Kansas Common Sense

The United States Stands with Israel
I condemn the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel and stand in support of Israel as it responds to this terrorism. Israel’s right to exist and its right to defend itself is not a matter of debate.

There is no doubt that Iran’s support was instrumental in this barbaric act. Hamas thanked Tehran for the funding and weapons that Iran has provided for many years. Iran must be held accountable for its pursuit of destroying Israel. Supporting Israel means the U.S. must be prepared to deter our enemies and those of our allies. The U.S. also must enforce the sanctions already in law on Iran and any nation that backs terrorist organizations in Israel and around the region.

We Must Work Together to Secure the Border, Confront a Dangerous World
This week I spoke on the Senate Floor regarding the urgent need to work together to address the challenges facing our country at home and abroad including securing our southern border and providing resources to assist Ukraine in their fight against Russia.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a fellow Kansan, recently warned of our government dysfunction at a moment in history in which our nation confronts graver threats to its security than it has in decades, perhaps ever. Our adversaries pay attention to what we do or don’t do. Our action or inaction can increase the trust placed in us by our allies or it can embolden our adversaries. We need to demonstrate resolve; resolve in the support of allies and resolve in the resistance to enemies.

During my time in the U.S. Senate, I have never been angrier or more sullen than those few days in which our country left Afghanistan. Our unprepared actions and void of leadership resulted in the deaths of U.S. servicemembers, and it stranded thousands of Afghan allies behind enemy lines. Those few days may have been among the most costly in emboldening those who seek our country’s demise. I fear today we are about to again demonstrate to the world our feckless ambivalence to lead.

There is no question that the spending path we have been on is not sustainable. We are on a better, but not sufficient path with the appropriations bills that have passed in committee that stop spending increases. These are important decisions, but we don’t need to manufacture a crisis to make a point. The crisis doesn’t solve the spending problem.

We know the dangerous nature of our world when we see what China is doing and what its intentions seem to be; when we know what’s taking place in Iran and their efforts around the globe; when Russia invades a neighboring country’s borders; and when North Korea fires missiles. We have united as a nation numerous times in our history, and we need to return to those circumstances. And that can happen if there is leadership here in Congress to do so. Now is the time to lower the temperature and find common ground that puts us in a position that we can be optimistic about our nation’s future. Our future is bright, but it is only bright when we work together.

We must send the message that we are a reliable partner to Ukraine and encourage allies around the world to be helpful to Ukraine. As we work to enhance Ukraine’s chance for success in defeating Putin, we should also resolutely move forward in ending the failure to protect our own country and own border. Our borders need desperate attention, and it’s another national security issue.

We have work to do. We can look the other way or we can decide that we’re going to do what is right. We can decide that it would be nice to be popular at the moment, but it would be better to be right in the long term. I’m an optimist. This week and the next several weeks can be times of good work for the American people and a safer and more secure United States and world.

You can watch my floor speech here.

Securing the Southern Border

After record levels of illegal migration, a fentanyl crisis and migrants with ties to ISIS and the CCP slipping across our border, the Biden administration has finally indicated that it will follow Congressional intent to resume construction of a wall on the southern border. I hope this is a signal that the administration is ready to take serious action to secure our southern border, and I will continue to pressure the administration to prioritize the national security crisis at the southern border.

Helping Veterans Receive Timely Benefits
This week I introduced bipartisan legislation with Sen. Tester (D-Mont.) to make it easier for veterans, particularly rural veterans, to receive timely reimbursements through the Department of Veterans Affairs Beneficiary Travel Program. I have heard from veterans who are facing difficulties filing their beneficiary travel claims and receiving their travel payments from the VA. Many of them rely on these benefits to offset the costs of driving long distances to get ongoing care from VA. This legislation will make certain veterans – particularly those in rural areas – are able to continue filing traditional paper claims and are provided more time to file their claims.

The Road to Access Act would mandate VA to accept beneficiary travel claims up to 180 days after the date of eligible travel, improve outreach to veterans about the beneficiary travel process and make certain that veterans are able to continue filing beneficiary travel paper claims even as VA expands opportunities for electronic filing. Additionally, this legislation would require VA to process any beneficiary travel claims for veterans meeting certain criteria, including those who have a 50% or higher service-connected disability rating.

Supporting Mike Whitaker as the FAA Nominee
The FAA is long overdue for a permanent, qualified administrator. This vacancy has had a ripple effect not just in aviation but across multiple sectors and industries.

As Ranking Member of the Aviation Subcommittee on Commerce, I had the opportunity to question Mike Whitaker, the nominee to be Administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Mr. Whitaker has extensive experience working as the Deputy Administrator of the FAA, chief operating officer of an advanced air mobility company and as an employee for a major commercial airline. I look forward to voting to support Mr. Whitaker’s nomination and working together in ensuring Kansas’ legacy in the aviation realm continues long into the future.

You can watch a video of my questions here.