Kansas Common Sense
Devastating Flooding in the Midwest
Due to snow melt and persistent rain, flooding has devastated the Midwest, including Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and now parts of Northeast Kansas. As this flooding affects communities along the Missouri River, I have been in touch with local officials and federal partners on how we can best respond to this disaster. On Sunday, I spoke with local emergency management officials and community leaders from across Doniphan County to hear updates and to offer assistance in their efforts to recover. As always, I am inspired by Kansans' sense of care, compassion and willingness to help one another.
My office stands ready to assist Kansans affected by this flooding. You can find contact information for my offices in Kansas and Washington, D.C. by clicking here or scrolling to the end of this newsletter.
An Update on the Special Counsel's Investigation
As I have said, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s history of honorable public service should give all Americans confidence in his report and conclusions. Mueller concluded there was no collusion and, based on his report, the DOJ determined there was no obstruction of justice.
With this investigation now behind us, we must work to address the many issues facing our nation with less division and more cooperation for a better nation and more secure world.
Working to Make Certain Wichita Continues to Lead the World in Aerospace
Announcing an EDA Investment to Fuel Innovation at Wichita State
I announced a grant awarded to Wichita State University from the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) in support of the university’s advanced manufacturing research in aviation on Friday alongside Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Dr. John C. Fleming, Acting WSU President Rick Muma and WSU Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer John Tomblin.
Wichita State continues to be a shining example of how public-private partnerships can provide students with hands-on learning experiences while bolstering communities. Wichita’s continued emphasis on shaping and designing an education platform to align with 21st Century workforce needs is critical as we work to fuel the manufacturing and aviation industries. This $2 million EDA grant will support the purchase of necessary advanced manufacturing equipment, and, in turn, create over 150 new jobs in the region. As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Department of Commerce and EDA, I am proud to highlight the continued innovative leadership of institutions in our state.
Speaking to Aircraft Suppliers from Around the World
On Wednesday, I joined the Aerospace Industry Association’s (AIA) Supplier Management Council in Wichita, where senior supply chain representatives across aviation met to tackle issues facing the supply chain and hear updates on recent trends in the industry. It is only fitting that suppliers from across the country converged in Wichita, where our history is tangible in the expertise of our workforce who demonstrate world-class leadership in aviation. Wichita boasts the highest concentration of aerospace manufacturing employment in the nation, with more than half of our manufacturing workforce building some of the world’s most sophisticated military aircraft. Nearly 70 percent of the world’s embedded aviation fleet was manufactured here in Kansas.
A forum that attracts many of the major aerospace and defense companies, this was a good reminder that our space, aviation and defense industries are so interconnected, and by leveraging the talent and expertise from each industry anchored in our state, possibilities and opportunity for growth become endless. Thank you to Spirit AeroSystems President and CEO Tom Gentile and his team for hosting the event and for inviting me to participate, and to AIA Chief Operations Officer and Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Bob Durbin for the kind introduction.
Visiting with Bombardier Employees
I visited Bombardier-Learjet, which employs more than 2,000 Kansans at its Wichita facility adjacent to the Eisenhower International Airport, and I toured the company’s new flagship Global 7500 business jet, which is scheduled for up to 20 deliveries in 2019 and has been hailed as the best in the industry.
I also stepped onboard the U.S. Air Force E-11A, an aircraft designed to carry a Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) from Northrop Grumman. BACN hardware has the capability to relay voice, video, imagery and data between warfighters both in the air and on the ground, connecting those who may be operating on different networks. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, I recognize the significant role the E-11A plays in helping our men and women in uniform protect our homeland.
A special thank you to Bombardier Vice President of Specialized Aircraft Steve Patrick, Vice President of Flight Testing Tom Bisges, and Chief of Special Mission Aircraft Programs Rob Reece for an informative tour. Thanks also to Government Affairs Directors Jamie Hunter and Melissa Liby for organizing my visit to Bombardier.
Honoring Congressman Nichols
This week, I honored and celebrated my friend and mentor, Congressman Dick Nichols. It was a privilege to discuss Dick’s enduring optimism, his dedicated service to our nation, and his deep sense of care and compassion for his neighbors and his community. Dick has inspired many individuals to pursue careers dedicated to others, and it is without a doubt that McPherson, our state and our nation are better because of Dick and the way he lived his life.
Increasing Kansas Wheat Exports to Brazil
On Tuesday, the administration announced that Brazil will fulfill its decades-old commitment to establish a duty-free tariff rate quota (TRQ) for wheat, resolving a long-standing trade barrier faced by Kansas farmers when attempting to sell their wheat to Brazilian markets. This action follows a letter I led with my Senate colleagues to President Trump urging him to prioritize wheat exports in discussions with Brazilian President Bolsonaro.
The elimination of the 10 percent tariff currently applied to U.S. wheat imported by Brazil will allow our farmers to compete on a level playing field with foreign competitors like Argentina, resulting in increased U.S. wheat exports. As Kansas farmers struggle with low commodity prices, it is critical that we continue working to expand new export markets. It has been conservatively estimated that establishing the TRQ will result in $75 to over $120 million in additional annual U.S. wheat sales to Brazil.
