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.

Meeting Our Next Supreme Court Justice
I met with Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch on Wednesday to learn more about his judicial philosophy and commitment to the Constitution. Judge Gorsuch is qualified and fully prepared for the responsibilities bestowed on the justices of the highest court of the land. I appreciated the opportunity to converse with Judge Gorsuch, and I intend to support his confirmation.

Visiting with Federal Judges from the District of Kansas
In addition to my meeting with Judge Gorsuch, I had the honor of meeting with U.S. District Court Judges from the District of Kansas this week. Chief Judge Tom Marten and Judge Julie Robinson visited with me to discuss the importance of filling the district’s judicial vacancy as soon as possible. We also discussed making the temporary judge position in Kansas permanent. Recommending and reviewing the president’s nominees for judicial appointments is one of the most serious responsibilities I have as a United States Senator. I look forward to working with the president and my Senate colleagues on this important nomination and confirmation process to make certain the federal judiciary in Kansas has the tools necessary to resolve disputes and uphold the law.

Holding a Hearing at Arlington National Cemetery
As chairman of the Senate Military Construction and Veterans’ Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, I convened a hearing on Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery to evaluate the work being done there to honor those who have served our nation. I was joined in this hearing by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), ranking member of the subcommittee. While there are land, budget and space challenges to work through, I welcome the responsibility of helping to preserve and protect this sacred space. The goal is to make certain – for as long as possible – this ground is open and active for the burial and inurnment of those who have served us all. Please click here to read more about the hearing as covered by Stars and Stripes.

Fighting to Declassify Military Records for Veterans Suffering from Toxic Exposure
The impact of toxic exposure on our veterans often doesn’t appear until long after service members have returned home from the battlefield and military records are filed away, and it is my privilege to lead legislation that honors a Kansas veteran who was impacted by toxic exposure: Gary Deloney of Fort Scott. Mr. Deloney passed away during the time my staff was working to help him access the classified military records that would prove his exposure to Agent Orange. In turn, that would establish his illness as “service-connected” and enable him to receive care from the VA. Our veterans and their families deserve the best our nation has to offer, and accessing their classified military records shouldn’t stand in the way of receiving the benefits they earned. I have undertaken the effort to pass this legislation with the help of Sen. John Tester (D-Mont.), the ranking Democrat on the Veterans Committee. Please click here to read the bill.

Town Hall Meeting in Dodge City
On Saturday morning, I heard from Kansans as part of the Dodge City Chamber of Commerce legislative coffee meeting. The chamber hosts this event for locals to engage in conversations and ask questions of their elected representatives in Topeka and Washington, D.C. More than 50 area residents attended this town hall meeting and shared feedback on issues including the recent fires, veterans' access to healthcare, commodity prices, the new administration and proposed budget cuts. During the event, I also had the privilege of recognizing Ivan Chavez, a Dodge City student who I nominated and who was accepted into the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Thanks to the Dodge City Chamber and the High Plains Journal for hosting the event. State legislators who attended to speak about matters in Topeka included Representatives Boyd Orr, Leonard Mastroni and Brad Ralph and Senator Bud Estes.

Joining the Gardiner Angus Ranch Sale
After the town hall meeting, I drove south for the 38th annual Gardiner Angus Ranch sale in Ashland. Decades ago, the late Henry Gardiner helped pioneer emerging technologies in cattle production, including artificial insemination and embryo transfer. The ranch later became a founding member of U.S. Premium Beef and still serves as a research partner with many land grant universities, including Kansas State University. The ranch remains a family business, managed and operated by Henry’s three sons: Greg, Mark and Garth, and each of their families.

This year’s spring sale had significant meaning, moving forward as planned despite the challenges presented by the devastating March 6 wildfire just weeks ago. In what is now the largest wildfire in our state’s history, the Gardiner Angus Ranch lost an estimated 500 cattle, and some of the family lost their homes. The sale on Saturday reminded me of the resilience of these Kansans who are rising above adversity. It is my honor to represent you all in Congress.

Addressing the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Symposium
I had the opportunity to speak at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs symposium this week about the importance of reducing global hunger and food insecurity. Utilizing the abundance of food grown by farmers and ranchers to feed people around the globe is a noble and worthy cause. Global food assistance also serves our own national interests – not only do food aid programs provide an additional export market for our ag producers, but food assistance also raises our moral standing in the world. It was fitting to speak on the importance of international food assistance at a building named after President Reagan who chided the Soviet Union for not providing food aid to countries in need. The threats of the world are different today than during the Cold War, but the power of food aid as a foreign policy tool remains just as strong.

