Kansas Common Sense
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Democrats Force Partisan Vote on $3.5 Trillion Tax and Spending Spree
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Senate Democrats forced a partisan vote on a $3.5 trillion tax and spending spree that will cripple future generations with mountains of debt. This bill is a Democrat wish list that will drive up inflation, raise taxes on small businesses and harm everyday Kansans trying to provide for their families and pay their bills, all while adding trillions of dollars to our national debt.
Prior to the final vote, I offered an amendment to the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget resolution to enforce immigration laws and address the humanitarian crisis at our southern border, which was adopted 76-23. The Biden administration’s rollback of immigration laws has not only magnified the humanitarian crisis, it has left our law enforcement with the impossible task of trying to slow the flow of illegal crossings while also attempting to stop drug, weapon and human traffickers from entering the country. I also offered an amendment with Sen. Roger Marshall to ensure resources are provided for COVID-19 testing and treatment of migrants at the border. This amendment passed 88-11.
These votes send a clear message to President Biden and Vice President Harris that their border policies are failing and we should immediately strengthen enforcement of our immigration laws to address the humanitarian crisis and make certain all migrants are tested for COVID-19 at our southern border.
Afghanistan Falls to the Taliban
The chaos we are seeing in Kabul was preventable. The Biden administration’s unorganized and haphazard withdrawal process will make our country and the world less secure.
President Biden’s announcement in April to completely withdraw American troops by September 11 without taking appropriate security precautions – including preparing for a return of the Taliban to Kabul – was irresponsible and will damage America’s reputation and interests for years to come. Additionally, the lack of urgency to do right by the thousands of Afghans who worked alongside Americans will be a source of shame for this administration.
I visited Afghanistan in 2017 to engage with American servicemembers who were supporting anti-terrorism operations. Thank you to each of them and the thousands of men and women who answered the call to serve our country over the last two decades. They served with duty and purpose and deserve our thanks and respect.
This photo was taken during my visit to Afghanistan in 2017.
Urging President Biden to Reconsider Unconstitutional Eviction Moratorium
This week, I urged President Biden to reconsider his nationwide eviction ban. Instead of issuing an unconstitutional moratorium, the Biden administration should be focused on distributing the rental assistance that was already provided in three separate stimulus packages. In addition, the CDC lacks the legal authority to be making these orders. Our economy and job market are returning to normal operations and small-time landlords in Kansas rely on rent checks to make mortgage payments and conduct repairs on their properties. Unconstitutional actions like this are unnecessary and make it harder for our economy to recover. The rental assistance program only allows landlords to recoup lost rental payments if tenants sign up voluntarily. An unprecedented amount of stimulus has been distributed for purposes exactly like rent.
Meeting with Kansas Cadets at the Air Force Academy
On Friday, I had the opportunity to have lunch with sophomores (Cadet Third Class, or C3C) and juniors (Cadet Second Class, or C2C) at the U.S. Air Force Academy. During our conversations, we discussed last week’s annual Acceptance Day Parade, where incoming freshmen of the class of 2025 were welcomed, how summer programs were impacted by COVID-19, the academy’s construction on its new cyber innovation center and what these cadets hope to do after graduation. Nominating Kansas students to attend service academies is one of my greatest responsibilities as a United States Senator, and I am proud of these young students for their desire to serve our nation.
Thank you to Superintendent LTG Richard Clark for speaking with me, as well as Caroline Harshbarger of Olathe, Makensie Blum of Gardner, Connor Chase of Olathe, Cale Franklin of Pittsburg, Keaton Koenig of Manhattan, Jacob Stenslie of Overland Park, Timothy Whetstone of Howard, Zachary Bollinger of Hesston, Cody Savage of Leavenworth, Tyler Simms of Olathe and Mason Vasta of Overland Park for sharing about their experience at the Academy.
Working for Our Veterans
Transportation Services for Rural Veterans
Transportation issues continue to be one of the primary barriers to health care for veterans who reside in rural areas. I am leading an effort in the Senate to provide more transportation services and programs for rural veterans to make certain veterans never miss their medical appointments due to the financial burden of travel costs. The Rural Veterans Travel Enhancement Act of 2021 would require the VA to expand successful initiatives that provide veterans living in rural areas with transportation services and reimbursement for their travel to VA medical facilities. This legislation will also establish a pilot program for providing Beneficiary Travel payments to low-income veterans in advance of their medical appointments. This will enable veterans living in rural areas to travel as far as necessary to receive the care they have earned, while lessening their financial burden.
Additionally, this bill directs VA to establish pilot programs to expand public transportation opportunities to better serve veterans and reimburse veterans who receive mental health care and readjustment counseling services at Vet Centers. As the lead Republican on the Senate VA Committee, I will continue to work to improve health care access for Kansas veterans and all veterans who reside in rural areas.