I commend President Trump, as well as U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and native Kansan and Chief Agricultural Negotiator Gregg Doud for their efforts to secure this commitment from Brazil. I look forward to working with the administration to make certain Brazil quickly implements the wheat TRQ and to make certain we continue increasing access to foreign markets for our farmers and ranchers. Click here to read more on this action.Introducing Legislation to Increase Opportunities for Students in Tech
I am an original cosponsor of the Championing Apprenticeships for New Careers and Employees in Technology (CHANCE in Tech) Act, bipartisan legislation that would help foster the development of apprenticeships within the technology sector and alleviate the skills gap this industry often faces.
Now more than ever before, the U.S. economy is dependent on the technology industry to create jobs. Nearly every conversation I have with business owners across Kansas leads to a discussion about their needs for workers who are trained and motivated to take tech-related jobs. This legislation will help give industry leaders the resources they need to create tech apprenticeships, attract talent and connect American workers with meaningful, good-paying jobs. As a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, I will continue to work diligently to ensure our businesses have the workforce development programs that they need to succeed.
Speaking with Ag Producers from Across the Country
I spoke at the 123rd National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) Annual Convention, where I discussed the importance of rural America and agriculture to the nation, as well as our current trade climate – one of the largest issues facing rural America today. I asked the attendees to speak with their legislators about ratifying the United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA) as expeditiously as possible, due to importance of that agreement to the Kansas and ag economies. I also spoke about the bipartisan support for an infrastructure package that is needed to repair the nation’s highways, bridges and waterways that our farmers and ranchers depend on every day.
Thank you to NGFA Chairman Eric Wiley and NGFA First Vice-Chairman David Baudler for allowing me the opportunity to join NGFA members, including over 60 Kansans.
I also spoke at the Texas Ag Forum this week about issues facing farmers and ranchers, including the importance of the Farm Bill and trade to ag producers. I again encouraged attendees to call on Congress to pass USMCA and for the administration to reach an agreement with China that lifts the tariffs that have been so harmful to agriculture.
Hosting a Kansas Listening Tour Stop in Jefferson County
On Thursday evening, I was in Valley Falls to host a stop on my Kansas Listening Tour in Jefferson County. We discussed a wide range of topics, including the importance of enabling veterans to access care in their communities, rural broadband and cellular service coverage in Kansas, and our nation’s immigration system, including the recent national emergency declaration.
Thank you to the Jefferson County residents who spent their evening with me in Valley Falls. My conversations with Kansans influence the work I do in Washington, D.C. on their behalf. Thanks also to Rotary President Dr. James Rider and Valley Falls Mayor Lucy Thomas for their kindness and hospitality, and to Kendall State Bank Vice President Gary Coleman for coordinating my visit to the community.
Visiting with Community Leaders Regarding Hillsboro Community Hospital
On Friday afternoon, I was in Hillsboro to receive an update on Hillsboro Community Hospital (HCH) from hospital leadership, staff, and board members. We discussed the hospital’s financial circumstances and the important role the hospital plays in caring for the Hillsboro community.
I was impressed by the tremendous dedication and positive outlook of the staff at HCH and their determination to make certain folks in the Hillsboro community and surrounding area continue to receive quality care. Access to healthcare is important to communities across our state, and rural hospitals are a major driver of our local economy. I will continue to maintain a special focus on keeping hospital doors open in communities across Kansas. Thank you to Hillsboro City Administrator Larry Paine for coordinating my visit and to the many community members for attending this meeting.
Spending Time at St. Thomas More's Knights of Columbus Fish Fry
On Friday evening, Robba and I attended the Knights of Columbus Lenten Fish Fry held at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Manhattan. During the event, we ran into Dennis and Vickie Hammerschmidt, formerly of Ellis County and their granddaughter Andi. It is always good to see folks from home, and I appreciated catching up with these long-time friends. Thanks to members of the Knights of Columbus for hosting the fish fry and to everyone from the Manhattan community who visited with us on Friday.
Attending the Elks Biscuits and Gravy Fundraiser in Junction City
On Saturday morning, I stopped by the Junction City Kiwanis Club's Biscuits and Gravy Fundraiser, held at the Elks Lodge. Thank you to the many folks who took time out of their morning to visit with me, and thank you to the members of the Kiwanis Club for a putting on a great event and for the excellent biscuits and gravy.
Kansans in the Office
Nate Glendening of Stockton
Leigh Johnson of Newton
Cheryl Lippert of Lenexa
Letycia Nunez-Argot of Great Bend
Crystal Packland of Parsons
Alan Sobba of Garnett
Connie Staley of Goddard
Nicholas Yu of Kansas City
American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians
Jamie Henningson of Manhattan
Amy Hite of Pittsburg
Abby Johnson of Frontenac
Karen Johnson of Frontenac
Thomas Thielen of Quinter
Esther Thielen of Quinter
Collin Theilen of Quinter
Kim Williams of Wichita
Ryan Williams of Wichita
Fort Leavenworth School District, USD 207
Dr. Keith Mispagel of Leavenworth
Stacey Bailey of Manhattan
Diana Carlin of Lawrence
Sarah Thurston of Manhattan
NASSP and NAESP Reps
John Befort of Ellis
Jacque Feist of Dodge City
Tom Brungardt of Milford
Marilee Fredricks of Junction City
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.
Very truly yours,
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