Kansas Common Sense
Dec 17 2018
Introducing Legislation to Make Orally Administered Cancer Drugs More Accessible
This week, I introduced the Cancer Drug Parity Act along with Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) to make orally administered cancer drugs covered in the same way as traditional (IV) chemotherapy drugs for Americans battling cancer. This bill, cosponsored by Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), is necessary to make certain health insurance coverage keeps pace with advances in cancer medications.
As the number of oral cancer drugs increase each year, patients ought to be able to immediately benefit from these medical advancements. This sensible legislation would also build on laws already implemented in 43 states, including Kansas, and expand cancer coverage for oral drugs for over 100 million individuals covered through group and individual health plans. I’m proud to have the support of The University of Kansas Cancer Center, Susan G. Komen, American Cancer Society, and a host of other organizations and institutions.
I am a strong supporter of medical research to find new treatments, therapies and cures, and I will work to make certain these exciting new treatments can reach cancer patients and ultimately save lives. To read more on this legislation and its widespread support, click here.
Passing the 2018 Farm Bill
On Tuesday, I voted in favor of the 2018 Farm Bill. Times have been tough in ag communities – the weather has not been our friend this year, and commodity prices are down. Escalating trade tensions have also caused a strain on Kansas’ ag economy. This Farm Bill, which protects crop insurance, will be helpful to ag producers by strengthening the farm safety net and encouraging responsible land stewardship through conservation programs. Kansas farmers and ranchers need this certainty of a five-year Farm Bill.
I am also pleased the Conference Report included my Emergency Conservation Program provisions to increase the amount of assistance in times of disaster and allow payments for fences to be made in advance. In addition, the bill supports key rural development initiatives, including a pilot program within USDA to bolster broadband deployment. On Wednesday, the House passed the Farm Bill, and I encourage the President to sign this legislation into law.
Referring Former U.S. Olympic Committee CEO to DOJ
Last week, my Senate Commerce Subcommittee referred former U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) CEO Scott Blackmun to the Department of Justice for potentially lying to Congress following claims he made to my subcommittee surrounding his lack of intervention and awareness of the abuse of athletes by Larry Nassar.
My Subcommittee takes its oversight role seriously, and Mr. Blackmun’s potential false claims may have misled our Subcommittee – harming the investigation and our ability to develop policy. Just as importantly, survivors of abuse have had to wait longer for the truth and longer for systemic changes to help prevent others from similar injury. To read more on this referral and on my Subcommittee’s work, click here.Voting to End U.S. Involvement in the War in Yemen
On Thursday, I voted to end America’s involvement in the war in Yemen, and I’m pleased the Senate took decisive and thoughtful action to reassert Congress’s constitutional authority in an effort to alleviate the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen.
I previously voted for this same resolution in March of this year, and I joined letters to the Administration expressing concern regarding the humanitarian impact of the siege of Hudaydah, Yemen, as well as questioning the certification of Saudi compliance with American law as it relates to recipients of American support. I am certain this will be a matter of debate early in the next Congress, and I will continue to support promoting peace and security on the Arabian Peninsula.
Passing Legislation to Improve Nation-Wide Alzheimer's Infrastructure
Degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia not only pose a financial burden to our nation and health system, but, more importantly, these diseases threaten families with significant financial and emotional ramifications. I’m pleased that the Senate unanimously passed the BOLD Act last week, a positive step toward improving our ability to combat these diseases and legislation of which I am a cosponsor. The BOLD Act would create an Alzheimer’s public health infrastructure at the direction of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and through partnerships with state and local public health agencies.
These partnerships would also establish Alzheimer’s Centers for Excellence across the country, award funding to public health departments to increase early detection and diagnosis, and increase data collection, analysis and reporting through cooperative agreements with public and nonprofit entities. As an early cosponsor of the BOLD Act, I'll continue to encourage my colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass this legislation, and look forward to it getting on the President's desk.
