Kansas Common Sense

Protecting and Empowering Athletes

Speaking at the Senate Judiciary Hearing on FBI’s Dereliction of Duty in the Larry Nassar Case

On Wednesday, I provided opening remarks at the Senate Judiciary hearing on the Inspector General’s report that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) failed to act on information it received regarding Larry Nassar’s abuse of athletes. The hearing included testimony from Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Maggie Nichols and McKayla Maroney and from FBI Director Christopher Wray and Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

The day after Nassar was sentenced to prison in 2018, I launched an investigation with Sen. Richard Blumenthal into the systemic abuse within the U.S. Olympic movement. One question that stuck with me since the very beginning of our investigation was, ‘Why was there more than one?’

It was during the course of this investigation that we uncovered evidence that the FBI received credible information of the dangers Nassar posed to athletes, yet did not take additional actions. Since then, I questioned the FBI Director multiple times regarding these findings and the FBI’s willingness to prioritize and take the Inspector General’s recommendation seriously.

Following our eighteen-month investigation that included four subcommittee hearings, interviews with Olympic athletes and survivors, and the retrieval and review of over 70,000 pages of documents, Sen. Blumenthal and I introduced the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act to reform the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. This legislation was signed into law on October 31, 2020.

I remain committed to working with my colleagues in the Senate and the survivors to protect and empower all athletes. As the Ranking Member of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Department of Justice, I will work to make certain the FBI agents are held accountable for their actions. Our goals should remain the same – to hold those accountable for these crimes and to make certain future generations can train, compete and succeed without fear of abuse.

Protecting Taxpayer Rights and Privacy Legislation

In order to fund the Democrats’ tax-and-spend spree, the Biden administration has proposed drastically increasing the size and scope of the IRS. This strategy would require the IRS to hire nearly 90,000 new employees and would intrude into Americans’ financial accounts by requiring the potential disclosure of annual inflows and outflows for accounts over $600. Additionally, President Biden’s plan would impose an incredible compliance burden on community lenders with limited human capital.

This week, I cosponsored the Tax Gap Reform and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Enforcement Act, which aims to prevent the IRS from targeting Americans for their political or ideological beliefs and prevent IRS funding from being used to track Americans’ private financial transactions. This legislation puts important guardrails in place to protect local lenders’ capacity to serve their customers. Furthermore, this bill would codify President Biden’s pledge to not increase audits of taxpayers making less than $400,000 per year and prohibit invasive reporting requirements.

The Biden Administration’s invasive approach would infringe on taxpayer privacy and impose burdensome requirements on community banks and credit unions.

The Collapse of Afghanistan

On Tuesday, I took to the U.S. Senate floor to demand accountability from the Biden administration for the poorly executed plan that led to this outcome. 

The chaos and collapse of Afghanistan was a result of weak and incompetent leadership. Since the September 11th attacks, I have visited Afghanistan four times. Over the course of those visits, I saw the progress made by our troops and civilians, our NATO allies and Afghan partners.

Americans deserve answers on how our withdrawal from Afghanistan went so horribly wrong, how we will remedy the complex security situation in the country, how we will help the Afghan women and girls who are already being persecuted and how we will make certain this never happens again.

Hosting a Kansas Wheat Tour

Kansas leads the nation in the production of wheat, and as a key economic driver of our state’s agricultural economy, it is important that Kansas continues to invest in wheat research and innovation.

On Thursday, I held a wheat tour in Manhattan, where I visited with Kansas Association of Wheat Growers (KAWG) Board of Directors members. Together, we visited the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center where we spoke with wheat experts about how their research and training operations will ensure Kansas’ leadership in the years to come. We toured a laboratory used by Grain Craft to conduct research as part of their partnership with Kansas Wheat, and I discussed Grain Craft’s operations across Kansas with VP Nick Weigel. The Kansas Wheat Innovation Center represents our state’s largest farmer investment in wheat research, and its role in wheat genetics research will continue to provide farmers in Kansas and around the world with the cutting edge wheat varieties that will lead to the highest yields with the most efficient and sustainable production methods.

From there, we went to Kansas State University’s Hal Ross Flour Mill, where the Grain and Feed Science students and faculty use the state-of-the-art facility for teaching, research and industry training purposes for whole-grain products including sorghum, corn, beans and pulses. The mill holds some of  the most cutting edge equipment found in the commercial flour milling industry, and we were able to see one of its production runs while we were there.

Thank you to Claudia Hissong of Kansas Farm Bureau, Dennis Hupe of Kansas Soybean and Randy Stookey of the Kansas Agribusiness Retailers and the Kansas Grain and Feed Associations for joining me and for your commitment to Kansas’ leadership in agriculture innovation. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, I will continue to champion agricultural research and the farmers and ranchers in Kansas and across the county who benefit from these initiatives.

Read more from the Kansas State Collegian here.

Leading Veterans’ Prostate Cancer Treatment and Research Act

Prostate cancer is currently the number one cancer diagnosed by the Veterans Health Administration, and early detection should be a priority of the VA. This week, I introduced legislation, the Veterans’ Prostate Cancer Treatment and Research Act, to help support critical research and expedite prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment for veterans. Additionally, this important legislation will require the VA to establish and publish an interdisciplinary clinical diagnosis and treatment pathway in the VA National Surgery Office, direct VA to establish a metric-driven prostate cancer program utilizing the clinical pathway mandated in this legislation, expand upon the current VA and Prostate Cancer Foundation partnership and direct VA to submit a report to Congress on the barriers and challenges associated with creating a national prostate cancer registry. This bill will make a real difference in the lives of veterans, and I remain committed to passing it into law. 

