Kansas Common Sense
Honoring Those Who Perished Defending and Pursuing Freedom
My heart goes out to the families of the 13 servicemembers who made the ultimate sacrifice, as well as the innocent Afghans who have been killed or wounded in their pursuit of freedom. It is our duty to honor the service and sacrifice of all those who responded to the attacks on our country since 9/11 including those who lost their lives last week.
Earlier today, the military announced an end to the evacuation and the departure of all troops. However, the effort should not be over. The Biden administration must make certain they safely evacuate every American and those who served alongside our troops in Afghanistan. We must use every resource available to evacuate all Americans, allies and partners out of Afghanistan. Americans need leadership and strength from its commander-in-chief.
Our government cannot trust the Taliban to carry out our mission. They are an adversary and a terrorist organization. Relying on the Taliban to uphold commitments when they have routinely broken past promises is irresponsible and places lives at risk. President Biden must hold them accountable for any harm inflicted on those seeking to find freedom.
On Sunday, I joined Mike Emmanuel on Fox News to discuss the situation in Afghanistan – watch here or below.
Calling for a Plan of Action from President Biden
I continue to work with the State Department and Department of Defense to get U.S. citizens out of Afghanistan and have joined my Senate and House colleagues in demanding that President Biden provide answers regarding the U.S. strategy for Afghanistan. The full letter can be found here.
Watch my conversation with KSNT from last week regarding the ongoing events in Afghanistan by clicking here or below.
My staff and I have been providing information to the State Department in the effort to evacuate U.S. citizens, allies and those at risk of persecution. If you still know someone who is needing repatriation or evacuation assistance from Afghanistan, please contact my office immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The U.S. Department of State has also launched a Kabul Repatriation Assistance form here for U.S. citizens.
Supporting Our Veterans
As the lead Republican on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I am also focused on supporting our veterans here at home as they watch the news of Afghanistan. The veterans who answered the call to protect our nation after September 11 deserve our utmost respect and gratitude. These veterans brought justice to Osama bin Laden and served with duty and purpose. They need to know they are not alone and that we will never forget their sacrifice. I encourage each of us to reach out to our friends and loved ones who have served to check-in and make certain they know they are loved and that their service made a difference.
Click here for a list of resources available to veterans and veteran families and caregivers following the recent events in Afghanistan.
Joining Veterans in Independence
As the lead Republican on the Senate VA Committee, I went to the Veterans Roundup hosted by the local VFW Post #1186 in Independence on Friday. Started in 2018, this event has grown out of a desire by local veterans involved in the VFW to help their peers in the region file VA claims and answer their questions. Each event reaches hundreds of veterans, from near and far, and now includes representatives from state and local organizations.
As the horrific events in Afghanistan continue to unfold, this event had a very different tone this year. It is important for veterans to know that their service helped improve the lives of others and safeguarded our freedoms and for them to know that the situation we are seeing now isn’t their fault. Thank you to each veteran for their sacrifices for our country. I encourage all Kansans to reach out to the veterans they know and loved ones who have served to check-in and make certain they know they are loved and that their service made a difference.
Thank you to VFW Post #1186 leaders Donnie Collier, Doug Harlan, Mike Hall and Ryan York for all the work you do to support veterans and for having me.
Keynote at the 36th Space Symposium
This week, I gave one of the keynote addresses at the 36th Space Symposium. The annual symposium brings together space and defense leaders from around the world to discuss and plan for the future of space. I had the honor of speaking with my colleagues Gen. Raymond with the U.S. Space Force, NASA Administrator Nelson, Air Force Secretary Kendall, and Gen. Dickinson of U.S. Space Command, among many others. As the lead Republican of the Senate Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over NASA, and a seat on both the Commerce Committee and the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, I have the unique opportunity to advocate for and advance our leadership in space through the distinct and multifaceted lens it deserves.
Read more about my address from SpaceNews by clicking here.
