Kansas Common Sense
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Terrorist Attack Claims the Lives of American Diplomats
This week, the United States lost four dedicated public servants who were serving our country in Libya, a country the United States helped free a year ago from a murderous dictator. The vicious and senseless attacks that claimed the lives of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, and Tyrone Woods are an outrage that cannot be tolerated. Ambassador Stevens was the first U.S. ambassador killed overseas since 1979.
As more information has come out about what happened that day, it appears the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was not a spontaneous protest but a planned attack by terrorists on the eleventh anniversary of September 11, 2001.
The events in Libya and at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, were both unprovoked. There is no justification for killing innocent people, threatening American Foreign Service officers, and desecrating our flag. The United States must remain strong in our values and bring the murderers to justice. Click here to read more.
Remembering September 11, 2001
This week marked the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. No one will ever forget that September morning 11 years ago when they heard the news: America is under attack. On that day, we suffered a horrific national tragedy, the images of which are forever imprinted into my mind and the minds of the American people.
Rather than destroying our faith in the American ideals of liberty and freedom, September 11, 2001 united us in a way I had never seen before. Out of the devastation of that day rose many heroes. We saw the stark contrast between the terrorists who plotted to kill innocent Americans, and the firefighters, rescue crews and brave citizens who willingly risked or laid down their own lives to save people they had never met.
Through service and selflessness, we can all exemplify the type of patriotism that was so wholeheartedly shown on September 11, 2001. If you’re not sure where to start, check with your local church or community center for ideas on how you can give back – and honor the nearly 3,000 innocent people who were killed that fateful day.
Honoring Kansas World War II Veterans
I had the privilege of meeting with Kansas and Missouri World War II veterans who had traveled to Washington, D.C., as part of the Honor Flight Network at their memorial on the National Mall on Tuesday morning. It was a unique and touching experience to be with some of our nation's greatest heroes on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks – a day when another generation of American heroes stood up to defend our country.
In addition to the World War II Memorial, they also visited the Korean and Vietnam War Memorials and the Lincoln Memorial. Finally, the veterans visited Arlington Cemetery and viewed the Changing of the Guard and a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. These veterans are true heroes who provided immense contributions to our country. I know much the Honor Flight Trip meant to my Dad, who served in the U.S. Army during World War II, and
I’m glad these WWII Veterans also got the opportunity to visit their memorial in Washington. It was truly an honor to meet them. Click here to see a photo.
President Releases Sequestration Report
President Obama’s sequestration report, which was released on Friday afternoon, illustrates the biggest challenge we face to getting our fiscal house in order: the lack of leadership coming from Washington. I voted against the legislation that implemented sequestration because this is not the proper method to restore our nation’s economy and preserve the American Dream for generations to come. The best way to get our spending under control is to pass a balanced budget and stick to it – like Kansas families and business do. This is one of the basic responsibilities of Congress, yet the Senate has not passed a budget for more than three years.
In its report, the Administration tries to place the blame solely on Congress by touting President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal repeatedly – the same budget that was so misguided, it failed to garner a single vote in the Senate. But Americans know there is enough blame to go around. They understand that we live in a time of tight budgets and they are ready for Washington to make the same tough decisions Americans make every day. Yet Washington continues to ignore our fiscal reality, and sequestration takes this to new heights. Spending must be reduced through debate and votes on annual appropriation bills – how Congress is supposed to work. Sequestration’s arbitrary across-the-board cuts shirk Congress’ vital responsibility and degrade the domestic and defense programs that protect our livelihood.
The recent events in Egypt and Libya, which are now spreading throughout the Middle East, demonstrate the continued need for a strong national defense. While now is not the time to look for the so-called ‘peace dividend,’ there are savings and efficiencies that can be found within the Department of Defense. But across-the-board cuts are not the solution.
Sequestration is an irresponsible way of governing and demonstrates that we must restore the leadership and common sense needed to restore fiscal responsibility. We were not elected to ignore these problems, but rather to confront them. I am committed to working with my colleagues in Congress and the President to do the job we were elected to do: pass a responsible budget and stick to it.