As a member of both the Agriculture and State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittees, I have supported hunger assistance programs including Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole Food for Education. As I told the more than 500 leaders on global hunger gathered at the symposium, if we want to ensure a bright future here in America, we must also work to make certain there is a bright future for people across the world.

Meeting with World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley to Discuss the Importance of Food Aid
As co-chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus, I met with the newly appointed World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley this week. Governor Beasley and I discussed the critical role of the World Food Programme in providing humanitarian relief to those in need, including several countries currently on the brink of historic famines due to severe drought and conflict. Providing international food assistance benefits the United States by promoting stability, while also reducing suffering and saving millions of lives around the world. Our country’s collective moral convictions make fighting hunger the right thing to do, but the benefits we receive as a nation from reducing global food insecurity also make it the smart thing to do.

Speaking at AIPAC’s Annual Summit
On Tuesday, I spoke to Kansans who traveled to Washington for the annual AIPAC summit. I addressed a number of issues critical to Israel’s security and why strong support for Israel advances America’s interests. Israel serves as our nation’s most reliable democratic ally in the Middle East, and it is surrounded by enemies who refuse to acknowledge its right to exist. Iran continues to test ballistic missiles in defiance of the United Nations and supports terrorists such as Hezbollah, and I announced my support for new legislation that authorizes sanctions for those activities. Additionally, I shared my concern about the unfair anti-Israel bias at the United Nations – I recently joined colleagues in signing a letter calling upon the new UN Secretary General to address this long-standing problem immediately. Israel and the United States face many shared threats, and promoting a strong relationship will better enable the defeat of those who wish both nations harm.

Sharing the Benefit of Lifting the Cuba Embargo for Farm Country
I spoke with VICE News recently about the economic downturn currently plaguing farm country. In my view – and the view of farmers like Claflin’s David Radenberg – we could ease the hardship by lifting the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. If we’re truly committed to putting America first, lifting the embargo is an easy choice. I encourage you to watch the video here to learn more about the importance of putting Kansas wheat farmers on a level playing field with their counterparts around the world.

White House Hosts Bipartisan Group of Senators
The White House hosted a bipartisan reception for U.S. Senators this week, which included an inspiring performance by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band and U.S. Army Chorus. The music was inspiring.

Kansans in the Office

Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved
Katrina McGiven of Topeka
Michelle Keller of Mission
Bob Burk of Pittsburg
Rob Freelove of Salina
Jan Stewart of Lawrence
Rachel Hattorn of Lawrence
Venus Lee of Wichita
Matthew Schmidt of Newton
Teresa Lovelady of Wichita
Amy Falk of Kansas City
Melissa Ward of Topeka

Fredonia Regional Hospital
John Hart of Fredonia
Brandon Tindle of Fredonia

Wichita State University
John Bardo of Wichita
John Tomblin of Wichita
Peter Perna of Wichita
Andy Schlapp of Wichita

Kansas Department of Transportation
Bob Brock of Topeka

State Bank Commissioner
Miki Bowman of Council Grove
Judi Stork of Topeka

Kansas Head Start Association
Daniel Patrick Mesecher of Minneapolis
Travis Aaron Lawrence of Concordia
Brook Lyn Klassen of Hutchinson
Kim Carole Baumfalk of Greenleaf

American Health Information Management Association
Peggy Marlar of Eureka
Seth Katz of Overland Park
Ann Nowlin of Salina
Rebecca Hageman of Wichita
Doreen Koch of Wichita

Tim McGivern of Topeka

Hunter Health Clinic
Amy Feimer of Wichita
Ryan Dyer of Wichita

Trauma Center Association of America
Kevin Hicks of Overland Park

Mid-American Lumbermens Association
Chris Cleaver of Chanute
Jim Bishop of Bonner Springs
Rachel Cleaver of Chanute
Sue Bishop of Bonner Springs

Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever
Max Dibble of Phillipsburg
Chris Blackledge of Council Grove

City Year KC
John Peterson of Leawood
Audra Clark of Overland Park

Rural Telecom
Jimmy Todd of Lenora
Rhonda Goddard of Lenora

SKIL Resource Center
Lou Ann Kibbee of Hays
Maureen Phillips of Liebenthal

City of Hays
Shaun Musil of Hays
Lance Jones of Hays
Henry Schwaller of Hays
Sandy Jacobs of Hays
Toby Dougherty of Hays
Jacob Wood of Hays
James Meis of Hays

