Kansas Common Sense
Jul 29 2019
Hosting NASA Administrator Bridenstine in Kansas to Discuss NASA’s Next Giant Leap
The first “A" in NASA stands for "aeronautics," and in Kansas, we're proud to be central to that special mission. This week, I hosted NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, along with space leaders from across government and industry, at Wichita State University for a symposium on NASA's Next Giant Leap. During this event, we recognized the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and looked ahead to the future of space exploration and aeronautics. This was also an opportunity to showcase Wichita's and WSU's incredible capabilities to design, engineer and manufacture the next generation of space exploration.
I was pleased that representatives from SpaceX, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, United Launch Alliance, Spirit Aerosystems, the U.S. Air Force, Wichita State University and WSU Tech could participate in this event and see firsthand the great work being done in our state.
Click here to watch a recap of the event.
Voting to Reauthorize the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Act
This week, the Senate voted to permanently reauthorize the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Act. While we can never fully repay our heroic first responders for their sacrifice on September 11, 2001, this legislation is an important first step toward supporting them and their loved ones. Without hesitation, these brave heroes ran into danger to save thousands of innocent Americans.
We will never forget the lives lost in the 9/11 attacks, nor will we forget the bravery of those who put the safety of others ahead of their own. I hope that these first responders feel our nation’s love, gratitude and admiration. I was proud to be an original cosponsor of this legislation and to vote in favor of it this week.
Confirming Secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff
This week, the Senate took significant bipartisan steps to protect and defend the United States by confirming two qualified nominees to top Department of Defense positions.
I voted in favor of Mark Esper’s nomination to be the Secretary of Defense, which passed the Senate 90-8. I have worked closely with Sec. Esper in his previous role as Secretary of the Army, and as a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, I remain committed to making certain that we provide Secretary Esper and our Armed Services the resources and capabilities they need to continue safeguarding our freedoms.
The Senate also confirmed General Mark Milley as our nation’s highest ranking military officer – the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As the principal military adviser to the president, General Milley will bring fortitude and a vast array of experience and knowledge to decisions made at the highest level. I have hosted General Milley in Kansas to see our military installations and visit our troops and their families a number of times. I am confident he understands the world-class capabilities of these installations and the communities that surround them. I’m honored to call General Milley a friend and I look forward to continuing our partnership to bolster our national security and support those who fight for our freedom.
Introducing NTSB Nominee and Wichita Native Michael Graham to Senate Commerce Committee
On Wednesday, I introduced Michael Graham, a Kansan and nominee for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation during his nomination hearing. Over the last three decades, Michael Graham has committed his life to service and aviation safety. First, as a Naval Aviator and flight instructor, and now in his capacity as the Director of Flight Operations Safety, Security, and Standardization for Textron Aviation. As a member of the NTSB, Mr. Graham would be responsible for the investigation of civil transportation accidents.
With a long and decorated career of service and safety, both in the military and as a civilian, Mr. Graham is well suited to be a member of the NTSB and I am proud he calls Kansas home. I thank Mr. Graham for his service and his willingness to continue serving our country. Click here to view my opening remarks.
Announcing Topeka MTA Grant Award for Low- and Zero-Emission Buses
This week, I was proud to announce that the Topeka Metropolitan Transit Authority was awarded nearly $1,800,000 by the Federal Transit Administration to acquire zero-emission and low-emission transit buses. Topeka Metro has worked in close collaboration with the private sector to make the charging and operating of an electric fleet a reality in Northeast Kansas. I am pleased to have helped secure this U.S. Department of Transportation grant to complement these efforts, which will help Topeka MTA update its fleet with low- and zero-emission transit buses and help advance our capital city’s quality of transportation amenities. Affordability of local transit is vital to Kansas’ economy, and I look forward to my continued work with local leaders to build on this progress.
Meeting with Kansas FFA Student Leaders
This week, I met with members of Kansas Future Farmers of America (FFA) students during their visit to Washington, D.C. for the 50th Anniversary FFA Washington Leadership Conference. FFA is a valuable organization with thousands of Kansas members, reaching nearly 200 high schools across our state and training students in critical leadership skills.
During our meeting, we discussed important topics affecting Kansas – particularly, agriculture. The students shared their goals and we talked about what they hope to accomplish in the future. I will continue working to preserve our Kansas communities for young leaders like these bright students.
Continuing My Kansas Listening Tour in Marion County
On Friday morning, I was in Marion County to hear from community members from a number of surrounding towns. American Legion Post #366 was gracious to host our discussion, which began with updates on veterans’ healthcare, specifically regarding our rural veterans and how they can utilize the recently-enacted VA MISSION Act to receive the best care in their own community. We also discussed rural broadband as a vital tool to retain local businesses and residents, and the need for Congress to pass an infrastructure bill. Thanks to Legion Post Commander Josh Plenert for hosting the townhall and to Hillsboro Mayor Lou Thurston for providing a positive update on the Hillsboro hospital.
Hosting Legislative Coffee, Attending the Czech Fest Parade in Wilson County
Beginning in the 1870s, Czech immigrants from Bohemia migrated to Wilson County to work on the railroad, establishing the community’s culture and eventual designation as the “Czech Capital of Kansas.” I spent Saturday morning in Wilson hearing from Ellsworth Country residents at a townhall meeting and joining their 59th Annual After Harvest Czech Festival. This longstanding tradition celebrates the community’s special heritage.
At Grandma's Soda Shop, I met with Wilson County residents and discussed some of the issues being worked on in Washington, D.C., including immigration reform and efforts to bolster border security, rural broadband deployment, trade and the need to approve USMCA, veterans’ healthcare and the Senate’s efforts to curb the rising cost of prescription healthcare. Thanks to everyone who attended for the engaging conversation and the kolaches. Thanks also to State Senator Rick Wilborn as well as State Representatives Steven Johnson and Troy Waymaster for joining me.
Following the meeting, I participated in the festival parade. This year’s grand marshal plaque was awarded to longtime community leaders, John and Lynn Kasper, who founded the Kansas Czech Queen Pageant. John and Lynn have my admiration and gratitude for their distinguished service.
I appreciate Dr. Dennis Kepka and his family for driving me through the parade. Thanks also to Wilson Communications General Manager Brian Boisvert for arranging my participation.
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.
Very truly yours,
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