While at the symposium, I also arranged meetings with established and rising space companies to promote our Kansas capabilities and talents. As this industry continues to grow, I am committed to furthering our state’s opportunities within the aerospace business, and I was joined by Dr. John Tomblin, Executive Director of the National Institute for Aviation Research, to help convey our abilities. I also had the opportunity to walk the exhibition floor and visit with the local companies in attendance, including Mr. Hess and Ms. Greenberg of Enduralock and Mr. Foerschler, Mr. Clinton and Mr. Koeingsfield of Burns & McDonnell.
I provided an open invitation for aerospace industries to join me in Kansas to witness our engineering and manufacturing capabilities. Kansas will play an ever increasing role as we continue to pursue our nation’s space goals, and I was honored to convey our talents and capabilities to this year’s distinguished audience. Thank you to the Space Foundation for the opportunity to address the symposium.
The CDC’s Eviction Moratorium Ruled Unconstitutional Executive Overreach
On Thursday, the Supreme Court issued a 6-3 decision to block the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) eviction moratorium. The court determined that the CDC’s moratorium was unconstitutional executive overreach and a nationwide ban on evictions requires Congressional authorization, just as we made clear to the Biden administration earlier this month. Landlords, the majority of whom are small businesses with just a few properties, have had minimal recourse to recoup billions in lost income due to the moratorium. With nearly $50 billion in federal funds appropriated for rental assistance, the burden is on state and local governments to combat pandemic-related housing instability by efficiently distributing this funding, not mom-and-pop landlords.
Seeking Update on a Phase IV Provider Relief Fund Distribution
This week, a bipartisan group of my colleagues and I urged Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Becerra to provide an immediate update on plans to distribute unobligated funds remaining in the Provider Relief Fund (PRF). Kansas hospitals, nursing homes, senior living providers, community health centers and other health care providers have needed these funds as a lifeline to weather the financial difficulties created by the pandemic. Over the course of the pandemic, Congress has appropriated $178 billion for the PRF as well as an additional $8.5 billion for rural providers; however, the PRF funding distribution process has been uneven due to shifting guidance, difficulties in reconciling tax information, the absence of a formal appeals process and other technical difficulties.
Even now, as Kansas and the country see a significant rise in hospitalizations that are causing a strain on health care facilities, especially those in rural communities, HHS has neglected to release the remaining PRF funding. On July 19, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported about 25 percent of PRF appropriation and all of the rural provider funding remain unobligated as of May 31, 2021. GAO recommended HHS communicate information about, and facilitate oversight of, the department’s use of COVID-19 relief funds by providing projected time frames for its distribution in a plan submitted to Congress. My colleagues and I fully agree with the GAO’s assessment and ask HHS to announce and implement its plans for additional disbursement of PRF, adhering to congressional intent laid out in the CARES Act.
Meeting with Members of the Garden City Chamber of Commerce
I was pleased to be in Garden City on Wednesday to hear from Garden City civic and business leaders about investments in Kansas law enforcement, as well as Amtrak and its Southwest Chief line and the Garden City Regional Airport terminal project. We also had the opportunity to discuss the importance of access to a community college and how decisions about education should be made closer to home.
I thank the chamber for the important discussion and appreciate everyone who took time out of their day to speak with me. Thank you to the state and community leaders who attended, including Kansas Senator John Doll, Garden City Mayor Roy Cessna, City Commissioner Shannon Dick, City of Garden City Manager Matt Allen, Garden City Police Chief Courtney Prewitt, Finney County Commissioner Lon Pishny, Finney County Administrator Robert Reece, Garden City Community College President Dr. Ryan Ruda, GCCC Trustees Shanda Smith, Beth Tedrow, David Rupp, Leonard Hitz and Dr. Luther Fry. Thank you also to Myca Bunch with the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce for organizing the event, and to Garden City Community College President Dr. Ryan Ruda for hosting.
Read more about our discussion in the Garden City Telegram here.
