Kansas Common Sense
Jun 07 2021
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“The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.” – General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe
Yesterday, was the 77th anniversary of D-Day, the largest seaborne invasion in history. We remember the 156,000 Allied troops who stormed the beaches, fighting to liberate Western Europe from Nazi control. The Americans who came before us – America’s Greatest Generation – risked and sacrificed their lives to defend our country and its freedoms. Protecting our democracy required tremendous courage, and today we honor the bravery of those who perished.
Flint Hills Rodeo Parade
It was great to be at the Flint Hills Rodeo on Saturday. I enjoyed talking with folks in both Cottonwood Falls and Strong City during the parade, who have kept the rodeo tradition alive for generations as the oldest consecutive rodeo in Kansas.
Requesting an Update on Holcomb’s Meat Packing Investigation
This week, I joined the Kansas Congressional Delegation in urging U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Attorney General Merrick Garland to provide an update on the investigation of the meat packing industry that was initiated following the fire at Tyson’s production plant in Holcomb and the initial market impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a report last summer, however it focused on supply and demand fundamentals and did not address the question of illegal or anti-competitive behavior.
Cattle producers continue to face challenging market dynamics similar to those experienced last spring, and Kansas cattle producers are concerned with the historically wide gap between wholesale beef prices and fed cattle prices. Industry participants need to know if the market situation is a matter of supply and demand fundamentals, as referenced in the 2020 USDA report, or if it is a result of unlawful market behavior. I will continue to support cattle producers as they face challenging market conditions and search for answers to these market disruptions. The full letter can be read by clicking here.
Expanding Rural Kansans’ Access to High-Speed Broadband
Expanding rural America’s access to high-speed broadband is critical to making certain all Kansans have the capability to compete in today’s digital economy and workplace. COVID-19 has created an increased reliance on high-speed internet, and expanding rural broadband will help preserve Kansans’ way of life while also working to close the digital divide.
Recently, I cosponsored the Rural Connectivity Advancement Program Act, which supports increased deployment of reliable broadband in Kansas and across the country by providing additional resources to the Federal Communications Commission to target underserved areas and boost connectivity. I will continue to work diligently to improve broadband access to rural Kansans and will continue to work to ensure all Kansans have access to reliable and high quality broadband.
Working to Recognize Women Who Served During WWII
To honor the women who served in the United States military during World War II, I introduced a resolution to recognize those who were instrumental in establishing the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). The WAAC is not only significant for the major role it played in our success in World War II – it was also an important step toward fully recognizing women as members of the military.
Prior to the WAAC, women who served in the Army only did so in a civilian status, with the exception of women in the Nurse Corps. The Hello Girls of World War I, for example, served bravely in France but were told by the Army when they returned home from war that they had never truly been members of the United States military. The WAAC changed that, making women’s military service official. It included units such as the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, the Women’s Flying Training Detachment and the Women Air Force Service Pilots. The resolution also honors the women who served in the Navy and the Marine Corps during the war, such as the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES).
I am also pleased to be leading the effort to award a Congressional Gold Medal for the Hello Girls, as well as for a particularly groundbreaking unit of the Women’s Army Corps (which later replaced the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps): the Six Triple Eight Central Postal Directory Battalion, the only all-female, all-Black battalion to serve overseas during World War II. I look forward to seeing these women finally recognized for their outstanding service with Congress’s highest honor.
Protecting Indian Tribes from Scams
I recently introduced the Protecting Indian Tribes from Scams Act, which would help target scammers and their deceptive practices targeted at tribes and tribal leaders. The COVID-19 pandemic was particularly devastating to many tribes, and as a result, scam artists are targeting these individuals to prey on their vulnerabilities. The Federal Trade Commission has a responsibility to investigate reports of deceptive acts targeting our tribes and take action to pursue these scammers. If passed, this bill will help identify patterns scammers employ, and this information would support Congress’ lawmaking efforts to combat this pervasive issue.