Calling on Congress to Support Entrepreneurs
The national unemployment rate has been above 8 percent for 43 straight months. Yet, Congress has neglected to take meaningful action to jump-start the economy despite evidence that demonstrates the importance of entrepreneurs to economic growth and job creation. Between 1980 and 2005, entrepreneurs and the new businesses they created were responsible for nearly all of the net new job creation in our country. In fact, new businesses have created an average of 3 million jobs each year.
While Congress dithers, other countries are taking action to better support entrepreneurs—even going as far as to lure American job creators to their country by offering generous incentives. At the same time, the United States has slipped in international rankings of startup friendliness and is no longer in the top 10. All of this has occurred as fewer new businesses are forming and those that do start are not hiring as many workers as historical averages suggest they should.
Thankfully, there are steps we can take to reverse these trends and once again make the United States the best place in the world to start and grow a business. I have authored bipartisan legislation called Startup Act 2.0 that would create a circumstance in which entrepreneurs can succeed and put Americans to work. This week, Startup Act 2.0 sponsors Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) joined me in requesting a hearing in the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship to examine the state of entrepreneurship in America and explore the steps Congress can take to better support America’s job creators. You can read the letter here.
Receiving the Guardian of Small Business Award
On Wednesday, I was pleased to receive the National Federation of Independent Business’s (NFIB) Guardian of Small Business Award, which is presented to Members of Congress for demonstrating consistent support for small business through key legislative votes. The NFIB is the nation’s leading small business association, and I was honored to accept the award from NFIB President and CEO Dan Danner.
Small businesses are a pillar of the American economy and news businesses create an average of 3 million jobs each year. Yet today, many business owners are reluctant to hire new workers or invest in their companies because they don’t know which tax hike, regulation or mandate will come next from Washington. Congress must create a tax and regulatory environment that supports America’s job creators. I will continue to push for policies that support our nation’s small businesses - the engine of job creation in our country. Click here to see a photo.
Meeting with New FCC Commissioners to Discuss Broadband, Spectrum
On Tuesday, I met with new FCC Commissioners Ajit Pai and Jessica Rosenworcel to discuss a range of issues including rural broadband and spectrum. Commissioner Pai visited Kansas last week and joined me for a roundtable with rural telephone companies and learned about the challenges they face following a recent decision by the FCC to reform the Universal Service Fund. I used this meeting as an opportunity to encourage the commissioners - both of which were not at the FCC at the time the order was approved - to take into consideration these challenges and to stress the need for greater regulatory certainty to provide telecommunications companies and ability to make investments and serve Kansans.
Farm Bill Now! Rally in Washington
Time is running out for a Farm Bill this year. The current Farm Bill expires on September 30 and there is no indication of what the immediate future has in store for farm policy. On Wednesday I joined concerned producers from Kansas and across the country at the Farm Bill Now! Rally in Washington D.C. to express the importance of getting a bill passed sooner rather than later.
The Farm Bill is currently stalled in the House after passing the Senate on June 21, 2012. Passing this legislation now rather than wanting until next year will give farmers and ranchers the security they need as we head into wheat planting this fall and a new crop year in January. It is not fair to expect farmers and ranchers to put seed in the soil when they don’t know the rules of the game. Couple all of this uncertainty with the worst drought since 1956 and we have the perfect storm and the best example of why sound farm policy is vital for the food security of our nation.
Passing the new version of the Farm Bill will also save money. If we extend the current bill we are extending programs that are more expensive and not as effective. The 2012 Farm Bill ends direct payments and strengthens crop insurance, a vitality important tool for risk management. The bill also continues to make conservation a priority. Conservation work was put to the test this year during the expansive drought. There was a big difference between our present day drought and that of the 1930’s – there was no dust bowl – a testament to the success of conservation practices.
It is imperative that Congress put the risk management tools and conservation programs in the Farm Bill back in to place, and give America’s farmers and ranchers the long-term certainty they need to produce food, fiber and fuel for this country and the world. Farmers and Ranchers shouldn’t have to keep guessing – it is too important to their families, their industry, and consumers around the globe. Congress needs to get the message and live by the example of agriculture. It’s time to get to work, finish what was started, and pass the Farm Bill now. Click here to watch my remarks at the “Farm Bill Now!” Rally.