Supporting Law Enforcement with Kansas Sheriffs’ Association
My discussions with law enforcement throughout Kansas center on the many issues that stem from drug and narcotic-related crime. On Wednesday, I met with the Kansas Sheriffs’ Association and discussed the issues important to them, including how critical a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) office in southwest Kansas is to the security of communities across the region. As the Ranking Member on the Appropriations subcommittee that supports the Department of Justice and our federal law enforcement agencies, it is vital that we provide the necessary resources to our agents so they can better protect our country and mitigate drug crimes across Kansas and the country.
I thank Ronald Miller, U.S. Marshal for the District of Kansas, Greg Anderson, DEA Resident Agent in Charge and Rogeana Patterson-King, DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge for this conversation, and their dedicated work to make our communities a safer place.
Visiting with Cimarron Lions Club and Gray County Seniors
I had the opportunity to speak with members of the Cimarron Lions Club and community seniors as we gathered at the Gray County Over 50 Center. I heard from people about their concerns regarding how vaccine mandates would affect the recruitment and retention of nurses in long-term care facilities and the difficulty of accessing child care throughout rural communities. We also discussed the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and my work on the Senate VA Committee as we see a 9 percent increase on the VA suicide hotline and my work to provide more practical health resources for veterans in rural communities including the GHAPS Act and the Rural Veterans Travel Enhancement Act. As we continue to watch events in Afghanistan unfold, it’s important to reach out to our veterans and let them know we respect their service, we are here for them and that we love them. Thank you to those who joined me Wednesday afternoon.
Visiting Dodge City Community College
This week, I met with Dodge City Community College (DCCC) President Dr. Harold Nolte, Board of Trustee members and senior staff to discuss the impact of community colleges and technical programs. DCCC has seen a 23 percent growth in enrollment and a 93 percent growth in technical education. What happens at DCCC has a huge impact on the region and state, and too often we under emphasize the value of community college and technical education programs. We also discussed the importance of TRIO programs and Pell Grants, my Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) legislation and my role on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee this Congress.
Thank you to Trustee Kathy Ramsour, VP of Finance and Admissions Jeff Cermin, VP of Academic Affairs Dr. Jane Holwerda, VP of Student Affairs Dr. Jay Kinzer, VP of Workforce Development Dr. Clayton Tatro, AVP of Human Resources and Admissions Kristi Ohlschwager, AVP of Online and Outreach Learning Dr. Jodi Rust, Foundation and Community Relations Director Christina Haselhorst, Athletic Director Jacob Ripple, Assistant Director of Marketing and Community Relations Lance Ziesch for speaking with me.
Joining Independence Rotary
While in Independence this week, I joined rotary where our discussion, like so many this week, focused on Afghanistan. We were also able to discuss the issues important to Independence and my work with community members in the past to help save the local hospital. During our conversation, we touched on the declining rural population in communities across Kansas and the Midwest, including in Independence, and my work as a U.S. Senator for Kansas working to preserve rural Kanas’ future and our state’s special way of life. Thank you to Lisa Wilson for her work coordinating the program and Rep. Jim Kelly for the introduction, as well as everyone in attendance for allowing me to join you on Friday.
Upcoming Deadline: Application Process for Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reopened its application process for the Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Program (AMJP). The initial application period for the AMJP program closed, as planned, on Tuesday, July 13. However, DOT has decided to reopen the application process on Wednesday, August 4 as some businesses may not have understood the relationship between the AMJP and the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) programs.
The program was created by legislation I introduced with Congressman Ron Estes and is structured to support aviation manufacturers impacted by COVID-19 and works to ensure the experienced and invaluable aviation manufacturing workforce will be safeguarded and available to contribute as the industry recovers.
Applicants who have applied and received confirmation that their application was received do not need to resubmit an application.
Applications will be accepted for four weeks. The deadline to submit an AMJP application is this Wednesday, September 1 at 5:00 p.m. ET. Additionally, anyone is free to submit questions, particularly about the application process, to AMJP@dot.gov. An overview of the AMJP application process is available here.
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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