Workforce Alliance
Kathy Jewett of Wichita
Gabe Schlickau of Wichita
George Marko of Wichita
Aletra Chaney of Wichita
Justin Powell of Wichita
Trudi Andernacht of Basehor
Keely Schneider of Leawood

National Epilepsy Foundation
Grace Wheeler of Kansas City
Joni Miller of Kansas City
Barb Wheeler of Prairie Village

Kansas Delegation of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association
Catherine Moyer of Ulysses
Rhonda Goddard of Lenexa
Phylis Weller of Hill City
Todd Houseman of Dodge City
Jeff Wick of Wamego
Terry Force of Wheaton
Marlene Sanders of Wichita
Brian Thompson of Manhattan
Beau Rebel of Lacrosse
Jason Smith of Everest
David Olsen of Hiawatha
Melvin Massey of Denton
Dennis Anderson of Holton
Rob McDonald of Madison
Jimmy Todd of Lenora
Brian Bolsvent of Wilson

Kansas Federal Judges
John Thomas Marten of Wichita
Julie Robinson of Kansas City

American Physical Therapy Association
Nicole Windsor of Olathe
Carolyn Bloom of Topeka
Lindsey McAlonan of Wichita

American Dental Association
Hal Hale of Wichita

Save the Children
Megan Smith of Lawrence

U.S. Travel Association
Natalie Bright of Shawnee
Linda Craghead of Alma
Bridgette Jobe of Kansas City
Gloria Moore of Washington
Donna Price of Goodland
Daniel Henke of Prairie Village

Matthew Hart of Wichita

Child Welfare League of America
Robert Smith of Salina
Rachel Marsh of Salina
Melissa Ness of Topeka

Planned Parenthood Great Plains
Sheila Kostas of Shawnee
Suzanne Wheeler of Shawnee
Jackie Johnson of Mission Hills

Highway 69 Association of Kansas
Ken Brock of Pittsburg
Blake Benson of Pittsburg
Braden Benson of Pittsburg

National Association of Elementary Principals
John Befort of Ellis
Duane Dorshorst of Oberlin
Patrick Schroeder of Ellsworth

4-H Youth Conference
Jake Renner of Kingman
Grace Zongker of Reno
Seth Yenni of McPherson
Gatlin Clawson of Meade

Disability Rights Center
Rocky Nichols of Topeka

Dale Klose of Leawood

Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association
Al Hinman of Olathe
Adam Mills of Wichita
Scott Schneider of Wichita
Ron Oberg of Wichita
Janez Lomshek of Overland Park
Mario Quiroz of Wichita
Scott Redler of Wichita

Catholic Charities
Debbie Snapp of Dodge City

Alzheimer’s Association
James Covel of Wichita
Taylor Hutton of McPherson
Meghan Calagne of Roeland Park

American Association for Justice
Terrence Campbell of Lawrence

Kansas Livestock Association
David Clawson of Englewood
Lee Reeve of Garden City
Jerry Kuckelman of Manhattan
Jessica Weltmer of Smith Center
Philip Weltmer of Smith Center
Roy Brown of Satanta
Ron Eakes of Tribune
Jerry Bohn of Pratt
Aaron Popelka of Topeka
Matt Teagarden of Topeka
Jeanne Clawson of Englewood
Tracy Brunner of Ramona

American Public Power Association Executive Committee
Colin Hansen of McPherson

American Advertising Federation
Shanna Goodman of Wamego

American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
Donna Pacicca of Overland Park

American Beverage Association
Mike Berry of Topeka
Todd Roberts of Overland Park

United Methodist General Board of Church and Society
Maria Penrod of Overbrook

Capitol Tour
Bob Potter of Overland Park
Rose Ann Potter of Overland Park
Kip Strauss of Leawood
Lily Strauss of Leawood
Jessica Farris of Basehor
Jay Baugh of Basehor
Mark Stump of Wichita
Sandy Stump of Wichita
Kelsey Witherspoon of Wichita
Bradley Piper of Wichita
Bruce Gabel of Maize
Amanda Gabel of Maize
Linda Doll of Bel Aire
Brennan Walter of Manhattan
Chad Hesselius of Manhattan
David Leach of Abilene
Mary Hansen of Lenexa
Gene Ewing of Phillipsburg
Linda Ewing of Phillipsburg

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,

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