Kansas Common Sense
Celebrating the Arrival of the KC-46A Tanker to McConnell Air Force Base
I joined the airmen of McConnell Air Force Base on Friday to welcome the arrival of the KC-46A Pegasus Air Refueling Tanker. This was an exciting event for McConnell, our airmen who call Kansas home and the military communities surrounding the base in Sedgwick County. Nearly six years ago when we learned that McConnell would be home to the Air Force’s number one priority and next generation Air Refueling Tanker, we knew that good things were coming to Wichita. Over $267 million has been invested in military construction, and you can see the results of those investments all around to house, maintain, train and equip the KC-46A. Our Air Force community also grew as we welcomed new airmen and families to Sedgwick County to take on the task of carrying out the important mission of the KC-46A.
We have seen McConnell achieve numerous accomplishments over the past couple of years: it was recently named a top finalist for the Commander in Chief’s Installation Excellence Award, which determines the best base in the entire Air Force.
Further, in 2017, Wichita was awarded the Abilene Trophy, which recognizes a community in the Air Mobility Command that best supports its base. It is clear that Wichita and McConnell continue to show the United States that we are capable of leading the Department of Defense with efficiency and innovation. I am proud of our airmen and look forward to what’s to come for McConnell and the surrounding Wichita community.
An Update on the Partial Government Shutdown
While short-term funding bills are never a good way to govern, it was critical that we reopen the government and pay our federal workers. Democrats must now come to the table and negotiate a proposal that fully funds our government and protects our borders; otherwise, we will be in this same situation three weeks from now.
Our government’s continued dysfunction is extremely harmful to our economy, businesses and individual citizens around the country. Most importantly, federal employees’ paychecks should not be held hostage and they must be paid. It is immoral that many families living paycheck-to-paycheck had to work without pay, and I recognize the emotional and financial stress this uncertainty caused. These workers and their families, our fellow Americans, should not bear the burden of our political infighting.
Highlighting Mental Health Reforms for Farmers and Ranchers
Included in the Farm Bill – which the president signed into law late last year — is legislation I worked on with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, the FARMERS FIRST Act. This legislation provides resources to establish helplines and suicide prevention training for farm advocates, and reestablishes the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network through state departments of agriculture, state Extension services and non-profits.
Last week, I penned an op-ed regarding the recently-signed FARMERS First Act and actions I am taking in Congress to help farmers and ranchers access mental health resources.
Click here to read my op-ed in the Garden City Telegram.
Advancing My Probe into the New National Liver Distribution Policy
This week, I joined 21 Senate colleagues from both sides of the aisle in demanding answers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding a recent change in the national liver distribution policy made by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). Under the new policy, transplant hospitals in areas with rural and low-income populations could have reduced access to locally donated livers, exacerbating already long wait times for patients whose lives depend on receiving a donated liver transplant. This could specifically affect Kansas City-area hospitals and patients, and I’ve heard directly from healthcare professionals and patients on the dangerous impact this policy could have.
I will continue to hold the federal government accountable for this short-sighted decision to change how donated livers are allocated, and will work toward a national liver allocation system that rewards quality transplant centers and high-performing organ procurement organizations, not punish them for the shortcomings of their counterpart organizations. Click here to read more on this issue and my work to uncover details of this policy change.
Touring Thales ATM
Recently, I toured the Thales Air Traffic Management facility in Leawood. For decades, Thales has supplied Air Traffic Management solutions to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Department of Defense and airports across the country. Thales was also one of the first of five companies to work with the FAA to collaborate through a Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability program. This program will be a building block for ensuring the safe integration of millions of Unmanned Aerial Systems into the National Airspace System. With the passage of a long-term FAA reauthorization, we have created five years of certainty for not only companies like Thales to continue innovating, but travelers and aerospace manufacturers alike. I am proud to have worked to pass a long-term FAA Reauthorization and will continue to work with my colleagues to advance this important progress.
Visiting with the Kansas Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Program
Saturday morning, I spoke to our next generation of farmers and ranchers at the Kansas Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference in Manhattan. One of my priorities in Congress is to make certain young farmers and ranchers have the opportunity to make a living in agriculture and feed our world. Agriculture is more than just an occupation – it is a way of life – and I applaud these young men and women for taking the time to connect with and support others in ag and to learn more about how to grow and sustain their businesses. I appreciated our conversations on Saturday and look forward to working with these developing ag leaders into the future.
Speaking with Kansas Lions at Mid-Winter Rally
Following the Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference, I spoke with Lions Club members that traveled from across the state to be in Manhattan for the Kansas Lions Club Winter Rally. As a fellow Lion, I continue to believe in the good that can be done in our local communities through the work of civic clubs such as this, and I appreciate the many contributions of these members to communities of all shapes and sizes across every corner of Kansas. Our state, county and world have been touched by the service of these Lions, and it was an honor to spend time with them on Saturday.
Visiting Rock Regional Hospital in Derby
After welcoming the new KC-46A tanker to Wichita, I visited Rock Regional Hospital in Derby. This new hospital opened at the beginning of this year in conjunction with the 150th birthday of the city of Derby, and is more than 85,000 square feet and employs 175 Kansans.This hospital represents a significant accomplishment for the community and the many folks who worked to make this a reality. I appreciated the chance to tour the new facility and visit with practitioners and hospital leadership. Thanks to CEO Jason Eitutis and staff for leading our tour and for the productive conversation. Jason just finished his time as the medical group commander at McConnell Air Force Base, and his service to our nation, and the Derby community, are greatly appreciated.
Now Accepting Summer Internship Applications
My own interest in public service was sparked by an internship for Kansas First District Congressman Keith Sebelius in 1974. As an intern, I had the chance to learn firsthand how a Congressional office operates and how the legislative process works. I am proud to be able to offer this same opportunity in my Senate office today, where I have interns year-round working closely with my staff on behalf of Kansans.
Applications for internships in my Washington, D.C. and Kansas offices for summer 2019 session are due March 1. Congressional internships are open to qualified undergraduate and graduate students who have an interest in public service and have achieved academic excellence. Click here for more information and to apply.
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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