Kansas Common Sense
Aug 23 2021
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As the situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate, President Biden must do everything in his power to provide for the swift and secure transfer of Americans and Afghan interpreters out of Afghanistan. His National Security Advisor and Secretary of Defense have both failed to make assurances that all Americans will be out of Afghanistan by August 31. That is unacceptable. President Biden needs to take decisive action to bring Americans home.
On Wednesday, I joined a bipartisan effort with over 50 of my colleagues to urge the Biden administration to immediately evacuate Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants.
Calling for Leader Schumer to Bring the Senate Back in Session
We have all watched the tragic scenes reported out of Afghanistan over recent weeks and seen how quickly circumstances continue to evolve. The unfolding situation demands the immediate attention of the U.S. Senate.
It is imperative for the Senate to return to Washington D.C. to seek answers from the administration and provide support for the U.S. military, State Department personnel and others tasked with carrying out the withdrawal effort. Further, Senate committees must be given the immediate opportunity to demand answers from the administration on the operational failures we are currently witnessing.
I’m calling on Leader Schumer to bring the Senate back into session to both provide support for the evacuation of Americans and the people who fought alongside our military and for the congressional oversight of the Biden administration’s massive operational failure in withdrawing from Afghanistan.
Seeking Answers on VA Preparation to Support Veterans During Afghanistan Withdrawal
This week, we’ve already seen an 11 percent spike in calls to the Veteran Crisis Line. On Thursday, as ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I sought answers from VA Secretary Denis McDonough regarding the VA’s plans and preparation to support veterans during and following the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Our military servicemembers fought honorably to accomplish every mission their country asked of them, and as veterans, many of them continue to fight for the safety and well-being of our Afghan allies. How the United States concludes our involvement in Afghanistan will have lasting impacts on both our Afghan allies and on the brave men and women whose honor will forever be entwined with the fate of the country in which they fought. The VA has an important role to play in how our country ends this war and deals with its aftermath. I will work to make certain we do all we can to see that this war is ended responsibly and its aftermath is dealt with compassionately.
Watch my conversation with WIBW about my work to support veterans by clicking here or below.
As the lead Republican on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I am also focused on supporting our veterans here at home as some are struggling watching the U.S. withdraw from Afghanistan. The veterans who answered the call to protect our nation after September 11 deserve our utmost respect and gratitude. These veterans brought justice to Osama bin Laden and served with duty and purpose. They need to know they are not alone and that we will never forget their sacrifice. I encourage each of us to reach out to our friends and loved ones who have served to check-in and make certain they know they are loved and that their service made a difference.
Click here for a list of resources available to veterans and veteran families and caregivers following the recent events in Afghanistan.
Assisting with Evacuations for Kansans
If you, a loved one or a colleague are an American citizen seeking evacuation assistance from Afghanistan, please contact my office. My staff and I have been working with the State Department to provide up-to-date information to those seeking information and assistance getting out of the country.
Visiting Dole VA’s New Substance Abuse Treatment Facility
On Friday morning, I attended the grand opening of the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center's new Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Facility (SARRTF) in Wichita. This new facility will provide care and treatment for substance abuse, addiction and mental health conditions, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Like the care provided at all VA facilities, this treatment will be veteran-centered. It will use a tailored approach to each veteran through six weeks of clinical evaluation, evidence-based therapies and counseling, and peer support to put our veterans on the path to recovery and improve their quality of life.
Prior to the opening of this substance abuse rehabilitation facility, Kansas veterans had to drive to Topeka, Leavenworth or Kansas City to receive care to address substance abuse. I am pleased that we are making substance abuse rehabilitation programs more accessible to veterans living in south-central Kansas and adding a second residential facility for this type of care in the state. Thank you to Dole VAMC Director Candace Ifabiyi, Acting Behavioral Health Chief Misty Lester and Public Affairs Officer Jeff Herdon for the invitation to the grand opening, as well as Kansas American Legion Commander Marri Krupco, Kansas American Legion Vice Commander Jeremy Ehart, Kansas VFW Commander Lee Hursey, Kansas VFW Vice Commander James Ratcliff, Sedgwick County Commissioners Pete Meitzner, David Dennis, Lacey Cruse and Jim Howell for joining me.
