Kansas Common Sense
Providing Congressional Oversight of Federal Agencies
Convening CJS Subcommittee Hearing with Attorney General William Barr
This week, I convened my Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies subcommittee to hear from U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Department of Justice funding priorities for the upcoming Fiscal Year.
The 112,000 men and women at this agency work tirelessly to protect Americans and uphold the rule of law. As chairman of this Subcommittee, I’ll make certain DOJ has the resources it needs to strengthen our national security, combat violent and cybercrime, curb drug trafficking and end the opioid epidemic that has devastated areas of our state and nation.
When I hosted then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Kansas in 2018, we joined local and federal law enforcement to discuss rising crime rates across the country. I’ll continue to work closely with Attorney General Barr, the Department of Justice and agencies across the federal government to provide the necessary infrastructure and support so law enforcement are equipped to slow these trends and keep Kansas communities safe. Click here to watch my opening statement.
During the hearing, Attorney General Barr indicated his belief that there may have been unauthorized surveillance during the 2016 presidential campaign. On Thursday morning, I spoke with Fox News’ Bill Hemmer on America’s Newsroom to discuss the hearing and what’s next. Click here to watch my full interview.
Questioning Sec. Pompeo on Justice for American Citizens, Authoritarian Regimes
On Tuesday, during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs hearing, I questioned fellow Kansan and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on a number of items related to justice for American citizens and authoritarian regimes abroad.
During this hearing, I also asked Secretary Pompeo about the assassination of Kansan and UN worker Michael Sharp, and I’ll continue to pursue why this peaceful investigator was murdered while working in the middle of a violent rebellion.
With continued global conflict and ongoing confrontation of human rights abuses, the work being done by the men and women of the State Department to provide peace and stability cannot be overlooked and needs to be supported. As a member of this subcommittee, I was pleased to discuss the State Department’s priorities with Secretary Pompeo, and I look forward to working with the Secretary to provide the necessary resources for the Department to conduct diplomacy around the world. Click here to watch our full exchange.
Questioning Secretary Perdue on Trade, Flooding and USDA Funding Requests
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, I questioned Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue this week about issues facing farmers, ranchers and rural communities. I applauded Secretary Perdue’s efforts to relocate the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) outside of Washington, D.C., and I made the case for Kansas City to be the future home for the agencies. The Secretary responded that he plans on having a final list of candidate locations for ERS and NIFA within the month.
I also discussed the importance of trade to farmers and ranchers, and the need to enact the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Additionally, I brought up the importance of USDA disaster programs, such as the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) to help producers restore damaged farmland and remove debris. I look forward to working with Secretary Perdue and USDA on these and other issues that are important to Kansas agricultural communities. Click here to watch our full exchange.
Questioning NIH Leadership on Alzheimer’s, Childhood Cancer Research
On Thursday, during a Senate Appropriations Health and Human Services Subcommittee hearing, I questioned Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Dr. Francis Collins on NIH’s resource needs for the upcoming Fiscal Year.
My questions to Director Collins and senior NIH leaders focused on the unique challenges inherent in studying pediatric cancer, as well as the current state of Alzheimer’s research at NIH, and what the future of Alzheimer’s research might look like. I look forward to supporting increased resources at NIH so that research on each of these fronts, and many other medical research priorities, can receive the support necessary to develop new understanding, drive additional treatment options, and hopefully, find cures for the many illnesses facing Americans. Click here to watch my questioning and discussion from this hearing.
Meeting with Kansas Hospital Association Members
As part of the American Hospital Association’s annual meeting, I met with the Kansas Hospital Association to discuss front-and-center issues faced by healthcare providers and hospital leadership across our state. Our discussion focused on the longevity of our rural hospitals and the particularly harmful effect sequestration cuts have had on Critical Access Hospitals. I have long-opposed the establishment of sequestration in Congress, and it is important Critical Access Hospitals and the communities that depend on them do not suffer as a result of Washington’s inability to compromise on spending.
Kansas hospitals continue to face many challenges, and I’ll explore new rural health models that may better allow these hospitals to provide care in their communities. Thank you to members of Kansas Hospital Association for your partnership as we work to support hospitals and healthcare providers across our state.
