In the News
Cowley Courier Traveler
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Hays, held a town hall meeting Monday in Arkansas City during which he explained his vote over the weekend to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Moran first told the crowd, which included the local Rotary club and several members of the public gathered in the Wright Room at Cowley College, that he was pleased to hear from a passenger on the plane home who thanked him for his vote.
The man said he lives two doors from the Kavanaugh family, they go to church together and his kids babysit the Kavanaugh kids.
He called them wonderful people, Moran said.
“It gave some sense that people who know the family had good things to say about them,” Moran said.
The senator said he was impressed with Kavanaugh’s intellect, knowledge, temperament and humanity after speaking to him for about an hour, before the Senate confirmation hearings.
Moran also said he liked that the former United States appeals court judge said he would rule on the laws as written, however flawed, and not try to make desired public policy from the bench.
When the allegations of sexual abuse against Kavanaugh surfaced, Moran said he believed those stories should be heard.
Moran said he is a husband and father of two daughters, and has learned, especially in the last month, “about the magnitude of the problem that occurs with sexual assault, by women across Kansas and women across the country. It is not apparently an uncommon circumstance.”
The FBI report included interviews with 10 people named by Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, Moran said, and none of those interviews corroborated their statements.
“That was clear enough for me to feel comfortable in the position I started in in the beginning, which is this gentleman, this individual, is of the quality that I’d be comfortable with him serving on the Supreme Court,” Moran explained.
During a brief interview after the town hall, Moran said there was a legitimate concern about how Kavanaugh handled himself in response to Senate questions, but that the judge was in a difficult circumstance.
What was more important to him, Moran said, was the history of how Kavanaugh conducted himself during court cases.
“Everything that I could read an tell and know … he conducted himself as you would want a judge to conduct” himself during the 12 years he was on the D.C. Circuit, Moran said.
And Kavanaugh “explained himself well” in an opinion article in the Wall Street Journal acknowledging that he had said some things he should not have during the hearing, Moran said.
Asked during the town hall about how to reduce divisiveness in politics, Moran said people today find news and go to social media to confirm their views, and that people even believe in different facts.
“In some ways what I think it takes is a leader, and most likely in our country that’s a president, who pulls people together … ,” Moran said, “and that’s not the circumstance we have today.”
The Senator said he favors keeping the 60-vote rule on passing most legislation in the Senate because he wants to work to find the middle ground.
Similarly, Moran said, after the town hall, that he opposes the simple majority needed to confirm judges. Requiring 60 votes, as previously done, gives whatever party is in the minority at the time some leverage over the process.
In response to a question about trade, Moran reiterate his strong position in favor of free trade and how reliant Kansas is on international markets for agriculture and manufacturing.
He does not see a positive outcome from an escalating tariffs battles, which places taxes on goods and products sold between countries, and that he hopes President Trump’s tariffs are just a negotiating tactic.
Moran said he has not seen the specifics of the new trade deal between the United States, Mexico and Canada that would replace NAFTA, but so far his impression is that it would not be much different.
He also said getting approval for new trade deals in Congress is difficult.
Mexico is the No. 1 export country for Kansas farm commodities and Canada is No. 1 for everything, he said.
“Failure to have a NAFTA-like agreement in place would be very damaging to us and our economy, and I’ve explained that time and time again, including to the president,” Moran said in talking about the importance of trade for Kansas.
A new law requiring more choices for veterans to receive care outside of Veterans Administration hospitals should improve flexibility for veteran patients, Moran said.
The VA Mission Act replaced a former law Moran said was poorly implemented. The new law requires the VA to serve the patient where it is in the patient’s best interest, Moran said, and could help community hospitals like South Central Kansas Medical Center see more veteran patients.
Wayne Ammerman, of Ark City, asked Moran if the new law was fully funded and whether the VA would be able to implement it.
Moran said the money the VA says it needs to fund the law, several billion dollars, has been approved, and the law also includes several criteria to define the best interest of the veteran.
“I and others need to be paying nonstop attention to what the VA does as they implement this law,” Moran said.
Jerry Campbell, of Ark City, asked Moran to support legislation to increase the cost of living adjustments on Social Security checks.
Campbell said the current index used for increases falls short of as the cost of goods increases.
For instance, he said, local gas prices just went up $12 per gallon but his Social Security check increased by just $1 per month. “One tank of gas wipes all that out,” Campbell said.
“You have my attention,” Moran told Campbell. “I recognize that what we have today doesn’t reflect reality, and I’ll look at the proposals that are out there to see if it’s something that would make sense.”
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