Kansas Common Sense
Jan 31 2011
This Week in Congress
By U.S. Senator Jerry Moran
January 31, 2011
Welcome to “This Week in Congress.”
Kansans Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Statehood
Kansans around the state had reason to celebrate on Saturday. Exactly 150 years ago, Kansas was officially admitted as the 34th state in the Union. The pioneering spirit of those Kansans years ago who settled our state and tamed the West lives on in us today. While national leaders in many fields have hailed from Kansas, the real story of the past 150 years is about the soldiers, farmers, factory workers, teachers, parents and all the unsung heroes whose hard work made our state a special place. This anniversary serves as a fitting challenge to all Kansans to continue the enduring legacy of our founders and preserve the Kansas way of life for our children and grandchildren. I especially enjoyed having the opportunity to attend the 93rd Annual Meeting of the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas on Friday evening and celebrate with many good friends. Congratulations to Sheila C. Bair – an Independence native who serves as chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. – for being named the 2010 Distinguished Kansan of the Year, and to Judge Deanell Reece Tacha of the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals – a Goodland native raised in Scandia – for being named 2010 Kansan of the Year.
This week the Senate passed S. Res. 33, a resolution Senator Roberts and I introduced that honors Kansans for their pioneering spirit and innovations. It also encourages Kansans to reflect on the state’s distinguished past and look forward to a promising future. Click here to read the full resolution.
Last Tuesday I stopped in to visit with one of Kansas’ favorite native sons, Senator Bob Dole. Senator Dole was in great spirits as we chatted in his office. I was glad to see him back at work and looking good. Click here to view a photo of our visit.
Ensuring Fairness in the Tanker Competition
Last week I was proud to introduce as my first bill in the U.S. Senate, legislation to ensure the Department of Defense (DOD) competition to build the next generation refueling tanker is fair to American workers. This significant defense contract is critical for our warfighters and for much-needed jobs in states like Kansas.
The Defense Level Playing Field Act, S. 189, will require the DOD to take into consideration the impact of illegal foreign subsidies in the tanker competition that unfairly place the American workers at a competitive disadvantage. This legislation is needed because last year a World Trade Organization panel found European governments guilty of providing $20 billion in illegal subsidies for the development of the Airbus A330 airframe, which serves as the basis for EADS’ proposal in the KC-X tanker competition. I sponsored identical legislation in the House of Representatives last December, which passed by a wide bipartisan margin of 325 – 23, but the Senate was unable to consider the bill before the 111th Congress adjourned.
At a time when millions of Americans are looking for work, our government should not be working against them. Click here to read more about this legislation.
Committee Assignments will Benefit Kansans
I was pleased this week to be appointed to several powerful U.S. Senate committees, whose jurisdictions have a direct impact on the lives of Kansans and America’s economy. I will serve on the following committees: the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations; the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee; the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee; the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship; and the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging.
I’d like to thank Governor Brownback for his kind words upon hearing of my committee assignments: “This is great news for Kansas,” the governor said. “Our delegation has never been better positioned. These assignments will be a big help in creating jobs in Kansas.”
I asked to be appointed to the Appropriations Committee in order to change Washington’s culture of spending and corruption. In my new role on the Appropriations Committee I will forcefully advocate for spending cuts, tougher funding standards and broad reform. I am very humbled to be given this opportunity, because the last time a freshman Republican senator was appointed to the Appropriations Committee was 30 years ago in 1981.
I also look forward to joining my new colleagues on the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee as well as the Senate Small Business Committee to continue my long-time commitment to strengthening the economy, creating jobs, opening up foreign markets to U.S. exports, and fostering the growth of small businesses. We must advocate for monetary and fiscal policies that promote, rather than stifle, economic growth.
Finally, I am pleased to have the opportunity to continue making the 250,000 veterans living in Kansas a top priority as a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. There is no group of Americans I hold in higher regard than our veterans, who bravely put their lives at risk to protect the freedoms and liberties we all enjoy. I will also take on the challenges facing all Kansas seniors – including access to health care, the solvency of Social Security and Medicare, and retirement planning – as a member of the Special Committee on Aging.
Attending State of the Union Address
On Tuesday night, I was honored to be joined by my guest for the State of the Union address, Kansas Army National Guard Master Sergeant Doretha Clark of Manhattan. Master Sergeant Clark has served in the Army National Guard for 23 years, and is assigned to the 287th Sustainment Brigade. She is currently receiving care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. I had a wonderful time meeting Master Sergeant Clark and spending time with her before the speech. The service and courage of soldiers like Master Sergeant Clark is an inspiration to all of us, and I was glad to have the opportunity thank her personally.
