Kansas Common Sense


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Passing the National Defense Authorization Act
This week, the Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It is imperative that we provide our military the resources and capabilities it needs to protect us at home and abroad. The FY2020 NDAA supports the modernization of our military and gives our troops  3.1 percent pay raise – the largest they’ve seen in a decade. The legislation will increase our nation’s cyber readiness, in addition to making certain that our armed forces are ready and equipped to defend our homeland across all domains to deter aggression and defeat our adversaries.

I was pleased by the inclusion of my provision requiring the Department of Defense to access the capability of our Cyber Red Teams – including the 177th Information Aggressor Squadron in the Kansas Air National Guard Unit, stationed at McConnell Air Force Base. In an increasingly dangerous world, we must make certain we prioritize support for the brave men and women who risk their lives to defend our country and safeguard our freedoms.

Voting to Uphold Congress’s Constitutional Responsibility
The Constitution provides Congress the power to authorize when our military engages in war – a responsibility I take seriously. The prospect of military action against Iran has consequences that ought to be considered by the full Congress, on behalf of the people it represents, and I voted on Friday in favor of an amendment that would assert this Constitutional responsibility.

Sending Critical Assistance to Our Southern Border
This week, both the Senate and the House approved emergency border supplemental funding to help address the humanitarian crisis occurring at our southern border. The emergency supplemental funding package protects our border and ports of entry by supporting our Customs and Border Protection agents, improves our existing border facilities and creates more space to process the influx of migrants in an orderly and humane manner. We must treat all migrants, especially young children at our border, with respect and dignity, and this supplemental funding will help provide these children with basic necessities that will improve their conditions. I will continue working with my colleagues and the president to secure our borders and address the humanitarian crisis.

Meeting with Acting Army Secretary McCarthy
This week, I met with Acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy. He spoke highly of Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. David Bellavia, who he spent time with during Staff Sgt. Bellavia’s trip to Washington, D.C. for his Medal of Honor Ceremony and induction into the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes. I am proud of Staff Sgt. Bellavia for the bravery he has displayed, which is evidenced by his distinction as our nation’s first living Iraq War veteran to receive the Medal of Honor.

Acting Secretary McCarthy and I also discussed the Army’s modernization efforts and the critical work Wichita State University conducts in this era of transformation. As the Army looks to scope its number of contracts with universities, Wichita State is expected to play an increasingly large role in the Army’s research and technological development.

In the upcoming months, senior Army decision-makers will visit Wichita State to see the quality and capability of the campus firsthand. I also look forward to hosting Acting Secretary McCarthy when he visits Kansas to see the Seitz Elementary School on Fort Riley, a project in which he played an integral role. These visits are evidence of the growing relationship between Kansas and the Department of Defense. I am pleased to see the direct contributions Kansans are making to our nation’s safety and security, and I will continue working with Acting Secretary McCarthy in this mission.

Welcoming Kansas Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.
This week, I had the privilege of joining Vietnam and Korean War veterans from Kansas during their visit to Washington, D.C. For many of these veterans and their family members, the Honor Flight presents a first opportunity to visit the memorials in Washington, D.C. built in their honor. Our servicemembers’ unwavering commitment to preserving and defending our freedoms never fails to inspire me, and I was honored to thank these Kansans for their service to our nation.

Discussing Regulatory Reforms with Federal Reserve Chairman Powell
On Wednesday, I met with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to discuss ongoing implementation efforts of the regulatory reforms passed by Congress and I emphasized the importance of these policies to the Kansas economy. The Federal Reserve is responsible for promoting strong monetary policy, and helps to make certain our nation’s banks and financial institutions provide security and quality of life for the people they serve.

Partnerships between local banks and neighboring communities foster small business growth, as well as the economic opportunities keeping the American dream alive in rural Kansas. During our meeting, I highlighted the importance of access to financial technologies and their unique value in allowing local banks to be competitive with their national counterparts. Among other issues, we also discussed the Community Bank Leverage Ratio (CBLR) and the need for the final rule to be tailored further to accommodate the less complex activities of community banks in order to increase their lending capacity, as well as the need to reassess the Current Expected Credit Loss (CECL) accounting standard’s impact on our economy, especially rural America. I will continue advocating for legislation that prioritizes community-based financial institutions, and the individuals and businesses they serve.

Discussing Flood Recovery Efforts with Army Corps of Engineers Leadership
This week, I joined Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) – all senators who represent states affected by the spring flooding along the Missouri River – to meet with Army Corps of Engineers leadership. We discussed short and long-term flood mitigation and recovery plans for the lower Missouri River basin. Because major rain events below the last reservoir along the Missouri River system caused the severe flooding in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa, it is critical that we focus our efforts on creating a comprehensive flood mitigation plan targeting the lower basin.

During our meeting, I stressed the need to prioritize flood mitigation for the protection of lives and property, over all other purposes. I will continue working with Corps leadership and my Senate colleagues to provide the assistance required for a swift recovery of breached levees and to craft a comprehensive, long-term plan to significantly decrease the severity of future flood events.

