Kansas Common Sense
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Remembering Congressman Dennis Moore
On Tuesday, I spoke on the U.S. Senate floor in memory of former Kansas Congressman Dennis Moore. He, above all, was a kind man. He was a doting father and grandfather, and I am very saddened to learn of his passing. He served six terms on behalf of Kansans, and in our many years of working together, I always had the utmost respect for him and the way he served the people of the 3rd District.
That respect only grew when I witnessed the way he and his wife, Stephene, faced his battle with Alzheimer’s with a determination to use their experience to help others. One area where we always agreed was the need to invest in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, and in 2014, Dennis shared his experience with this devastating disease in front of my Senate subcommittee. His legacy will be the way in which he gave others battling Alzheimer’s courage and hope.
Robba and I extend our heartfelt condolences to Stephene and their family.
Biden’s Vaccine Mandate A Clear Overreach of Executive Authority
On Tuesday, I joined 40 of my Senate colleagues in formally moving to disapprove and nullify the Biden administration’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) vaccine mandate for private businesses under the Congressional Review Act – the official process for Congress to overturn an executive branch regulation. In addition to President Biden’s OSHA vaccination mandate for private businesses, he has also mandated vaccinations for federal contractors and subcontractors, and health care employees at facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid.
The decision to get vaccinated should be left to each individual in consultation with doctors they trust. President Biden’s federal vaccine mandates are incredibly divisive, and his mandate on private businesses in particular is a clear overreach of executive authority that threatens to worsen the labor shortages faced by employers in Kansas and across the country. This administration’s abuse of power must be checked, and I support this resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to overturn the federal vaccine mandate.
Over the weekend, I was pleased the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay to temporarily block the President’s OSHA vaccine mandate for private businesses with 100 or more employees. In its decision the Court cited “grave statutory and constitutional issues” with the mandate. The mandate is a severe federal overreach and the 5th Circuit rightly questioned its legality.
Thank you, Veterans, Servicemembers and their Families
National Veterans and Military Families Month
November is a time to acknowledge the tremendous sacrifices of our servicemembers, veterans and military families. Military service is family service, and I am grateful for the sacrifices these families make so their spouse or loved one is able to serve our nation. To all military families, thank you for your strength, resilience and courage.
Meeting with an Honor Flight at the Eisenhower Memorial
On Wednesday afternoon, I was grateful to visit with Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm veterans on their Honor Flight, as well as the sophomore, junior and senior high school students accompanying them. Despite the gloomy weather, spirits were high as we talked in front of the new Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C. I shared with the group my commitment to working on behalf of veterans after I saw the way Vietnam veterans were disrespected following their return home, and I thanked them for their sacrifice. I also appreciated seeing the way these students were here in our nation’s capital to honor the freedoms these veterans guaranteed for their generation.
It was fitting and a privilege to meet with these heroes in front of Eisenhower’s statue as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force during World War II. Thank you to Mike Agrabright for organizing this visit, and thank you to the veterans who took the time to speak with me.
Liberal Rotary Celebrates Its 100th Anniversary
On Saturday, I was honored to join the Liberal community as members of Liberal Rotary celebrated a remarkable milestone: its 100th anniversary.
The services provided by local civic clubs are crucial to the communities they serve, and I see the way Rotarians rise up to meet those challenges. I am truly appreciative of the efforts taken by this club to engage with each other, and to live by “Service Above Self.” As the Liberal Rotary celebrates a century of existence, I want to thank the members for their dedication to their community, and to their community members.
It was a special moment, and I thank Liberal Rotary for inviting me to be a part of the centennial. Thank you to Liberal Rotary President Colby Martin, Al Shank, District Governor Fred Heismeyer, District Governor-elect Ivanhoe Love Jr., WWII USMC Veteran Pat Patrick, Dr. Todd Carter, Mike Brack and to everyone in attendance.
