Kansas Common Sense

Leading Effort to Tackle National Security Threats from Foreign Tech
As a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Senate Committee on Commerce, I joined my colleagues Senators Mark Warner and John Thune to introduce the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act. This bipartisan legislation will address the ongoing threat posed by technology, like TikTok, from foreign adversaries by further empowering the Department of Commerce to review, prevent and mitigate information communications and technology transactions that pose undue risk to America’s national security.


Foreign adversaries are increasingly using products and services like TikTok to collect information on American citizens, posing a threat to our national security. This legislation would give the Department of Commerce the authority to help prevent adversarial governments from controlling harmful products and services in the U.S., providing us the long-term tools necessary to combat the infiltration of our information and communications systems. The government needs to be vigilant against these threats, and additionally a comprehensive data privacy law is needed to make certain Americans are able to control who accesses their data and for what purpose. I urge my colleagues to support the RESTRICT Act and to work with me to enact a comprehensive data privacy standard.

You can read more from WIBW here.

You can watch my full remarks on the RESTRICT Act here.


Meeting with Kansas Students During U.S. Senate Youth Program
It was great to meet Madison Coyne of Overland Park and Sukesh Kamesh of Kingman, two Kansans participating in this week’s United States Senate Youth Program. This program provides outstanding high school students with the opportunity to spend a week in Washington, D.C. and to see firsthand what a career in public service looks like.


I was impressed by my conversations with Madison and Kamesh, and they served as a testament to the excellent schools and educators we have in Kansas, as well as how their dedication empowers young Kansans to achieve success.

You can watch the news story from KMBC here.


Senate Committee on Intelligence Hearing on Worldwide Threats
The Senate Committee on Intelligence held its annual hearing on worldwide threats to the United States this week. Testifying before the committee were the Director of National Intelligence and leaders of the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Throughout my time in the Senate, I have promoted data privacy legislation, and I asked CIA Director Bill Burns what impact a failure to pass legislation has on the security of American individuals and our nation. He made clear it enables our adversaries’ efforts at espionage, giving them enormous opportunities to steal intellectual property and spy on our citizens. I offered to my colleagues on the committee to work with them to pass data privacy legislation. I also emphasized the need for the United States to recognize the importance of staying ahead of adversaries in developing technology and the military consequences if we fail to do so.

You can watch my full questioning during this hearing here.


Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Annual VSOs Hearings
As the lead Republican of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I participated in a joint hearing this week with the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee to hear from members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), as well as other Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs). The input Congress receives from VSOs during these annual joint hearings greatly informs us and helps to guide our committees’ work to serve and improve the lives of our nation’s veterans. I particularly appreciate hearing from and meeting with Kansas veterans during these hearings.

Service organizations at these annual hearings tells us what veterans are experiencing and where we can make changes in the Department of Veterans Affairs or in other federal efforts to improve veterans’ lives. Most of the organizations we hear from have a local presence in Kansas and across the country, and I would encourage all of my fellow Kansans to learn about the work they do in your community to support our nation’s veterans.


Meeting with U.S. Travel Association
On Wednesday, I met with U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman and Hilton President and CEO Chris Nassetta. As co-chair of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus, I am committed to working with my colleagues to support and promote policies to reduce barriers to travel and to strengthen the travel and tourism industry both in my state and across the country. I appreciated the opportunity to discuss these goals and to receive an update on the current status of our nation’s travel industry.


Commerce Committee Hearing with FAA Acting Administrator
This week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Acting Administrator Billy Nolen testified before the Senate Commerce Committee on the implementation and oversight of aircraft certification process mandated in the Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act (ACSAA)ACSAA was signed into law in December 2020 following the two fatal Boeing 737 MAX crashes and requires the FAA to implement major changes in its policies and procedures concerning certification of transport aircraft. This law is not the end of Congress’ oversight of the FAA’s oversight mechanism as the upcoming FAA Reauthorization will provide the federal government an opportunity to make any necessary reforms to make certain the FAA is an effective safety regulator. I look forward to working my colleagues on this committee to craft an FAA Reauthorization bill that promotes and emphasizes safety first and foremost.


Receiving Update from Southwest Airlines Chairman
As lead Republican of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation, I met with Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines’ Executive Chair of the Board, to discuss an update on the airline industry, as well as Southwest’s recovery efforts following the COVID-19 pandemic. We also spoke about the efforts by Southwest to restore the confidence of the American public following the operation meltdown over the holidays .Additionally, he highlighted Southwest’s priorities for this year’s upcoming reauthorization of the FAA. I appreciate his time and insight regarding these issues.

