Kansas Common Sense
May 13 2019
Kansans Need Relief from Tariffs
I share President Trump’s frustration that China backtracked on previous commitments in the ongoing trade discussions, and believe that China must negotiate in good faith for a deal to be reached. However, we know additional tariffs will further harm Kansas farmers, ranchers and manufacturers. In addition, Kansas families will also pay higher prices for everyday goods, and China’s retaliatory tariffs will continue to target Kansas farmers and ranchers, who are already facing low commodity prices.
Until this trade war is resolved, it is critical that American manufacturers and businesses have the opportunity to apply for an exclusion from the tariffs, and as chairman of the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee, I secured a commitment from U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer to establish an exclusion process for the third round of tariffs on China. I am working with USTR to make this exclusion process available as soon as possible, and I will continue to utilize my role on the Senate Appropriations Committee to work toward lasting solutions to these ongoing tariff battles. Click here to read more on this commitment.
Urging FCC to Improve Broadband Availability Maps
On Monday, I joined my colleagues from the Kansas delegation to urge the FCC to improve its flawed broadband availability data process and broadband maps. The FCC relies on data reported by broadband providers to compile its fixed and mobile broadband maps. However, the current data collection process falls well short in depicting where fixed and mobile broadband services are truly available, or lacking, with one of the most extreme examples of inaccuracy found in our home state of Kansas.
This is especially problematic because this data is used to determine where billions of federal dollars are allocated for broadband deployment. As a result of this faulty process, Kansas communities could be denied eligibility to participate in existing federal funding programs for broadband deployment regardless of their actual need. This process must be updated so we can ensure that federal funds are going to rural communities that need it. Much of Kansas still lacks access to affordable and reliable broadband that is necessary participate in a globalized economy. As a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, I will continue to push the FCC to effectively target its resources to deploy high speed internet. Click here to read more on this work.
Chairing Hearing with FBI Director Christopher Wray
On Tuesday, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray appeared before my Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies to discuss the FBI’s FY20 appropriations request. I questioned Director Wray on the FBI’s involvement in potential illegal spying on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, as well as the Bureau’s efforts to prevent Russian and foreign interference in our elections. In addition, as chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer protection I have led an investigation into the systemic failures of the United States Olympic Committee to protect athletes from sexual abuse. I was pleased to hear that Director Wray intends to take seriously the recommendations of the FBI Office of the Inspector General, which is conducting an investigation into the bureau’s handling of sexual abuse within the Olympic movement.
The FBI’s mission is broad and multifaceted. It includes protecting and defending the United States against terrorism, intelligence and cyber threats, as well as combating violent crimes, public corruption and white-collar wrongdoing. I thank the men and women of the FBI who work every day to protect this nation and keep its citizens safe. Click here to view this questioning.
Receiving Award from the Jewish Federation of North America
On Wednesday, I joined members from the Jewish Federation of North American – including representatives from the Kansas City Jewish Federation – to receive their Health and Long-Term Care Visionary Award. Much of the work that we’ve accomplished has been in large part because of our close partnership and the tireless work of these advocates. Thank you to attendees from Kansas City for presenting me with this award and for their continued friendship.
Working to Uncover Details on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
For Indian Country, last Sunday marked the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. There are at least 5,000 cases of murdered or missing Indigenous women around the country that remain unresolved, and joining my colleagues on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, asked the GAO to examine how we can better serve women in Indian Country and their loved ones who have been pushed aside. Click here to read more on these efforts.
On Wednesday, I also attended a hearing on the President’s budget proposals impacting Indian Country. I focused my questioning on supporting Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence and on making sure Native American veterans have access to healthcare. While I am pleased the administration proposes forward funding for Haskell, I am intent to help the university explore ways to receive private support that can establish an endowment like any other public university. During my questioning, I also asked about cooperation with the VA to make certain Native American veterans are able to utilize the VA MISSION Act I championed so that veterans can more effectively receive healthcare close to home. Native Americans serve at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group, and it is important they receive the benefits they have earned. Click here to watch this questioning.
Meeting with the Wichita Chamber in Washington, D.C.
I enjoyed visiting with folks from the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce who were in Washington, D.C. for their annual fly-in to speak with elected leaders and administration officials. Our discussion included ways we can work together to support workforce development, my work to minimize the impacts of the ongoing trade war, and our close partnership to make certain Wichita remains the Air Capital of the World and the hub for the aerospace industry. Thanks to attendees for their productive conversation and continued advocacy for the Wichita region.
