Kansas Common Sense

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Recognizing the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today, we celebrate the life and service of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His actions and words continue to inspire and challenge us to fight for the vulnerable and seek peace with our fellow man.

USMCA Heads to the President’s Desk for Signature

On Thursday, I voted in favor of approving the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on the Senate floor. The agreement was approved overwhelmingly in the Senate and will now be sent to the President’s desk for his signature. 

Passing USMCA is a major step in implementing this 21st-century trade deal and providing needed certainty for Kansas farmers, ranchers and manufacturers. Over one-third of Kansas exports go to Canada and Mexico making those countries Kansas’ two largest export markets. On Jan. 3, I urged Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to consider USMCA as soon as it passed out of the appropriate Senate committees. I voted Wednesday in both the Senate Appropriations and Commerce Committees to pass USMCA, moving it to the full Senate for a vote. I appreciate Senate leaders’ listening to my request and quickly moving this important trade agreement to a vote on the Senate floor.

Over the past two years, I have consistently advocated for a deal like USMCA to be reached. I have heard directly from many Kansas producers on the vital importance of a modern trade deal that expands export opportunities, and I applaud President Trump’s work to get this trade deal accomplished.

To view the timeline of my efforts on a modern trade deal, click here.

Update Regarding the Impeachment Trial

At noon on Thursday, seven House managers delivered and read the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Shortly after 2 p.m., Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was escorted into the Senate chamber and sworn in as the presiding officer. After he was sworn in, Chief Justice Roberts swore in each U.S. Senator and then we individually signed the oath book. The oath represents a pledge to deliver impartial justice according to the Constitution and the law. I take this oath and responsibility seriously.

The impeachment trial will officially begin on Tuesday, January 21, 2020. The Senate will first set the rules of the trial and then we will move to oral arguments. The trial will be held every day at 1 p.m. ET, Monday through Saturday, until we reach a verdict or dismiss the charges.

Meeting with NASA Astronauts, including Kansan Nick Hague

On Thursday, I had the opportunity to meet with NASA Astronauts Anne McClain and Nick Hague. Both recently served as flight engineers on expeditions to the International Space Station. Astronaut Hague is a Kansas native and graduated from Hoxie High School in 1994 before serving in the United States Air Force. During Expedition 59/60, Hague conducted three spacewalks totaling 19 hours and 56 minutes with a total of 203 days in space before returning to Earth in October 2019. After he returned to Earth, I took the opportunity to speak with him over the phone to tell him how proud Kansans are of him and how often I get to brag about his accomplishments serving our country. It was great to talk with Astronaut Hague again and as Chairman of the Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee on Appropriations, I enjoyed getting a chance to discuss both of their missions and the resources that are vital to their success.

At the end of our meeting, Astronaut Hague presented me with a Kansas flag that was flown by him at the International Space Station. I look forward to displaying the Kansas flag in my office and having the opportunity to share this with the many Kansans who visit my office.

Attending the Signing Ceremony for the Phase One China Trade Agreement

On Wednesday, the United States and China signed an historic trade agreement that will open new trade opportunities for farmers and manufacturers across Kansas. I was pleased to join President Trump at the White House for the signing ceremony. This agreement 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. This agreement is also a first step in addressing China’s misbehavior on trade, such as the theft of American intellectual property and forced technology transfer. Congress must work to make certain China lives up to its agreement and hold China accountable if its bad behavior continues. I will continue to urge the administration to reach an agreement with China that removes U.S. tariffs and China’s retaliatory tariffs that are damaging to Kansas.

Attending the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Convention

This weekend, I attended the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Convention to speak with farmers and ranchers from across the United States about making certain rural America has a voice in Congress. An important part of this conversation centered around access to healthcare and broadband, which allows the rural way of life to be sustained. It was also great to discuss the recent vote by the Senate to approve USMCA, ensuring further trade certainty for farmers. I also highlighted my trip to the White House for the signing of Phase One of the China trade agreement by President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He which should be significant for the economic well being of farmers and the U.S. economy.

Town Hall Project Announces 2019 Awards

This past week, Town Hall Project released their end of year report and announced that I held 73 town hall meetings in 2019 – the most town halls of any member of Congress. Each town hall had to meet the criteria of having at least a twenty-four hour notice, being open to the public and feature at least 30 minutes of open Q&A.

Town halls are a part of my Kansas Listening Tour, a priority throughout my time in Kansas to stay connected to the Kansans I represent. Every Congressional session, I visit each of Kansas’ 105 counties, and the conversations I have help drive the work I do in Washington, D.C. Thank you to each Kansan that I have spoken with during my time in Congress for sharing your thoughts and ideas with me. I look forward to many more Kansas Listening Tour stops in 2020.

Recognized as a 2019 Wheat Advocate

On Thursday, I met with representatives from Kansas Wheat Commission. During the meeting we discussed a variety of issues, including the importance of trade and exports to Kansas farmers, the Federal Grain Inspection Service reauthorization, international food aid and federal funding for wheat research. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee, I secured resources for critical wheat research initiatives, including the Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative, which develops control measures for Fusarium head blight, or scab. 

I was also honored to be presented with the 2019 Wheat Advocate Award from the National Association of Wheat Growers during the meeting. Our wheat growers are critical to the global food supply, and I look forward to continuing to work alongside Kansas Wheat Commission to improve the outlook for agriculture in Kansas.

Announcing the Addition of Two District Representatives

Two new district representatives have joined my team to serve northeast Kansas. Susan Metsker will primarily work on behalf of Kansans to address any concerns or issues they may encounter with a federal agency. Jason Osterhaus will serve as a contact and representative at community events and meetings for Shawnee, Douglass, Wyandotte, Miami, Lyon, Ottawa, Osage, Jackson and Jefferson Counties. They join State Director Alex Richard and District Representative Michele Payne in representing the northeast region of Kansas out of the Olathe office.

Susan Metsker, District Representative: Metsker previously served 12 years as a member of the Shawnee Mission School District Board of Education and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Inclusion Connections. Metsker served as a district representative for Congressman Kevin Yoder for eight years and prior to that she worked nearly 20 years in development for a non-profit youth organization. Metsker holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Kansas.

Jason Osterhaus, District Representative: Osterhaus, a resident of Overland Park, served on the Johnson County Commission for the past eight years where he worked to oversee the Johnson County Library Master Plan, expand the Johnson County Mental Health Department, including the Veterans Treatment Courts, supported the construction of the New Johnson County Courthouse and Coroners Facility, and corrected the understaffing of the Johnson County Sheriff’s office. Previously, Osterhaus worked at Sprint and Perceptive Software. He is a former board member of the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault and as an Eagle Scout, is the former Chair of the Shawnee Trails Boy Scout Nominating Committee. Osterhaus graduated from the Park University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a degree in Communications.

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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