was happy to welcome him to Washington. The Korean War is sometimes referred to as “The Forgotten War,” but we remember and honor all who served our country in that conflict. Click here to see a photo.
Meeting and Congratulating the Kansas Principals of the Year
On Thursday, I met with the Kansas Association of Secondary School Principals (KASSP) Principals of the Year: Ulysses’ Kepley Middle School Principal Juan Perez and Emporia High School Principal Scott Sheldon. Each year, the KASSP recognizes middle school and secondary school principals for outstanding and exemplary leadership – in the organization and to the profession. Juan and Scott were selected for this recognition by their peers from across the state.
They were in Washington this week for the MetLife/National Association of Secondary School Principals National Principal of the Year program, which honors exceptional middle level and high school principals. The annual program recognizes principals who have succeeded in providing a high-quality educational experience for their students as well as demonstrating exemplary contributions to the profession. This event is also an excellent opportunity for honorees to network with other exceptional principals from across the country to share ideas and best practices.
Juan and Scott have a very important role in ensuring that Kansas students are prepared for careers, higher education, and the challenges of life. The future competitiveness of our state and nation is directly linked to the quality of our children’s education, and I thank Mr. Perez and Mr. Sheldon for their dedication to Kansas students and their future. Click here to see a photo.
USA/Canada Lions Leadership Forum
On Saturday it was an honor to speak at the USA/Canada Lions Leadership Forum in Overland Park. The international forum had more than 2,000 Lions from across the globe in attendance. Members of Lions Clubs have been making a difference in their local communities since 1917. With more than 1.3 million members participating in more than 45,000 clubs across the globe, Lions Club International is the world’s largest service club organization. Kansas has more than 270 clubs with members who make a positive and noticeable contribution to the special quality of life we enjoy in our Kansas communities. I joined Lions 36 years ago and was honored to receive the Lions International Ambassador of Good Will Award on Saturday. Click here to see a photo.
Visiting an American Government Class at Fort Hays State University
On Friday, I visited Dr. Chapman Rackaway’s Fort Hays State University American Government Class. During my visit, the students and I discussed a variety of issues currently affecting our nation, including our country’s struggling economy. These students will be instrumental in helping determine the future of our state and the success of our country, and we need to make certain they have every opportunity possible. Thanks to Dr. Rackaway and Political Science Department Chair Dr. Shala Mills for allowing me to speak to the class. Here is a picture from my visit.
In the Office
Last week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below:
Rick McNary of El Dorado
Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas
Kiana Knolland of Wichita
Joyce Glascock of Manhattan
Connie Franklin of Wichita
Veterans of Foreign Wars
Billy Carey of Lawrence
National Council for Behavioral Healthcare
Mark Wiebe of Roeland Park
Sherri Luthe of Wichita
Kansas Senior Corps – Foster Grandparents & Senior Companions
Connie Stewart of Topeka
Melody Gault of Augusta
Jolene Niernberger of Hays
Lori Bishop of Manhattan
International Franchise Association
Rebecca Gerstner of Overland Park
American Clinical Laboratory Association
Richard Gomez of Topeka
Patrick James of Lenexa
Computing Research Association
Gurdip Singh of Manhattan
U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking
Sister Margaret Nacke of Belleville
Liz Icenogle of Overland Park
American Assocation for Cancer Research
Roy Jensen of Kansas City
Julie Crowe of Lawrence
Gary Crowe of Lawrence
University of Kansas Hospital
Bill Marting of Kansas City
Frank Ross of Kansas City
Dorothy Hughes of Kansas City
American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
Michael Bennett of Baldwin City
Jeff Little of Shawnee
Brad Cook of Overland Park
Amber Lucas of Olathe
Phil Schneider of Lenexa
Tommy Lupton of Lawrence
Overland Park Chamber of Commerce
Tracey Osborne of Overland Park
Larry Winn of Overland Park
Jim Holland of Overland Park
Tom Robinett of Overland Park
Clint Robinson of Overland Park
Brad Stratton of Overland Park
Jennifer Bruning of Overland Park
Kansas Association of Secondary School Principals
Juan Perez of Ulysses
Georjean Perez of Ulysses|
Scott Sheldon of Emporia
Michelle Sheldon of Emporia
National Mining Association
Richard Davis of Olathe
Matthew Palmer of Olathe
University of Kansas
Tim Caboni of Lawrence
Jack Cline of Lawrence
ZERO-The End of Prostate Cancer
Vivian Avery of Olathe
Lyman Adams of Hillsboro
New York Life Insurance Company
Kansas Automobile Dealers Association
Don McNeely of Topeka
Brad Shull of Shawnee
Tim Lona of Overland Park
David Shepherd of Fort Scott
National Health Information Technology
Jacques Barber of Kansas City
Kansas City Chamber of Commerce
Cathy Bennett of Fairway
University of Kansas Educational Opportunity Programs
Ngondi Kamatuka of Lawrence
Jeff & Stephanie Haney of Derby
Harvey Davidson of Hays
Marilyn Davidson of Hays
U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen
Honored to Serve You in Washington
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Thank you to the many Kansans who have been calling and writing in to share their thoughts and opinions on the issues our state and country face. I appreciate the words of Kansans, whether in the form of a form of letter, a Facebook comment or a phone call, who wish to make their voice heard.
Very truly yours,
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