Kansas Common Sense
Jan 11 2021
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Condemning the Violence & Destruction at the U.S. Capitol
The violence and destruction that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was completely unacceptable and unpatriotic, and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. It was a sad day for our nation, and it was an unwelcome reminder that our democracy is fragile.
I extend my sincere gratitude to all the law enforcement officers who worked to keep all congressional members and staff safe during the breach. My deepest sympathies are with the family, friends and colleagues of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick who gave his life defending our U.S. Capitol and our democracy. We must never forget his sacrifice and work to quickly bring to justice those responsible for his death and the harm caused to other law enforcement officers. My heart also goes out to the family and friends of Officer Howard Libengood who died on Saturday after serving as a Capitol Police officer for 15 years.
God Bless the U.S. Capitol Police and our law enforcement officers.
Certifying the Electoral College
On Tuesday, I released the following statement regarding the joint session of Congress to count the results of the Electoral College:
"I am a conservative Republican. Therefore, I must strictly adhere to the United States Constitution. The Constitution clearly limits the role of Congress with respect to presidential elections to the counting of electoral votes that have been certified by the states. The states, consistent with the principles of federalism and a limited national government, possess the sole authority to determine and submit their electors. To vote to reject these state-certified electoral votes would be to act outside the bounds of the Constitution, which I will not do.
President Trump had every right under the Constitution to challenge the results of the election in the courts, and I publicly supported his right to do so given the allegations and reports of irregularities and fraud. But in every instance, the judgments were clear, and no judge or Supreme Court justice – including those appointed by President Trump – determined there was evidence sufficient to change the results of the election.
Support of the institutions and legal processes established in the Constitution by those who founded this exceptional American Republic are necessary to preserve our most cherished American values. Voting to object to the electoral process without a constitutional basis to do so may be expedient and lead to short-term political benefits for some, but would risk undermining our democracy – which is built upon the rule of law and separation of powers. No victory for one’s cause today can be worth what we would lose tomorrow.
On Wednesday evening, following the events and violence that befell the U.S. Capitol during these constitutionally-mandated proceedings, my Senate colleagues and I returned to the House chamber to finish the counting of the Electoral College votes. At 3:40 a.m. EST, Vice President Pence announced the state of the vote for the 2020 Presidential election, certifying President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 Presidential Election.
Convening the 117th Congress
This past Sunday, January 3, 2021, Congress officially convened for its 117th session, an event that has taken place every two years since America’s first official Congress commenced in 1789. Newly elected members took their oaths of office to defend and uphold our Constitution, serve their fellow Americans, their states and districts.
Legislation to Improve the Lives of Veterans Signed into Law
On Tuesday, the President signed into law the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020. This comprehensive legislation is the culmination of more than two years of bipartisan work, with input from our veteran service organizations, dozens of senators and members of the House and our partners at the VA. This legislation combines more than 34 separate bills to address veterans’ needs across a wide range of benefits and services.
This law invests in the GI Bill and economic opportunities for veterans so they can realize the American dream they fought to defend on our behalf. This includes preserving education benefits during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as expanding job training programs for veterans pursuing technology careers. This legislation will also give VA the tools it needs to serve veterans at risk of homelessness during the pandemic and increase legal protections for veterans receiving benefits and care from VA. It also includes provisions from the Deborah Sampson Act, a landmark bill that makes it clear that women who serve their country in the armed forces must have a VA that is as effective for them as it is for men who have served.
Enacting this law is another step in the ongoing efforts to ensure that veterans receive the right benefits and the right care at the right time in order to maximize their ability to achieve success after service. I look forward to this law being faithfully implemented by the VA, and I commit to monitoring their progress in that effort.
Speaking with Department of Defense Secretary Nominee Lloyd Austin
This week, I met virtually with General (Retired) Lloyd Austin, President-Elect Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Defense. We spoke specifically about the role Kansas plays in defense manufacturing and technology research, as well as Kansas’ military bases and research facilities. I was pleased to hear that General Austin has existing relationships with some of our Kansas military leaders, including Lieutenant General James Rainey, the commander of the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, and Brigadier General Douglas Sims, commander of the First Infantry Division and Fort Riley. He also spoke fondly of former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a great Kansan I hold in high regard. My Senate colleagues and I will continue to learn more about General Austin during his confirmation hearings in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
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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