Meeting with VA’s Secretary for Memorial Affairs
On Tuesday, I met with VA’s new Under Secretary, Matthew Quinn, who was confirmed on June 17th. As head of the National Cemetery Administration (NCA), Quinn is responsible for the management of 155 national cemeteries and administers grants that have funded 119 state and tribal cemeteries across the country. These include three national cemeteries, four grant-funded state cemeteries and two soldiers’ lots in Kansas. NCA honors veterans with a final resting place worthy of their service and sacrifice to our nation, and Quinn and I discussed the importance of this mission. He noted that whether a veteran’s final resting place is a national cemetery, State Veterans Cemetery or other NCA-supported location, each option must meet the same standards for quality and provide the same level of honor for our veterans.
I was also pleased to hear Mr. Quinn’s update on the Veterans Legacy Project and Veterans Legacy Memorial, both of which honor the memory of veterans and increase the public’s awareness of and connection to their individual service. Engaging students and the general public on how and why individuals from their own communities served in the military strengthens our understanding and appreciation for the military and is good for our national security. I let Mr. Quinn know I am interested in updates on NCA’s efforts to expand burial options for rural and urban veterans and would work to assist him in overcoming any delays NCA is facing. Veterans should have access to burial options close to where they live so their families and their communities can keep the memory of them and their service alive well into the future.
Expanding GI Bill Benefits to National Guard and Reserve Members
This week, I introduced legislation to make certain our national guard and military reservists earn the same GI Bill benefits as their active duty counterparts when performing the same type of service. In addition to the numerous combat deployments National Guard and reserve forces have conducted in the last two decades, these forces have faced increased domestic utilization to respond to natural disasters, the pandemic and civil unrest in recent years. Due to the myriad of different types of mobilization orders that can be used to authorize these deployments and required training, some guardsmen and reservists have not earned GI Bill eligibility while serving alongside active duty troops who are earning eligibility.
The Guard, Reserve, and Active Duty Department of Veterans Affairs Educational Assistance Parity (GRAD) Act would update the definition of active duty for purposes of the post-9/11 GI Bill to match the definitions for active duty and full-time National Guard duty used by the Department of Defense, instead of relying solely on specific mobilization authorities. This will provide guardsmen and reservists with more certainty on how much GI Bill eligibility they will earn when they are mobilized and make that benefit more equitable across the regular reserve and National Guard components of the total force. I am pleased to lead this important effort and have the support of the National Guard Association of the U.S.
Meeting with Vice Chief of Staff of the Army General Joe Martin
This week, I also met with General Joe Martin, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army and former commanding general of the Big Red One at Fort Riley. We spoke about Big Red One’s important work in Europe this summer supporting Operation Atlantic Resolve and talked more broadly about the critical future role of ground forces in maintaining national security. I enjoyed catching up with General Martin as he leads our Army and am proud to work alongside him to make certain our Army gets the support it needs.
President Biden’s Oil and Gas Policies are Hurting American Workers
The best and most effective way to reduce the cost of gas at the pump is to unleash clean, affordable and reliable American energy.
Since President Biden’s first day in office, his administration has canceled the Keystone XL pipeline, imposed an apparently indefinite pause on oil and gas drilling leases, and proposed tax increases on oil and gas development that are continuing to increase the price of gas and hurt American interests. These policies have proven to be devastating for American workers and consumers. As OPEC and its allies increase oil production in response to rising gasoline prices, I am urging this administration to revise its regulatory and legislative priorities as it relates to domestic oil and gas development.
Recognizing My Summer 2021 Interns
This summer, six impressive college students dedicated their summer to working on behalf of Kansans in my office. It was during my internship in Congress that I became interested in public service, and I appreciate these interns choosing to serve their fellow Kansans this summer. Our interns come from all over Kansas and are some of the finest young people this country has to offer, and I appreciate their hard work throughout the summer.
Thank you to Hailey of Council Grove, Marissa of Olathe, Emilio of Liberal, Nathaniel of Augusta, Andrew of Leawood and Jack of Leawood for serving in my Washington, D.C. office and to Sarah Lynn from the University of Kansas for working in my Olathe office. I have appreciated the opportunity to get to know each of you. For more information regarding my intern program, please click here.
Celebrating the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games
The 32nd Summer Olympics came to a close in Tokyo this week, and I thank all the athletes for representing Team USA despite the numerous challenges they have faced throughout the past year and a half.
I am especially proud of the Kansans who competed in this year’s games, including Bubba Starling of Gardner (baseball), Derrick Mein of Paola (trap shooting), Adrianna Franch of Salina (soccer) and Kelsey Stewart of Wichita (softball). You’ve made Kansas and this country proud.
The Tokyo Paralympic Games will be held from August 24 to September 5, and I encourage everyone to join me in cheering on Team USA next Tuesday. Click here to learn more about this year’s Paralympic Games.
Recognizing the Navajo Code Talkers
Saturday was Navajo Code Talkers day, a day to recognize the 29 Navajo men who created a complex code based on the unwritten Navajo language during WWII. The Code Talkers participated in every major Marine operation in the Pacific theater, giving the Marines a critical advantage throughout the war. They successfully transmitted more than 800 messages without error, and their code remained unbroken at the end of the war. Their skill saved countless American lives, and we thank them for their service.
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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