We also discussed the recent exciting announcement by Southwest Airlines that it is adding flights out of the Kansas City International Airport’s new terminal to two international tourist destinations. These new services will begin in October 2023, allowing Kansas City travelers to take nonstop flights to Montego Bay, Jamaica, and to Cabo San Lucas/Los Cabos, Mexico.

Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Briefing
This week, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense held a briefing where my colleagues and I had the opportunity to question the top military and civilian leaders responsible for the Defense Health Program. As co-chair of the Senate Community Pharmacy Caucus, I focused my questions on the impact, particularly for Kansas, of the recent implementation of the TRICARE Pharmacy Benefit Contract. This is an important issue impacting servicemembers, retirees, their families and community pharmacies in Kansas and across the country.

While the new contract’s access standards are currently met in Kansas, the beneficiary has lost access to choice. An example of this is Plainville which is home to 129 beneficiaries and, under the current contract, has just one in-network pharmacy. If that pharmacy does not have the necessary prescription in stock, the beneficiary will be required to travel to fill the needed medication. Additionally, community pharmacies are critical to fulfilling rural health care needs, an issue which is especially important in Kansas. I am very concerned with the barriers this new contract creates for independent pharmacies which want to participate in this important network but could not afford to accept the contract due to low reimbursement rates. The new TRICARE Pharmacy Benefit Contract places beneficiary access in a more fragile position and threatens the financial viability of independent pharmacies relying on the TRICARE contracts during a financially difficult time.

I have demanded answers from the department on behalf of Kansans for several months on this important issue. Be assured I will continue to work to make certain that beneficiaries in Kansas and across the country have choice and flexibility in which pharmacy they use to utilize this earned benefit.

Meeting with Bombardier CEO Eric Martel
I was pleased to meet with Eric Martel, CEO of Bombardier, as well as Steve Patrick and Tonya Sudduth, both significant leaders at Bombardier’s U.S. headquarters in Wichita. Bombardier’s skilled Kansas-based workforce supports critical missions across the Department of Defense. We specifically discussed the ongoing contract supporting the Air Force’s “BACN” aircraft and the Army’s “HADES” program. These important programs provide awareness and increased communication capabilities to the warfighter and its success is a credit to the highly-trained and dedicated workforce in Kansas. I will continue using my role as a senior defense appropriator to make certain Kansas maintains its significant role in supporting U.S. national security.


Receiving Update from Rear Admiral Nancy Hann
This week, I met with Rear Admiral Nancy Hann, commanding officer of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps and director of the NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations. We discussed my legislation that passed in 2020 to help facilitate a NOAA pilot pipeline by creating an aviation accession training program for the Commissioned Officer Corps of NOAA. Functioning similar to ROTC at many universities, this program was designed in coordination with Kansas State Polytechnic due to their expertise in training pilots. I look forward to continuing to work with K-State Polytechnic and NOAA to make certain this program meets Congressional intent.


Meeting with Kansans
Veterans of Foreign Wars
On Tuesday, before their joint hearing with the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees, I met with Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) representatives from Kansas and VFW National HQ, as well as Student Veterans of America (SVA) VFW fellows. We discussed their legislative priorities for this Congress and how we can continue to work together to meet our veterans' needs, including implementing the SFC Heath Robinson Honoring our PACT Act. I am grateful for the VFW's work in D.C. and at home in Kansas in supporting our nation’s servicemembers, student veterans, homeless veterans, Guardsmen, Reservists and those in the caregiver and survivor communities. Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) like the VFW remain crucial partners in the mission to provide our nation's veterans with the care and benefits they deserve. Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) like the VFW remain crucial partners in the mission to provide our nation's veterans with the care and benefits they deserve.


Wounded Warrior Project
I was honored to meet with Kansans representing the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) this week. Among the many important topics we discussed, they shared their ideas on improving VA’s mental health workforce, and we spoke about the continuous need for congressional oversight of veteran suicide prevention programs. We also spoke about the importance of making certain veterans in Kansas and across the country receive the care they need as quickly and as close to home as possible. I appreciated the opportunity to speak with these veterans and to thank them for their service.


Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition Sentinel Award Presentation
On Thursday, I was honored to receive the Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition’s Sentinel Award, given each year for supporting American manufacturing industries which produce combat clothing and equipment for protection of our Armed Forces. Last Congress, I co-led the Homeland Procurement Reform (HOPR) Act which was signed into law, requiring that certain personal protective equipment be produced in the United States. During this meeting, I was pleased to meet with some of the workers from Leading Technology Composites manufacturer in Wichita, which employs more than 400 Kansans. These Kansans work diligently to build vehicle armor, body armor and other protective equipment for the men and women serving in our military. I will continue to work to support the important work Kansans are doing to protect the U.S. warfighter.


National Association of Home Builders
This week, I met with Carl Harris, Wichita’s Chair of the National Association of Home Builders. We spoke about the obstacles to homeownership for Kansans, including high building costs that puts buying a home out of reach for far too many families. We also discussed how supply chain backlogs and tariffs are contributing to spikes in construction costs. To reduce barriers to housing, both federal and state officials must work together to grow labor force participation, lower barriers to trade and provide tailored incentives for housing development, particularly in rural communities. I have cosponsored legislation, the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act, to increase the supply and affordability of new and existing homes. By working toward these goals, we can help make housing available to more Kansans at lower costs.


Community Care Network of Kansas
I was pleased to meet with members of the Community Care Network of Kansas this week. I always welcome opportunities to hear more about what can be done to improve health care in Kansas, and I was grateful to receive their 2023 Community Health Center Advocate Award. Federally qualified health centers see a strong return on investment as Kansas health centers remove significant barriers to care in our heavily-rural state. In my role as an appropriator on the Senate Labor-Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, I will continue to prioritize funding for health centers in order to spur their continued success in delivering quality care.


National Sunflower Association
This week, I met with Cameron Peirce from Hutchinson, representing the National Sunflower Association, to discuss issues facing sunflower growers in Kansas and around the country. We spoke about Farm Bill provisions that are a priority for sunflower growers including crop insurance, research and voluntary conservation. We also discussed some of the regulatory challenges facing farmers such as the revised “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) definition.


Introducing Legislation to Strengthen Broadband Supply Chain
As a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, I joined my Senate colleagues to introduce the Network Equipment Transparency (NET) Act. This bipartisan bill would increase broadband supply chain transparency through the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) in order to ensure an on-time rollout of federal broadband programs.

Broadband infrastructure projects have been affected by supply chain woes in the past. A lack of transparency into the health of the telecommunications supply chain may contribute to future equipment shortages as federal broadband programs prioritize high-speed, reliable and accessible networks. In anticipation of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds for broadband projects distributed to states later this spring, the bill would help to identify these supply chain issues so they can be addressed sooner.

In this digital age, access to reliable internet can determine the success of farms, businesses and even health care in rural communities. Adding transparency to the supply chains that support broadband infrastructure projects will help speed up the rollout of programs designed to increase internet activity for rural America.

You can read more from WIBW here.

Leading Bipartisan Efforts to Increase Market Exports
This week, I sponsored two bills that will expand market access for our agriculture industry if enacted. As I have in previous years, I joined Senator Amy Klobuchar in introducing The Freedom to Export to Cuba Act, bipartisan legislation to lift the Cuba trade embargo. The unilateral trade embargo on Cuba blocks our own farmers, ranchers and manufacturers from selling into a market only 90 miles from our shoreline, while foreign competitors benefit at our expense. Importantly, this bill leaves in place measures to address the Cuban regime’s human rights abuses.

Additionally, I cosponsored legislation introduced by Senators Chris Coons and John Thune to authorize the President to enter into a comprehensive trade agreement with the United Kingdom, which imports a large amount of its food supply. These laws will boost American prosperity and America’s image around the world.

Touring Osborne Industries, Inc.
I toured Osborne Industries, Inc. on Friday to see firsthand the work they do to manufacture specialty plastic fabrication for diverse uses. During my visit, we discussed a variety of issues including the current challenges their company faces with staffing shortages. We also spoke about the needs of the nearby community and how housing and childcare can serve to attract more residents and employees. I want to thank President and CEO George Eakin for hosting me for this informative tour. Thank you as well to Mayor John McClure and City of Osborne Economic Development Director Stacey Jackson for joining me.


