Kansas Common Sense


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Paying Respects to Senator John McCain
On Tuesday evening, I paid tribute to Senator John McCain on the Senate floor and spoke about my personal friendship with Sen. McCain and his storied service to our nation and the Senate. I first met Sen. McCain in 1996 when he was in Kansas campaigning for Senator Bob Dole during his run for president. As I said in my remarks, there is no American I know that is more deserving of the title ‘hero’ than John McCain. To watch my remarks or see a complete transcript, click here.

On Saturday, Robba and I were honored to attend Sen. McCain’s memorial service at the National Cathedral. Filled with his family, friends and colleagues past and present, this service was fitting for the type of man and American hero that Senator McCain was. His legacy will live on for generations, and our country is better because of him. In the coming weeks and months, Robba and I will be thinking of the McCain family and praying for their comfort during this difficult time.

I recently found time to reflect on Senator McCain and the legacy he leaves behind:

Upon his death on July 6, 1835, Chief Justice John Marshall received praise from across the nation, though the country was torn between two political parties and the president was the populist Andrew Jackson.

The National Gazette declared "nearly unanimous chorus of fervent eulogy and heartfelt regret is resounding on every side...All this speaks well for the country. It shows that however pernicious may have been the operation of faction...it has not yet destroyed the knowledge of what is right in the land."

As I finished a biography of Marshall in recent days, this passage particularly struck me as I've observed the outpouring of gratitude for the life of John McCain. The respect expressed throughout our country by Republicans and Democrats alike emanates from a desire to see more of our leaders who believe in the American project and remain firm in their principles to sustain it. As with Chief Justice Marshall, some could disagree with Senator McCain, but few could doubt his sincerity of purpose in what he advocated. In this past week, it is evident people instinctively recognize John's service was never for his own glory but for that of our shared nation.

It is this selfless service that remains "what is right in the land" two centuries later. We are a vastly different nation since Marshall's passing, one that has gone from an isolated outpost in the world to its only superpower, stretching from sea to sea. But our belief in our nation's exceptionalism - fervently espoused by Senator McCain - remains the same now as it was then. We will disagree, sometimes passionately, as John himself often did with his colleagues and multiple presidents, but the passing of a great man can unite us in the certainty that our country is worth defending, and worth doing so in a dignified and respectful manner. Senator McCain's family has laid him to rest for all of eternity, may his legacy of believing in the goodness of America and one another remain with us for as long.

Advocating for Kansans During Trade Negotiations with Mexico and Canada
I continued pressuring the administration on our trade policies by urging President Trump and the administration to reengage Canada in trade negotiations and expressed the importance of Canada being part of any final North American trade deal. A strong trilateral partnership is essential to combating discriminatory trade practices by competitors such as China.

Trade with Canada and Mexico has clearly benefited Kansans, and a modernized NAFTA, or re-named trilateral agreement, can present increased economic opportunity and growth to Kansas and the country. As I continue to study the emerging details of the preliminary agreement with Mexico, it appears there are improvements included that would update the agreement to reflect the 21st century economy. Further negotiations with Canada are necessary to address difficult issues, such as Canada’s protectionist dairy policies that have harmed Kansas farmers. However, any new agreement that excludes Canada would unfortunately be a significant step in the wrong direction compared to the trilateral agreement in place today. Read more here.

USDA Disaster Aid
Kansas farmers and ranchers continue to struggle with low commodity prices, made worse by retaliatory tariffs against U.S. agricultural exports. Although questions and concerns still remain regarding recently announced details, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s disaster aid will provide short-term relief to producers harmed most by the tariffs. However, I remain concerned that no disaster package will be enough to cover the long-term costs of lost export markets.

The aid also does not address the many other Kansas manufacturers and small businesses that have been harmed by the tariffs. Kansas farmers and ranchers, as well as manufacturers, would be best served by resolving trade disputes that have driven down commodity prices, while aggressively pursuing new markets to sell the food and fiber we produce. I appreciate Secretary Perdue’s recognition that farmers are being negatively impacted by the tariffs and will continue encouraging the administration to work to expand export markets to benefit Kansas agricultural producers and manufacturers. Click here for more.