Recognizing the Hutchinson Blue Dragons, NJCAA National Champions
It was great to be in Hutchinson to present the U.S. Senate resolution recognizing the Hutchinson Community College Blue Dragons football team for winning the 2021 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Championship, their first title in program history. This resolution unanimously passed the Senate on July 21, and it was great to get to congratulate the players, coaches and staff on their accomplishment. Special thanks to their families and all of Blue Dragon nation for their unwavering support of the team. Thank you also to President Carter File, Athletic Director Josh Gooch and Head Coach Drew Dallas for the kind invitation, as well as the full coaching staff, players, college trustees and staff for their attendance. Best wishes to Coach Dallas and the team for continued success this upcoming season. Go Blue Dragons!
Read more about my visit from the Hutchinson News by clicking here.
Visiting Colby’s New Events Center
On Monday while I was in Colby, I had the chance to visit its newly opened community center, the Colby Event Center. This facility opened to the public late last month and provides a space for the Colby community to come together for sporting events, concerts and more. With two gyms, it’s great to see that this extra space will allow Colby the opportunity to host regional tournaments for both Colby High School and Colby Community College.
Thank you to Events Center Director Egan Grafel and Recreation Director James Farris for speaking with me and for everyone’s work to make this facility possible.
Meeting with Great Bend Community Leaders
It was good to be back in Great Bend to visit with the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and community and business leaders regarding the labor shortage, infrastructure and rural health care.
Thank you Pete Wesner of CUNA Mutual and Megan Barfield with the Great Bend Chamber for the invitation. I also want to give special thanks to 112th District Representative Tory Marie Arnberger for attending and sharing important community updates. Read more about my visit from the Great Bend Tribune by clicking here.
Learning About Hyatt Life Sciences and Genzada Pharmaceuticals in Sterling
While in Sterling on Friday, I visited Hyatt Life Sciences and Genzada Pharmaceuticals. Hyatt Life Sciences offers specialized, science-based products including Afaya Plus and Arumacil, a cold sore treatment, and Genzada Pharmaceuticals focuses on drug developments based on natural compounds found in plants.
Genzada is currently working on its first novel therapeutic, GZ17-6.02, an agent that has demonstrated substantial pre-clinical activity against a variety of cancers. Based on promising results revealed during a decade of rigorous preclinical studies, GZ17-6.02 is now undergoing Phase I clinical trials in the United States, hoping to one day deliver a life-changing treatment option for patients battling cancer. I appreciated the opportunity to speak with founder and lead chemist, Dr. Gene Zaid, and I also want to thank Sterling City Administrator Craig Crossette for taking time out of his day to join this discussion.
Attending Fort Hays State University Foundation's Trustees Meeting
On Saturday, I attended the Fort Hays State University Foundation annual Board of Trustees Meeting to discuss FHSU’s commitment to providing a quality education, the university’s role in the greater Hays community and how to best serve its students after graduation. I look forward to continuing to further FHSU’s mission of excellence thought this next year.
Stopping By My Hometown
It was great to get back to Plainville this week. Growing up in a small-town, close-knit community developed my love for this state, and I thank everyone I visited with on Tuesday.
Hosting Kansas Listening Tour Stops
It was a full house of over 50 people on Thursday in Sabetha where we were able to discuss the infrastructure bill, vaccination mandates, January 6 and the news from Afghanistan. I appreciate the Nemaha County residents who joined me to share their thoughts and concerns, and I want to thank Buzz Cafe for graciously hosting us.
It was great to be in Sharon Springs to speak with Wallace County residents about the issues most important to them. I thank everyone who spent part of their Saturday sharing their thoughts regarding Afghanistan, current mistrust surrounding beef markets and the importance of maintaining rural American values. The conversations I have with Kansans across the state greatly guide my work in Washington, D.C.
Application Process for Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Program Reopens
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reopened its application process for the Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Program (AMJP). The initial application period for the AMJP program closed, as planned, on Tuesday, July 13. However, DOT has decided to reopen the application process on Wednesday, August 4 as some businesses may not have understood the relationship between the AMJP and the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) programs.
The program was created by legislation I introduced with Congressman Ron Estes and is structured to support aviation manufacturers impacted by COVID-19 and works to ensure the experienced and invaluable aviation manufacturing workforce will be safeguarded and available to contribute as the industry recovers.
Applicants who have applied and received confirmation that their application was received do not need to resubmit an application.
Applications will be accepted for four weeks. The deadline to submit an AMJP application is 5:00 p.m. ET on September 1, 2021. Additionally, anyone is free to submit questions, particularly about the application process, to AMJP@dot.gov. An overview of the AMJP application process is available here.
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.
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