Kansas Common Sense
Meeting with Kansans Regarding COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
Visiting a Vaccination Clinic
This week, I received a briefing from The University of Kansas Health System and toured their vaccination clinic to see how they have readied their facility in order to best serve patients and medical staff. I heard more from hospital personnel about how I can aid Kansas at the federal level in its vaccination rollout and make certain vaccine dissemination to the general public is done in a more effective manner. Currently, Kansas ranks 36th in population and ranks 36th in number of Pfizer vaccines received. Kansas also has approximately 0.874% of the U.S. population and has received 0.838% of the vaccines. As Kansas moves forward with vaccinations, we discussed the need for better communication between federal, state and local entities, as well as greater transparency surrounding the amount of doses hospitals and counties will receive each week.
I was impressed with the way The University of Kansas Heath System continues adapt to the evolving logistics involved in ordering, receiving and preparing the COVID-19 vaccine for Kansans. Thank you to The University of Kansas Health System President & CEO Bob Page, Director of the Center for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Dr. Tim Williamson, KU School of Medicine Interim Executive Vice Chancellor Dr. Steve Stites, Government and Community Affairs Vice President Kenny Wilk, Chief Operating and Nursing Officer Tammy Peterman and Assistant Chief Nursing Officer Kim Dixon for your hard work to vaccinate Kansans.
Discussing Vaccine Distribution with Ellis County Leaders
I met with leaders from Ellis County in Hays this week to discuss vaccine rollout and the next steps as COVID-19 vaccines continue to be more widely administered across the state. While Ellis County leaders told me of their decision to move vaccinations to a single location in order to most effectively administer the vaccine, they also informed me of the challenges they face as a rural community receiving the vaccine.
Thank you to Ellis County Commissioner Neal Younger, Ellis County Health Service Director Jason Kennedy, First Care Clinic CEO Brian Brady, Ellis County Emergency Manager Darin Myers, HaysMed President Eddie Herrman and First Care Clinic Medical Director Dr. Christina Fisher for your feedback and time.
Attending the 59th Presidential Inauguration
On Wednesday, January 20, I attended the 59th inauguration ceremony for President Joseph R. Biden to witness this important moment in our nation’s democracy. The inauguration represents the orderly and peaceful transfer of power that is an enduring symbol of a government of the people, by the people and for the people. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues in this new Congress to create a better future for all Americans.
Thanking the Kansas National Guard
The Kansas National Guardsmen honorably served their country these past weeks by defending our nation’s capital during the peaceful transition of power. They, and all members of the guard, deserve our deepest respect and gratitude. The decision to remove them from the U.S. Capitol last week without providing the appropriate accommodations was disgraceful and unacceptable.
While I was glad to learn that these dedicated Guardsmen were allowed back inside the Senate Office Buildings and the Capitol Complex, their removal should not have happened at all. I visited with members of the Kansas National Guard who were stationed near the Library of Congress to hear about their experience on Capitol grounds. I will work to make certain our National Guardsmen are treated respectfully during the remainder of their time in Washington, D.C.
Urging President Biden to Prioritize America’s Veterans
As chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I urged President Biden to work with Congress on behalf of our nation’s veterans. The VA committee has made significant accomplishments for veterans over the last several years, such as allowing veterans in rural states like Kansas greater choice to seek health care where and when it is convenient for them and landmark veterans health care legislation, but there are still many challenges ahead. The VA is in the midst of the greatest transformational change since the end of World War II, and the faithful execution of the laws recently passed by Congress on behalf of veterans is what will ultimately improve the lives of veterans in Kansas and all across the country.
Caring for our nation’s veterans has always been a unifying force during my time in Congress. I expressed to President Biden that it is my hope it will continue to be so under his presidency.
To read my full letter, click here.
Protecting American Jobs and Energy Independence through the Keystone XL Pipeline
This week, I joined seven of my Senate colleagues in introducing legislation to authorize the continued construction of the Keystone XL pipeline following President Biden’s decision to revoke the cross-border operation permit. This project is expected to provide approximately 11,000 direct high-paying jobs and create up to 60,000 indirect and direct jobs, generating tax revenue, increasing renewable-energy demand, reducing emissions and strengthening North American energy independence. Construction of Keystone XL began last year, jump-started by a $1.1 billion investment. Major segments of the pipeline have already been built, including one that crosses the U.S.-Canadian border.
Canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline will cost our country thousands of jobs, raising energy prices and forcing us to become more dependent on foreign countries to supply our nation’s energy needs. At a time when our economy and communities are hurting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we should be focusing on sending people back to work rather than taking jobs away. Despite passing every environmental impact assessment more than five years ago, Keystone XL has been politicized for almost 12 years. Discontinuing construction now is reckless for the hardworking American families relying on the jobs and lower energy costs it will provide them in the future.
Calling for Senate Consideration of the Flawed Paris Climate Agreement
Earlier this week, I sponsored a Senate resolution calling on President Biden to submit the Paris Climate Agreement to the U.S. Senate for advice and consent as required by the Constitution before joining a treaty. In 2016, President Obama entered the Paris Agreement without the consent of the Senate, going directly against the U.S. Constitution. Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution states that the President may only enter into an international treaty provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur.
I opposed the Obama Administration’s decision to enter into the Paris climate accord without appropriate congressional input, and again, when the Trump Administration pulled out of the accords, I reiterated that Congress must have a role in consenting to such agreements. I urge President Biden, before he rushes our country back into the flawed Paris Agreement, to submit it to the Senate for consideration in order to avoid making a consequential decision that lacks input from Congress.
Thanking Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy
This week, I thanked Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy for his service to this nation and all that he has achieved for our national defense and servicemembers throughout his tenure as Secretary of the Army. His leadership has benefitted the soldiers, Army civilians and veterans across the country who call the Army their family. He has seen our Army through unprecedented challenges, and I know our soldiers are stronger for it.
One of my most memorable experiences in the Senate was visiting 1st Infantry Division soldiers in Germany and Poland (pictured below), followed by our trip to Afghanistan to meet with troops on the front lines of the Global War on Terror. These meetings were the beginning of a productive working relationship that formed into a strong friendship. Since then, I have appreciated his guidance and support during his visits to Kansas and our many discussions in Washington, D.C. He was able to join me in Kansas in 2019 to visit Seitz Elementary School at Fort Riley where he was instrumental in finding the funding for this school during his time as Special Assistant to Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2011. The Big Red One soldiers and their families have benefitted from his service. A fitting culmination to his service was the opportunity to lay wreaths together at Arlington National Cemetery, a solemn occasion that I will never forget.
Remembering Roe v. Wade
For the first time since Roe v. Wade was announced in 1973, Washington D.C. will not host its annual March for Life. This event typically brings hundreds of thousands to our nation’s capital, including hundreds from Kansas, to march peacefully in protest of a decision that has enabled the elimination of more than 60 million children. Abortion rates have declined in recent years, and we must continue building on this success rather than rolling back legal protections for the unborn and their mothers, taxpayers and health care providers of conscience. I thank all who work to make their voices heard to protect the right to life for the most vulnerable of Americans.
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.
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