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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) – released the following statement in opposition to the Senate’s Continuing Resolution to fund the government through February 8, 2019:

“The American people are tired of stop-gap funding measures and partisan politics. Rather than immediately resorting to another CR, we ought to work together to get back to the basics of governing.

“The president repeatedly indicated his interest and flexibility in striking a funding deal for FY2019. Democrat leaders’ refusal to compromise is extremely frustrating, and after speaking with numerous colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I remain convinced that we could have reached a long-term agreement that would have also better secured our borders.

“We ought not be in a position where we’re relying on last year’s appropriations bills to fund this year’s government. I’m disappointed that after Congress successfully passed appropriations bills to fund 75 percent of the federal government through 2019, we couldn’t come to an agreement for the remaining appropriations bills – including my bipartisan CJS bill, which funds vital agencies like the Department of Justice and NASA. Punting on spending decisions now will only make funding the government in February more difficult.

“Therefore, I did not support the short-term and short-sighted CR. I encourage the Senate to continue working to resolve our differences so we may move on to the important issues we have ahead of us in the new year.”
 

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate unanimously approved the Forever GI Bill Housing Payment Fulfillment Act, legislation cosponsored by Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee – to make certain the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reimburses veterans for missed or underpaid Forever GI Bill housing benefits.

“It is imperative that the VA make every effort to restore confidence with veterans by delivering the care and benefits they have earned,” said Sen. Moran. “I am pleased the U.S. Senate sent a clear message that the VA must earn back GI Bill beneficiaries’ trust, and I’m proud to help lead efforts that will make the VA worthy of the service and sacrifice of our nation’s heroes. The unanimous passage of this legislation moves us one step closer toward that goal.”

This legislation will address the VA’s failure to fully comply with reimbursement rates set by the Forever GI Bill. The improper payments resulted from IT systems that had not been properly updated and lack of internal processes to get the VA the necessary information about payment rates.

The VA should have used the Department of Defense’s 2018 Basic Allowance for Housing rates, which should have been calculated based on the zip code where the student takes the majority of classes, rather than on the zip code in which the school’s main campus is located. Instead, some GI Bill recipients have been receiving housing stipends at the 2017 rate and based on the school’s zip code. In all cases, the 2018 rate is higher than the 2017 rate.

The legislation was introduced by Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and is cosponsored by Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).

The Forever GI Bill Housing Payment Fulfillment Act would require the VA to:

  • End improper payments as soon as possible;
  • Establish a team of specialists who will be responsible to report to Congress a detailed plan to correct this egregious error;
  • Provide a report to Congress by July 2020 that identifies how many beneficiaries were impacted and to what extent, aggregated by state; and
  • Certify the department is fully compliant with the law. 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Moran (R-Kan.) today applauded Spirit AeroSystems’ plans to hire an additional 1,400 employees to support commercial and defense programs. These jobs add to the 1,000 new jobs announced by Spirit last year.

“This is great news for Kansas and a positive development for the countless partnerships in the community that supply talent and materials to Spirit,” said Sen. Moran. “I’m proud to work with these stakeholders to solidify Wichita as the Air Capital of the World, and I commend Spirit for its significant contribution to our collective mission.”

 

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U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs – questioned Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie on implementation of the VA MISSION Act during a joint hearing with the House Committee on Veterans Affairs’ on Wednesday, December 19, 2018.

Sen. Moran Applauds Passage of Bipartisan Prison, Sentencing Reform Legislation

“This is a remarkable bipartisan achievement”

Dec 18 2018

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) – today applauded the Senate’s passage of the First Step Act, S.3649, of which he is an original cosponsor, to reduce recidivism, promote public safety and improve fairness in the sentencing of federal crimes.
“The First Step Act is a remarkable bipartisan achievement,” said Sen. Moran. “Supported by the president, a supermajority of the United States Senate, and law enforcement and advocacy groups from across the political spectrum, this legislation will allow non-violent offenders to serve time that fits their crime and then, importantly, provide them the opportunity to re-emerge as productive members of society. This legislation is an important first step in promoting a fair and effective criminal justice system, and as chairman of the CJS Appropriations Subcommittee, I will work to make certain law enforcement has the tools it needs to remain tough on crime and provide former prisoners a second chance at life.”
Included in the First Step Act is reauthorization of the Second Chance Act, which includes grant programs for drug rehabilitation, vocational training, mentoring, and other reentry and recidivism reduction initiatives. Sen. Moran’s CJS Appropriations Subcommittee overwhelmingly voted to fund the Second Chance Act’s grant programs at $90 million for FY19.
This comprehensive package aims to reduce crime by helping low-risk inmates prepare to successfully rejoin society through participation in proven recidivism reduction and professional development programs. It recalibrates certain mandatory minimum sentences, grants greater discretion for judges in the sentencing of low-level, nonviolent drug crimes and clarifies congressional intent on sentencing enhancements for certain crimes involving firearms. It also preserves the maximum potential sentences for violent and career criminals. The legislation allows petitions for retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act to be considered on an individual basis to reduce sentence disparities between crack and powder cocaine offenses.
Under this legislation, savings generated by the reforms would automatically be reinvested into law enforcement programs to further reduce crime and improve community safety.
Items to note:

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding their concerns over recent changes to the national liver distribution policy made by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). Under the new policy, midwestern and southern transplant hospitals, including hospitals located in the Kansas City and the St. Louis area, could see patients from Kansas and Missouri waiting longer for a liver match.

“This decision disregards expert opinion, overturns the current policy adopted in December 2017, and calls into question the OPTN process and whether it can fairly determine a policy for distributing livers nationwide,” the senators wrote. “Last week’s decision to ignore the Liver and Intestine Committee’s recommendation is extremely concerning. The Liver and Intestine Committee is comprised of a panel of transplant experts from some of the most prestigious institutions in the country charged with considering the medical, scientific, and ethical aspects related to liver procurement. As such, the Committee’s recommendations should be followed unless there are specific, vetted, and justifiable reasons to do otherwise. The OPTN Board’s decision to overturn the Liver and Intestine Committee’s decision does not meet this standard.”

In the letter, the senators note that the most recent OPTN decision is fundamentally different than the decision reached by the OPTN Board last year, calling into question not only the policy itself, but raising serious concerns about the process by which it was reached.

“The OPTN process needs to be open, transparent, and one that takes into consideration both the expertise of the Liver and Intestine Committee and the public comments submitted by the current liver distribution regions,” the senators continued. “Last week’s decision undermines the entire process and calls into question why the Department has ceded control.”

In October, Sens. Moran and Blunt met with the Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration to discuss this issue.

Click here to read the full letter. 

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