Condemning the Unlawful International Abduction of Children
On Monday, I cosponsored a Senate Resolution that condemns the unlawful international abduction of all children. The resolution calls on the United States and the international community to take additional steps to resolve current and future abduction cases by asking countries to join and uphold the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This is an important issue that impacts many Americans including a Kansas native from Overland Park, Army Sergeant 1st Class, Jeff Chafin.
I had the chance to meet Jeff on Wednesday and he exemplifies the best of the best in our U.S. Army and is a dedicated and loving father. For the past 2 years, Jeff has struggled to regain custody of his daughter, Eris, after his estranged wife was awarded custody and went back to her native Scotland because she was deported. Jeff’s appeal was dismissed because Eris was already in Scotland, which, according to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, placed her outside of its jurisdiction.
After much hard work, the effort to bring Eris home is now heading to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is scheduled to hear the case December 5, 2012. Jeff has continued to weather the storm but has never given up hope that he will one day be reunited with Eris and be able to raise her in the United States. It is my hope this Senate Resolution will put additional pressure on countries to adhere to the Hague Convention so that other mothers and fathers like Jeff do not have to suffer through painful international custody battles like his.
National Outstanding Oldest Worker Award
On Tuesday, I was joined by Senator Roberts in my office to welcome one of Kansas’ great role models to Washington, DC - Loren Wade, 100 years old, of Winfield. Experience Works, a national non-profit, this week recognized Mr. Wade as the National Outstanding Oldest Worker for 2012 at press conference in Washington.
Since 1983, Mr. Wade has been employed with Walmart, where he still works 30 hours a week. He believes in putting in a full day’s work, and before joining Walmart, Mr. Wade worked in home repair, and as a mechanic, truck driver, and post office worker. He also spent many years serving in the United States Air Force. Lorene told us that he works because he wants to and takes life one day at a time.
Loren Wade’s dedication and work ethic represent the values that have made our country great. It is crucial that we, as a nation, continue to honor individuals like Loren, those who put in the hard work and make the individual effort. It was a great pleasure to meet Mr. Wade and help celebrate his truly impressive achievement. Thanks also to Ruth Ann Wefald, and her husband, former KSU president John Wefald, who were also involved in the meeting. Ruth Ann has served in many leadership roles for Experience Works over the years as a member of their board and has visited with me about the benefits this job training program provides to seniors and their communities. Click here to see a photo.
Cutting the Ribbon at Lieutenant General Richard J. Seitz Elementary School
On Friday, I attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for Lieutenant General Richard J. Seitz Elementary School on Fort Riley. This impressive, LEED silver certified, technologically-advanced school is dedicated to military hero Lieutenant General Seitz, a decorated war veteran who served as the youngest infantry battalion commander in World War II. I am proud to call Lieutenant General Seitz a friend, and he is well deserving of this recognition for his longstanding commitment to, and steadfast support of, the education of all Geary County students.
Congress approved a $250 million program for Fiscal Year 2011 to improve schools at military facilities across the country. These resources are intended to help the schools in the most serious need of improvement, including condition or capacity. On August 15, 2012, after over two years of working with the Department of Defense, USD 475, and Fort Riley, the Seitz Elementary School opened its doors to approximately 675 students.
