Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you 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.
President Obama Should Call Congress Back to Washington
Today I called on President Obama to come to the table and bring Congress back to Washington, D.C., to work on a commonsense plan to grow the American economy. The President recently stated that the last thing America needs is Congress spending more time in Washington, D.C. after the volatile debt ceiling debate. He said we should spend August at home listening to our constituents vent their frustrations.
As I travelled across Kansas this week and completed my 87th town hall meeting this year, I heard from hard-working folks concerned about making ends meet during this down economy. They expect their elected leaders to take responsibility and deliver results, and are deeply disappointed with the ineffectual leadership coming out of Washington.
When Congress left for August recess, it left unfinished business, and Kansans want to know why Congress is working at home right now and not on Capitol Hill coming up with responsible solutions. They are absolutely right; we need to spend this time doing what we were elected to do.
Congress has the responsibility to create an environment where businesses can grow and start hiring again. This means cutting spending; reining in burdensome government regulations; replacing the convoluted tax code with one that is fair, simple and certain; opening foreign markets for American manufactured goods and agricultural products; and developing a comprehensive energy policy.
I am prepared to return to Washington today if President Obama is prepared to work with Congressional leaders on a commonsense plan to grow the American economy and put Americans back to work. Click here to read my full letter to the President.
Kansas Troops Lost in Afghanistan
Kansas lost five of its sons in Afghanistan in the last two weeks, including four in the tragic Chinook helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Saturday August 6, which killed 30 American service members. The crash marked the single deadliest loss of U.S. forces in the war in Afghanistan to date. Three Army reservists were assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment in New Century, Kansas: Sgt. Alexander Bennett, 24, of Tacoma, Washington; Chief Warrant Officer Bryan Nichols, 31, of Hays, Kansas; and Spc. Spencer Duncan, 21, of Olathe, Kansas. Chief Warrant Officer David Carter, 47, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment in Aurora, Colorado and was originally from Hays.
Also killed in Afghanistan on August 3, 2011 was Private First Class Cody G. Baker, 19, of Holton. Private First Class Baker died of injuries sustained when his mounted patrol encountered an improvised explosive device.
These brave men answered the call to defend our country, and my heart goes out to all the families who lost loved ones. Our nation is forever indebted to these young men for their service and sacrifice on our behalf. I ask all Kansans to join me in remembering the families and friends of the fallen in their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
Serving Troops at the USO “No Dough Dinner”
On Friday evening Robba and I were welcomed to Fort Riley to take part in the USO “No Dough Dinner” for soldiers and their families. Robba and I were excited to have the opportunity to serve the meat and potatoes dinner alongside members of the American Legion Post #370 who graciously prepared the meal. The “No Dough Dinner” is just one of many programs instituted by the USO Fort Riley as part of their organizational effort to give back to our troops and their loved ones. The purpose of the bi-weekly event is to provide soldiers and families with a morale-boosting free meal just before pay day. Since the program began, USO Fort Riley has served more than 11,300 troops and family members, averaging 250 people per event.
It’s comforting to know there are many great service organizations that make it their mission to improve the quality of life for our soldiers and their families. With so many of our service men and women deployed to protect our country overseas, it’s quite clear that whatever service we can provide makes a big difference in their lives. The USO’s “No Dough Dinner” served as another reminder of how truly thankful and indebted we are to our soldiers and their families for their many sacrifices. Thanks to the members of American Legion Post #370 for preparing and serving the meal, and to April Blackmon, Director of USO Fort Riley, and Col. William Clark, Fort Riley Garrison Commander for inviting Robba and me to participate in the humbling event. Click here to view photos from the event.
Visiting Patients at the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center
On Saturday morning I stopped by the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita to visit with patients. I enjoyed spending time visiting with so many terrific men and women. Our nation’s veterans deserve top-notch health care services for the sacrifices they made for our country. As a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee I am committed to improving the quality of life for the nearly 250,000 veterans living in Kansas, and was pleased to see that the Wichita VA Medical Staff is taking good care of our heroes as they recover. Thank you to Director Thomas Sanders and his staff for their hospitality during my visit to the medical center. Click here to see pictures from my visit.
