Kansas Common Sense
Sep 27 2021
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Seeking Answers from the Biden Administration Regarding the Humanitarian Crisis at the Border
In April, I went to our southern border to witness the humanitarian and security crisis firsthand. Since then, the Biden administration has failed to take the necessary steps to slow the flow of illegal migration, exacerbating the crisis at the border.
This week, I requested answers from the Department of Homeland Security on how the department is processing migrants who cross the border illegally, how many migrants are showing up for their court dates and what recourse is being taken when migrants do not show up for their court case.
It was reported in July that nearly 50,000 migrants were released without a court date and given nothing more than a list of ICE offices around the country with instructions to report within 60 days. Unsurprisingly, nearly 87 percent of those individuals did not report as directed. Even those who are given a court date rarely appear and face little to no consequences.
The message coming from the Biden administration is that if you make it to the United States, you will be allowed to stay without facing repercussions. This encourages families to make the hazardous trek north and entrust their safety to dangerous drug cartels at the risk of being murdered, assaulted or trafficked because the reward is worth the risk. The Haitians at our border and the ones that continue to arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border believe the Biden administration’s actions not their words. They watched as thousands of people were allowed stay in the country and gambled that they too would get the same treatment.
I remain committed to addressing the problems facing our broken immigration system. This cannot be accomplished until we are able to secure our borders.
Read my full letter to Secretary Mayorkas here.
Democrats’ Reckless Spending is Increasing and Accelerating Inflation
On Thursday, I spoke on the Senate floor to reiterate my opposition to the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reckless tax-and-spend spree which would exacerbate an already tenable inflationary situation and expand the size and scope of the federal government.
Given the historic level of spending that has occurred over the last year and a half, now is not the time to spend an even greater amount of taxpayer dollars. Americans are already paying more at the pump and the grocery store amid rising inflation and costs are expected to keep rising. While I’m sure that many of my Democrat colleagues would describe the good things that would happen from the spending that is included in this bill, we cannot discount that the people the Democrats indicate they are trying to help would suffer the greatest costs as a result of their spending.
Now is the time for fiscal restraint, not more reckless spending that threatens the financial certainty of hardworking Americans.
Discussing My NIL Legislation with College Athletic Leaders
KU Athletic Director Travis Goff
This week, I sat down with University of Kansas Athletic Director Travis Goff in Washington, D.C. to discuss the state and direction of KU athletics, college athletic conference realignment and the expansion of the Big 12 Conference, and my student athlete name, image, and likeness (NIL) legislation. It is no secret that college athletics have grown into an increasingly profitable, billion-dollar industry, however the rules surrounding athlete compensation have not been adequately modernized. Many states, including Kansas, have introduced legislation on athlete compensation, creating a patchwork of inconsistent state laws for universities and athletes. To address some of these inconsistencies and allow all student athletes the opportunity to capitalize on their NIL, the NCAA updated its own rules on the issue. However, a federal standard is still needed.
My Amateur Athletes Protection and Compensation Act would create a nationwide standard of guidelines to empower student athletes so they can benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness, allow more transfer flexibility and greater access to health care. As we continue this debate, it is important that we strike the appropriate balance of modernizing college athletics while maintaining the integrity of amateur sports that we all know and love. Thank you to Director Goff for speaking with me this week.
Wake Forrest Athletic Director John Currie
I also met with former Kansas State University Athletic Director John Currie, now at Wake Forrest University in North Carolina. I appreciated the opportunity to meet with John again and the input he gave me during our discussion.
Meeting with Kansans in Washington, D.C.
Spending Time with Kansas Veterans for 2021’s Honor Flights
On Tuesday, it was great to spend time with veterans from Kansas at the U.S. Navy Memorial Plaza in Washington, D.C. Due to last year’s cancelations, I’m glad Honor Flights have resumed and these veterans and Kansans are able to travel to our nation’s capital and see the memorials built in their honor. Welcoming these veterans and honoring their sacrifice never fails to humble and inspire me.
To all veterans who served our nation with honor and distinction, I respect you, and I thank you for your service. It is because of your sacrifice that we continue to enjoy the freedoms we experience each and every day. Thank you Mike Kastle for organizing this year’s visit to Washington, D.C. and to all the veterans who spoke with me.
I met with the Kansas Farm Bureau (KFB) Leadership class this week to discuss issues facing agriculture. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees the U.S. Department of Agriculture, I work to prioritize funding for programs that assist farmers and ranchers, invest in rural communities, and improve the food system for consumers. It was great to meet with KFB members who are committed to being leaders in agriculture and within their communities.
K-State President Richard Myers
It was also great seeing K-State President Richard Myers in our nation’s capital on Monday. I appreciated catching up with him and thanking him for presenting me with a K-State Coin, a tradition he brought to K-State from his career in the military.
Kansas Bankers Association
This week, I also met with senior leadership from the Kansas Bankers Association (KBA) for their annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, overreaching federal regulations and proposals continue to threaten the ability of our community banks to assist Kansans who depend on them for mortgages, small business loans and everyday financial services. The compliance costs associated with these regulations make it harder for banks to attract capital and support the credit needs of their customers and local businesses. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, community banks facilitated economic stimulus checks and distributed federal aid programs to small businesses and will continue to play an important role in our economic recovery. As a member of the Senate Banking Committee, I will continue to push Congress to take action for more appropriate regulation of community banks.