Biden Administration’s Border Policies Are Damaging to Citizens and Immigrants
The reports that the U.S. Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services were considering a payout of up to $450,000 per person to families who crossed into the country illegally is not only an absurd policy decision, but it also creates a greater incentive for people to come to the United States. The Biden administration ought to immediately reject this proposal, which is out of bounds and lacks common sense and good judgement.
It is damaging to our ability to have a lawful, sovereign border; it is damaging to the citizens of this country, and it encourages individuals to make the incredibly dangerous trek to our southern border. Listen to my remarks here or below.
Questioning CDC Director Walensky Regarding Pediatric Vaccine Mandates
On Thursday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NAID), Dr. Janet Woodcock, Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Dawn O’Connell, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) joined the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to discuss the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the path forward.
During my questioning, I focused on the concern of many Kansas parents, a concern which I share, that the Biden administration might implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate as a requirement for children to attend public schools. The CDC has approved an Emergency Use Authorization for Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine, but the decision to vaccinate young children must be left to parents and their trusted physician – a private relationship that has no room for interjection by the federal government – along with input from local officials. I also spoke with Dawn O’Connell, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the Department of Health and Human Services, about the importance of utilizing community health centers in plans to better prepare for future pandemics. Kansas’ community health centers have an irreplaceable role in our state’s health care infrastructure, and without them the fight against COVID-19 would have been incredibly difficult. Watch my exchange with Dr. Walensky here.
Supporting Aviation in Kansas
My Legislation Continues to Bolster Aviation Manufacturers’ Capabilities
This week, I announced grants for aviation manufacturers through the Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection (AMJP) program with Congressman Estes, which our legislation created. These funds will help Kansas aviation employers retain 463 employees.
The aviation manufacturing industry in Kansas plays a critical role in providing our state with high-paying jobs and supporting commercial and general aviation across the country. Congressman Estes and I created the AMJP program to support this important industry and its skilled workforce during the pandemic. I’m pleased this program has helped 45 Kansas companies and thousands of their invaluable employees.
This is the second round of AMJP program awards announced to Kansas companies, with $103 million previously awarded in September to support 4,284 employees.
Questioning FAA Administrator Steve Dickson
This week, I questioned Administrator Steve Dickson of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) during his testimony at the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. During the hearing, we discussed the timeframe for the return of the 737 MAX aircraft in the Chinese and Russian markets. As of now, the 737 MAX is in commercial operation with 31 airlines flying in 179 countries, and China and Russia remain the only civil aviation authorities yet to approve the aircraft’s return to service. I was pleased to hear the administrator recognize the importance of the critical research Wichita State University is completing related to aviation safety.
Meeting with Eric Martel of Bombardier
This week, I met with Eric Martel, CEO of Bombardier. Bombardier is one of the world’s premier business jet manufacturers and their facility in Wichita plays a vital role in supporting flight operations and special mission programs. We discussed their current work in Wichita and their future plans for the company’s operations in Kansas. I have also been a supporter of their work on the E-11A, an Air Force aircraft that improves communications between troops on the ground and command posts. I thank Mr. Martel for his time, and I look forward to working with him to grow Bombardier’s presence in Wichita.
Garmin Receives Robert J. Collier Trophy for Aviation Innovation
Last week, Garmin, headquartered in Olathe, received the Robert J. Collier Trophy for Garmin’s Autoland technology. This prestigious award is presented annually “for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency and safety of air or space vehicles.” Garmin Autoland is the world’s first certified autonomous system that activates during an emergency situation to safely control and land an aircraft without human intervention. This achievement further advances aviation safety and the innovation of flight. I applaud the entire team at Garmin who worked for years to perfect Autoland and for their well-deserved recognition through the honor of the Robert J. Collier Trophy.
Transitioning Federal Workers Back to In-Person Operations
Businesses have reopened, children and teachers have returned to in-person learning, and health care and public safety workers continue to show up for work. Yet I continue to hear from Kansans about a lack of responsiveness from federal agencies.
This week, I joined my Senate colleagues in urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to take immediate action to transition federal workers back to in-person operations and remedy the widespread lack of responsiveness and accessibility across the federal government. Read more here from Fox News.
