Kansas Common Sense
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This Is the Moment for Emergency Global Hunger Programs
Currently 45 million people across 43 countries are on the brink of famine. This week, I spoke on the Senate Floor to bring greater awareness to one of the most pressing consequences coming out of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine: hunger.
Food stability is essential to political stability. Ukraine is a large grain-producing country, not just in wheat, but ranking as a top ten global exporter of corn, sunflower oil and other commodities. As Russia’s tyranny continues, countries around the globe will teeter over the edge, falling further into widespread hunger. As we have seen in the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Afghanistan and the developing crisis caused by this invasion of Ukraine, it is critical to utilize every tool at our disposal to combat this worsening hunger crisis.
As the co-chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus and as a member of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee which funds the Food for Peace and the McGovern-Dole Program, the United States should work quickly to provide the necessary commodities through sale or donation to meet countries’ unsatisfied food and commodity needs. This includes releasing the resources within the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust – an emergency international food assistance program to combat global hunger in instances of “exceptional need” – in instances as this one requires. Watch my remarks here or below.
Read my op-ed discussing food security in The Hill by clicking here.
We Must Provide Ukraine with More Timely Security Aid
Human spirit defies all expectations, and the Ukrainian people are a testament to that resilience. Failure in our obligations as a country to assist Ukraine would be immoral, deadly and not in our national interest.
Promised aid means nothing. We must provide Ukraine the resources to not just survive, but to win. Watch my remarks on the U.S. Senate Floor here or below.
Celebrating National Ag Week & Welcoming Ag Leaders to Washington
Crops don’t grow unless they are sown. To the farmers, ranchers, agriculture workers and all who steward our land and waters, thank you.
Recognizing all you do to feed, fuel and foster the United States and the world this past National Agriculture week.
Members of 4-H are invested in their communities and represent the future of Kansas. Thanks to Annika of Wamego, Corey of Girard, Sukesh of Kingman, Katrina of Wichita and Jaden of Sylvan Grove for representing our great state and for speaking with me in the Capitol this Ag Week.
I also met with Hilmar Cheese CEO David Ahlem this week to continue discussions about the company’s plan to build a new cheese facility in Dodge City. Once completed, the new facility is expected to create 750 new jobs in the region and attract five new dairies to supply the plant. To facilitate the new plant, I am working with Dodge City officials to help see this opportunity realized. Mr. Ahlem, who is also president of the International Dairy Foods Association, also discussed issues facing the dairy foods industry, including the Food and Drug Administration Standards of Identity, supply chain disruptions and concerns regarding the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed climate rules. I appreciate Hilmar’s investment in Kansas and look forward to working with the company in the future.
Speaking with Educators and Students
Kansas Delegates for the U.S. Senate Youth Program
On Tuesday, I spoke with Will Rues of La Crosse and Gerrit Dangermond of Oskaloosa, this year’s U.S. Senate Youth Program Kansas delegates. I am pleased they have the opportunity to represent our state and learn more about government and the legislative process here in our nation's capital.
Council for Opportunity in Education Seminar
This week, I addressed the Council for Opportunity in Education’s Annual Policy Seminar, a gathering of more than 1,000 federal TRIO program educators, students, and supporters. Federal TRIO programs provide academic tutoring, college and career counseling, financial aid advising and personal mentoring that enables low-income students, students with disabilities, adult learners and veterans to achieve their goal of becoming the first in their families to earn a college degree. There are 53 TRIO projects in Kansas serving over 14,000 students. I was glad to speak to the group about how TRIO programs and services can assist individuals in unlocking opportunity through education. I thank Kurt Peterson, Director of Student Support Services at Garden City Community College, for introducing me, as well as the many Kansans in attendance.
I also was pleased to meet and speak personally with Kansas TRIO students and educators to hear about the positive impact federal TRIO programs have in equipping Kansans to effectively pursue higher education. Education is one of the greatest sources of opportunity in the United States, and TRIO programs assist first-generation and low-income students, as well as veterans and students with disabilities, in preparing for, and attaining, success in higher education. As a first-generation college student, I have long been a supporter of TRIO programs and work each year to see that they receive increased support through my role as an appropriator for the Department of Education. I appreciate these Kansas TRIO students and educators for taking the time to share their insight on the value TRIO programs have in providing opportunity in higher education.
