Kansas Common Sense

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Concluding the Senate Impeachment Trial

On Wednesday, the Senate Impeachment Trial concluded after votes on both Articles of Impeachment. Both articles failed to reach the two-thirds majority required to remove a President from office, with 48-52 and 47-53 votes respectively. When I took the oath at the beginning of this trial, I vowed to deliver impartial justice according to the Constitution and the law. I took this oath and responsibility seriously and chose not to comment until I heard arguments from both the House managers and President Trump’s lawyers. After hearing from both sides and asking multiple questions, I voted no on conviction and removal of the president. 

I came to this conclusion after three major considerations. First, in order to avoid a system of government where the president serves at the political pleasure of Congress, the Framers intended impeachment and removal to be reserved for extreme and rare situations. The alleged facts contained in the articles and presented by the impeachment managers do not rise to this level.

Second, the House failed in its prosecutorial role by not presenting specific statutory charges against the president. Our Constitution demands of the justice system that prosecutors bring specific charges and prove each element of those charges beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, neither of the articles passed by the House contain statutory allegations to which the Senate could determine whether the elements for conviction were met. On the floor, the House managers argued that the statutory crime of bribery was contained in the first Article of Impeachment related to abuse of power. In addition to the fact that there is no evidence in the record that satisfies the statutory elements of bribery, the Senate cannot substitute its own charges or charges made by House managers on the floor for those contained within the House-passed Articles of Impeachment.

Third, the House failed to meet its evidentiary burden and attempted to shift that burden to the Senate. Unwilling to give the judicial system the time to answer important questions of executive privilege in regards to specific witnesses that the House managers claimed were key to the case, the House moved forward with impeachment. The House managers argued at the beginning of the trial that they had overwhelming evidence supporting impeachment. It was surprising then that the House managers attempted to burden the Senate with issuing subpoenas and taking testimony from those witnesses that the House failed to pursue. Regardless, additional evidence or witnesses would not change the material underlying facts describing the president’s actions. These actions are not ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ as described by the Constitution, and therefore, I voted no on conviction and removal of the president.

Supporting the President’s State of the Union Priorities

On Tuesday evening, President Trump delivered the State of the Union, offering Congress and the American people the opportunity to hear directly from the President of the United States regarding his vision for America’s future. I was pleased the president discussed trade, our economy, STEM education, and support for our military and veterans. President Trump highlighted accomplishments have hopefully made on establishing fairer trade with China and signing the historic United States Mexico-Canada Agreement. New trade opportunities will help provide Kansas farmers and manufacturers with markets to sell their products around the world.

As Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I look forward to working with President Trump to pass and implement policies that prioritize veterans and ensure they receive the care they deserve. I was honored to bring veteran and Kansas Representative Chris Croft to the State of the Union as my guest, and I appreciate the president hosting a number of veterans to the State of the Union as his guests to honor their service and the success they have achieved after service.  

President Trump also conveyed his wish for Congress to fully fund NASA’s Artemis program. As Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. I am committed to ensuring NASA has the necessary resources for our country to once again put Americans on the moon, furthering our national security and scientific priorities.

I look forward to working with President Trump and the administration on the many issues discussed to deliver positive results for Kansans and all Americans.

Hosting Kansas Representative Chris Croft

I invited Kansas Representative Chris Croft, who represents the 8th district in Overland Park to the U.S. Capitol as my guest at the State of the Union. He is both a veteran and an advocate for veterans in his role as a Kansas representative. He served in the U.S. Army for 30 years and after retiring as a Colonel was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives. Rep. Croft is dedicated to his country, to Kansas and to our nation’s veterans, and I was honored to have him join me at the State of the Union as my guest.

During his time in the Army, Rep. Croft served in Iraq and was selected as the executive director for the Center for Army Leadership at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In that role, he helped create the Army’s first leader development manual and assisted U.S. allies around the world to establish their own leadership centers. He received the distinction as the longest-serving director of the Army’s Leadership Center.

After retiring from the Army, Rep. Croft continued his service by running for the Kansas House of Representatives. He was elected as the representative for the 8th district in 2018 and was selected to serve on the Veteran and Military Affairs Committee. Croft is working to pass legislation to help establish a new home for veterans in northeast Kansas. Thank you to Rep. Croft for joining me.

Chairing a Hearing on the VA Community Care Network

On Wednesday, I convened my first hearing as Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The focus was providing oversight to the VA’s efforts to implement the Community Care Network (CCN), a component of the VA MISSION Act. This legislation directed the VA to create a network of community providers as an alternative for veterans when the VA is unable to provide timely or quality care. While we are still in the early stages of network deployment, the committee took the opportunity to have a discussion about the CCN with the VA, the companies responsible for building this network and other stakeholders.

I shared my concerns regarding network adequacy and pushed the VA to use uniform access standards throughout the CCN, which will make it easier for veterans to receive community care. The CCN will go live in Kansas next month and a robust network will be vital to guarantee our rural veterans receive timely healthcare. In my opening statement, I noted how Kansas’ Big First Congressional District is as large as the State of Illinois, but lacks a VA Medical Center. For veterans in rural areas, MISSION’s Community Care Network is essential for timely healthcare. As Chairman, I will continue to hold oversight hearings to make certain veterans are receiving the care and benefits they deserve.

Discussing Solutions to World Hunger and Development Issues

I was pleased to join World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley and United States Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) leadership on Tuesday for a discussion about solutions to global hunger and development issues. As co-chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus and member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Agriculture and State and Foreign Operations, hunger and development are some of my top priorities in the Senate. International food aid and development programs provide many benefits to Americans, including preventing violence and unrest overseas and markets for the commodities produced by Kansas farmers and ranchers. This discussion focused on solutions to these important problems, including what Congress should be focusing on in the future. I look forward to continuing to work with my Senate colleagues on alleviating these global issues. Pictured below is President and CEO of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition Liz Schrayer, Executive Directory Beasley and Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.).

Speaking at the Farm Credit Annual Meeting

On Tuesday, I was honored to speak at the Farm Credit Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. I spoke about trade and the challenges that farmers and ranchers have faced in Kansas and around the country. Due to disrupted trade markets, weather disasters, and low commodity prices, net farm income is down by 50 percent since 2013. The work of ag lenders is very important for farmers and ranchers in rural communities to have access to credit, in good times and bad. I would like to thank Jeff Shipp for giving me the opportunity to speak at their meeting.

Reacting to the CBO’s Budget & Economic Outlook Report

This week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its Budget and Economic Outlook: 2020 to 2030 Report. The report details projections on the rising levels of federal deficits, debts and spending in the decade to come. The CBO’s projections make clear the unsustainable fiscal path that the country finds itself on. Their analysis highlights the rapid expansion of mandatory spending programs in our government, projecting that these programs will account for 65 percent of total government spending by the end of the decade. With the growth of mandatory spending programs outpacing the growth of revenue, Congress has the responsibility to produce a plan that ensures future generations do not bear the burdens of harmful spending. As a member of the Appropriations Committee and Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, & Science, I will work to ensure that the spending bills are fiscally responsible and do not threaten the economic growth and opportunity of our children and grandchildren. 

Now Accepting Summer and Fall Internship Applications

Applications for the Summer 2020 Intern Session are now available. Undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in public service, the legislative process and serving Kansas are invited to apply by March 20th.

I am also extending an early decision application for Fall 2020 interns for the first time, allowing students interested in interning the ability to plan their class schedules accordingly while still on campus this spring. Please visit my website to hear from past interns, find application links and see more information. 

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 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.

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