Kansas Common Sense
President George H.W. Bush was a steadfast defender of freedom and liberty, from his time in the United States Navy to his many years of service in Congress, as vice president, and as our country’s 41st president. Our nation is grateful for his leadership through periods of conflict and uncertainty around the world. President Bush was a family man whose legacy of faith and service will live on. Robba and I offer our sincerest condolences to the Bush family and we pray that President Bush has been reunited with Barbara, his wife of 71 years, in Heaven.
Touring the National Institute of Aviation Research
On Saturday morning, our first stop was at Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus where we toured the National Institute of Aviation Research (NIAR). Here, Administrator Bridenstine was able to see the innovative and groundbreaking work being done by Wichita State students and faculty to support the aerospace industry. WSU is a world-class example in educating students interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) with real-world, hands-on learning.
Hosting an Event for Students Interested in STEM and Space Exploration
Following our tour at NIAR, we were at Exploration Place in Wichita were I hosted an event for students interested in careers and topics in STEM, space exploration and more. During this event, I was honored to be joined by Administrator Bridenstine as well as NASA Astronaut Don Pettit. We heard from Astronaut Pettit on his path to becoming an astronaut and the many expeditions he’s been a part of. I would like to thank CEO of WSU Tech Sheree Utash for moderating the STEM panel discussion, and the panelists for participating including Administrator Bridenstine, Astronaut Pettit, Superintendent of Wichita Public Schools Alicia Thompson and CEO of IdeaTek and Mayor of Buhler Daniel Friesen.
One of my primary goals as a Senator is to create an environment in Kansas where young people who are interested in similar careers can receive a quality education and have robust career opportunities in Kansas following graduation. Events like this are important as we work to inspire and train the next generation of scientists, astronauts, researchers and more.
Attending Earthrising: The Celebration of Apollo 8
Saturday evening, following an afternoon tour of the Kansas Cosmosphere, it was an honor to speak at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Apollo 8 mission in Hutchinson. The honored guests included Apollo astronauts Jim Lovell, Walt Cunningham, Charlie Duke, Fred Haise, Jack Lousma and Harrison Schmitt. To so many of us, NASA astronauts like the distinguished few who came to Hutchinson this weekend are genuine American heroes.
It always strikes me as I drive across Kansas when I see signs declaring the hometown of an astronaut. Astronaut Nick Hague, an extraordinary young man from Hoxie, will become the 4th Kansan in space this spring. He follows Steve Hawley of Ottawa, who flew five Space Shuttle missions, and Apollo-era astronauts Ron Evans of Topeka and Joe Engle of Chapman. One astronaut who didn’t fly in space but still made history was Kansas City, Kansas, native Captain Edward Dwight, who in 1963 became the first African American named to the astronaut program. Kansas has always had a pioneering spirit, and that was exemplified Saturday by our astronauts, engineers and manufacturers who contribute to the future of NASA space travel. Thank you to Jim Remar and Mimi Meredith for your leadership at the Cosmosphere, and for putting together a memorable event celebrating the Apollo 8 mission.
Finally, I want to thank NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine for making the effort to not only be here in Hutchison, but for his sincere interest in seeing firsthand how Kansans are making a difference in advancing space and science education, and for expressing NASA’s unequivocal desire to partner with Kansas.
As chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Data Security, I held an oversight hearing of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Tuesday. In the subcommittee’s first hearing with all five new FTC commissioners since their confirmation this spring, we heard about efforts to meet their broad mandate to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive trade practices. The independent agency’s consumer protection mission includes protecting consumers from everything from robocalls, ticket bots, data breaches and beyond; and enforcing laws such as the Consumer Review Fairness Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
The discussion also included what federal consumer data privacy legislation should look like; as the main federal data privacy and security enforcer, the FTC’s input was valuable for our efforts to create a meaningful bipartisan bill. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and the FTC to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive business practices and anti-competitive behavior. To watch my opening statement, click here. To watch my questioning, click here.
On Friday morning, President Trump joined Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto at the G20 Summit to sign the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement – a positive development for the country. This is a step in the right direction and should inspire the purchasers of our products, as well as those around the world, that America will continue to be a reliable supplier of top-line goods. I look forward to taking this agreement up in Congress where we can discuss its many provisions.
Over the past year and a half, I have expressed directly and repeatedly to President Trump, Ambassador Lighthizer, Secretary Ross and my colleagues that we need more trade, not less. I have been clear that both Canada and Mexico – Kansas’ top two export markets – must be part of any final agreement. I appreciate the administration working to make certain these markets remain available to Kansas farmers, ranchers and manufacturers, providing them some much-needed certainty.
I was honored to take part in a ceremony on Friday for the dedication of a monument honoring the soldiers of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. The memorial was designed and funded by the Buffalo Soldier Educational and Historical Committee and is now located in its permanent home in the Buffalo Soldier Memorial Park on Fort Leavenworth. The legacy of the 6888th is unique and special as the only all-female, all African-American unit in the Women’s Army Corps deployed overseas during World War II. I was particularly honored to meet several members of the 6888th who attended the ceremony – their continued commitment to their unit and their comrades inspires me and many. In recognition of their service, strength and sacrifice, I introduced Senate Resolution 412 in February honoring the members of this unit, which passed the Senate unanimously in October.
