Kansas Common Sense
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Without the sacrifices and risks taken by entrepreneurs and the hard work of individuals, the government would have no money to provide services. We recently sat down with a few Kansas business owners to hear their stories. I am always amazed by and grateful for those who have an idea, build a business from the ground up, and create jobs for Americans. Click here to see their stories
Defending Americans’ Second Amendment Rights
On the evening of July 27, 2012, the clock struck on the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty without a deal. For a treaty to be completed, all 193 U.N. nations had to agree on its final text. The U.S. Administration, led by Assistant Secretary of State Tom Countryman, opposed the final draft treaty and insisted that far more time would be required to reach a consensus agreement. As other nations began to fall in line with the Administration’s stance in the waning hours, it became clear that no Arms Trade Treaty would result from the July conference.
The failure of the U.N. Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty to reach a consensus is certainly a positive outcome for Kansas gun owners, but this is far from the end of the international effort to regulate small arms. It is already expected that treaty negotiations will resume in September at the U.N. General Assembly. While treaty supporters are predictably blaming the United States for the Conference’s failure, the Obama Administration has indicated its support for additional negotiations following the presidential election.
The truth is, the United States is an exceptional country, and our Constitutional freedoms will always make us unique when it comes to international treaties such as this. As the U.N. and gun control activists continue their push to regulate small arms, I will renew my commitment to protect our firearm freedoms and make clear that any treaty which violates the Second Amendment rights of Americans is dead on arrival in the U.S. Senate.
Farmers and Ranchers Face Difficult Times Because of Drought
On Wednesday I spoke on the Senate Floor about the ongoing drought and the uncertainty facing American farmers and ranchers. This summer’s drought has led to all 105 counties in Kansas to receive disaster declarations. This is considered the worst drought since 1956 and Robba and I continue to pray for rain as Kansans work through this difficult time.
The damaging effects of the unforgiving weather are compounded by inconsistent agriculture policy coming from Washington. As Congress debates the future of agriculture policy, it is critical that risk management tools are included for farmers and ranchers. Disaster programs for livestock along with crop insurance give producers the security they need to plan and invest for the future. A sound safety net is vital for drought recovery, continued conservation work, and for an affordable food supply for the people of our country. Click here to watch my speech on the ongoing drought that has plagued farmers and ranchers in Kansas. Click here for contact information for your local FSA office, and click here to see the drought monitor.
Defense Mark-up in the Appropriations Committee
On Thursday, in the Senate Appropriations Committee I voted for the fiscal year 2013 defense spending bill. The bill was approved by the Committee unopposed by a vote of 30-0 to support our soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines. First and foremost, this defense spending bill is taking care of our military personnel, which is critically important to me. It fully funds the 1.7 percent authorized pay raise for the active duty end strength of 1,401,697, and reserve component end strength of 846,163. This bill also rejects the proposed increase to healthcare TRICARE fees. I want past, present and future members of our armed services at Fort Riley, Fort Leavenworth, McConnell Air Force Base and Forbes Field to know that we support them and their families. They are sacrificing for our country each day, whether on-call for missions here at home or deployed overseas ensuring our freedom; it is critical that we support them with a defense spending bill that provides for their well-being.
Also on Thursday, I voted against the 2013 appropriations for the legislative branch. I believe that Congress must lead by example and show a willingness to significantly reduce its own budget. This bill failed to accomplish this goal.
Congress Approves Additional Iran Sanctions
In April, the United States, Germany and the four permanent members of the United Nations Security Council met with Iran to discuss Iran’s nuclear program. These negotiations were the first to occur since January 2011 and were followed by three additional meetings. While many hoped these meetings would result in Iran agreeing to stop its nuclear program, no progress was made. Instead, Iran continued to enrich more uranium and advance its nuclear program.
In an attempt to compel Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program, I supported passage of further sanctions on Iran this week. The effect of this legislation combined with previously enacted penalties will sanction anyone working in Iran’s petroleum and natural gas sector – the Iranian government’s primary source of revenue. In addition, the legislation expands financial sanctions to further restrict Iran’s access to the international financial system.
Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is one of the greatest dangers to global stability and the security of the United States we face today. The Iranian regime has a history of supporting terrorism and threatening the United States and our allies. The world cannot allow such a regime to possess the most destructive weapons known to man. Click here to read more.
Honoring Kansas World War II Veterans
I had the privilege of joining twenty-eight Kansas World War II veterans at their memorial on Wednesday morning. I would like to make a special mention of Mr. Dan Revert of Mulvane, who made the trip and will turn 100 years old later this month. He is the oldest Kansas World War II veteran to take part in the Honor Flight. Below is a list of the twenty-seven veterans who joined Mr. Revert. Their stories of courage, sacrifice, and commitment to duty on behalf of our nation are inspiring, and I am struck by their humility. These heroes continue to serve as outstanding examples to all of us.
Thanks to Mike VanCampen for leading the Central Prairie Honor Flight organization and to the volunteers who joined him in accompanying these heroes and making the trip possible. Click here to view photos of their visit to the World War II Memorial.