Thanks to Jefferson West seniors Brooklyn, Kierstyn and Mellany, and to government teacher Shawn Dolezilek for showing me around your school this week. I appreciate all Kansas educators who make our state a better place for the students who show up to learn.
Advancing Air Mobility
This week, the Senate passed my bill that would facilitate collaboration between federal agencies and civil aviation industry leaders when developing policies regarding advanced air mobility (AAM).
The Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Coordination and Leadership Act would instruct the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation to lead a working group comprised of members from multiple government agencies to engage and work with the civil aviation industry. The working group would review policies and programs to help advance the maturation of AAM aircraft operations and create recommendations regarding safety, security and federal investments necessary for the development of AAM. American aviation is entering a new era of innovation and growth, and industry leaders should have a seat at the table as the federal government creates programs to advance the development of this technology and sets safety and operation standards. Passing this legislation in the Senate puts it one step closer to being signed into law and will help Kansas aviation leaders have a role in developing policies designed to shape this new chapter in aviation.
Speaking at Ceremony for the 35th Infantry Division Headquarters Building
This week, I spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the 35th Infantry Division Headquarters Readiness Center at Fort Leavenworth – the intellectual center of the Army – where training capacity will increase from 13,000 square feet to over 100,000 square feet. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I helped kick-start this initiative by securing nearly $50 million in federal funding in FY2017 and FY2018 appropriations bills for the construction of these needed facilities.
I’m pleased soldiers stationed at and visiting Fort Leavenworth will continue to receive first class combat readiness instruction through these improvements as they meet the mission objectives of the 35ID Headquarters. Thank you to Major General David Weishaar, Kansas Adjutant General, for the invitation to participate, and congratulations to the leadership of the Army and National Guard for effectively training our citizen soldiers as they prepare to protect and defend our nation.
Improving VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers
On Tuesday, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee conducted a hearing on improving the VA’s program of comprehensive assistance for family caregivers. The VA is expected to see a significant increase of veterans with long-term care needs. To prepare for this increasing trend, the department has routinely told Congress and veterans that it is shifting the focus of long-term care from institutional care settings to home and community-based settings. Family caregivers play an integral role in making certain our veterans can remain at home and are central to the success of VA’s efforts to shift care to home and community-based settings. It is important to make certain that these frontline heroes are adequately supported in their work caring for our nation’s veterans. This week’s hearing was both timely and necessary as we work to make certain the laws we pass are implemented in ways that work as Congress intends. We have a duty to see to it that VA faithfully executes these laws and is investing resources as intended into family caregivers.
Evaluating the Semiconductor Industry
Semiconductors control every electronic device you own, from your stove to your car to your smartphone. There is an ongoing global semiconductor shortage that is negatively impacting many economic sectors and increasing prices on many consumer goods. Ramping up production of semiconductors to meet demand is made more difficult by the lack of U.S. semiconductor production capabilities, particularly for the newest, cutting-edge chips.
On Wednesday, I participated in a Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing about the health of the U.S. semiconductor industry. I questioned the CEOs of Intel, Micron, Lam Research and PACCAR about the importance of building a strong semiconductor ecosystem in the United States and about federal research programs that might assist the industry. As the lead Republican on the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds many of the federal government’s research programs, ensuring that the US is a leader in semiconductor research is a priority of mine. I am looking forward to working with the firms represented at the hearing, as well as our Kansas semiconductor companies, to ensure that our semiconductor industry is a leader not just in innovative chip research and development, but also in chip manufacturing, assembly, packaging and testing.
Passing of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
I was saddened to learn of the passing of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the first woman to represent our nation in that role. She was an inspiration to all, including women around the world, and generous in her support of young people pursuing public service careers. She was a giant in her field and always gracious to me in the conversations we had. Throughout her distinguished career in public service and after she left the State Department, she worked to address global hunger, advocated for education and worked to increase our country’s security through diplomacy and tackling the root causes of conflicts abroad. I offer my condolences to her loved ones on behalf of a grateful nation.
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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