President Obama talked a lot about ‘making investments’ on Tuesday night, but call it what you will, this means more spending. We’ve had over $1 trillion annual deficits each year for the past two years, and the Congressional Budget Office is estimating a record 2011 deficit of nearly $1.5 trillion. It’s pretty clear spending our way to prosperity is not working. We need more than a change in tone; we need a change in policy. Click here to visit my You Tube page and watch my full statement on the president’s State of the Union address.
Working to Repeal Damaging Health Care Bill
On Wednesday, I sponsored S. 192, legislation to fully repeal President Obama’s health care reform law. The legislation mirrors the repeal bill passed by the U.S. House of Representative two weeks ago by a bipartisan vote of 245 to 189.
Americans want health care reform that improves our current system and reduces costs. Instead of enacting improvements to increase competition and choice for health coverage, the health care reform law will raise costs, increase premiums and reduce American jobs at the worst possible time. This law jeopardizes patients’ access to care, stifles businesses with job-crushing tax hikes and regulatory requirements, increases our national debt, expands burdens on states, and allows the federal government to intrude upon the most personal decisions Americans make every day.
The best path forward for Kansas and our nation is to repeal this law completely so we can implement sustainable polices that will actually lower health care costs for families and expand their access to affordable, quality health coverage.
Repealing the Health Care Law's Burdensome Mandate on Businesses
While I support a full repeal of President Obama’s health care plan, I am also pressing forward in efforts to repair the most damaging provisions of the law. On Tuesday, I sponsored S. 18, the Small Business Paperwork Elimination Act, which would repeal a costly and unprecedented tax reporting burden included in the law. This provision, which takes effect in 2012, would force all businesses, charities, and state and local governments to file separate “1099 forms” with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reporting all goods and services transactions valued at more than $600 in a given year.
S. 18 would repeal this provision and prevent a massive new burden from being imposed on businesses. Before the health care law, businesses were required to file 1099s only in limited situations. The new health care law vastly expands this requirement and will bury businesses in paperwork by increasing 1099 filings by 2000 percent. At a time when Washington is urging businesses to hire workers, the new 1099 requirements are a government-imposed obstacle to economic growth and job creation.
Requesting President Obama Include Agriculture in Recent Changes to U.S.-Cuba Policy
This week, I requested that President Obama make changes to current trade regulations that unnecessarily restrict sales of U.S. agricultural commodities to Cuba. This request is in response to the Obama Administration’s recent announcement of changes to U.S.-Cuba travel policy. While I support the recent announcement of changes to U.S.-Cuba travel policy, I am disappointed President Obama did not make executive changes to existing U.S. regulations that restrict the cash sale of agriculture products to Cuba. Despite the failure to order changes to current regulations, I hope the president will make such changes in the coming months.
Policy changes to current rules governing U.S. cash agricultural sales to Cuba are widely supported and would result in an estimated $270 million in new exports. These changes include simple modifications like lifting the prohibition on direct cash payments from a Cuban buyer to the bank of a U.S. seller of agricultural products and changing the definition of “cash in advance” to mean payment upon delivery, rather than payment before ships leave U.S. harbors. These changes would be consistent with prevalent international trade standards. Click here to read more about my request to President Obama.
Meeting Kansans Visiting Washington for the March For Life
On Monday, I had the opportunity to meet with Kansans who traveled to Washington by bus to participate in the 38th annual March for Life. As these Kansans joined thousands of Americans for the march across Washington, I was proud to join my new colleagues in the Senate to support legislation that defends the sanctity of human life. The Life at Conception Act states that human life begins at the moment of conception and will make sure that the fundamental right to life guaranteed by our Constitution is applied to all Americans. In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court specifically left the question of when life begins unresolved. This measure would foster a culture of life by protecting those who cannot speak for themselves.
Later, I met with Margaret Mans of Goddard and other members of Right to Life of Kansas to thank them for making the long bus ride for such a good cause and to hear about their day. I also met with Archbishop Joseph Naumann, leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City. We were able to discuss a number of issues concerning the sanctity and dignity of human life. Thanks to all Kansans who made the journey to make their voices heard on behalf of the unborn and all human life.
Nominating Father Emil Kapaun for Medal of Honor
This week, Senator Roberts and I introduced a bill to award Father Emil Kapaun the Medal of Honor for acts of valor in the Korean War. Father Kapaun was born in Pilsen, Kansas, in 1916 and served as a chaplain of the 8th Cavalry Regiment of the First Army Division during the Korean War in 1950. In November of that same year, he was taken as a prisoner of war and spent seven months in prison caring for his fellow soldiers before he passed away.
Father Kapaun’s courageous actions in the battlefields of the Korean War saved countless lives when he ran under enemy fire to rescue wounded American soldiers. His selfless acts uplifted the spirits of American GIs when he gave away his food and clothing and cared for the sick who were suffering alongside him in prison camps. When all else looked hopeless, the Father rallied men around him to persevere in the midst of their suffering. This good man distinguished himself by going above and beyond the call of duty and risking his life for the sake of others. In doing so, he is more than deserving of this distinguished award.