I was honored to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony with Secretary Gates in May 2011, and was proud to be there for the school’s ceremonial opening. This is just the beginning of the long-term effort to improve the quality of life for our military families and address issues facing Ft. Riley schools. In the near future, they will break ground for a new middle school on Fort Riley, and USD 475 is seeking additional funding for another elementary school that is much needed. In the meantime, this ribbon cutting was a great day for military families and the Junction City community as we celebrated the opening of Seitz Elementary. Thanks to Mike Steiner of Picerne, Brig. Gen Donald MacWillie, Gov. Brownback, Lt. Gen Seitz, Under Secretary of the U.S. Army Dr. Joseph Westphal, and USD 475 Superintendent Ron Walker for the great morning. Click here to see a photo from the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Attending the KSU vs. University of North Texas Football Game
This weekend, I had the opportunity to watch the No. 14 ranked K-State Football team take on the visiting University of North Texas Mean Green in Manhattan. I joined thousands of Kansans from across the state in cheering on the Wildcats. I enjoyed visiting with many students, alumni and Wildcat fans during the game, and seeing progress made on construction of the new West Stadium Center at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. After a successful season last year, K-State football fans are noticeably enthusiastic about the prospects for this season. The Wildcats gave fans an impressive Wildcat Victory, winning by a score of 35-21. Thanks to K-State President Kirk Schultz and his wife Dr. Noel Schultz as well as K-State’s Athletic Director John Currie for hosting me.
Celebrating Rosh Hashanah
This week, Jewish families in Kansas and around the world are celebrating Rosh Hashanah, a holiday that marks the new year of the Hebrew Calendar and the beginning of the High Holy Days. I wish all those celebrating Rosh Hashanah a happy holiday and sweet new year.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below.
Kansas Farm Bureau
Terry Holdren of Manhattan
National Senior Corps Association
Jolene Niemberger of Hays
Connie Stewart of Topeka
American College of Cardiology
David Saidian of Wichita
Monica Morgan of Buhler
Lambert Wu of Topeka
Randall Thompson of Leaawood
Mike Main of Leawood
American Psychological Association
Michael Roberts of Lawrence
Loren Wade of Winfield
Ruth Ann Wefald of Manhattan
John Wefald of Manhattan
Tonya Villar of Winfield
Danny Wade of Winfield
Miriam Glueck of Leawood
Bonnie Siegel of Leawood
American Academy of Dermatology Association
Robert Durst of Topeka
Doctors 4 Patient Care
Kipp Van Camp of Hoisington
Janna Trombold of Wichita
Steve Trombold of Wichita
International Franchise Association
Rebecca Gerstner of Overland Park
Ken Mechtley of Topeka
Healthcare Billing and Management Association
Jud Neal of Overland Park
Greg Krissek of Colwich
Nathan Vander Griend of Wichita
Robert Baker of Wichita
Steve McNinch of Colby
Carrie Emert of Topeka
Dave Mann of Quinter
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Danny Miller of Lenexa
Land O’ Lakes
Stan Stark of Pratt
American College of Rheumatology
Therese Humphrey of Derby
Michael Rapoff of Olathe
American Trucking Association
Gov. Bill Graves
University of Kansas
Jeffrey Vitter of Lawrence
Jack Cline of Lawrence
Soil Science Society of America
Gary Pierzynski of Manhattan
Chuck Rice of Manhattan
Luis Gonzalez of Lawrence
Evan Franseen of Lawrence
American Meteorological Society
Bruce Thomas of Lenexa
American Frozen Food Institute
Veterans of Foreign Wars
Lynn Hall of Russell
Via Christi Health
Bruce Witt of Wichita
Kansas Automobile Dealers Association
Scott Conklin of Hutchinson
Don McNeely of Topeka
American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers
Mark Callender of Dighton
Greg Knedlik of Paola
American Association for Cancer Research
Roy Jensen of Kansas City
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
Christopher Masoner of Lenexa
Katheryn Sikes of Derby
Sue Jirkovsky-Landers of Tecumseh
Conley Cornell of Coffeyville
Cherri Dorsett of Wichita
Gay Garrett of Merriam
Carolyn Taylor of Wichita
Judith Calhoun of Emporia
Educational Services and Staff Development Association of Central Kansas
Mike Cook of Wichita
John Pinegar of Topeka
Rick Anderson of Topeka
Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics
Charlie Roberts of Kansas City
Sandra Lawrence of Kansas City
Genny Nicholas of Kansas City
Dallas Polen of Kansas City
Kansas National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research
Kristin Bowman-James of Lawrence
James Guikema of Manhattan
Many Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the US Capitol this week including:
The Honorable Sherianne Laba
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Please let me know how I can be of assistance. To send me an email, click here. You can also click here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.
Very truly yours,
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