Washington County News: Sen. Moran voices frustration with state of DC politics

Threats to agriculture keep Moran busy

After being elected to the Senate in 2010, and carrying with him what he felt was an agenda from Kansans, Senator Jerry Moran got a dose of political reality when he first talked to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Moran said he had to face the realization he had a job and it didn’t mean anything. Frustrated with how things were going in the Senate, he told Reid that it “sure didn’t seem like we’re going to do anything.”

Reid said “not until after the next election.”

That was the 2012 election and Moran said now we’re in our second set of elections and they’re still not doing anything.

“It’s frustrating to be a member of a senate that does next to nothing,” said Moran.

Agriculture and healthcare are the two biggest issues on his priority list for Kansans and there are plenty of threats to agriculture especially, right now, including regulatory efforts and animal rights efforts. He said the EPA’s attempt to redefine navigable waters under the Clean Water Act, which would give them regulatory control of almost all water, and the listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken as a threatened species, is “changing the way we can do business in Kansas.”

As a result of these efforts, Moran said “I can’t find a single farmer or farm organization that thinks we’ll be better off.”

Along with farming, small business is important to the Kansas communities he represents. Moran said in small towns, the fixed cost of doing business matters, especially in areas with declining populations.

As a result, he feels he has a mandate to keep the cost of doing business as low as possible and to keep regulations as minimal as possible. With all the regulations in place today, could you start a small manufacturing company? It would be difficult.

“DC creates so many challenges,” said Moran.

Fort Riley is an important issue for this area. Moran said he believed the #1 responsibility of government was to defend the country.

“It has to be, it should be, and the Constitution says it is,” said Moran. “We’re working hard to make sure the Department of Army knows the importance of Fort Riley.”

He mentioned a study that showed the results of a 16,000-troop drawdown from each military base and also the effects of sequestration on the military. He said the military was taking hits they shouldn’t.

“You can’t read the news and feel the country is safer or the world more peaceful,” said Moran. “We need to have the ability to respond with a highly capable military to threats.”

He said his goal was to get military decisions out of the hands of the administration. Moran also serves on the veterans committee - he’s been a member of the veterans committee since he joined Congress. Recent issues with the VA hospitals have been disturbing.

“The VA has become a place that has lost the desire on the part of leadership, to be managed,” said Moran. “It’s a bureaucracy culture.”

Moran said the VA is headed in the direction of allowing veterans to utilize local hospitals rather than being forced to travel long distances for care. Recently, experimental programs of this nature have been implemented in Pratt and Great Bend and Moran said this ought to be the norm. Despite the success of these programs, Moran said it was frustrating to discover that VA administration sent out emails to staff to not promote the program that allows local service. He said the local alternatives for VA care would also help local hospitals. He said keeping money at home is important and many veterans don’t take advantage of VA services because of distances and other issues.

Moran said he does receive input from his constituents, but the input can be vastly different. One group will tell him not to budge on the issues. Another group will say he has to work together to get something done. What he does can depend on the issue. He said for some issues, there is a very narrow area where he can give. But with others, he has to have a conversation with others or they’d get nothing done.

Moran was elected Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which means he is out in the country working to try to get Republicans the majority in the senate. Why is this important? If the Republicans had the majority, they would have the majority leader. The majority leader is the first to be recognized during any debate. Moran said it is just politics, but with the way things are done, having the ability to control the debate is important in getting something done. Whether it is being able to get 60 votes on an amendment or maxing out the table with three amendments, when people ask him if things will change if the Republicans take the senate majority, he says yes, because they would have the majority leader. They could then work on taking votes and he said if Senators were required to cast a vote, some Democrats would vote with Republicans on certain issues.

“If we were in charge of committees, we could get some legislation passed,” said Moran. It would also be important for placements on the Supreme Court. Moran said as Senators, they are supposed to vote to do their job. “I’m not fearful of doing my job,” said Moran.

Despite its problems, Moran said the United States of America is still the shining city on the hill.

“If not, there is no reason to have this job,” said Moran. “Much of the purpose of life then disappears.”

“There are tremendous challenges, but there is still no better place,” said Moran. “If we get to the point nobody cares, that’s when we have no hope. It goes in phases, ups and downs. I still have great faith in the American people.”