Meeting with Fellow Kansan and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai
On Tuesday, I met with Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and fellow Kansans Ajit Pai to discuss the FCC’s FY20 budget request as well as critical telecommunications issues facing Kansans including access to affordable and reliable broadband service. Far too many rural communities, including many in Kansas, are being left behind their urban counterparts as technology continues to advance.
As a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, I will continue to work with my colleagues to close the digital divide and bolster communications, education and economic opportunity to our rural communities.
Questioning Acting Secretary of Defense Shanahan on DoD Resource Needs
On Wednesday, I questioned Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford during their testimony in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Defense. The Department of Defense (DoD) is looking to increase its cyber capability in order to keep up with the growing threat imposed by China and Russia, but the DoD is encountering challenges in the recruitment and retention of cyber professionals.
I am pleased that Secretary Shanahan expressed support for my idea to provide additional resources to the cyber community and developing a Scholarship-for-Service pipeline though university partners, such as Wichita State University, to the DoD. In addition, we discussed the expertise that can be leveraged within the National Guard which has men and women serving in the private sector as cyber professionals, gaining valuable experience and skillsets in this domain that they are then able to provide to the military. Our Kansas National Guard in the 177th Information Aggressor Squadron exemplify the talent that exists within the National Guard and I believe these cyber warriors can bolster our efforts to defend the nation against cyber attacks.
Speaking to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association
On Wednesday, I joined a number of Kansans and folks across the country who flew in for the annual General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) Hill Day. As Wichita boasts the highest concentration of aerospace manufacturing employment in the nation, it was great to see the Wichita presence in the room, and discuss current issues being faced by general aviation manufacturers. One of the many items we discussed were the growing challenges in the area of workforce development, and I was happy to point to many Kansas companies and institutions who are leading the nation in developing a skilled workforce through alternative education options. Thanks to folks from across GAMA who took time to visit with me and for the special presence from Kansas.
Spending Time with the Federal Advisory Council
On Thursday, I met with the Federal Advisory Council to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve to discuss banking policy matters and the state of the economy. The Federal Advisory Council is a council of leading bankers selected from each of the 12 Federal Reserve Districts across the country, including Kansan John Dicus of Capital Federal Savings in Topeka.
Throughout the meeting, we discussed a number of issues ranging from ongoing difficulties in the labor markets for small businesses to the regulatory environment’s impact on access to credit. As a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, I look forward to furthering the policy proposals discussed that will help improve the financial conditions of Kansans and Americans across the country.
Hosting General Murray at WSU
Last week, I joined Wichita State University in hosting the Commanding General of Army Futures Command, John Murray, for demonstrations that illustrate the engineering and applied research capabilities housed in the National Institute for Aviation Research. General Murray was able to see first-hand the breadth and depth of expertise and capacity that WSU can offer to grow their existing partnership in support of Army missions. In addition, General Murray was able to see how private sector partners such as Airbus, Spirit Aerosystems and Dassault on WSU’s Innovation Campus can contribute to the Army’s focus on modernization and innovation. Thanks to all those at Wichita State who took time to demonstrate their work to us.
Speaking to Graduates of the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center
I was honored to address graduates of the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center (KLETC) at their graduation ceremony on Friday. Each of these men and women have accepted a higher calling, and there can be no higher calling than to protect someone that we know, and, perhaps, to protect somebody we have never even met. This is something they are called to do as a law enforcement officer.
I am confident that these men and women are committed to making our communities a better place for us all, and our whole country is grateful for their service. Thank you to the graduates, their loved ones and KLETC faculty and staff for Friday’s events and for all that you do to support our men and women in blue.
Hosting a Kansas Listening Tour Stop in Reno County
On Friday, following the graduation ceremony at KLETC, I was in Hutchinson to host my Reno County Kansas Listening Tour stop. During the townhall meeting, I joined area residents to discuss a number of issues including veterans’ healthcare and the VA MISSION Act. Additionally, we discussed trade, the need for more export markets for our farmers and ranchers, and the ever-increasing national debt and the government’s inability to rein in spending. Thank you to the Hutchinson and Reno County Chamber of Commerce for hosting my visit and to Senator Ed Berger for attending.
Celebrating the Career of K-State’s Dr. Pat Bosco
Dr. Pat Bosco is known across the state for his purple pride and extraordinary sense of care and compassion for others. Thank you, Dr. Bosco, for all that you’ve done for my family, Kansas State University and the entire state of Kansas.