A Proposed WOTUS Rule That Gives Power Back to the State
On Tuesday, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers proposed a change to the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule that impacts the way many Kansas producers do business. The proposed WOTUS rule aims to promote clean water, while providing clarity to stakeholders on EPA’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. This is a welcome change from the overreaching Obama-era WOTUS rule by providing a sensible, clear definition that will result in better utilization of resources and cut red tape for Kansas producers.
I have long advocated for a common sense rule to be drafted to replace the Obama administration’s overreaching 2015 WOTUS rule. I cosponsored the Federal Water Quality Protection Act to direct the EPA and Corps to issue a revised WOTUS rule that protects navigable water from water pollution, while also protecting farmers, ranchers and private landowners. I also had the opportunity to question then-EPA Administrator nominee Scott Pruitt about the administration's plans to withdraw and replace the 2015 WOTUS rule with a new rule. I look forward to working with the administration to make certain the new rule’s implementation works for farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders.
Attending the Retirement Ceremony for General Vincent Brooks
On Wednesday, I had the honor of attending the retirement ceremony for my friend General Vincent Brooks. I’m grateful for Gen. Brooks and his dedicated years of service to our nation, especially while commanding soldiers of the Big Red One at Fort Riley, and most recently his leadership as the commander of United States Forces Korea. Robba and I are wishing him and his wife Carol all the best in this next adventure.
Sponsoring Legislation to Fix VA’s Incorrect Payments
Last week, I joined my Senate colleagues in introducing the Forever GI Bill Housing Payment Fulfillment Act. This legislation would make certain the Department of Veterans Affairs reimburses veterans for missed or underpaid Forever GI Bill housing benefits. The VA must make every effort to restore confidence with veterans by delivering the care and benefits they have earned. The significant problems with the implementation of the Forever GI Bill must be resolved immediately, and further delay is unacceptable and will burden those veterans impacted. This legislation will make certain the VA is working to earn back GI Bill beneficiaries’ trust. Click here to read more on this legislation.
Honoring Army Fellow Captain Mark Bedrin
On Thursday, I spoke on the Senate floor in recognition of the contributions of a member of my staff, U.S. Army Captain Mark Bedrin, who has spent the last year working in my office as part of the Army’s Congressional Fellowship Program. Since my first conversation with Mark, I have been impressed by his determination and tenacity, and he has proven himself to be an asset to my team. Though I am sad he will be leaving our office at the end of the month, I know he will serve the Army well next year in the Budget Liaison Office, where I am confident he will be a highly effective ambassador to Congress and for the Army.
Mark’s assignments have taken him, his wife, Katie, and children, Elizabeth and Patrick, around the world in service to our country. Mark has completed two combat deployments, encompassing more than 22 months in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan as both a rifle platoon leader and as regimental battle captain. Additionally, he completed a peacekeeping deployment to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, where he commanded a rifle company supporting the Multinational Force and Observers maintaining the Treaty of Peace between Egypt and Israel. Mark planned and completed multiple missions supporting Operation Atlantic Resolve in central and Eastern Europe, as well.
Mark is one of the most impressive military officers I have had the honor of knowing, and I hold him in the highest regard – personally and professionally. Mark represents the best that the Army has to offer, and I know he will continue to benefit the future of our nation. He has been a model for selfless service and leadership, and I know he will continue to do great things throughout his Army career and his life of service, wherever that path may lead.
Meeting with ATF Officials in Kansas City
Early last week before heading to Washington, D.C., I visited the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Kansas City office to meet with leadership and employees. As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee with oversight and funding responsibility for the Department of Justice and ATF, this visit was informative and helps me better understand the resource needs of the bureau. During my meetings with employees, I heard updates on their work in the region and their use of partnerships across the community and state. I appreciated the opportunity to visit with various ATF employees and am grateful for the work they do across our country to solve and reduce violent crimes.
Watching the Jayhawks Take On Villanova
On Saturday, Robba and I were at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence to watch the Jayhawks take on Villanova. Following the game, it was great to meet KU’s center, Udoka ‘Doke’ Azubuike. Last March, prior to the Final Four, my office helped Doke’s mom obtain a visa in time to travel from Nigeria to San Antonio, to watch her son play and reuniting them for the first time in six years. It was a great non-conference win for the Jayhawks!
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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