Kansas Housing Association
On Wednesday, I met with members of the Kansas Housing Association (KHA). The KHA joins non-profits, housing developers, municipalities, financial institutions and others to support reliable and affordable housing throughout Kansas. During our meeting, we discussed the challenges and opportunities to increase the availability and affordability of housing across the state. I recently cosponsored the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act which would increase the viability of affordable housing development by decreasing financing costs. Additionally, I supported the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act which would create additional incentives to rehabilitate outdated homes. The ability to provide safe, quality and low-cost housing units is fundamental to the economic vitality of our state, and I thank them for speaking with me.
USD 207's Dr. Keith Mispagel
I was pleased to meet with Fort Leavenworth School District Superintendent Dr. Keith Mispagel in Washington, D.C. this week. I enjoyed catching up with Dr. Mispagel, and appreciate his insight on the Impact Aid program and the challenges faced by federally impacted schools in Kansas.
Meeting with the VA Acting Under Secretary for Health
On Tuesday, I met with Acting Under Secretary for Health for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr. Steven Lieberman. During our meeting, we discussed a number of my priorities for Kansans and veterans nationwide. I discussed the VA’s latest suicide prevention report and received an update on VA’s implementation of my Commander John Scott Hannon Act, which increases access to health care for veterans across the country. While I am glad to see we are moving in the right direction with the small reduction in the number of veteran suicides, I imparted upon Dr. Lieberman the importance of suicide prevention remaining VA’s top clinical priority and the proper implementation of the John Scott Hannon Act. We also discussed the need for the department to fully implement MISSION Act’s Veteran Community Care Program. I urged Dr. Lieberman to leave the decision to seek care in the community between the veteran and provider—as Congress intended—and to avoid adding more bureaucratic steps to the eligibility process.
Dr. Lieberman and I also discussed issues that are particularly important to Kansas veterans. Providing quality and timely care to rural veterans has been a priority of mine as the lead Republican on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. I briefed Dr. Lieberman on multiple efforts to expand access to telehealth for Kansas veterans who normally have to travel long distances to receive care. I will continue working with Dr. Lieberman and the VA facilities in Kansas to make certain our veterans receive the care they have earned.
Speaking at the Runway Dedication Luncheon in Concordia
This weekend, I spoke in Concordia at the Blosser Municipal Airport ribbon cutting to celebrate the successful expansion of the airport’s runway. In November 2018, I authored a letter to then-Secretary Chao in support of Blosser’s grant application for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program, and I was pleased to be a part of Saturday’s event celebrating the completion of this important expansion project for the Cloud County community.
This expansion will increase Cloud County and the surrounding area’s access to medical services by air ambulance and the ability to get specialized goods to market. Local airports help bring economic opportunities and critical resources to and from communities across Kansas, and I’m pleased to see that Blosser can continue to provide safe and efficient travel. Rural Kansas and America are well served by leaders like those in Concordia that came together to push this project across the finish line, and I thank everyone who was a part of Saturday’s event.
Learning more about the ATF’s Forensic Capabilities
On Friday, on my route to Kansas, I toured the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) laboratory in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the ATF’s three traditional forensic science laboratories (FSLs) across the country. These labs provide support to not only the ATF but other federal and state law enforcement agencies across the country. The scientists and engineers at the FSLs maintain a unique expertise and play a vital role in helping solve violent crimes by providing the critical links between the crimes and the suspects to law enforcement.
In addition to their evidence analysis role, the FSLs provide technical support at crime scenes, offer training to prosecutors, state and local law enforcement and forensic scientists and provide expert testimony in criminal prosecutions. These labs are a critical instrument to reducing violent crime, and I thank the ATF for their work to make our communities safer. Thank you to Assistant Director Daniel Board and Deputy Assistant Director Greg Czarnopys for visiting with me about your work.
As the lead Republican on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the ATF, I will continue working to ensure the ATF FSLs have the tools they need to assist our nation’s law enforcement in their mission protecting their communities.
Meeting with Growth Energy
This week I met with Kansas ethanol producers and representatives from Growth Energy. During our conversation, we discussed their concerns regarding the potential for President Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to retroactively lower Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for 2020. We also discussed the need for year-round sale of E15 which would provide much-needed certainty for Kansas ethanol producers and gas retailers alike. I am a cosponsor of the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act which would allow for year-round sale of E15 and will seek to get this legislation passed into law.
Discussing the Hyde Amendment and Defending Life
On Thursday, I visited with my friend, former Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave of the Susan B. Anthony List, to discuss the importance of the Hyde Amendment, which protects taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortion. The Hyde Amendment, which has enjoyed broad bipartisan support for nearly five decades since it was passed, has been eliminated in the House appropriations bills for FY2022. Early this year, I signed a letter along with 47 of my colleagues to Majority Leader Charles Schumer promising to oppose any legislation that weakens Hyde protections. These protections save thousands of lives and are supported by a majority of Americans, and as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will defend this longstanding amendment.
Gold Star Mother’s Day
Sunday was Gold Star Mother’s Day and a time to recognize the loved ones of our fallen. Military service is family service, and may we remember the sacrifice of our American heroes and their strong families.
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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