Kansas Common Sense
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Honoring Our Nation’s Fallen Heroes on Memorial Day
On Memorial Day, I joined many veterans and local residents at Memorial Day Services in Grinnell and WaKeeney. The Grinnell Service I attended is one of eight ceremonies the Grinnell VFW hosts in the area each Memorial Day. The WaKeeney Cemetery is one of four veterans’ cemeteries in Kansas, the other three are located in Fort Dodge, Fort Riley and Winfield.
Since the Civil War, Americans have gathered each year to remember those courageous men and women who answered the call to serve. We gather together to remind our children and grandchildren that because of the sacrifices of our nation’s veterans, we have the opportunity to live in the strongest, freest and greatest nation in the world. Today, our nation’s young men and women are still risking their lives for the sake of others and fighting for those principles we hold most dear – freedom and justice.
As citizens, we have a duty to preserve those freedoms and liberties that generations of Americans gave their lives to establish and protect. Let us commit our lives to preserving this nation for the sake of the next generation – so they too can pursue the American dream with freedom and liberty. Special thanks to the Grinnell VFW and Cemetery Manager Heidi Goof for the invitations to participate in the special events. Click here to read an editorial I wrote to honor our nation’s men and women on Memorial Day. Click here to view photos from the Memorial Day Service in Wakeeney.
McConnell AFB Remains Nation's Premiere “Super Tanker” Base
On Wednesday, we learned some wonderful news; McConnell Air Force Base is and will continue to be the nation’s premiere “super tanker” base. I couldn't be more proud of their selection as the very first active duty base to receive KC-46A tankers – beating out 54 installations across the country. McConnell will receive thirty-six KC-46A tankers, which are expected to arrive in 2016. The KC-46A’s will replace the U.S. Air Force's aging fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers, which have been the primary refueling aircraft for more than 50 years.
In addition to the honorable recognition and responsibility that comes with providing the Air Force with strategic air mobility, McConnell’s selection will result in many other positive outcomes that will have a lasting impact on Kansas and Wichita. We know this will translate into an economic boost for the community as support for the various phases to house and fly the new KC-46A tankers get underway. Military construction will be necessary to safeguard and train the new, larger tankers, which will mean both direct and indirect economic activity related to base upgrades, operations and maintenance. An Environmental Analysis will commence and other assessments will determine what projects will be required. I anticipate McConnell, the Wichita community and particularly the Friends of McConnell are ready to provide support in any way possible.
The 22nd Air Refueling Wing and the 931st Air Refueling Group deserve credit for their hard work and exemplary performance, which substantiates just how valuable and meaningful Team McConnell is to the air mobility mission. Of course, the Friends of McConnell and many others from the Wichita and Derby communities helped advocate and highlight the kind of special support Kansans provide to airmen and their families at McConnell. The U.S. Air Force and Air Mobility Command also deserve credit for conducting a deliberately thoughtful, objective and criteria-based selection process. In the end, the numbers don’t lie; McConnell is the best, most capable tanker base because of its air refueling demand, reduced environmental impacts, overwhelming capacity and cost. This basing selection codifies what Kansans already know; we are and will continue to be the Air Capital of the World. Kansas will continue to lead the way in aviation and air mobility support for the United States military at home and abroad. Click here to listen to me deliver the good news to Wichita on Wednesday morning.
Debating the Farm Bill on Senate Floor
This week, the Senate took up S. 954, better known as the Farm Bill. The current Farm Bill is an extension of the 2008 bill and is set to expire on September 31, 2013. This is a vital piece of legislation for agricultural producers and consumers alike because it helps producers manage the risk associated with Mother Nature as well as gives consumers an abundant and affordable food supply. As the Senate worked on the bill there were nearly 200 amendments filed and only 12 were disposed of, showing that there is clearly a lot of work left to do. I am committed to making certain we develop sound farm policy that helps us continue to be the most food secure country in the world.
Senate Immigration Bill Approved by Judiciary Committee
On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act — popularly referred to as the “Gang of Eight” proposal — following two weeks of debate. S. 744 is designed to comprehensively address the many flaws of our nation’s immigration system.
Border security remains a top priority for me in any immigration legislation, and the proposal would implement a comprehensive border security strategy including 3,500 new border patrol agents and call for $1.5 million in funding for additional fencing along our country’s southern border. Once the Department of Homeland Security has reached a targeted border security effectiveness rate, the legislation requires the implementation of a system to register qualified undocumented students and undocumented agricultural workers. Those who immigrated illegally to the United States must meet a series of requirements, including passing a background check and paying back taxes, in order to remain here and have a chance at later becoming a citizen. The legislation also attempts to relieve the backlog in our legal immigration system to encourage compliance with our laws and provide American employers with legal temporary workers as they need them. Finally, the proposal would replace the lottery-based immigration system with a merit-based system that would reward points to potential immigrants for entrepreneurship or educational attainment as they apply for green cards.
Senate Resolution Calls for Full Enforcement of Iran Sanctions
The centrifuges that produce enriched uranium continue to spin in Iran. The government of Iran’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons is a great danger to global stability and the security of the United States and our allies – especially Israel. Iran’s leaders have repeatedly threatened to “wipe Israel off the map” and are seeking the means to do so.