ITC Reverses of Canadian Newsprint Tariffs
Canadian newsprint tariffs have already caused layoffs in newsrooms across our state, making it more difficult for newspapers to get timely news to Kansans in a time where the truth matters more than ever before. As I’ve traveled across the state meeting with Kansans, I have had numerous discussions with reporters, editors and publishers who have expressed how damaging these tariffs have been to their workforce and budgets. I am pleased the ITC reversed the newsprint tariffs and I will continue working with my colleagues to urge the administration to consider the consequences to Kansas businesses before implementing tariffs.

In May, I joined a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues in introducing the bipartisan Protecting Rational Incentives in Newsprint Trade Act of 2018 (PRINT Act) to suspend import taxes on uncoated groundwood paper while the Department of Commerce examines the health of – and the effects on – the printing and publishing industry.

In January, I joined a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues in writing to the administration expressing their concern regarding a then-pending trade investigation involving imported newsprint and other commercial printing papers used by local newspapers and across the country.

Hosting Kansas Listening Tour Stops Across the State
With seven more county visits this week, I have hosted Listening Tour Stops in 93 of our 105 Kansas counties this Congress. I look forward to visiting the remaining counties in the coming weeks and months to hear residents’ thoughts and concerns.

Miami County
On Wednesday, I joined several area residents, business leaders and community officials in Paola to discuss a variety of issues, and exchanged updates on things happening in Miami County and Paola, as well as work I’m doing in Washington. Thank you to the many individuals who took time to meet with me during my meeting and thank you to Miami County officials for the photo.

Anderson County
Thank you to folks in Garnett who took time out of their day to provide feedback on the work I’m doing in the Senate. I was pleased to be at East Kansas Agri-Energy where I had the chance to visit with employees.

Labette County
Thanks to the 75 Kansans who attended my townhall meeting in Parsons on Thursday to share their thoughts about current happenings in Washington, D.C. We discussed upcoming SCOTUS nomination hearings, the appropriations process and veterans’ healthcare. We also discussed disaster aid and assistance and the need for rural broadband expansion. I enjoyed helping pin leadership for the new Rotary Interact Club, which recently formed at Parsons High School.

Thank you to Dr. Wayne Gilmore for helping set up the visit and to Rotary President Ann Charles for her hospitality and for inviting me be part of the Interact Club chartering. Thanks also to State Senator Dan Goddard, Parsons City Commissioner Peter Cook and Labette Community College President Mark Watkins for attending.

Elk County
Thank you to Elk County residents for taking the time out of their Thursday afternoon to meet with me in Howard. I enjoyed stopping in Batson Drug and Family Market and Howard State Bank while I was in town.

Bourbon County
On Friday, I was in Fort Scott to hear from Kansans about the need for a permanent DACA solution and a completed farm bill, and upcoming SCOTUS nominee hearings. We also discussed my work in Congress to protect trade deals, especially with respect to Mexico and Canada, technical education, veterans’ healthcare and the VA Mission Act, supporting Fort Scott’s airport expansion and Highway 69’s continued progress.

Thanks to the 50 Kansans who joined my meeting to share their thoughts, Chamber President Lindsay Madison for organizing my townhall and Fort Scott Community College President Alysia Johnston for hosting. Thanks also to State Senator Richard Hilderbrand and Bourbon County Commissioner Lynne O’Harah for attending.

Linn County
I also held a Listening Tour stop on Main Street with a dozen Kansans in Mound City on Friday, where we discussed a number of topics about the current state of politics and what I’m working on in Washington, D.C. While in town, I also stopped in the Register of Deeds, the County Treasurer’s Office, the County Clerk’s Office, the Farmers and Merchants Bank and the Linn County Farm Bureau. Thanks to everyone who attended and shared their thoughts with me. 