The bill authorizes and requests the posthumous Medal of Honor. The Department of Defense must concur with the Senior Army Decorations Board’s determination and convey approval to the Committees on Armed Services in the Senate and the House. It must then be approved by both chambers and signed into law. Click here to read more about this legislation.
Visiting with Kansas Electric Co-op Members
Before returning to Washington on Monday morning, I stopped in Topeka to speak at the Kansas Electric Cooperatives (KEC) Annual Meeting. For nearly 70 years, KEC has made its mission to provide needed services and representation for electric cooperative members and consumers in Kansas. Despite the challenges posed by an ever-growing number of burdensome federal regulations, KEC and its 29 member electric cooperatives have continued to be successful in bringing Kansas families and businesses reliable and affordable electric service. The unrest in Egypt and increasing oil prices serves as an important reminder that we need a comprehensive domestic energy policy. Congress must act to relieve the burden of unnecessary federal regulation, and allow for the exploration and production of our own resources at home. If Congress fails to do so, we will continue to subject Americans to rising and volatile energy prices. I enjoyed the opportunity to visit with members and share my support for the important work they do. Thanks to Stuart Lowry, and all the KEC board and staff for their kindness and hospitality during my visit.
Joining Business Leaders at Kansas Chamber Summit
On Friday afternoon, I was pleased to stop by the Kansas Chamber's Legislative and Congressional Summit for their federal delegation reception at the Topeka Country Club. All six members of our delegation were able to attend and several state legislators were there as well, including state Senator Terry Bruce of Hutchinson and state Representative Scott Schwab of Olathe. In my remarks, I discussed advocating for policies to improve the business climate and promote, rather than stifle, job creation. In my new roles on the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee as well as the Senate Small Business Committee, I will continue my long-time commitment to strengthening the economy, creating jobs, opening up foreign markets to U.S. exports, and fostering the growth of small businesses. I appreciate the Kansas Chamber, their board of directors, and their staff – under the leadership of CEO Kent Beisner – for all they do to promote job creation and entrepreneurship in Kansas. I especially want to thank Black & Veatch for being the presenting sponsor of the event and allowing me the opportunity to interact with business leaders from across our state.
In the Office
Dan Soliday of Wichita was in with Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters to discuss the work they are doing for young people and communities in Kansas. Steve Splichal of Hiawatha, Teresa San Martin of Maize, and Lisa Brookover of Augusta were in with the Kansas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development to visit about education reform priorities relating to Kansas’ education system. Several students from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City stopped by to discuss rural health care issues. In with the group were Jodi Schmidt of Parsons; Roger Masse of Ellsworth; Michele Reisinger of Onaga; and Braeden Johnson, Jenna Kennedy, and Aniesa Slack.
Scott Hamilton of Topeka was in with the American Association of Orthodontists to update me on initiatives to make oral health care more accessible and affordable. Mike Cook of Wichita was in with the Educational Services and Staff Development Association of Central Kansas to visit about education policy at the federal and state levels. Randall O’Donnell and Sandra Lawrence of Leawood, Genny Nicholas of Kansas City, and Dallas Polen of Overland Park were in with Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics to discuss pediatric medical education and efforts to care for children and their families.
Several Kansans were in with the Kansas Head Start Association to discuss the needs of young children and families in Kansas. In with the group were Walinda Arnett of Manhattan, Jenny Conn of Russell, Tamika Sellars of Topeka, Linda Broyles of Girard, Penny Stoss of McPherson, and Mary Baskett of Lawrence. Several members of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities stopped by to update me on federal regulations affecting higher education. In with the group were Hal Hoxie of Central Christian College of Kansas; Jules Glanzer of Tabor College; and Paul Maurer of Sterling College. Chriss Walther-Thomas of Lawrence was in with the University of Kansas Department of Special Education to discuss special education research programs and leadership preparation.
Ms. Jackie Clark of Overland Park was in with Ash Grove Cement Company to discuss how recently finalized EPA regulations are causing cement plants in the U.S. to shut down. Paul Snider of Kansas City was in with Kansas City Power & Light to discuss proposed EPA regulations and the potential adverse effects they will have on Kansas utilities. Karl Brooks, EPA Region 7 Administrator in Lawrence, stopped by to introduce himself and discuss a number of pending environmental issues for the state of Kansas.
Keith Yehle of Lawrence was in with the University of Kansas to visit. John Maguire of Lenexa was in this week for a tour of the U.S. Capitol building.
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Please let me know how I can be of assistance. To send me an email, click 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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