Kansas Common Sense


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Joining Fox News' 'Special Report'
Sunday evening, I joined a special edition of Fox News’ ‘Special Report’ to discuss my expectations for the Trump-Putin summit based on my meetings in Moscow, Oslo and Helsinki last week. Putin must know that meddling in our elections is not acceptable and that sanctions against Russia will only be lifted if its behavior changes. Watch my complete interview with Bill Hemmer here.

Russia Must Know That NATO is Unified
“Putin is not our friend – he is an adversary intent on continuing Russia’s disruptive activities in Europe and the Middle East, and against us here at home. Throughout Europe, Russia funds efforts to undermine the sanctions jointly imposed by the United States and Europe. In the Middle East – both in Syria and Libya – Russia’s involvement is escalating the refugee crisis Europe is struggling to contain. Further afield, our military leaders testify, Moscow is supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan. And of course, Russia interfered with our own democratic process in 2016 and will continue the same efforts in upcoming elections.

“I share President Trump’s desire for better relations with Russia. My purpose for traveling to Moscow was to begin a dialogue to explore how we can develop a responsible relationship. In every meeting I attended in Moscow, I made clear the Russians must end their election meddling here in the United States and Europe in order to open the door to rebuilding relations. I brought up Russia’s destabilizing support for separatists in Ukraine and its illegal seizure of Crimea after Ukraine democratically chose a president who sought closer ties to the West. Its support for the Taliban undermines the democratic government in Afghanistan. In every circumstance, Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, continued to obfuscate or outright deny any responsibility. However, those meetings left me unconvinced that Russia is prepared to change its behavior.”

Read my full editorial on my meetings in Russia and the vital importance of our NATO alliance in Defense One.

Attending West Point Board of Visitors Meeting
On Monday, I attended the U.S. Military Academy’s Board of Visitors meeting at West Point, New York. I serve on the board, which formally and regularly examines the morale, discipline, curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods and other matters relating to the Academy. I’m pleased to see the Academy continues to focus on producing leaders of character who are prepared to lead our military. I also congratulated the new Superintendent of West Point, Lieutenant General Darryl Williams, on assuming command of the Academy this month. He has taken responsibility of a critical mission in the Army, and I look forward to working with him in the future. 

Now Accepting 2018 Service Academy Applications
Appointing Kansans to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.; the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo; and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y. is one of my favorite duties as a U.S. Senator.

To review requirements and move through the application process, please download an application from my website or contact my Olathe office at 913-393-0711. All application materials are due to my Olathe office by September 7, 2018. After applications have been reviewed, applicants will be notified of interviews with my Service Academy Selection Board, which will take place on Saturday, September 22, 2018, at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene.

Seeking Answers Regarding Google’s Data Privacy Policies
On Wednesday, I joined leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee in questioning Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., regarding the company’s privacy policies and practices associated with Google’s email service, Gmail. A recent report by The Wall Street Journal found that third-party application developers that were granted access to Google’s Gmail have – in addition to using automated systems – allowed human employees to read through Gmail users’ emails. While consumers may have consented to much of this access, we do not have a clear picture regarding the third-party’s use of personal email information, nor do we know how well consumers understand the consent they are providing in these types of user agreements. As the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Data Security, I will carefully review the company’s response and continue to investigate this important issue. Read our full letter here.

Talking Russia, Trade, Tariffs on Bloomberg
This week, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a measure that would help make certain Congress plays a role in the implementation of tariffs that relate to our national security. I went on Bloomberg TV to discuss this important legislation, current trade issues and my meetings in Moscow. Watch the full interview here.

Meeting with USTR’s Gregg Doud
I met with U.S. Trade Representative Chief Agricultural Negotiator Gregg Doud this week to discuss ongoing trade issues impacting Kansas agricultural producers. The rural economy in Kansas depends on the ability of farmers and ranchers to export the food, fuel and fiber they produce. I’m pleased to have Ambassador Doud, a native Kansan, working on behalf of American agriculture in trade discussions. However, I expressed to him my concerns with the overall direction being taken by the administration in several trade policy areas. I agree that China’s bad behavior on trade, including stealing our intellectual property, must be addressed. Instead of escalating a trade war that will harm farmers, ranchers and consumers, I believe we ought to focus on tough enforcement of trade rules and working with our allies to isolate China. This includes successfully concluding NAFTA renegotiations with Canada and Mexico, as well as re-engaging in discussions on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) or pursuing a bilateral agreement with Japan. I continue urging the administration to pursue responsible trade policies, while working with my colleagues in the Senate to pass legislation to assert greater congressional authority over trade actions.

Advancing VA Secretary Nomination
On Tuesday, I voted with my Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee colleagues to advance Mr. Robert Wilkie’s nomination to be secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Mr. Wilkie’s nomination will soon be before the full Senate, and I hope we can quickly confirm him for this critical position. Once confirmed, Mr. Wilkie will play a vital role in implementing the reforms and initiatives of the recently-passed VA MISSION Act. I intend to conduct careful oversight of the VA’s regulations process to make certain congressional intent is carried out and the new community care program is implemented in an effective and efficient manner that resolves veterans’ problems. This will require a VA secretary who is fully invested in and committed to both leading change and transforming the culture of the department, while also partnering with lawmakers to make certain the VA MISSION Act is the success our veterans’ deserve.

Delivering Opening Remarks at Farmer Veteran Panel
On Wednesday, I joined the Farm Credit Council and the Farmer Veteran Coalition to deliver opening remarks before their farmer veteran panel discussion in Washington, D.C. This event brought together many veterans who are involved or working to become involved with agriculture. In my remarks, I highlighted the Senate’s recent actions on things that impact veterans and our agriculture community, such as the Farm Bill, the recently signed VA MISSION Act and our efforts to revive programs to support farmers’ and ranchers’ mental health. I also spoke with Tammy Darbyshire of Hartford who was a panelist for this event – her service to the nation and commitment to agriculture make Kansans proud.

