Kansas Common Sense
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Chairing Oversight Subcommittee Hearing on Trade
On Thursday, I chaired a hearing in my Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, and Related Agencies to review the budget requests of the International Trade Administration, the Bureau of Industry and Security and the International Trade Commission. The hearing centered around the administration’s trade policy and impact of tariffs on U.S. manufacturers – including higher costs for steel and aluminum users. I also raised concern about the tariff exclusion process: while companies are able to petition that certain products be excluded from the tariffs, the agencies in charge of responding to the requests have not responded in a timely manner and have overwhelming sided against granting exclusions. The steel and aluminum, solar panel, and other proposed tariffs, will harm Kansas manufacturers and cost us jobs. Additionally, the retaliatory tariffs enacted by other countries in response have targeted farm commodities, further driving down commodity prices. I will continue to express the importance of trade to Kansas and make sure my colleagues and administration understand the need to pursue sound trade policy. Watch my questioning here.
Questioning Nominees to the Department of Veterans Affairs
On Wednesday, I participated in a Senate Veteran’s Affairs committee hearing to consider the nominations of Ms. Tamara Bonzanto to be the assistant secretary of the VA for Accountability & Whistleblower Protection and Mr. James Paul Gferer to be assistant secretary of the VA for Information and Technology. As a member of this committee, I have long-placed great emphasis on getting the right people in the right positions at the VA who can reform and improve the Department. I questioned the nominees on their commitment to changing the culture of the VA and implementing the reforms of the John McCain VA MISSION Act passed earlier this year. Accountability at the VA remains paramount, and we must ensure we hold those who care for our veterans to a high standard.
Meeting with Young Conservatives for Energy Summit Attendees
On Wednesday, I visited with the Young Conservatives for Energy Reform who were attending their 2018 summit. This group was made up of young people from across Kansas who are passionate about setting our country on a path to energy independence by using technological innovation. Thanks to the many individuals in this group who took time to visit with me on important issues that we’re working on in Washington, as well as ways we can all support energy reform.
Meeting Kansans at the State Fair
More than a century ago, a group of Hutch business leaders formed the Reno County Agricultural Society and hosted a fair in a small wooden livery stable behind the town’s only bank. Today, the Kansas State Fair has grown to become our state’s single largest event, attracting more than 365,000 attendees. I visited the State Fair this weekend and met with many Kansans who traveled there from across the state to enjoy the rides, food, exhibit halls, livestock barns and countless educational opportunities.
This is the 22nd consecutive year I have had a booth at the fair, and members of my staff are available each day to answer questions and provide information. Thanks to all those that have stopped by so far, and I hope you and your family can visit Booth #4 in the Pride of Kansas Building sometime this week. Thank you to the Kansas State Fair Board Members and staff who put in hours of planning to make our fair a fun and educational event for all.
Speaking at the Kansas Farm Bureau Agricultural Leadership Breakfast
On Saturday morning at the State Fair, I had the opportunity to speak at the Kansas Farm Bureau Ag Leadership Breakfast. It was great to visit with ag leaders and producers in our state and to discuss a number of issues including the importance of getting a farm bill done, rural broadband and KFB's work to get our state connected, EPA regulations and the current trade disputes.
With 95% of consumers living outside our country's borders, the ability for Kansas farmers and ranchers to earn a living is directly tied to our ability to sell goods around the globe. Trade with Canada and Mexico has clearly benefited Kansans, and a modernized NAFTA, or re-named trilateral agreement, can present increased economic opportunity and growth to Kansas - vital for our rural communities. In addition, a strong trilateral partnership is essential to combating discriminatory trade practices by competitors such as China.
Thank you to all those attended the KFB breakfast, including FFA State President Max Harman, and for stopping by my booth at the state fair this past weekend.’
Harvey County Listening Tour
Thanks to the Harvey County residents who came to speak with me at the Kansas Learning Center for Health on Friday as I continued my Kansas Listening Tour in Halstead We discussed topics including the Southwest Chief, the importance of free press, trade and tariffs, the need for Republicans and Democrats to work together, healthcare and the VA, the importance of community banks and preserving the rural way of life. Folks were particularly interested in recent action regarding the Southwest Chief, and I shared updates on my legislation that passed the senate to protect train service, among other items.
Special thanks to my friend Larry Williams for arranging my visit and to former Kansas American Legion Department Commanders Gaylord Sanneman and Paul Sanford for attending.
Thank you to Kansas Learning Center for Health Executive Director Carrie Herman for hosting my townhall, as well as for providing an informative tour of her first-class facility prior to my meeting. For more than 50 years, the Learning Center has provided health education to more than half a million children and adults. As the second oldest health museum in the nation, the Learning Center features interactive exhibits, classrooms and outreach programs.
Landon Lecture at Kansas State
Tomorrow, on September 11th – the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our nation – I’ll be at Kansas State University to deliver a Landon Lecture. During my lecture, I’ll reflect on 9/11 and how that tragic event has changed the way I do my job as a legislator. I encourage you to join me for this special event, and I look forward to sharing the many ways that Kansans have impacted my life.
The Landon Lecture series is hosted by K-State that features leaders in different issues on public affairs. The series, started by then-K-State President James McCain, is named in honor of former Kansas Governor Alf Landon. I’m honored to deliver this lecture on what would be the 131st birthday of Governor Landon.
The Lecture starts at 10:30 a.m. and will be held in Forum Hall, inside the K-State Student Union on campus in Manhattan. Details of my lecture and the history of the Landon series can be found by clicking here.
Now Accepting Spring 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 Spring 2018 are due Friday, October 19. 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.
Kansans in the Office
American Moving & Storage Association.
Larry Fry of Lenexa
American Organization of Nurse Executives
Shanon Fucik of Lenexa
Judy Hodgson of Lyons
Debbie Schwartzkopf of Overland Park
Federation for American Immigration Reform
Tim Morse of Holton
National Retail Federation
Matthew Stafford of Lyons
National Auctioneers Association
David Webb of Stilwell
Oncology Nursing Society
Brandi Gutzmer of Wichita
Lori Ranallo of Roland Park
Yvonne Ward of Linwood
Pet Industry Advisory Council
Chadd Dodd of Lawerence
Jody Dondnie of Fredonia
Seasonal Employment Alliance
Rob Board of Olathe
Nick Brummy of Kansas City
Bill Gordon of Leawood
Frank Male of Eudora
Gail Messenger of Overland Park
Mark Myers of Shawnee
Karl Schottler of Shawnee
Curtis Strand of Kansas 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.
Very truly yours,
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