Hosting NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan in Kansas

On Friday, I hosted National Science Foundation (NSF) Director Sethuraman Panchanathan on a tour of three locations in Kansas. The NSF provides grants to support research and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education across the country, and this tour highlighted how NSF funding has benefited Kansans and has returned value to the foundation. During the tour, we stopped at Blue Valley Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS), Johnson County Community College (JCCC), and the University of Kansas (KU).

Blue Valley CAPS is a program for high school-aged students in the Blue Valley school system that fast forwards them into potential future careers and immerses them in a professional environment, so they better understand what would be expected of them in the workplace. We spoke to students enrolled in the program about the benefits of the program and what they hope to accomplish based on their experience in the CAPS system. In 2019, the NSF provided a grant to Northeastern University to study the Blue Valley CAPS program to analyze the effectiveness of the program and to figure out what makes the program successful and can be used across the country.

At JCCC, we spoke to current and former students of the STEM Scholars Program, an NSF-funded program that provides scholarships and mentorship to students receiving an Associate’s Degree of Science. The students described projects that they completed, and how the program helped them better understand what they are interested in pursuing as a career.

At KU, we heard from faculty and students who are participating in NSF-funded research. Particularly, we spoke to members of the Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis (CEBC) at KU who are working to prevent waste and conserve resources. This includes a project that KU is working on with Pittsburg State University and Delaware University that will work to turn non-renewable plastics into recyclable plastics. During the tour, it was announced that the project will receive a $4 million grant from the NSF to support this project.

The purpose of this tour was to show Director Panchanathan the resources that Kansas has to fulfill NSF research and commercialization goals, and to reinforce the importance of tapping into resources located in the middle of the country. Research and development investment, including funding provided through the NSF, has concentrated in a few coastal cities, leaving resources in the middle of the country underutilized. To continue to be an innovative global competitor, the United States must take full advantage of the research talent and facilities in areas that have not traditionally received their share of funding. As the lead Republican on the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds NSF, I will continue to work with Director Panchanathan to achieve this goal.

Thank you to Director Panchanathan for joining me in Kansas, and thank you to everyone at Blue Valley CAPS, JCCC, and KU who made this trip possible.

Speaking at the Veterans Recognition Ceremony in Great Bend

It was great to spend time this weekend at the Great Bend Airfest. This community's aviation history has strong ties to World War II, and I was pleased to have the opportunity to extend thanks on behalf of a grateful nation to all the veterans in attendance during the Veterans Recognition Ceremony. We couldn’t have asked for a better evening to gather to celebrate aviation in Kansas and to thank those who have served.

As the lead Republican on the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, I want to make certain the promises we made to our veterans are kept. It's important for each veteran to know they have our love and respect.

Thank you to Christina Hayes, Mayor Cody Schmidt, and Kendal Francis for your hospitality. Read more from the Great bend Tribune here.

Before speaking with those in attendance, I was honored to be presented as a son of Great Bend. I am proud to call Great Bend my birthplace, and I thank everyone involved in their efforts to present me with this recognition.

Kansas State Fair 

This weekend marked the end of the biggest event in Kansas – the Kansas State Fair. Thank you to everyone who stopped by my booth in the Pride of Kansas building.

Meeting with Johnson and Wyandotte County Law Enforcement

This week, I met with law enforcement officials from both Johnson and Wyandotte counties to discuss the importance of effective partnerships between federal agencies and local law enforcement as well as the need for our local departments to have access to federal funding through Department of Justice (DOJ) grants.

Collaboration between those at the local level and federal law provide each other a much needed force multiplier and are essential to disrupting violent crime and drug trafficking. Furthermore, DOJ grants, like the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (JAG), are a vital instrument to ensure our state and local law enforcement are equipped with the necessary tools and resources they need to keep our communities safe. Just last year law enforcement in Kansas received more than $2.5 million in JAG Program funding. As the FY2022 Appropriations bills are reviewed by Congress and as the lead Republican on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that makes funding decisions regarding the DOJ, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure this critical assistance is provided to the men and women who work each day to keep our communities safe.

Receiving an Update form Leavenworth City Officials

I met with City of Leavenworth Mayor Nancy Bauder and City Manager Paul Kramer this week to discuss issues facing the community. I was pleased to be updated on multiple economic development projects in the city, including the construction of new hotels, housing and child care facilities. We also discussed efforts to support Fort Leavenworth, infrastructure investments and the Leavenworth prisons. I look forward to continuing to work with Mayor Bauder and the Leavenworth community.

Constitution Day

Thank you to the millions of Americans who have adopted the Constitution as their own and taken an oath to uphold the rights and liberties protected within it. Friday was Constitution Day and a time to reaffirm our commitment to striving towards a more perfect union.

 

Happy Birthday to the Air Force

Saturday marked the Air Force’s 74th birthday. Thank you to the men and women who protect our nation from above. Fly Fight Win.

POW MIA Recognition Day

Friday was POW MIA Recognition Day. Let us pay tribute to the servicemembers who are imprisoned or unaccounted for as a result of their military service and think of the families & loved ones they've left behind.

Yom Kippur

Wishing a peaceful fast and meaningful reflection to all those who observed Yom Kippur in Kansas and around the world.

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