Surveying Tornado Damage and Hosting Kansas Listening Tour in Eureka
I was in Eureka on Friday to tour the progress being made after a tornado hit the city last month. In my conversations with city and Greenwood County officials, it was obvious to me that the destruction they faced was not going to overshadow their determination to rebuild the place they call home. The tornado affected 167 homes – 19 of which were destroyed, with another 32 suffering substantial damage. Two years earlier, this same community sustained damage from another tornado. Despite these setbacks, residents continue to move forward in putting their homes and community back together. Emergency personnel, volunteers, residents and local officials involved are to be commended for their quick response and the progress they are making toward recovery.

After the tour, I met with area residents and business owners to discuss their concerns and challenges following the tornado. We also discussed economic development grant opportunities and community emergency management needs. Kansans expressed their concerns regarding tariffs on the agricultural industry, and I shared the ways I am pressuring the administration to avoid a trade war – the ag industry in Greenwood County yields $89 million annually and employs over 600 people, and it is important that we are able to protect this way of life.

Thank you to Greenwood County Emergency Manager Levi Vinson for the tour. Thanks to County Commissioner Ben Fox, City Council members Mark Kennedy, Richard Drake and Anne Lewis, State Representative Larry Hibbard, KDEM staff and Eureka City Administrator Ian Martell for joining us.

Continuing my Listening Tour in Scott City
On Thursday, I walked Main Street in Scott City and met with Kansans at the Post Office, City Hall, FSA County Office, American Ag Credit, Scott County Hospital, the NRCS office and First National Bank. Thanks to all who shared their thoughts and concerns with me. It was great to see Mayor Everett Green and county officials while I was in town.

Kansans in the Office

American Association of School Administrators
Justin Henry of Goddard
Glen Suppes of Spring Hill
Wayne Burke of Spring Hill

American Counseling Association
Andrew Secor of Spring Hill
Kristin Wright of Clay Center

Bartlett & West
Neil Dobler of Topeka
Phillip Gates of Topeka

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
Hailey Kisner of Hutchinson

Constitutional Academy Students
Trinity Brockman of Manhattan
Levi Hickert of Hays
Maiesha Hossain of Manhattan
Jacob Krafft of Olathe
Ben Posch of McLouth
Henry Slynn of Sabetha
Susan Sonna of Kansas City
Alexis Stout of Beloit
Olivia Tigges of Olathe

Frontier Farm Credit
Janet Bailey of Manhattan
Tammy Darbyshire of Hartford
Mike Darbyshire of Hartford
Jeana Hultquist of Bonner Springs

Girl Up
Jennifer Flores of Hutchinson
Ann Huff of Leawood

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Jacklyn Feeney of Leawood
Judy Kent of Kansas City

Kansas Soybean Association
Crystal Albers of Denton
Charles Atkinson of Great Bend
Teresa Brandenburg of Osborne
Dennis Hupe of Topeka
Bradley McVey of Fredonia
Raylen Phelon of Melvern

National Extension Leadership Development Program
Mary Sullivan of Garden City
Marlin Bates of Douglas County

National Museum of the American Indian
Alexandra Holder of Lawrence
Jessica Fox of Lawrence

Sunflower Health Advocacy Fellows
Paula Edwards of Hutchinson
Frank Edwards of Hutchinson
Anthony Finlay of Hutchinson
Carl Frazier of Topeka
Billie Hall of Topeka
Jayme Morris-Hardeman of Manhattan
Lucia Jones Herrera of Kansas City
Christy Hopkins of Tribune
Brandon Johnson of Wichita
Melissa Ness of Topeka
Zach Pahmahmie of Mayetta
Callie Peace of Lawrence
Jill Sittenauer of Topeka
Jonathan Stewart of Lawrence
Becky Tuttle of Wichita
Juston White of Wichita
Carolyn Zimmerman of Topeka

Vietnam Advocacy Day
Nhuong Tran of Overland Park

Capitol Tour
Dorothy Adams of Manhattan
Richard Barr of Olathe
Shari Barr of Olathe
Barbara Bollier of Mission Hills
Gracie Bricker of Sun City
Kayley Cook of Coats
Lauren Cook of Liberal
Jerry DeWeese of Pratt
Anita DeWeese of Pratt
Andrea Duarte-Rambo of Overland Park
Zachary Duarte of Overland Park
Joel Fitzgerald of Ness City
Judy Fitzgerald of Ness City
Elijah Fitzgerald of Ness City
Isaiah Fitzgerald of Ness City
Silas Fitzgerald of Ness City
David Goldammer of Salina
Matthew Goldammer of Salina
Susan Goldammer of Salina
Louis Klemp III of Lansing
Carolyn Klemp of Lansing
Louis Klemp of Lansing
Grace Klemp of Lansing
Garrison Matthews of Lawrence
Kami McComb of Pratt
Norman Schmidt of Hillsboro
Rachel Schmidt of Hillsboro
Wyatt Slade of Haviland
Larry Swan of Liberal
Paula Swan of Liberal
Adisyn Swan of Liberal
Brian Vance of Stilwell
Lana Vance of Stilwell
Emma Vance of Stilwell
Olivia Vance of Stilwell
Chase Vance of Stilwell
Kennedy Wells of Overland Park
Leah Wells of Overland Park
Timothy Wells of Overland Park
Tyler Wells 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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