Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter. Please feel free to forward it on to your family and friends if it would interest them.
Reinforcing Key Partnerships Abroad
During the Presidents Day work period and as part of my new role chairing the appropriations subcommittee on military construction and VA issues, I traveled overseas to meet with American General Curtis Scaparrotti – Commander, U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe – to discuss the state of U.S. military installations in Europe. I also met with German, French and British foreign and defense ministers. During our meetings, I underscored America’s commitment to retaining a robust alliance that defends against terrorists and hostile governments. Germany, France and the United Kingdom serve as essential partners in Afghanistan, sending their men and women to serve there alongside ours and sharing vital information on terrorists. European sanctions against Russia for its illegal activity in Ukraine work in tandem with American sanctions to impose costs on Russia’s destabilizing actions. These sanctions were further bolstered by American measures implemented after Russia’s meddling in our own election – something it continues to do in allied European nations as well. Additionally, it was useful to deliver the message in person that Congress is watching European trade practices closely, and emphasize that Kansas farmers and ranchers should be on the same level playing field as those from other countries. America’s relationship with these nations is important to our security and prosperity, and these meetings reinforce those common bonds.
Meeting with UK Ministry of Defense Secretary Sir Michael Fallon along with U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) in London.
French Minister of Defence and Veterans Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian addresses the group.
Tragedies in Olathe and Newton
I am very troubled by the tragedies in Olathe and Newton this week. I strongly condemn violence of any kind, especially if it is motivated by prejudice and xenophobia. In Olathe, Srinivas Kuchibhotla was an engineer at Garmin who moved to Kansas for the most American of reasons: to better his life and pursue the American Dream. I know Kansans will come together to support one another, to strengthen the bonds across our communities, and reject the kinds of lawless behavior that imperil the safety and morals of our state. Robba and I join the Olathe and Newton communities in praying for these individuals’ friends and families.
Discussion Begins on the Farm Bill
The Senate Agriculture Committee, led by Senator Pat Roberts, this week began the formal discussions on the development of the next Farm Bill in Manhattan. Kansas farmers and ranchers representing nearly every commodity emphasized the economic challenges facing rural America – overall farm income has been cut in half since 2013 and is likely to continue to decline this year. The main topics included the importance of crop insurance and an effective farm safety net, the promotion of Kansas agriculture exports, conservation programs that promote the longevity of producer’s land, and regulations that are creating challenges for livestock producers. In my conversations with the president’s nominees to lead the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture, I have encouraged them to create U.S. trade policies and work to increase market access for our ag products. I have also expressed to our financial regulators the importance of having access to credit to agriculture producers during challenging times. We should not let our financial regulations overwhelm the ability for a banker to continue to make decisions about lending money to producers. While there is no silver bullet to solve the crisis facing rural America, I am confident that we can work together to address the critical issues facing producers of every commodity.
VA Remains a High-Risk Agency
I recently learned that the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Administration remains on the Government Accountability Office’s High-Risk List for the second straight year. Problems with the VA’s management and oversight of its healthcare system continue to prevent many veterans from accessing the care and benefits they need. While far too many problems remain at the VA, the report does show that the agency acted on a number of recommendations it was given last year. I hope to see new VA Secretary David Shulkin take further action to address the concerns outlined in this report in order to make the agency worthy of veterans’ service and sacrifice. I will review this matter with my colleagues who sit on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee at a hearing with Secretary Shulkin and VA leadership next month.
As we celebrate Black History Month, I encourage Kansans to learn more about the Nicodemus National Historic Site. Nicodemus was founded in 1877 at a time of great turmoil as the country sought to heal from the Civil War. The community offered African Americans a place to own their own land, to make a living farming, and to find justice and equality in self-government. Today, it’s the oldest – and only – remaining settlement founded by African Americans west of the Mississippi River. I hope you consider making a stop in Graham County to see the site for yourself or take time to discover one of our state’s most significant historic sites. If you’d like to read more about Nicodemus, click here.
Kansans in the Office
U.S. Cattleman’s Association
Deanna Sents of McPherson
Allan Sents of McPherson
Jordan Ebert of Kinsley
Angie Read of Overland Park
Tony LoBrutto of Overland Park
Brenden Hedblom of Overland Park
Chris Giacoponello of Overland Park
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.
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.
Very truly yours,
Newsletter Sign-up Form
Note: Fields marked with an * are required.