Kansas Common Sense

“We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter. Please feel free to forward it on to your family and friends if it would interest them.

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I participated in the MLK Day of Service at the Olathe Public Library where volunteers packed brown bag lunches, made toys and served warm meals. Thank you to Olathe Mayor Mike Copeland for joining me.

Meeting with Secs. Mattis, Tillerson and Chao
In three separate meetings on Tuesday, I met with Defense Secretary Mattis, Secretary of State Tillerson and Transportation Secretary Chao. I appreciated these updates from these officials as Congress begins its work for the year.

Sec. Mattis made clear that short-term budget resolutions are harmful to our nation’s national security. As a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I remain committed to working with my colleagues to end short-term funding resolutions and to pass 12 appropriations bills to fund the government through FY 2018.

After hearing from Sec. Mattis, I joined members of the State/Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee to receive a briefing from Sec. Tillerson on the State Department’s ongoing reform and reorganization. He emphasized the need to modernize the department and make it more efficient by upgrading technology and streamlining the organization. It is imperative that American diplomacy and soft power remain effective as we address significant threats to our nation’s security and prosperity.

Next, I joined my Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee colleagues in attending a briefing with officials to hear the administration’s ideas for a plan to improve our nation’s infrastructure. Attending were Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, and the President’s Special Assistant for Infrastructure D.J. Gribbin.

While many details and timing for introduction of the President’s infrastructure plan remain unclear, administration officials confirmed their interest in seeking $200 billion of federal funding to be leveraged toward $1 trillion in economic impact through investment from states, municipalities and the private sector. I stressed to the administration the need for investment in technology infrastructure, including broadband in rural America. The EPW Committee will play a lead role in drafting infrastructure legislation. I am eager to work with my colleagues to pass legislation that will restore the roads, bridges and highways that Kansans rely on. 

Reappointed to the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Development Committee
This week, I was pleased to regain my membership on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Development Committee. The oversight this committee conducts and the issues it considers under its substantial jurisdiction are of great consequence to America and to the American way of life. The Banking Committee has jurisdiction over international economic policy as it affects United States monetary affairs, credit and financial institutions, and studies and reviews economic growth, urban affairs and credit on a comprehensive basis.

Speaking on the Senate Floor After AFBF Annual Convention
After speaking at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s convention last weekend, I spoke on the Senate floor regarding the conversations I had with farmers and ranchers and what’s next for the Farm Bill, trade and disaster relief. I appreciated the opportunity to hear from Farm Bureau members about what they hope to see in an upcoming farm bill, as well as to convey my priorities. Exports matter to us, and farmers and ranchers conveyed their concerns to me about the potential of a NAFTA withdrawal. I will continue to insist that the administration keep trade a top priority and remain committed to discussing the importance of trade to the ag economy with my colleagues.

This conference reminded me that no matter where you go, farmers and ranchers have a lot in common. In addition to their economic importance to communities across Kansas and rural America, it is farmers and ranchers who provide a sense of what’s right in America, who understand the value of life, integrity and character. They set an important example for all of America. I will continue urging the administration to remain mindful of the role that agricultural trade plays in our economy to protect this way of life, and I urge AFBF attendees to convey to policymakers the importance of trade and ongoing trade agreements to jobs in rural America.

Listening Stop in Graham County
On Friday, I hosted a Kansas Listening Tour Stop in Hill City. With 35 Kansans in attendance, our discussion included the importance of rural broadband, community care for veterans, social security, trade and supporting individuals with disabilities. Thanks to everyone who attended and shared their thoughts with me.

Attending a Boy Scouts Chili Feed in Manhattan
I dropped by Troop 223's Chili Feed in Manhattan on Saturday. Thanks for the delicious chili!

Stopping by Johnson County Businesses
Before heading back to D.C. yesterday, I stopped by Dub V’s Bar & Deli in downtown Olathe for a quick bite. As always, thanks to owner Willie Vader for the great food and service.

I also stopped by Euronet in Leawood and Inland Truck Parts in Overland Park.

Kansans in the Office

Bruce Wellman of Olathe

United Way
Lisa Gleason of Hutchinson
Deborah Oyler of Garden City
Jannette Taylor of Lawrence

Public Leadership Education Network
Kaitlyn Foster of Lawrence

Capitol Tour
Jill Wood of St. George
Lauren Wood of St. George

Scott Bergkamp of Salina

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 letter, a Facebook comment, or a phone call, who wish to make their voice heard.

Please let me know how I can be of assistance. You can contact me by email by clicking 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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