On Friday, I also participated in the combined groundbreaking ceremony for two major National Guard construction projects on Fort Leavenworth: the 35th Infantry Division Readiness Center and the Mission Training Complex Barracks. I was honored to be joined by Director of the Army National Guard Lieutenant General Timothy Kadavy and Kansas National Guard Adjutant General Major General Lee Tafanelli as we marked the occasion and all that it means for Fort Leavenworth.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, I worked to fund over $51 million for both of the projects, which will increase the readiness of our Army National Guard in Kansas and Missouri. I’m pleased these projects are entering the construction phase and look forward to visiting them when they are complete.
In a big win for Kansas and the long-term sustainability of our water resources and infrastructure, two key projects were included in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently-announced work plan for FY2019. The first, funding for the Kansas River Reservoirs and Sediment Study, is one of only six new studies across the country that sets the stage for future Army Corps projects to systematically address key areas of need and risk of our 18 federal reservoirs in the Kansas River Basin and associated water resources. I’ve advocated for this study and it’s funding in 2016 and 2017, and I’m pleased to see this project launch in the coming fiscal year.
The second, $18.5 million in federal funding for a flood protection project in Manhattan, is one of only five new construction projects across the country and is a critical development to protecting people in the Manhattan community for generations to come. I worked to include this authorization in the 2016 Water Resources Development Act, and it’s inclusion in the work plan is good news for many in the Manhattan region.
Kansas depends on Corps of Engineers’ lakes for roughly 60 percent of its municipal and industrial water supply needs. These projects we championed will help secure the future of our water supply across a significant portion of the state and make certain our federal reservoirs and rivers can continue to support the fast growing populations near them with flood protection. To read more about these projects, click here.
It’s Congress’s constitutional responsibility to authorize when the American military engages in war. On Wednesday, I voted in favor of S.J. Res 54, a joint resolution denying American military involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen without Congressional approval. The passage of this resolution should help force a diplomatic resolution on the nearly four-year-long war and reduce the humanitarian crisis where 14 million Yemenis are on the brink of death from starvation.
This isn’t the first time I’ve advocated for this measure. In March, I was one of five Republicans who voted to proceed to consideration of S. J. Res. 54, which failed 55-44. I have repeatedly expressed concern to the administration regarding the humanitarian impact of the siege of Hudaydah, Yemen, and have questioned the certification of Saudi compliance with American law.
On Friday, I had the privilege of offering remarks at Judge Holly Teeter’s investiture in Lawrence, following her appointment and Senate confirmation to a seat on United States District Court in Kansas this fall. I met Judge Teeter for the first time when her name was put forward for the nomination – she is a person full of character, honesty and integrity. Coming into this position without a political agenda, Judge Teeter has a deep understanding of the job: to interpret the law as written and make sound decisions based upon the circumstances of each case. Judge Teeter will be a tremendous judge for the state of Kansas.
This week, the National Academies of Sciences Committee on Gulf War and Health released a report that fulfills a mandate in my Toxic Exposure Research Act, which became law in December 2015. Their report confirmed what I have long believed and fought to rectify – that there are significant gaps in research related to the impacts of toxic exposure on servicemembers, their children and future generations. Nobody who serves this nation anticipates that their service will adversely impact the health of their family, yet far too often I hear from veterans who believe their exposure to a toxic substance during military service resulted in their children developing a health condition. It is positive news for our nation's veterans that the National Academies of Sciences concluded that more research is both necessary and feasible, and I will work to make certain these findings are acted upon by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
On Sunday night in Manhattan, I attended the annual Kansas Farm Bureau (KFB) annual meeting, where KFB leaders from across the state come together to set the organization’s policies and goals for the coming year. This year is special, as it marks 100 years for KFB. Over the past century, KFB has played a crucial role in agriculture across Kansas and throughout the nation: KFB members display a commitment and dedication to preserving the way of life in rural Kansas and continue to be the leading voice of agriculture. I want to thank KFB President Rich Felts and Terry Holdren for inviting me to this year’s annual meeting to celebrate such a great milestone.
At the banquet, I spoke about the importance of KFB to our state and to countless communities and organizations within it. In communities of all shapes and sizes, members of the KFB work tirelessly to support production agriculture, develop young men and women, contribute to their local economies, lead civic organizations and help give back to their neighbors and fellow community members. KFB has made an outstanding partner in my work, and our state is better off because of the many contributions of the organization.
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.
Very truly yours,
Kansans in the Office
Elizabeth Dole Foundation
Caroline Tolliver-Lee of Manhattan
Evoqua Water Technologies
Caitlin Berretta of Kansas City
Ryan Gilliland of Topeka
Overland Park Chamber of Commerce
Brett Bogan of Overland Park
Mike Hess of Overland Park
Michael Hockley of Overland Park
Bobby Olm-Shipman of Overland Park
Tracey Osborne Oltjen of Overland Park
Tom Robinett of Overland Park
Tony Rupp of Overland Park
Brad Stratton of Overland park
Kevin Walker of Overland Park
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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