Kansas Common Sense


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.

On Monday evening I announced my opposition to the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) – the Senate healthcare bill. This and an earlier version of the BCRA missed the mark for Kansans. The BCRA neither adequately repealed or replaced Obamacare. It was drafted behind closed doors and without committee hearings.

After my decision, the Majority Leader set aside the BCRA and announced his plan to have the Senate vote on a bill that repeals the Affordable Care Act, effective in two years. If the bill is adopted it would establish an expiration date for Obamacare and set the stage for a full legislative process – expert witnesses, public hearings, amendments and votes by all one hundred senators. I would work to craft healthcare policy that provides less government involvement in healthcare decisions, greater personal choice, protection for pre-existing conditions, increased access and lower costs. I recognize that decisions made regarding healthcare have real consequences for Kansans and their families. We need a thoughtful and less political process.  

Supporting Delay of the August Work Period
I support the decision made this week to delay the August work period so the United States Senate can accomplish the work the American people expect it to. Last month, I also said I would absolutely support canceling or delaying any of the scheduled work periods, including August, during an interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox News. To watch the interview, click here.

Joining the Military Academy Board of Visitors
Last month, I was appointed to serve on the Board of Visitors for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The opportunity to support young Kansans and Americans in their desire to serve our nation is one of my most privileged responsibilities. West Point has a long history of educating and developing not only the best and brightest leaders in the U.S. Army, but leaders for our country, including fellow Kansan, President Dwight D. Eisenhower. I’m proud to be in a position to make certain this institution provides the best possible education and training for the next generation of soldiers. This week, I attended my first board meetings at West Point and I enjoyed touring the campus and visiting with 59th Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy Lt. General Bob Caslen. Lt. Gen. Caslen is a KSU grad who served as the Commander of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth overseeing the Command and General Staff College. 

Progress on Priorities for Our Nation’s Servicemembers and Veterans
On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY2018 appropriations bill authored by the Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, which I chair. The bill supports critical housing, infrastructure and facilities for U.S. military forces and their families and provides increased funding for veterans’ health care and benefits. It also includes $17.5 million for a Combat Arms Facility at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita.

This bill reflects our commitment to our servicemembers, both past and present, with investments in infrastructure at home and overseas along with funding to honor the lives of those who have defended our nation. This bill provides funds to prevent veteran suicide, address opioid addiction nationwide, increase rural access to healthcare, eliminate the claims backlog and support innovative medical research. We propose increased oversight of the Veterans Health Administration and the Army Corps of Engineers to prevent cost overruns for facility construction and improve accountability. Our bill also keeps Americans safe from terrorists by continuing the prohibition of the modification or construction of any facilities on U.S. soil to house detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay and supports our NATO allies against Russian aggression.

Construction of a new combat arms facility at McConnell Air Force Base will enable the airmen to train and increase readiness to make certain they are fully equipped to continue carrying out critical missions around the world in defense of our nation.

More details of the bill’s allocations for our military and veterans can be found here.

Honored at the Marine Corps Sunset Parade
I was privileged to attend the Marine Corps Sunset Parade as a Guest of Honor on Tuesday evening. Prior to the event, I had the opportunity to speak about my commitment to veterans at a reception hosted by Deputy Commandant for Installations and Logistics Lt. Gen. Michael G. Dana about my commitment to veterans. During the parade, we heard from the extremely dedicated and talented servicemen and women of the “The Commandant's Own,” The United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps and watched a performance by the United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon. Thank you to the Marine Corps for hosting me.

Visiting NIH Headquarters
On Tuesday, I visited the National Institutes of Health (NIH) headquarters in Bethesda, MD to meet with NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes, NINDS Director Dr. Walter Koroshetz, NIMH Director Dr. Josh Gordon and NIH researchers and investigators. We were also joined by leaders from the University of Kansas (KU), including Chancellor Doug Girod and the director and co-director of KU’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center. We discussed research progress on neurodegenerative diseases, which may lead to ground-breaking discoveries in the future. I appreciate the tireless efforts of the researchers and the enthusiastic approach they bring to their jobs each and every day.

I remain committed to supporting innovative medical research that has the potential to not only save and improve lives, but also to lower many of the costs associated with healthcare. In addition, bringing KU and the NIH together amplifies the great work done at both institutions for the benefit of our state and nation.

Welcome Home to Members of the First Infantry Division
The Fort Riley community welcomed home a group of Big Red One soldiers who returned to Kansas on Friday after a nine-month deployment to Iraq. I am proud the Big Red One had a significant role in regaining control of Mosul with their support of Operation Inherent Resolve, and it is wonderful to see them all reunite with family and friends.

Conversations with Kansan High School Students in Washington, D.C.
A number of Kansas high school student groups were visiting our nation’s capital this week, and I enjoyed speaking with young people from McPherson, Bennington, Tescott and Wamego. It is always great to discuss policies with young, bright students and to share stories from growing up in rural Kansas. Safe travels and thank you to Rick Reed for setting up their trip.

Joining the Shawnee Chamber of Commerce
I attended the “Pork and Politics” event hosted by the Shawnee Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Committee this week. This is an annual affair that gives community members the opportunity to have a dialogue with local and state officials about what’s going on in Johnson County and about how legislative decisions will affect their communities. Thank you to Linda Leeper and Joyce Allard for inviting me to this great event.

