Kansas Common Sense

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Update Regarding Aviation & Aerospace Industry in Wichita

Wichita would not be the Air Capital of the World without the extraordinary engineers, designers and manufacturers who have invested in our aviation industry and made Wichita their home. The layoffs announced last week at Spirit AeroSystems have dealt a harsh blow not only to the company but also to Spirit suppliers and subcontractors. Over the past week, I have had conversations with both the incoming CEO at Boeing and the FAA Administrator to encourage them to work together and do everything necessary to get the 737 MAX safely back in the air. I will work with business leaders and Administration officials to do everything possible to see that this is a short-term impact to the aviation and aerospace industry in Wichita.

Speaking with President Trump and Vice President Pence

I recently spoke with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence regarding the impact the layoffs at Spirit AeroSystems will have on Kansas and throughout the aviation industry. I explained to them the unique importance the Boeing 737 MAX has to Wichita, and they assured me they will work with their teams to see if there are ways that the administration can be of help. We also discussed future opportunities to bring additional Department of Defense jobs to the area.

Touring Cox Machine, Inc. in Wichita

Producing a 737 MAX requires a supply chain of businesses, contractors, engineers, designers and manufacturers across the country, and Wichita – the Air Capital of the World – is a vital link in that supply chain. The decision to halt production of the 737 MAX dealt a blow to businesses like Cox Machine, Inc., a Wichita company with more than 300 employees.

On Thursday, I visited Cox Machine, Inc. to learn how they are impacted by Boeing’s decision. We discussed the importance of workforce development, keeping talent in the region and the need for a timeline on the 737 MAX in order for businesses in the supply chain to plan accordingly. We also discussed both of my conversations with the incoming CEO at Boeing David Calhoun and Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Stephen Dickson aimed at encouraging a quick and safe resolution on the future of the 737 MAX and to stress how important the aviation and aerospace industry is to Kansas. In addition, we discussed my efforts with the Department of Defense to showcase the capabilities of Wichita manufacturers in an effort to bring more job opportunities to the region.

Speaking with Both Boeing and the FAA

On Tuesday, I discussed the future of the Boeing 737 MAX with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator, Stephen Dickson, and the incoming CEO of Boeing, David Calhoun. The decision to halt production of the 737 MAX has dealt a devastating blow not only to businesses like Spirit AeroSystems, but a number of suppliers and contractors in the Wichita area. During our conversations, I stressed the importance of the aircraft to the region and encouraged a quick and safe resolution regarding the future of the 737 MAX without a compromise to safety. In addition, I will continue to work with the Department of Defense to showcase the capabilities of Wichita manufacturers in an effort to bring more job opportunities to the region.

Confirmed as Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee

This week, I had the distinct privilege of being confirmed as the 12th Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. During my time in Congress – as both a member of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs – I have made improving the quality of life for veterans across the country a top priority, including the nearly 200,000 veterans living in Kansas. There is no group of people I hold in higher regard than those who serve our nation, and I take seriously the responsibility of providing our veterans with the best our country has to offer.

I have always relied on veterans to help drive policy decisions in Washington, and I will continue to look to those who have served for ideas and solutions to improve the lives of their fellow servicemembers. As chairman, I am committed to ensuring our veterans have the right resources at the right time to achieve success after service. To veterans in Kansas and millions of veterans across the country: I work to serve and honor you.

Please read more about my priorities as chairman in the Kansas City Star article here.

Meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer

On Tuesday, I met with United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer and Deputy USTR C.J. Mahoney, who is a native of Russell and served as one of my first interns in Congress. We discussed the phase one trade deal with China, which includes a commitment by China to purchase at least $40 billion annually in agricultural products from the United States each of the next two years and addresses much of China’s misbehavior on trade. The increase in agricultural purchases by China will help the struggling farm economy across the country and in Kansas.

We also discussed USMCA and the benefits that the agreement contains for Kansas, Mexico and Canada, our two largest trading partners. This modern trade deal is vital to our farmers, ranchers and manufacturers. This week, USMCA passed out of the Senate Finance Committee, putting it one step closer to Senate approval. This is great news, and I continue to urge Senate leadership and my colleagues to move quickly to bring this important trade agreement to the full Senate. On January 3, I requested that Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer quickly move USMCA forward and bring it to a vote on the Senate floor before impeachment proceedings. USMCA received 385 votes in the House of Representatives in December, showing that the agreement is overwhelmingly bipartisan.

As the chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees USTR, I will continue working with Ambassador Lighthizer on restoring trade with China while holding China accountable for their behavior. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to get USMCA across the finish line.

Meeting with K-State Polytechnic Aviation Students

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to meet with aviation students from Kansas State Polytechnic who were in D.C. to attend the University Aviation Association’s 2020 Annual Aviation Policy Seminar. This annual seminar offers aviation students from around the world the opportunity to come to our nation’s capital to speak with members of Congress as well as representatives of agencies like the FAA or National Transportation Safety Board. These conversations allowed the K-State students, most of whom are studying to become pilots, to develop a better understanding of the process by which laws and regulations are created as well as ways they can be active in the process. As the future of aviation, I would like to thank these students for taking time out of their holiday break to come to D.C. and engage in our democracy. A special thanks to their instructor Dr. Austin Walden for arranging the trip and bringing them to meet with me.

Attending Topeka’s McDonald’s Ribbon Cutting

On Thursday evening, I attended the ribbon cutting of the new McDonald’s restaurant on South Topeka Boulevard. It was great to surprise the Dobski family at the grand opening and catch up with many friends from the Topeka area.

Visiting Butler County

I was in Butler County this week for a Kansas Listening Tour Stop and was able to talk with folks about education in rural communities, the role of small town banks and what is going on in Washington, D.C. Special thanks to Circle Benton Elementary School Principal Robert Leis and the folks at Towanda State Bank, including President Aaron Lehman and Receptionist Loretta Lehman, for our conversations.

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.

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