Kansas Common Sense
Feb 24 2020
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Visiting Troops Overseas & Conducting Oversight
As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, and as a member of the Appropriations subcommittees on Defense and State and Foreign Operations, I led a group of senators to visit troops overseas, conduct oversight of United States Government programs and discuss trade, security and intelligence issues. During our visit, we met with U.S. military and civilian leaders serving abroad and foreign officials from Poland, Czech Republic, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
Meeting Fort Riley Soldiers
I was honored to meet with American soldiers deployed abroad and soldiers from other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) nations. I thanked our American soldiers for their brave service to our nation and heard firsthand how Congress can support their work to keep our country safe. I was especially honored to meet with a number of Kansas and Fort Riley 1st Infantry Division soldiers. Kansans are proud of our friends and neighbors who have answered the call to serve, and I was pleased to give these soldiers our best on behalf of the entire state and the nation.
Receiving a Briefing at LANDCOM
In Turkey, we visited Allied Land Command (LANDCOM) and met with NATO LANDCOM Commander Lieutenant General J.T. Thomson where we received a classified briefing on our capabilities, coordination and planning with allied forces. We discussed the importance of military intelligence and our nation’s ability to assist our allies against existing and rising threats, such as Russia. During our bilateral meetings with Turkey, we expressed our continued concern with Turkey's purchase of Russian military equipment and the possibility of sanctions as a result of Turkey's actions.
My priority as a U.S. Senator is to make certain our nation and all Americans are safe from threats, especially in today’s ever-changing world. During our meetings with U.S. military leaders and diplomats from allied nations, I conveyed our appreciation for their support and learned valuable information regarding how we can support these alliances and our men and women in uniform.
Remembering Victims of the Holocaust
To pay tribute and demonstrate a steadfast commitment to Holocaust remembrance, I led my colleagues in an official wreath laying ceremony on behalf of the United States Senate on the “Death Wall” at Auschwitz. We also participated in a candle-lighting ceremony at the International Monument to the Victims in Birkenau. When it was my turn to sign their ceremonial book, I wrote “To the victims and the survivors – may all humans every day have the courage to never look away.” This year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of these camps that continue to be an international reminder of the terror and genocide that occurred at Auschwitz and Birkenau.
Meeting at 10 Downing StreetReturning home involved a brief stop in London to meet with our U.S. Ambassador Robert Johnson and his senior leadership team at the U.S. Embassy. Next, we met with the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Sir Edward Lister at 10 Downing Street to discuss a trade agreement with the United Kingdom given their departure from the European Union. We also discussed our concerns with the recent decision by Great Britain to allow Chinese-based telecom company Huawei to supply equipment for their 5G network, a decision that could adversely impact intelligence-sharing between our countries.
Monitoring the Coronavirus
I have carefully been monitoring the Coronavirus spread and how it affects American both at home and abroad. I am taking steps to make certain adequate precautions are being taken for our servicemembers abroad, including men and women based out of the Fort Riley 1st Infantry Division currently stationed in South Korea. My office has also been working on behalf of Kansans that have been quarantined abroad as a result of the virus. I will continue to monitor and engage on this issue to make certain we are doing everything in our power to keep Americans safe.
Sharing the Importance of Strong Community Banks
Living in a rural community is a special way of life that I work to protect and enhance in Congress. Sustaining vibrant rural communities requires the presence of strong community banks. From short-term emergency loans to future-building investing like a home mortgage or small business loan, Kansas community banks support and advance our communities across the state.
I recently penned an op-ed featuring my thoughts in the Kansas Banker magazine that highlighted the important role community banks play in Kansas. It also highlighted a piece of legislation I sponsored that would lower the cost of credit for farmers and rural housing. This legislation is an important step to provide our rural communities an opportunity to thrive. Read more about my thoughts on the importance of community banks and this legislation by clicking here.
Announcing $14 Million in Grants for Kansas Airports
This week, I was pleased to announce more than $14 million in grants awarded to Kansas airports from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Kansas airports are vital to the regional economies throughout Kansas, connecting communities large and small and providing necessary supplies and emergency medical services for rural areas across the state. The airports receiving grants include Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport, Colonel James Jabara Airport, Lawrence Municipal airport, Garden City Regional airport, Hays Regional Airport, Gardner Municipal airport, Russell Municipal airport, El Dorado/Captain Jack Thomas Memorial airport, Rooks County Regional airport in addition to over a dozen others.
These grants will help fund needed repairs and expansions to multiple Kansas airports to continue providing efficient service to Kansans and continued development throughout the state. As a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue working with local communities and the U.S. Department of Transportation to ensure continued support for our Kansas airports.
Paying Respect to the Legacy of Virgil Dechant
This past week, Virgil Dechant, a past Supreme Knight, passed way and my deepest condolences go to his family and the Knights of Columbus community. I was able to pay my respects at his funeral service on Saturday and the full church I witnessed is a testament to the legacy he leaves behind. Virgil was a remarkable Kansan who served as the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus for nearly three decades after joining the organization at age 18. In 2012, Virgil was awarded the Knights’ highest honor, the Gaudium et Spes Award. This recognition was previously awarded eight times, including once to Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Virgil remained true to his Kansas roots while leading the Knights as they made a positive impact across the globe. His example of servant leadership and loyalty serves as a model for all of us. Robba and I are keeping Virgil’s wife Ann, his son Tom and their entire family in our prayers.
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 letter, a Facebook comment, or a phone call, who wish to make their voice heard.
Please let me know how I can be of assistance. You can contact me by email by clicking here. You can also click here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.
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