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. I'm taking time today to reflect on the accomplishments, words and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His leadership in the fight for equal civil rights in America was remarkable and remains an inspiration to many around the world.
Omnibus Appropriations Bill Prioritizes Funding
On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed (72-26) a bill that attempts to set funding priorities based on more responsible oversight of government programs. While I oppose the high topline spending level mandated by the Ryan-Murray budget deal, it is important to make certain the funds authorized by the budget agreement are spent wisely rather than continuing to throw taxpayer dollars at outdated priorities and unsuccessful programs.
With the passage of the Omnibus, it is clear that Washington shares many priorities with Kansas including the construction of NBAF, basing of the KC-46A tanker at McConnell Air Force Base, and restoring funding for military retirement benefits of medically retired veterans and survivor annuities. The Omnibus also denies new funding to the federal Exchange and other Obamacare programs while eliminating HHS Secretary Sebelius’ $1 billion slush fund. It also increases funding for the HHS Inspector General to perform oversight of HHS’ Obamacare activities. Finally, the Omnibus makes certain no funds – none – may be spent to implement the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty until it’s ratified by the United States Senate, which stands in strong opposition to the treaty.
After years of no budget and no appropriations process, it was critical to now prioritize spending, provide greater congressional oversight, and examine whether taxpayer dollars are being used as efficiently and effectively as possible.
The Omnibus appropriations bill was approved Wednesday by the U.S. House (359-67). After passage in the Senate, it was sent to President Obama who signed it on Friday before the current funding expired on Saturday. This bill will fund the federal government through September.
Omnibus Prevents Implementation of U.N. Arms Trade Treaty
The Omnibus bill passed by Congress this week includes language in Section 7075 stating, “None of the funds appropriated by this Act may be obligated or expended to implement the Arms Trade Treaty until the Senate approves a resolution of ratification for the Treaty.” At least 50 Senators stand with me in strong opposition to the treaty. Last fall, the Obama Administration’s signed the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty in a direct dismissal of the American people and the bipartisan Senate majority that rejects the ATT.
Throughout this process, it has been disturbing to watch the Administration reverse U.S. policies, abandon its own negotiation principles, admit publicly the treaty’s dangerous ambiguity, and hastily review the final treaty text. With the passage of the Omnibus bill, it has been made unequivocally clear that Congress is committed to upholding the fundamental individual rights of Americans and rejects the ATT. We will not be bound by the treaty and we will not fund its implementation. No funds – none – can be spent to implement the Arms Trade Treaty until it's ratified by the United States Senate. Click here to listen to me discuss the Omnibus’ prohibition on funds being spent to implement U.S. participation in the global U.N. Arms Trade Treaty on NRA Radio.
Addressing the Root Cause of Unemployment
As the Senate considered legislation this week to extend emergency unemployment benefits, I called on Congress to address the root cause of unemployment by growing the economy and creating jobs. While assistance to those without work serves an important purpose in helping Americans transition out of periods of joblessness, the primary focus of Congress and the President should be on economic growth. A growing economy creates new opportunities for Americans to find meaningful work and with meaningful work comes the ability for Americans to improve their economic security and move up the economic ladder.
To jump-start the economy and create jobs for Americans, I authored bipartisan legislation called Startup Act 3.0. Since 1980, nearly all of the net new jobs created in our country have been created by companies less than five years old. To create an environment where entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed and create jobs, Startup Act 3.0 addresses four key factors that contribute to entrepreneurial success: talent, taxes, regulation and innovation. Despite the bipartisan support for this legislation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has refused to allow a vote on an amendment I offered to add the provisions of Startup Act 3.0 to the unemployment insurance extension bill. Click here to see me discuss this issue on the U.S. Senate Floor.