Advocating for Kansas Industries and Businesses
Meeting with Aviation Leaders at Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin
This week, I spent two days in California on behalf of Kansas State University, Wichita State University and Kansas businesses and their employers. I visited Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman’s manufacturing facilities in Palmdale, California, with leaders from Kansas’ aviation industry and WSU. We started at Northrop Grumman and discussed how the B-21 Raider will revolutionize the Air Force’s long-range strike capabilities. This strategic bomber will replace many of our aging airplanes and modernize our nuclear triad that deters aggression from hostile nations. Major portions of this bomber are manufactured in Kansas. I also visited Lockheed Martin to see the production line of the X-59 QueSST (Quiet SuperSonic Technology). The team at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, in partnership with NASA, is working to solve one of the most pressing challenges of supersonic flight -- the sonic boom. It was great to see their work firsthand as Kansas becomes a leader in the supersonic realm through a recently signed deal with the FAA to establish the Kansas Supersonic Transportation Corridor to test non-military aircrafts that can fly faster than the speed of sound.
Additionally, I saw the progress made on producing hypersonic missiles for the Air Force. These missiles are faster and harder to defend against compared to traditional missiles because they fly at more than five times the speed of sound. China and Russia are actively developing hypersonics, so it’s imperative that we invest in next-generation technology as well. I will continue to support our military and make certain that Kansas industries and universities are playing an active role in our national security.
Visiting General Atomics-ASI
I also visited General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), an affiliate of General Atomics, whose goal is to support warfighter and civil operations. GA-ASI specializes in research and technology development with a focus on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). This includes the Gray Eagle UAS utilized by the military personnel at Fort Riley in Junction City. Additionally, WSU plays a role in the development of the Predator, a line of Remotely Piloted Aircraft systems built by General Atomics and used primarily by the U.S. Air Force and other government agencies worldwide. Kansas has a strong line of assets in the aviation world with ties to General Atomics, including Fort Riley, WSU and K-State. It was great to see the ties firsthand and discuss how Kansas can continue to be a strong partner to the company. Thank you to Mr. Neal Blue and his team for hosting us.
Discussing Defense and Aerospace at Ducommun
I also visited Ducommun, a manufacturing company specializing in the aerospace, defense and industrial markets. Ducommun is based out of Santa Ana, California, but has a facility in Parsons that specializes in metal finishing and assembly. Having previously toured the facility in Parsons, it was great to visit the headquarters and discuss the support held in Kansas and potential opportunities we can build on in the future. Thank you to Mr. Steve Oswald and his dedicated team for taking the time to host us.
Amtrak Celebrates its 50th Year of Service
On May 1, 1971, the first Amtrak train travelled from New York City to Philadelphia. Fifty years later, America’s railroad serves passengers across the country, connecting rural Kansas communities to major cities and economic opportunities.
I was proud to help lead a bipartisan resolution honoring Amtrak’s fifty years of serving American communities which recently passed the U.S. Senate unanimously. Long-distance passenger service routes are essential for Kansans, and during my time in Congress, I have advocated for retaining daily passenger service routes like the Southwest Chief. As Amtrak begins its 50th year of service, I will continue to advocate for long-distance passenger routes like the Southwest Chief and the importance of retaining connectivity for citizens across Kansas and the nation.
Jimena Perez Veleta of Dodge City Wins National Missing Children's Day Poster Contest
Congratulations to Dodge City’s Heidy Jimena Perez Veleta for winning the U.S. Department of Justice 2021 National Missing Children's Day poster contest. Each year, fifth graders from around the country participate in a poster contest, creating an opportunity for schools to promote child safety awareness among their students. Her illustration represents this year’s theme, "Bringing Our Missing Children Home.”
Now Accepting Fall 2021 Internship Applications
An internship in my office provides a unique opportunity for students to work closely with my staff on behalf of Kansans, and applications for the Fall 2021 Intern Session are now available. Interns witness the workings of Congress from a unique perspective, and develop knowledge and professional skills that will serve them in their future career pursuits. My office is accepting applications for the Fall Session through June 24. To hear from past interns, find the application link and learn more about this opportunity, click here.
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.
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