Kansas Common Sense
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A Peaceful Transfer of Power
There was much to be celebrated in our nation’s capital on Friday with the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States. The peaceful transfer of power from one leader to the next is a significant principle for any democracy, and Inauguration Day serves as the litmus test for how our own is doing. I was proud to witness that principle in action again today, and I was honored to be there to represent Kansans.
My wife Robba joined me and we sat alongside my colleagues and their families to watch Chief Justice John Roberts administer the oath of office and President Trump deliver his inaugural address. I was glad many Kansans came to participate in the inauguration and I enjoyed meeting with so many of them over the course of the week. I especially appreciated visiting with an esteemed group of Big Red One soldiers who represent the Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard from Fort Riley and participated in the inaugural parade. They represented our state in a distinguished fashion in the parade.
Confirming New Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security
After the inauguration ceremony, my colleagues and I headed in from the East Front of the Capitol Building to the Senate floor and got to work confirming two of the president’s cabinet nominees: retired Gen. James Mattis for Defense Secretary and retired Gen. John Kelly for Homeland Security Secretary. Swiftly confirming both secretaries in charge of our national security is critical to keeping Kansans and Americans safe as we face threats at home and abroad. Foreign adversaries looking to challenge the United States will be rethinking their plans with General James Mattis and General John Kelly at the helm.
Sharing Kansas Agricultural Priorities with Nominee Sonny Perdue
Late Wednesday evening, now-President Trump nominated former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). I spoke with Gov. Perdue that same evening to express my concern for farmers and ranchers in Kansas and let him know how important these issues are to me. The Secretary of Agriculture serves as an important voice for rural Americans whose very livelihoods often depend on the success or failure of our ag community. Agriculture doesn’t just put food on our tables – the USDA’s role includes providing rural housing services, conducting research to expand our farmers’ production capabilities, promoting American-grown products abroad, giving consumers confidence in our food supply and establishing effective safety nets for our producers. Governor Perdue’s years of experience as an advocate for Georgia farmers and ranchers, leadership in the agribusiness sector, and practice as a veterinarian give him a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by rural Americans. I look forward to hearing more from Governor Perdue about his approach and priorities.
Learning About the EPA Administrator-Nominee’s Regulatory Approach
As a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, I had the opportunity to question the President’s nominee for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, about his plans and priorities if confirmed by the Senate to lead the EPA. We discussed his view that decisions should be made at state and local levels, which is a welcome change from the previous administration’s consistent flood of federal rules and regulations. I brought up issues impacting Kansans such as the burdensome Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, local water issues in Pretty Prairie and efforts to impose restrictions on the ability of farmers and ranchers to use prescribed burning as a conservation tool. Conserving the environment for future generations is a noble and worthy cause. Kansans, like all Americans, care deeply about having clean air to breathe and water to drink. As the confirmation process moves forward, I look forward to learning more about Mr. Pruitt and his plans for leading the EPA and finding commonsense environmental solutions for our country.
Reintroducing Legislation to Honor Fallen Educators
When someone asks the question: ‘other than your family, can you name a person who has made a difference in your life?’ people almost never mention their senator or congressman. More often the response is about a teacher. Tragically, far too many educators have lost their lives in the line of their professional duty either at the hands of students or while protecting their students from adults perpetrating violent acts. The Memorial to Fallen Educators currently stands on the Emporia State University campus as a tribute to those teachers. I am again introducing legislation (S. 167) to designate the space a national memorial. As a nation, we should recognize together the incredible sacrifices they each made because of their dedication to educating, caring for, protecting and changing the lives of young Americans. To learn more, click here.
Emphasizing the Importance of Kansas Exports with Commerce Secretary Nominee Wilbur Ross
At a Senate Commerce Committee confirmation hearing this week, I emphasized to Commerce Secretary-nominee Wilbur Ross the importance to the Kansas economy of trade and exports. Trade was discussed at length during the hearing, and that may be because the president has indicated that Mr. Ross will play an outsized role in guiding his trade agenda. Kansas is a state that produces a lot of goods for export – particularly agricultural products and aviation manufacturing. We rely on selling our goods and services to foreign markets, but that doesn’t mean we can allow other countries to take advantage of us. Too often in our trade agreements, we talk only about reducing tariffs and fail to address all the other actions that countries take to keep our products out. Click here to hear me discuss the hearing on NPR’s Morning Edition. Click here to watch a clip from the hearing.