It was great to join my daughter Kelsey – who was inspired to attend K-State by Dr. Bosco – to celebrate Pat’s retirement on Friday evening. Robba and I are wishing Pat and Susan, “the other Dr. Bosco,” all the best in this new chapter.
Participating in the McPherson County All Schools Day Parade
On Friday morning, I joined area residents for the 106th annual McPherson County All Schools Day Parade. The tradition began in 1914 as a way to celebrate 8th grade graduates. Since then, it has grown into a week-long annual Kansas event honoring graduates from eighth grade, high school, career and technical school and colleges and universities with hundreds of participants. It was nice to see so many old friends and new faces. A special thanks to Kyler Jost for arranging my participation and to Trey Kennedy for driving me.
Meeting with Kansas City Area Development Council
On Monday morning, before heading back to Washington, D.C., I joined leadership of the Kansas City Area Development Council (KCADC) to discuss their spot on the shortlist of finalists to be the next home of relocated USDA agencies. Together, we’re working to make certain USDA understands why the Kansas City-area would be the best home for these agencies that are critical to agriculture and the food industry. Thanks to individuals from KCADC for their productive conversation and all their work to grow Kansas City.
Now Accepting Fall 2019 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 the fall 2019 session are due June 14. 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 and to apply.
Kansans in the Office
Dave Achten of Overland Park
Jerry Chaput of Oakley
Lisa Donahue of Lincolnville
Tim Donahue of Lincolnville
Mary Holmes of Hutchinson
Syd Holmes of Hutchinson
Tom Palare of Topeka
Barbara Rankin of Topeka
Cynthia Smith of Lawrence
Butch Stucky of Salina
Michael Thompson of Iola
American Association of Bovine Practitioners
Dr. Mike Apley of Olsburg
Dr. Wren Geri of Overland Park
Mary Ann Hotaling of Lansing
American College of Emergency Physicians
John Gallagher of Wichita
John McMaster of Wichita
American Land Title Association
Kris Hanzlicek of Lawrence
Lisa Henry of Wichita
Michael Malone of Wichita
Chris St. John of Topeka
Kohn Stauffer of Olathe
American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association and Association of American Railroads
Cori Kallenbach of Basehor
Cameron Adams of Lyons
Benny Hey of Olathe
John Hey of Olathe
Lester Lucas of Johnson
Susan Lucas of Johnson
Melanie Jacobs McGraw of Overland Park
PJ McGraw of Overland Park
Lea Morrow of Wichita
Hadley Morrow of Wichita
Chuck Protasio of Lawrence
Pat Protasio of Lawrence
Zane Reida of Wichita
Molly Reida of Wichita
Benjamin Rivers of Wichita
Brian Rorabaugh of Wichita
Kurt Schmidt of Wichita
Jessica Schmidt of Wichita
Cooper Stroud of Lyons
Brooke Worrel of Overland Park
Kate Worrel of Overland Park
Rick Worrel of Overland Park
Susan Worrel of Overland Park
The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation
Tyler Graves of Spring Hill
Tray DeDecker of Overland Park
Jack Dinsdale of Newton
Jim Grocholski of Wichita
Tiffany Keihl of Overland Park
Pat Tuer of Overland Park
Family Focused Treatment Association
Betty Rush of Solomon
Gary Hall of Wichita
Shaun Junking of Wichita
Rickey Nelson of Wichita
Terry Rodriquez of Wichita
Roger Stamback of Wichita
Dennis Williams of Wichita
Kansas Association of Senior Corps Directors
Lori Bishop of Manhattan
Melody Gault of Augusta
Kathy Shepard of Independence
March for Moms
Kelly Fritz of Spring Hill
Grace Gulbranson of Lawrence
Lauren McNary of Shawnee Mission
Libby Rosen of Topeka
National Court Reporters Association
Johanna Lynch of Lawrence
Meghan Rogers of Lawrence
Petroleum Marketers Association of America
Dave Achten of Overland Park
Chandler Brass of Stockton
Jerry Chaput of Oakley
Patrick Lingg of Stockton
Dennis McAnay of Olathe
Tom Palace of Topeka
Marvin Spees of Topeka
Butch Stucky of Salina
Scott Zaremba of Lawrence
Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
Naldy Cook of Minneapolis
Hunter Hotaling of Lansing
Riley Padget-Cook of Minneapolis
April Padget of Salina
Refugee Council USA
Gary Phelps of Wichita
Harold Schlechtweg of Wichita
Patrick Hall of Norton
Dan Lara of Norton
Javier Ley of Norton
Tricia Olson of Norton
Chris Wilkins of Norton
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.
Very truly yours,
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