Questioning VA Leaders on VA MISSION Act Implementation
This week I questioned Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) leaders on the implementation of the VA MISSION Act. During my questioning, I stressed the need for the VA to be prepared to deliver timely and quality care to our nation’s veterans under the MISSION Act and the many changes it brings to veterans’ healthcare.
The MISSION Act will dramatically improve and modernize veteran healthcare services: whether a veteran receives care at a VA hospital or within their community care network, the veteran will be receiving VA healthcare and will benefit from VA’s responsibility as the integrator for this new healthcare system. Click here to watch this questioning.
Meeting with Kansas 4-H Members in Washington, D.C.
On Wednesday, I met with Kansas 4-H students that were in Washington D.C. for the 4-H National Conference. We discussed the benefits of being a part of 4-H, including gaining important leadership skills that benefit members’ schools and communities. The students described their time in our nation’s capital for the National Conference, which included spending time with policymakers and discussing issues facing agriculture. I appreciate hearing from Kansas’ young leaders and I will continue supporting the work of 4-H.
Meeting with University of Kansas Leadership
On Tuesday, I met with leadership from the University of Kansas and the University of Kansas Medical Center to receive an update on things happening across the university and to discuss their priorities for the year ahead. Among those priorities is the desire to maintain strong federal research support for institutions like the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. By supporting research grants from these two agencies, KU is able to enhance its research capacity through federal funding in Kansas while creating new opportunities for students interested in STEM. During our meeting, we also discussed the importance of graduate medical education and KUMC’s desire to train more medical professionals and combat the physician shortage impacting Kansas.
The vitality of our state depends on our ability to educate and employ young Kansans. Thank you to the University of Kansas and the University of Kansas Medical Center for your work to accomplish this goal, and thank you to university leadership for the productive conversation on how we can support this work.
Honoring Carl Ice at K-State
On Saturday, I joined K-State faculty, students and alumni for the Seaton Society Award Celebration to honor award recipients from the K-State College of Engineering. During this event, I joined former K-State Head Football Coach Bill Snyder in speaking to honor Carl and Mary Ice, graduates of the College of Engineering and now dedicated philanthropists and supporters of the whole university. At the event, the college was officially named after Carl, becoming the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering.
During my remarks, I spoke to the meaning of this important name change and the impact that Carl has had on my life, and on the success of so many students from Kansas and around the world by his and Mary’s support of the college. Specifically, Carl and Mary’s support of the college has increased the number of young men and women who pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Thank you, Carl and Mary, for your friendship and for your selfless service to K-State.
Touring LMI Aerospace
Before returning to Washington, D.C. this week, I stopped in Lenexa to visit LMI Aerospace and learn more about the services they provide to the aerospace and transportation industry throughout the U.S. and the world. Founded more than 70 years ago, LMI has a strong manufacturing presence in Kansas with facilities in Cottonwood Falls, Fredonia, Lenexa and Wichita. They are a major supplier of structural assemblies, kits and components, which they fabricate, machine and assemble to the specifications of their business, commercial and defense customers.
During my visit, we discussed a range of issues including the importance of stable trade policy and the negative impact that tariffs have had on their industry.
Thank you to LMI Aerospace leadership John McMahon and Butch Morris for hosting my visit, and thank you to Lenexa Mayor Mike Boehm and Lenexa Chamber President Blake Schreck for joining us.
Speaking to Members of the Overland Park Rotary Club
Following my visit to LMI, I attended the regular meeting of the Overland Park Rotary Club. I enjoyed visiting with my fellow Rotarians, where our conversation included their work across the community and the throughout the Kansas City region. Thank you to Overland Park Chamber of Commerce CEO Tracey Osborne Oltjen for allowing me to be her guest at Monday’s meeting, and thanks to Overland Park Rotarians for the warm welcome, and, of course, always striving to live by the Four-Way Test.
Spending Time with Kansas Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers
On Friday evening, I was in Downs at an event for the Kansas Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers program. This program brings together young people who support agriculture in nearly every form across the state. During my conversations with attendees, I spoke to the importance of agriculture in our state and the how we can work together to encourage and incentivize young Kansans to return to the farms and rural communities where they grew up. Thanks for the productive conversation and to friends Gary and Glenny Doane for hosting us on their farmstead.