Outlining My Priorities for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee
I had the opportunity on Wednesday to address members and friends of Indian Country and offer my vision for aiding Native Americans in the new congress. As a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, I spoke of the need to reduce the federal government’s burdens on tribal governments so that they may pursue policies that benefit their tribal members. An effective way to achieve this is to protect the sovereign status of tribes granted to them by the Constitution and treat them no differently than other levels of government. Tribal leaders, accountable to their members, should have the ability to make choices that enhance the quality of life for their people instead of being subject to regulations imposed by faraway bureaucrats in Washington. I look forward to continuing to work with Native American leaders to protect tribal sovereignty and find sensible solutions to longstanding problems.
Accepting Applications for Summer Internships
My own interest in public service was sparked by an internship for Kansas First District Congressman Keith Sebelius in 1974. As an intern, I had the chance to learn firsthand how a Congressional office operates and how the legislative process works. I am proud to be able to offer this same opportunity in my Senate office today where I have interns year-round who have a unique opportunity to work closely with my staff on behalf of Kansans. Applications are already being accepted for internships in my Washington, D.C., Manhattan, and Olathe, Kansas, offices for the summer 2017 term. The deadline for the spring is Friday, February 17th. Congressional internships are open to qualified undergraduate and graduate students who have an interest in public service and have achieved academic excellence. Click here for more information.
Kansans in the Office
Matt Maness of Lawrence
Greg Lower of Atchison
John Martinez of Liberal
Gary Morgan of Shawnee
Michael Koch of Lindsberg
Antonio Rodriguez of Benton
Darren Patterson of El Dorado
Kevin Mitchelson of Pittsburg
Francis Mitchelson of Pittsburg
George Webb of Topeka
Randy Blake of Manhattan
Rick Webb of Russell
Roger Disrud of Olathe
Dan Atkison of Stockton
Amanda Atkison of Stockton
Kannon Shanmugam of Lawrence
Joyce Lofgreen of Norton
Holly Lofgreen of Norton
Dennie Lofgreen of Norton
Shawn Mitchell of Topeka
Tammy Mitchell of Topeka
M. R. Copeland of Olathe
Jim Mahony of Overland Park
Ire Weis of Downs
Blake Christopherson of Wichita
Dave Murfin of Wichita
Janet Murfin of Wichita
William Murfin of Wichita
Aric Raus of Manhattan
Color Guard Soldiers from the Big Red One
CPT Riley Emter of Manhattan
1LT Alexandra Schade of Manhattan
SS6 Kory Owen of Enterprise
SFC Daniel Snider of Milford
1SG Jason Therkelsen of Wamego
SSG Jeffrey Fellin of Manhattan
SPC Matthew Jordan of Fort Riley
SSG William Medlin of Milford
SGT Cecil Sanderson of Manhattan
SPC Alycia Nabours of Junction City
SGT Reginashea Thomas of Manhattan
SPC Breahna Maimone of Junction City
CIV Ron Roller of Woodbine
SPC Devan Woods of Junction City
SPC Samuel Ruzga of Manhattan
SGT Blake Sorrow of Fort Riley
Charles Jean-Baptiste of Shawnee
Truett Weninger of Wichita
Tracy Fix of Wichita
Jon Weninger of Wichita
Benee Hudson of Overland Park
Skylar Johnson of Overland Park
Mike O’Brate of Ingalls
Judy O’Brate of Ingalls
Steve O’Brate of Garden City
HJ Swender of Garden City
Rebecca Swender of Garden City
Bonnie Molz of Garden City
Conference of Mayors
Mayor Mark Holland of Kansas City
Joan Stowell of Olathe
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.
Please let me know how I can be of assistance. You can contact me by email by clicking here. You can also click here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.
Very truly yours,
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