The United States and many of our allies have put sanctions on Iran in an attempt to compel the Iranians to abandon their nuclear program. The success, however, of any sanction campaign depends on the strict enforcement of all sanctions. This week, the Senate passed a resolution 99-0 expressing support for the full implementation of U.S. and international sanctions on Iran to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. I was a sponsor of this resolution and was glad to see such strong support in the Senate for fully implementing and enforcing economic pressures on the Iranian regime.
House Calls on White House to Stop Blocking Keystone XL Construction
A bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives voted this week to limit the Obama Administration’s ability to obstruct construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. This project would connect Nebraska to Canada as part of a longer pipeline from Canada’s oil-rich Alberta to the American Gulf Coast. This $5.3 billion investment would limit our energy-dependence on the Middle East while creating economic growth and jobs in America. Unfortunately, the White House has spent the last four years preventing this project from progressing, foregoing the associated economic and security benefits. Polices that make America safer and more prosperous should be welcomed, not opposed. I look forward to supporting this legislation when it is presented for debate in the Senate.
Attending the Goodland Rotary Club Meeting
On Friday, I joined the Goodland Rotary Club for their weekly meeting. I was glad to have the opportunity to speak with my fellow Rotarians about local, state, and national issues including health care, the Farm Bill and immigration reform. It’s always good to get a good dose of Kansas common sense from folks in Northwest Kansas. Thank you to Trevor Linton for the invitation to attend. Trevor and the rest of the Goodland Rotarians clearly live their lives by Four-Way Test and are committed to doing whatever they can to better their community and our world.
Now Accepting 2013 Service Academy Applications
Even as students are beginning their summer breaks, I want to remind them of the opportunity to apply to a United States Service Academy. Appointing Kansans to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, is one of my favorite duties as a U.S. Senator.
To find out the requirements and apply, please download an application from my website or contact my Olathe office. All application materials are due to my Olathe office by September 6, 2013. After applications have been reviewed, applicants will be notified of interviews with my Service Academy Selection Board, which will take place on Saturday, October 5, 2013 at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene.
In the Office
Last week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below:
Kansans in the Office
American College of Emergency Physicians
Sabina Braithwaite of Wichita
Wichita Chamber of Commerce
Debbie Gann of Wichita
Michael Monteferrante of Wichita
Barby Jobe of Wichita
Pat Gallagher of Wichita
Wayne Roberts of Wichita
Ashleigh de la Torre of Wichita
Tim Witsman of Wichita
Wayne Chambers of Leon
Dixie Larson of Wichita
Susayn Brandes of Wichita
Darren Booth of Derby
Eddie Smith of Wichita
Steve Hieger of Wichita
Sam Williams of Wichita
Jon Rosell of Wichita
Ben Hutton of Wichita
Gary Plummer of Wichita
Walter Berry of Wichita
Polly Berry of Wichita
The Brain Aneurysm Foundation
Barry Holmes of Overland Park
Miriam Glueck of Leawood
Kathi Rosenberg of Overland Park
Greater Kansas City LISC
Ashley Wisner of Lawrence
National Association of Professional Employer Organizations
Cary Daniel of Overland Park
Stacy Wheeler of Overland Park
Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association
Kimberly Woolf of Wichita
Roger Peugeot of Overland Park
American Public Health Association
Brenda Nickel of Emporia
Tanya Honderich of Shawnee
National Limousine Association
Diane Forgy of Shawnee
American Suntanning Association
Roger Holmes of Kansas City
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International
Tom Roberts of Lenexa
Bill Summers of Lenexa
National Air Traffic Controllers Association
Alan MacDonald of Olathe
Connie Presley of Wichita
Kansas Credit Union
Haley Davee of Topeka
Jim Ward of Hiawatha
Diane Ward of Hiawatha
Mason Ward of Hiawatha
Brenna Ward of Hiawatha
Scott Ward of Hiawatha
Sonja Ward of Hiawatha
Morgan Ward of Hiawatha
Macey Ward of Hiawatha
Jeanette Ward of Hiawatha
Stephen Ward of Hiawatha
Mark Humphrey of Stilwell
Sherry Humphrey of Stilwell
Nina Humphrey of Stilwell
Annie Humphrey of Stilwell
Brock Humphrey of Stilwell
Eric Zeak of Manhattan
Gary Cooper of Osawatomie
Carol Cooper of Osawatomie
Lindsey Cooper of Osawatomie
Nicole Cooper of Osawatomie
Sean Tomlinson of Manhattan
Roxanne Tomlinson of Manhattan
Phyllis Wilbur of Salina
Michele Ryan of Kansas City
Stephanie Slollen of Galatia
Jacqueline Sanchez of Salina
Alan Macdonald of Olathe
Connie Presley of Wichita|
Donna Slaughter of Leawood
Edgar O’Farrell of Mission Hills
Honored to Serve You in Washington
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. In recent weeks, I’ve been listening to Kansans calling and writing in to share their thoughts and opinions on the debt crisis and big issues our country faces. Whether your thoughts are in the form of letter, a Facebook comment or a phone call, please know that I am listening and I appreciate messages from Kansans who wish to make their voice heard.
Very truly yours,
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