Honoring Lieutenant General Richard “Dick” Seitz
This week, the Senate unanimously passed a bill I introduced along with Senator Roberts to honor WWII Veteran and Kansan Lieutenant General Richard “Dick” Seitz by designating the Junction City Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) as the “Lieutenant General Richard J. Seitz Community-Based Outpatient Clinic.” The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs CBOC provides primary care, behavioral health, personal care, laboratory, prescriptions and psychiatry services for veterans. Our country lost a great man, a dedicated soldier, and an American hero when Lieutenant General Dick Seitz passed away last year. He was a mentor, a friend, and someone I hold in extremely high regard. I felt it was important to honor him in a way that would make him proud, and a way in which he can still be a part of the lives of those who served our country. To learn more about Lt. Gen. Seitz’ service, click here.
USDA Disaster Designation
I was pleased the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) designated 37 counties in Kansas as natural disaster areas due to the severe and ongoing drought. The Disaster Designation is welcome news at a time when Kansas producers are experiencing the results of a devastating drought. In spite of the exceedingly dry conditions, this designation will mitigate the drought’s effects and enable farmers and ranchers to continue their agricultural operations.
These counties will now be eligible for important disaster programs, such as the emergency loan program administrated by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). These programs will help the farmers and ranchers of Kansas make it through one of the most difficult growing seasons on record. Affected farmers should contact their local FSA office for more information: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/ks
Delivering Remarks at the Economic Mobility Caucus Event on Prize-Linked Savings
On Tuesday, I delivered remarks about innovative tools to encourage savings at a Senate Economic Mobility Caucus event. Savings is a key component of economic mobility –helping Americans climb the economic ladder and cushioning them from financial shocks that would threaten to reverse their progress. The Pew Foundation’s Economic Mobility Project found that 71 percent of children born to high-saving but low-income parents moved up from the bottom income quintile over one generation, compared to only 50 percent of children from similarly low-income households whose parents did not save.
According to the 2013 Economic Report of the President, Americans’ personal savings rate has declined about 56 percent over the past 50 years. As co-chair of the Senate Economic Mobility Caucus, I recently introduced S. 1597, the American Savings Promotion Act, to help Americans save. This bipartisan legislation would incentivize personal savings while never putting an individual’s money at risk by allowing financial institutions to pair traditional savings accounts with opportunities to win prizes. These prize-linked savings accounts have been shown to help people save who have never saved before, as well as help low-income individuals save more than they previously were. Savers in the prize-linked savings program in Nebraska, for example, are eligible for a $25,000 yearly grand prize. Thanks to the Pew Foundation, Doorways to Dreams, and the Heritage Foundation for participating in this event.
Wichita State Shockers Remain Undefeated
I was glad to see the Wichita State Shockers play the Indiana State Sycamores at the Roundhouse on Saturday. The Shockers are having an impressive season, as one of only three remaining undefeated teams in the country. The highly anticipated game did not disappoint as the Shockers won 68 to 48 over the Sycamores. This win gave the Shockers the best overall record in the Missouri Valley Conference. It was a great experience, and I wish the Shockers the best for the remainder of their season. Robba and I also enjoyed visiting with Scott City native and star player Ron Baker after the game. Click here to see a photo.
Kansans in the Office
Daniel Woo of Lewis
Daniel Wood of Belpre
Alex Lovely of Manhattan
American Academy of Pediatrics
Alison Ast of Conway Springs
Amanda Michaelis of Salina
Larry Sevier of Lenora
James Todd of Lenora
Cutler Repaving Inc
John Rathbun of Lawrence
Bill Cooper of Salina
Rex Eberly of Salina
Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America
Meghan H. Hernandez of Kansas City
Troy Terry of Hays
April Terry of Hays
Madison Bainter of Hays
Ashley Golden of Wichita
Ross Arreguin of Topeka
Mackenzzy May of Wichita
Amy Floyd of Goodland
Craig Salminen of Wamego
Diana Salminen of Wamego
Cora Ballenger of Wamego
Elijah Wade of Alma
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,
Newsletter Sign-up Form
Note: Fields marked with an * are required.