Spending Time with Fellow Hays Lions Club Members
Enjoyed meeting with some of my fellow Hays Lions Club members on Friday morning – the group is raising funds for ongoing programs and community projects by selling brooms to area residents, a longstanding tradition. Thanks to the folks at the Arc Thrift Shop for hosting.

Visiting with Palco Community Members
Most of my events and visits to towns across Kansas don’t usually have the draw or fanfare of my Palco town hall last week. I wanted to take a moment and visit Palco again on Friday to give them my undivided attention about the issues they are most concerned about in Washington. I stopped by Little Roosters Daycare, the Palco Grocery and Deli, Post Office, City Hall, McKenna Youth and Activities Center, Keller Motors, the Senior Center, where they were playing cards before lunch, and Midland Co-op.

Commemorating Veterans at the Traveling Vietnam War Memorial
Paola was the temporary home of the Traveling Vietnam War Memorial this weekend, and on Sunday evening I took part in the closing ceremony. I was privileged to join the American Legion Riders of Paola and many others from the community in honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our country. I’m grateful also to have had the opportunity to recognize and share our gratitude with the Gold Star Families present at the ceremony. This occasion served as an important reminder that because of the sacrifices of our veterans and active duty military, we are blessed to live in the strongest, freest and greatest nation in the world. Thank you to Renee Slinkard for coordinating the events of the evening.

Kansans in the Office

Religious Action Center
Ethan Stone of Roeland Park

Kauffman Foundation
Jason Wiens of Roeland Park

American Association of School Superintendents
G.A. Buie of Kansas City
Justin Henry of Goddard

Kansas Farm Bureau
Terry Holdren of Topeka
Rich Felts of Liberty

National Council for the Social Studies
Nick Lawrence of Lenexa

Children’s Mercy Hospital
Genny Nicholas of Kansas City
Dallas Polen of Overland Park
Sandra Lawrence of Leawood
Debbie Sosland-Edelman of Leawood

Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids
Emma Bigham of Herrington

Close up Foundation
Vasavi Garimella of Overland Park
Julia Slach of Overland Park

American Soybean Association
Lucas Heinen of Osborne
Scott Gigstad of Everest
Jessica Gigstad of Everest
Dennis Hupe of Topeka
Charles Atkinson of Great Bend
Teresa Brandenburg of Russell

340 B Health
Deborah Westphal of Overland Park
Sarah Dodson of Pittsburg
Bruce Witt of Wichita

Center for Civilians in Conflict
Dan Mahanty of Leawood

Watco Companies
Ed McKechnie of Pittsburg

K-State Research and Extension
Jamie Rathburn of Ellsworth
Carlos Campabadal of Manhattan

Capitol Tour
Kelly Brown of Emporia
Alexis Brown of Emporia
Bryce Brown of Emporia
Claude Huard of St. Marys
Peggy Huard of St. Marys
Christianne Huard of St. Marys
Steve Middlesworth of Lenexa
Karen Middlesworth of Lenexa
Lilyan Middlesworth of Olathe
Gavyn Caldwell of Olathe
Paula Mages of Topeka
Alexander Mages of Topeka
Norma Finnesy of Plainville
Brenna McGuire of Manhattan
Kaytrin McGuire of Manhattan     
Bailey Werner of Plainville
Brooke Werner of Plainville
Geneva Mason of Plainville
Shirley Felts of Liberty
Benton Spillman of Coffeyville
Dane DeTar of Coffeyville                  
Liz Anstine of Overland Park
Anna Anstine of Overland Park
Tonya Arnaldi of Udall
Jared Arnaldi of Udall
Marsheri Zuern of Wichita
Alise Boal of Leavenworth
Elton Mayfield of Olathe
Laura Mayfield of Olathe
Jacob Mayfield of Olathe
Audrey Mayfield of Olathe
Ken Laudan of Mission Hills
Christopher Schmidt of Olpe
Jennifer Schmidt of Olpe
Ryker Schmidt of Olpe
Damon Schmidt of Olpe
Charles Haag of Olpe
Marie Haag of Olpe
Tom Schwarzenberger of Olathe
Tim Saxe of Kansas City
Rich Kniss of Overland Park
Caroline Bader of Prairie Village
Bill Biermann of Goodland
Laura Biermann of Goodland
Faith Biermann of Goodland
Gabriel Biermann of Goodland
Mikayla Biermann of Goodland
Haley Biermann of Goodland
Hope Biermann of Goodland
Steven Hoover of Lenexa
Laurie Hoover of Lenexa
Sydney Hoover of Lenexa
Reece Hoover of Lenexa
Jeff Tibbits of Goddard
Tim Baca of Wichita
Trent Newby of Overland Park
Crystal Newby of Overland Park
Campbell Newby of Overland Park
Kate Newby of Overland Park
Charley Newby of Overland Park
Carrie Bachmeier of Kansas City               
Lexia Aurand of Belleville                        
Dustin Zenger of Haddam
Jeffery Nyp of Manhattan
Kristy Nyp of Manhattan
Anika Nyp of Manhattan
Chandler Nyp of Manhattan
Jameson Nyp of Manhattan

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.

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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