Protecting Kansas Post Offices
This week I reiterated to Postmaster General Patrick R. Donohoe the vital economic role the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) plays across Kansas, especially to those living in rural communities and to senior citizens who depend on walking to the local post office to get their mail. Recently, the Postal Service released a list of 3,653 post offices being studied by the USPS to determine use and productivity. About 130 post offices across the state of Kansas are included on that list, and could be shut down.
I am deeply concerned that the minimal savings garnered from closing rural post offices is far outdone by the hardship to rural and senior citizens. In fact, the Postal Regulatory Commission has already indicated the projected savings would not come close to changing the financial outlook for USPS – maintaining rural post offices only amounts to 0.7 percent of the USPS’s total budget. For this reason, I have asked the Postmaster General to outline the justification for potentially closing rural post offices across the country. I also pointed out that closing a post office simply because of revenue shortfalls is in violation of the United States Postal Code.
Reducing services to rural and aging communities will significantly impact citizens with little benefit to the Postal Service’s bottom line. I know my constituents that will be most affected by these decisions would like answers and I look forward to hearing back from the Postmaster General. Click here to read my full letter to Postmaster General Donohoe.
Listening Tour Continues
I continued the southwest swing of my Statewide Listening Tour this week making six stops including Meade, Seward, Stevens, Morton, Stanton and Grant Counties. The conversation with Kansans continues to be about their frustration with Washington and questions about why nothing has been done to encourage an environment where businesses can grow and create jobs. On Wednesday morning, I had the opportunity to visit with many local residents at the Meade County Courthouse. Later that day, I drove to Liberal in Seward County and visited with citizens at the Liberal Chamber of Commerce. The last stop on Wednesday was in Stevens in County at the Common Grounds Espresso Café in Hugoton. Click here to view photos from these stops.
Bright and early on Thursday morning folks got together at Jim-n-I’s Restaurant in Elkhart for a town hall meeting following the Kiwanis Club. That same morning I was in Johnson at the Stanton County Courthouse. My last stop of the day was at the Grant County Senior Center in Ulysses. I always appreciate the chance to visit with Kansans so I can gain a better understanding of their views and the ways I can better serve them in Washington, D.C. I have several more stops scheduled over the next few weeks, so if you’re nearby, I encourage you to stop by and share your thoughts.
Postponed: Listening Tour Stops in Wallace, Greeley, Hamilton and Kearny Counties
I will be unable to host the town halls scheduled in Wallace, Greeley, Hamilton and Kearny counties for Friday, August 19, 2011, because I will be attending the funeral service for Chief Warrant Officer Bryan Nichols of Hays, Kansas. Nichols was among the 30 American service members who were killed in the tragic Chinook helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Saturday, August 6th. The crash marked the single deadliest loss of U.S. forces in the war in Afghanistan to date.
The town halls have been postponed and will be re-scheduled for another date.
Upcoming Listening Tour Stops
In August, I will be continuing my statewide listening tour. Please find more information about my upcoming town hall meetings below.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Rawlins County, Atwood
Address: Main Street
Time: 4:00-5:00 p.m.
Cheyenne County, St. Francis
Location: St. Francis Community High School (hosted by Cheyenne County Farm Bureau)
Address: 100 College Street
Time: 7:30-8:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Stafford County, Macksville
Location: Main Street
Time: 9:00-10:00 a.m.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office from across the state, including the Kansans listed below.
University of Kansas
Ngondi Kamatuka of Lawrence
Cameron Cushman of Kansas City
Many Kansans stopped by this week for a tour of the United States Capitol including: Don and Clara Cook and children, Katelyn and Julie of Merriam; Cornelius and Gerri Enslinger of Great Bend; Kurtis and Cindy Kocher and sons, Kenton and Tyler of Glasco; Marty and Kathy Younger of Garden City; Misty and Ethan Burke of Parsons; Thomas and Vicki Johansen and children, Elise and Kiley of Hays; James and Karma Michael and children, Morgan and Taylor of McCune; James and Karma Michael and children, Morgan and Taylor of McCune; Peter and Andra Lahner and children, Vienna and Morgan of Spring Hill; Robert, Nathaniel and Kathleen Flack of Riley; Elizabeth Hill of Manhattan; and Joe and Randi Helget of Ottawa.
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Please let me know how I can be of assistance. To send me an email, click here. You can also click here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.
Very truly yours,
My email address is only equipped to send messages. I encourage you to send me a message through my website: https://www.moran.senate.gov
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