Visiting Ellis County
On Friday, I was in Hays to join Chief Don Scheibler and Sheriff Scott Braun to announce federal investments to support the Hays Police Department and the Ellis County Sheriff's Office. In my role as lead Republican of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) and Related Agencies, I am committed to making certain our law enforcement have the resources and support necessary for them to protect and serve our local communities.


Attending VFW Post 9076 Lent Fish Fry
While in Hays on Friday, I joined members of the Fort Hays VFW Post 9076 for their lent fish fry dinner of beans and noodle soup. There is no group of Americans I hold in higher regard than our nation's heroes, and it is always an honor to have the opportunity to thank them for their service.

Plainville Community Visit
It was great to visit my hometown of Plainville this week. While in town, I spoke with community residents at Plainville Insurance, City Hall, Midwest Drug and First State Bank. I appreciate everyone who took the time to visit with me and catch up during during this visit.

Kansans in the Office

Capitol Tour
Andrew Frayn of St. Marys

Alena Whitehead of St. Marys

Stephanie Erker of Olathe

Madeline Erker of Olathe

James Seeberger of Wamego

Kathy Seeberger of Wamego

Quinlan Seeberger of Wamego

Tessa Seeberger of Wamego

Lindsay McQuinn of Lawrence

Dr. Justin Parsons of El Dorado

Macy Parsons of El Dorado

Cody Tole of El Dorado

Women Against the Registry
Shirley Ferley of Paola

Brad Butell of Lawrence

Teresa Butell of Lawrence

Karen Loganbill of Moundridge

Veterans of Foreign Wars Kansas Representatives
Bruce Fischbach of Olathe

Herb Schwartzkopf of Topeka

Chet Bennetts of Manhattan

Corey Hunt of Lenexa

Jonathan Duncan of Lenexa

Eric Hannis of Wichita

Aaron Tobias of Wichita

School Nutrition Association
Steven Newman of Olathe

Cindy Jones of Olathe

Margery Eeckert of Topeka

Amber Workman of Topeka

Kansas Dental Association
Kevin Robertson of Kansas City

Jacob Darbin of Wichita

Stewart Dexter of Prairie Village

Allen Rearis of Atchison

National Sunflower Association
Cameron Peirce of Hutchison

One Voice Against Cancer
Michele Voelker of Greenleaf

Kansas State Council of Firefighters
Matt Jackson of Junction City

Matt Schulte of Andover

Chris Booth of Junction City

Debbie’s Dream Foundation
June Rempel of Wichita

Priscilla Brittine of Kansas City

Teresa Rivera of Kansas City

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Erin Ahart of Mission

Christopher Graber of Salina

Madhuri Reddy of Leawood

Samantha McClean of Overland Park

American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
Matthew Lowe of Pittsburg

Douglas Fain of Stilwell

Red Cross of Kansas
Alice Townsend of Topeka

Tonya Sudduth of Wichita

Steve Patrick of Wichita

Cultivate KC
Brien Darby of Kansas City

Lydia Nebel of Kansas City

Ca Sarr of Kansas City

American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges
James Roush of Manhattan

Bonnie Roush of Manhattan

Humanities Kansas
Kim Goodnight of Wichita

Denise McNabb of Waverly

Tracy Quillin of Topeka

Julie Mulvihill of Topeka

National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Frank Austin of Plainville

Ann Reed of Wichita

New York Life
James Whittaker of Lawrence

David Kim of Overland Park

Ben Schlafer of Shawnee

City of Wathena
John Cluck of Wathena

Michael Lewis of Wathena

National Association of Convenience Stores
Robert Erskin of Saint Francis

Bud Easkin of Saint Francis

Diane Macheers of Shawnee

Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition Sentinel
Brad Murray of Wichita

Dean Richardson of Wichita

National Association of Home Builders
Carl Harris of Newton

Community Care Network of Kansas
Kyle Ahlenstorf of Hoxie

Bryant Anderson of Hutchison

Amy Falk of Olathe

Venus Lee of Wichita

Teresa Lovelady of Wichita

Sonja Bachus of Topeka

Scott Anglemyer of Shawnee

Kansas Manufacturing Solutions
Tiffany Stoval of Overland Park

Danica Rome of Lenexa

American Library Association
Brandon Hines of Hays

Mari Pyko of Topeka

Association of Flight Attendants
Leah Krier of Great Bend

Creekstone Farms and Duke’s Grocery
Neil Smith of Arkansas City

Jim Mason of Arkansas City

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