Meeting with Kansas Farm Credit
This week, members of Kansas Farm Credit travelled to Washington D.C. to visit about issues important to them and their customers. Farm Credit helps provide access to credit to agricultural producers and their rural communities. We discussed the challenges early-career farmers and ranchers face and the important role Farm Credit plays in helping these producers start new and grow existing operations.
We also spoke about farmers and ranchers being an important part of environmental discussions, including the work producers are already doing through research, technology and farming practices to improve stewardship of our land. As these important discussions move forward, I look forward to continuing to work with Kansas Farm Credit in their efforts to provide resources to Kansas farmers and ranchers.
Discussing Cross-Department Collaboration for Improved Veteran Services
On Wednesday, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing on the need for better collaboration between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DOD) to improve outcomes for servicemembers, veterans and their families after completing their military service.
The hearing provided the opportunity to discuss the current state of all VA and DOD collaboration efforts, especially regarding how to better assist servicemembers and their families who are transitioning out of military service and into civilian life. During the hearing, I heard from experts on how to improve the overall transition process and how a successful transition assists in the positive mental health of servicemembers and their families. I urged DOD to view servicemembers as more than a piece of the “military readiness” puzzle and prioritize their well-being throughout their military service and as they transition into civilian life. It is important that DOD not look at a successful transition as boxes being checked, but as an early and frequent discussion throughout servicemembers’ military careers. These discussions should focus on what it means to be successful and healthy after service. DOD and VA must continue to discuss how cross-department collaboration will improve the civilian experience for veterans and their families.
Meeting with U.S. District Court Judges and U.S. Marshals Service in Kansas City
On Monday, I met with federal judges from the District of Kansas, the United States Marshal for the District of Kansas, and senior executives from U.S. Marshal Service (USMS) headquarters in Kansas City. We discussed developments with respect to Federal judicial security and the importance of ensuring our law enforcement has the resources it needs to keep our communities safe, whether that be in the field or online. Proactive online content review and research will help identify threats and situations of concern that may be currently undetected and will allow the USMS to more quickly assess, investigate and mitigate any potential threats.
Thank you to Roberto Robinson, USMS Associate Director for Operations, Skyler O’Hara, Clerk of the District Court, Robert Brandt, Assistant Director for the Judicial Security Division, U.S. Marshal Ron Miller, Chief Judge Julie Robinson, Judge Eric Melgren, Judge Dan Crabtree, Judge Toby Crouse, Judge Teresa James, Judge Holly Teeter, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dale Somers and U.S. Magistrate Judge Gwynne Birzer for their time on Monday.
Meeting with Retail Grocers Association of Kansas President Jon McCormick
All Kansans and Americans, regardless of where they live, deserve access to healthy food. I met with Jon McCormick, President and CEO of Retail Grocers Association of Kansas, to discuss the ongoing, harmful supply chain disruptions and contributing labor shortages which diminish consumer access to healthy and affordable foods. We discussed the importance of common-sense solutions to the current shortage of truck drivers, such as my legislation, DRIVE-Safe Act, which would establish an apprenticeship program to allow for the legal operation of a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce by CDL holders under the age of 21. This legislation would boost the number of truck drivers and help ease current supply chain issues that are hurting grocers and consumers across Kansas and the nation. I appreciate Jon’s insight into the challenges facing retail grocers in Kansas and how these conditions exacerbate harmful food deserts in our state.
United States Marine Corps Celebrates 246 Years
On Wednesday, I attended the 246th birthday celebration of the United States Marine Corps. I thank our Marines and their continued success in fighting and winning our nation’s wars on the toughest of battlefields. Kansas counts several Marines among its storied war heroes, including Medal of Honor recipients Second Lieutenant Walter Ehlers of Junction City, Lieutenant Colonel Harold Bauer of Woodruff, Sergeant Grant Timmerman of Americus and First Lieutenant William Hawkins of Fort Scott. Today’s Marines follow in their footsteps as elite warriors who have distinguished themselves across the globe, proving their courage and excellence time and again. Semper Fi!
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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