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,
Kansans in the Office
Tina Bartlett of Salina
Sheila Barnett of Goodland
Barbara Dustin Leawood
Frederick Dustin of Leawood
Carol Mendlow of Overland Park
Jim Brown of Wichita
Debbie Brown of Wichita
Angela McCool of Hutchinson
Africa Faith and Justice Network
Madison Bishop of Andover
Sheila Kjellberg of Salina
Mary Lehockzy of Leawood
Kirk Perucca of Prairie Village
Richard Randolph of Lenexa
Jo Randolph of Lenexa
Melissa Ross of Wichita
John Shively of Leavenworth
Valecia Vogts-Scribner of Eldorado
Alfi Wyatt of Overland Park
American Academy of Opthalmology
Mary Champion of Wichita
William Clifford of Garden City
Sean Goodale of Overland Park
Yong Kam of Overland Park
Paul Weishaar of Wichita
American Academy of Pediatrics
Pamela McKean of Lawrence
Carissa Stanton of Overland Park
American Association of Avian Pathologists
Dr. Brett Hopkins of Overland Park
American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
Matt Lowe of Pittsburg
Bill Whitlow of Hutchinson
American Lung Association
Renee Dietchman of Merriam
Sarah Prem of Overland Park
American Muslims for Palestine
Bob Hoffman of Overland Park
American Immigration Lawyers Association
Thea Bernas Prochaska of Overland Park
Angela Ferguson of Hutchinson
Sarah Schilcher of Overland Park
Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses
Heather Scruton of Olathe
Clancy Byrnes of Overland Park
Patsy Byrnes of Overland Park
Lesa Childers of Merriam
Steven Johnson of Wichita
Jacqueline Levings of Wichita
Holly Murdock of Columbus
Colin Olenick of Olathe
Karen Romang of Shawnee
Ruby Stover of Columbus
Joan Tempero of Topeka
Stephen Tempero of Topeka
Lauren Wroten of Derby
Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas
Denise Ogilvie of Overland Park
Delta Dental of Kansas
Jennifer Bauer of Wichita
Michael Herbert of Wichita
Sarah Patterson of Wichita
Fraternal Government Relations Coalition
Jordan Devorak of Overland Park
Jewish Community Relations Bureau/AJC
Gavriela Geller of Overland Park
Kansas Association of Nurse Anesthetist
Taylor Ellis of Wichita
Sarah Hosp of Wichita
Becky Lucke of Wichita
Allison Martinez of Wichita
Ruth Morris of Overland Park
Hallie Owen of Kansas City
Kansas Bar Association
Rachael Pirner of Wichita
Kansas Hospital Association
Melissa Atkins of Hill City
Chad Austin of Topeka
Tom Bell of Abilene
Harold Courtois of Abilene
Dennis Franks of Chanute
Dennis George of Overland Park
Audrey Hill of Kansas City
Larry Van Der Wege of Lindsborg
Sherri Vaughn of Lawrence
Ellen Parker of Lenexa
Ed Phillips of Olathe
Kansas Optometric Association
Dr. Jeremy Durham of Goddard
Todd Fleischer of Topeka
Dr. Wayne Gilmore of Parsons
Kate Hamm of Wichita
Dr. Jeff Janasek of Wichita
Dr. Andy Stephens of Wichita
Dr. Seth Thibault of Pratt
Sarah Truman of Hutchinson
Dr. Cynthia Yin of Overland Park
Kansas Pharmacists Association
Van Coble of Winfield
Dared Price of Winfield
Pete Stern of Topeka
Kansas Respiratory Care Society
Crystal Irwin of Atchison
Terri Lesser of Topeka
Karen Schell of Frankfort
Kansas Society of Land Surveyors
Larry Graham of Prairie Village
Brett DePaola of Manhattan
Lado Samushia of Manhattan
KU and KUMC Leadership
Simon Atkinson of Lawrence
Rick Barohn of Lawrence
Jack Cline of Lawrence
John Colombo of Lawrence
Doug Girod of Lawrence
Grant Huck of Lawrence
Carl Lejuez of Lawrence
Reggie Robinson of Lawrence
Rob Simari of Lawrence
Midwest Transplant Network
Jan Finn of Westwood
Salama Gallimore of Westwood
National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association
Mark Shepard of Overland Park
Jim Bell of Lenexa
US Travel Association
Stacy Barnes of Greensburg
Susie Berglund Santo of Wichita
Jan Stevens of Dodge City
Jim Zaleski of Parsons
Ellen Parker of Lenexa
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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