Chautauqua County
During Labor Day celebrations on Monday, I I was honored to participate in the parade during the 106th annual Cedar Vale Labor Day Celebration. After the parade, I attended the annual Cedar Vale Historical Society and Museum pie sale and visited with Kansans and Chautauqua County residents. Thanks to the many individuals who took time to share their thoughts with me on the work I’ve been doing in Washington, D.C. Pictured here are the parade Grand Marshals, the Coopers.


Six Kansas Communities Awarded Drug-Free Communities Grants
The administration announced this week six Drug-Free Communities (DFC) grant recipients in the state of Kansas, including three new grant recipients – totaling over $710,000. The Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program, created by the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997, is the nation’s leading effort to mobilize communities to prevent youth substance use and provides grants to community coalitions to strengthen the infrastructure among local partners to create and sustain a reduction in local youth substance use.

The Drug-Free Communities Support Program is a time-tested and proven program that works to help prevent teenage drug abuse and addiction. I am grateful for the work these six Kansas grantees do to educate Kansas teenagers about the brutal effects of drug addiction and am glad they will be receiving additional resources to help make an impact in their local communities. I appreciate the administration’s continued attention to combatting this crisis and I will continue working with my colleagues to help end the scourge of this epidemic.

The grants awarded to Kansas can be found below and here:

  • $125,000 for Reno County Communities That Care, Reno County;
  • $125,000 for Healthy Harvey Drug Free Communities Coalition, Harvey County;
  • $125,000 for Safe Streets Wichita, Sedgwick County;
  • $125,000 for Sumner County Community Drug Action Team, Sumner County;
  • $123,956 for Manhattan Area Risk Prevention Coalition, Riley County;
  • $86,904 for Drug Free Osage County, Osage County.

Participating in the Olathe Veterans Treatment Court Graduation

I had the distinct privilege this week of speaking at the Johnson County Veterans Treatment Court Graduation Ceremony. These courts are modeled after Drug Courts and Mental Health Courts that started in the 1990s and are designed to deal with issues common among veterans, offering an opportunity to prioritize transition, focus on firm direction, and make committed individuals and resources available to provide veterans a second chance. Many veterans struggle with traumatic brain injury, mental health disorders and substance abuse, and Veterans Treatment Courts are a way to address not only their recovery, but other issues related to a veteran’s legal matters.

These courts offer an important chance for veterans, to grow, renew and transition to a better life. There are 250 VTC programs around the nation, and Johnson County District Court Judge Timothy McCarthy is working to help expand the number of these courts in Kansas.


Landon Lecture at Kansas State
On September 11th – the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our nation – I’ll be at Kansas State University to deliver a Landon Lecture. During my lecture, I’ll reflect on 9/11 and how that tragic event has changed the way I do my job as a legislator. I encourage you to join me for this special event, and I look forward to sharing the many ways that Kansans have impacted my life.

The Landon Lecture series is hosted by K-State that features leaders in different issues on public affairs. The series, started by then-K-State President James McCain, is named in honor of former Kansas Governor Alf Landon. I’m honored to deliver this lecture on what would be the 131st birthday of Governor Landon.

Details of my lecture and the history of the Landon series can be found by clicking here.

Now Accepting 2018 Service Academy Applications
Appointing Kansans to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.; the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo; and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y. is one of my favorite duties as a U.S. Senator.

To review requirements and move through the application process, please download an application from my website or contact my Olathe office at 913-393-0711. All application materials are due to my Olathe office by September 7, 2018. After applications have been reviewed, applicants will be notified of interviews with my Service Academy Selection Board, which will take place on Saturday, September 22, 2018, at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene.

Now Accepting Spring Internship Applications
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 working closely with my staff on behalf of Kansans.

Applications for internships in my Washington, D.C. and Kansas offices for Spring 2018 are due Friday, October 19. 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

Cultivate Kansas City
Jennifer Marsh of Shawnee

Capitol Tours
Ronda McBride of Hugoton
Tony McBride of Hugoton
Charles Thornton of Leawood
Jeremy Thornton of Leawood
Kathryn Thornton of Leawood
Mary Thornton of Leawood

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 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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