The veterans who made the journey to Washington are:
Dwight E. (Larry) Aldrich, Wichita
William Henry Bernard, Winfield
Eugene H. (Geno) Brown, Dodge City
Thomas Dale (Dale) Coffman, Cedar Vale
Glenn J Compton, Wellington
Richard D. Ellison, Topeka
Perry L. Garten, Garden City
Bob L. Holaway, Wellington
Edwin D. Jacques, Montezuma
Paul H. Koehn, Newton
Jay Edwin Kramer, Longford
Howard Russell Krohn, Olathe
Howard M. Logan, Wichita
Ralph Nathan Lundell, Olathe
John L. Meyer, Topeka
Richard Morrow Mosier, Herington
Charles G. Niernberger, Manhattan
Harvey L. Peck, Humbolt
Donald L. (Don) Revert, Mulvane
Loeur M. Rigby, Topeka
John Russel Roberts, Manhattan
Rix D. Shanline, Manhattan
Lowell L. Smart, Wichita
Norbert E. (Doc) Stigge, Manhattan
John D. Topham, Peabody
Delmar L. Yarrow, Clay Center
George A. Yohn, Haviland
Keith R. Zinn, Andover
Sen. Scott Brown Promoted to Colonel in the Army National Guard
On Wednesday, I attended the promotion of my friend Senator Scott Brown to the rank of Colonel in the Army National Guard. Senator John McCain presided over the promotion ceremony and administered the oath of office. Attendees included Senator Brown’s family, other colleagues in the Senate, senior military leaders and National Guardsmen with whom he currently serves.
Senator Brown joined the National Guard after he observed first-hand the response of the Massachusetts National Guard in the aftermath of Massachusetts’ “Blizzard of ’78.” He enlisted in December 1979 as an infantryman, joined the Reserved Officer Training Corps while a student at Tufts University, and became an officer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps after graduating from Boston College Law School.
I was glad to have the opportunity to witness this ceremony that acknowledges his leadership with a promotion in the National Guard. Senator Brown’s service to our country is admirable and he offers that same commitment when we work together on both the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. I appreciate his military service and his partnership in the United States Senate. Click here to see photos from the event.
Senate Cybersecurity Legislation Stalls
Earlier this year, the House of Representatives approved legislation to enhance the ability of businesses and governments to prevent and address the rising number of cyberattacks on our nation’s networks. The House legislation would allow for greater information sharing between companies and the government to prevent attacks, and would improve the ability of government computer systems to prevent attacks on their networks. While these measures are supported by many cybersecurity experts, President Obama threatened to veto the legislation unless Congress included new regulations on businesses forcing them to comply with government mandates to protect critical infrastructure.
This week, the Senate considered the Obama-supported Cybersecurity Act of 2012, a broad bill that is widely opposed by businesses and privacy advocates alike. The Senate failed to achieve the 60 votes needed to move forward in the process by a vote of 52-46. I did not support the legislation because I am opposed to creating a new regulatory regime for businesses and remain concerned about the vague language related to consumer privacy. The Senate is expected to revisit this legislation in the future. I will continue to work with my colleagues to enhance our nation’s cybersecurity.
Speaking at Health Center Expansion Groundbreaking
On Sunday afternoon, I traveled to Pittsburg to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion of the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas’ Pittsburg clinic. Since its establishment in 1997, CHC/SEK has steadily improved access to affordable, quality health care, dental and mental health services for thousands of medically underserved Kansans. The expansion of its Pittsburg clinic, which was originally built in 2007, will enable CHC/SEK to provide care to thousands more southeast Kansas patients.
I have long supported community health centers as a way to strengthen our health care system and lower costs. CHC/SEK and other health centers help preserve and strengthen access to primary health care for the uninsured and underserved while reducing health care costs by increasing utilization of disease prevention and wellness initiatives and reducing expensive emergency room visits. I commend the leadership and staff of CHC/SEK for their commitment to improving the health of their Kansas community.
Thanks to CHC/SEK CEO Krista Postai, Board Chair Judy Westhoff, and the other board members for inviting me to speak at this groundbreaking ceremony. Also, thanks to Cathy Harding, Executive Director of the Kansas Association of the Medically Underserved, for participating with me. Abigail Pinkele, deputy director for federal affairs for the National Association of Community Health Centers also spoke. Elected officials in attendance were State Senator Bob Marshall, State Rep. Bob Grant, County Commissioners Linda Grilz and Carl Wood, Pittsburg Mayor John Ketterman, and Pittsburg City Commissioner Patrick O’Bryan. Click here to see a photo from the event.
Participating in the Phillipsburg Rodeo Parade
On Saturday I joined local residents for the Rodeo Parade through downtown Phillipsburg. The parade is Kansas' Biggest Rodeo Parade and I had a great time seeing the herd of longhorns and visiting with the folks from Phillips County and those who came in for the event. Thanks again to Denis Miller for inviting me. Click here to see a photo from the parade.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below. Click here to view photos of some of the visits:
Amy Lebsack Dillon of Ft. Leavenworth
LTC Brian Dillon of Ft. Leavenworth
Kansas Hospital Association
Chad Austin of Topeka
Jodi Schmidt of Parsons
Roger Masse of Ellsworth
Brock Slabach of Leawood
Jacob Stewart of Wichita
Kimberly Gleason of Olathe
Greater Kansas City LISC
Ashley Jones-Wisner of Lawrence
Transportation Equity Network
Cynthia Jarrold of Overland Park
Wayne Roberts of Wichita
Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition, Inc.
Brenda Bandy of Manhattan
Many Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the US Capitol this week including:
Sergeant Brewster Sherraden
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Please let me know how I can be of assistance. To send me an email, click 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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