Questioning Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson on Rural Passenger Rail Service and the Southwest Chief
On Wednesday, I questioned Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson on the Southwest Chief route and Amtrak’s plan for rural and long-distance rail service during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing. I am committed to continuing our work to support long-distance passenger rail service – especially on routes like the Southwest Chief that connect Kansans with the rest of the country – and I once again pressed Mr. Anderson to share in this important commitment. Watch our full exchange here.

Meeting with the Cosmosphere
On Wednesday, I met with representatives from the Cosmosphere in Washington, D.C. As a Smithsonian-affiliated center located in Hutchinson, Kansas and containing the largest combined collection of U.S. and Russian space artifacts in the world, the Cosmosphere is a point of strong state pride. This museumdraws an international audience of more than 100,000 individuals each year.

Last year, I enjoyed hosting NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine at the Cosmosphere for the Earthrising gala recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission. This celebration included a panel presentation with Apollo-era astronauts and mission control members, as well as an exhibit featuring Apollo 8 artifacts. See more from Administrator Bridenstine’s visit to Kansas here.

I enjoyed hearing from the Cosmosphere this week, and I am excited about the upcoming events they have planned for this year.

Meeting with Douglas County 4-H Students in Washington, D.C.
This week, I enjoyed meeting with a group of 4-H students from Douglas County to discuss important issues facing Kansas. We talked about the recent natural disasters that have affected many Kansans, including the families of some of these 4-H students.

As the largest youth organization in Kansas, 4-H equips thousands of students with mentorship opportunities and leadership skills. I appreciated hearing from these talented young leaders and will continue supporting the efforts of 4-H in our state.

Hosting Riley County Listening Tour Stop
Thank you to the nearly 100 Manhattan residents who joined me for a conversation at the Flint Hills Discovery Center to discuss issues facing our community, such as persistent rain and the ramifications of flooding, the need for export markets for our farmers and ranchers, progress on NBAF, and working for our servicemembers at Ft. Riley. We also discussed several national issues with local implications, such as the National Defense Authorization Act and sending emergency funds to address the humanitarian crisis at the border – both issues that passed the Senate last week with overwhelming bipartisan support.

These discussions help guide my work in Washington, D.C., and I appreciate everyone who took time out of their Saturday morning to share their thoughts with me. Thanks also to Jason Smith, Manhattan Chamber and the Flint Hills Discovery Center for hosting, and to State Representative Tom Phillips for attending.

Kansans in the Office

Capitol Tour
Alyssa Aldridge of Wichita
Carla Aldridge of Wichita
Emma Aldridge of Wichita
James Anderson of Culver
Patricia Anderson of Minneapolis
Alyssa Bisagno of Manhattan
Abby Clifton of Topeka 
Bob Clifton of Topeka
Cathy Clifton of Topeka
Luke Clifton of Topeka
Jennifer Freeman of Salina
Patrik Goss of Salina
Riddick Goss of Salina
Christi Karle-Grunwald of Hutchinson
Glen Grunwald of Hutchinson 
Martha Irvine of Lenexa
Katherine Kuhlman of Overland Park
Kyle Kuhlman of Overland Park
Maci Kuhlman of Overland Park
Maxwell Kuhlman of Overland Park
Shelby Kuhlman of Salina 
Stephanie Kuhlman of Salina
Wade Kuhlman of Overland Park
Curtis Noon of Delphos
Matthew Peterson of Hutchinson
Cecilia Quirarte-Ortiz of Eudora
Caleb Reber of Eudora 
Nathanael Reber of Eudora
Amanda Rensink of Minneapolis
Gretchen Stone of Manhattan
Aaron Timm of Wamego
Easton Timm of Wamego
Eric Timm of Wamego
Evan Timm of Wamego
Kristi Timm of Wamego
Dianna Van Eaton of Minneapolis
Quentin Van Eaton of Minneapolis
Samantha Vogt of Manhattan
Brittany Watson of Manhattan
Janet Weatherhogg of Topeka
Neil Weatherhogg of Topeka
Linda Willoughby of Minneapolis
Randall Willoughby of Minneapolis

American Ambulance Association
Kenneth Denk of Lenexa

American Psychological Association
Tiffany Willis of Lenexa

Associated Builders and Contractors – Heart of America
Clay Daniels of Leawood
Preston Moore of Gardner

The Conservation Fund
Ginny Moore of Leawood

Cultivate KC
Sisi Cho of Kansas City
Katherine Kelly of Kansas City
Ya Mae PoPo of Kansas City

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Alexa Blair of Wichita
Kisha Blair of Wichita

Kansas Coop Council
Dave Spears of Valley Center

Kansas Cosmosphere
Mimi Meredith of Hutchinson
Nathan Meyer of Hutchinson

Kansas State University
Bradford B. Wiles of Mahattan

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
Michael Coleman of Olathe
Erin Dedrickson of Shawnee
Lindsey McDonald of Shawnee
Madeline McDonald of Shawnee
Valeria Caldera of Overland Park

St. Luke’s Health System
John Dickerson of Overland Park
Audrey Hill of Overland Park
Jani Johnson of Shawnee
Tim Van Zandt of Overland Park

US Presidential Scholar
Ritvik Illindala

US Tire Manufacturers Association
Wesley Billups of Topeka

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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