Kansas Common Sense

With Government Funded, Important Work Remains
There is no denying our country has a spending problem, and we must get our fiscal house in order. The best way to accomplish this is through regular order and passing 12 appropriations bills. The continuing resolution provides Congress more time to pass our appropriations bills to fund the government in-line with the budget deal that was agreed to earlier this year. Shutting the government down does not put us closer to passing these bills, does not balance the budget and is harmful to those who protect and serve our country including our military servicemembers, law enforcement and border agents. The budget deal requires Congress to reduce non-defense and non-veterans spending to below FY2022 spending levels. Proceeding with regular order by passing 12 appropriations bills that adhere to the spending limits in the budget deal would save billions in taxpayer dollars.

We also must prioritize the national security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border. This week, I spoke on the Senate floor to urge the Biden administration to take action to secure the southern border and stop potential terrorism and deadly drugs like fentanyl from illegally entering the country. This is a full-blown national security crisis, and it’s time the Biden administration starts treating it like what it is – a national security crisis.

To watch my floor remarks, click here.

Celebrating 50 Years of the DEA  
On Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend the 50th Anniversary Celebration for the Drug Enforcement Administration. DEA Special Agents, investigators, intelligence analysts, forensic chemists, attorneys and support staff have provided an invaluable service to the American people since 1973, and I was honored to attend this celebration. Also in attendance were Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, FBI Director Christopher Wray, ATF Director Steven Dettelbach, United States Marshals Service Director Ronald Davis, United States Postal Service Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale, and former DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson.

Since 1973, DEA has faced increasingly well-equipped, well-financed and well-resourced international drug trafficking organizations pushing more complex-drugs, none of them deadlier than the current threat of synthetic opioids, specifically fentanyl. In 2023 alone, the DEA has seized more and 62,400,000 fentanyl pills, of which 70% contain a potentially lethal dose. This is a full-blown national security crisis, and it’s one time that the Biden administration starts treating it like one.

Service Academy Interview Day
This weekend, my Service Academy Selection Board interviewed candidates who are applying to attend our United States Service Academies. This year the Selection Board interviewed 65 outstanding young Kansans. The opportunity to nominate talented Kansas students to attend our service academies is one of my greatest honors as a U.S. Senator.

Although I was not there in person to speak with nominees, I was able to speak with them online from my office in Washington, D.C.

These young men and women are committed, hardworking and humble, representing the very best of Kansas. Thank you to this year’s Selection Board for their service and dedication to investing in the next generation of young leaders who will protect and serve our country. I look forward to receiving the board’s recommendations.

You can watch a video of my Service Academy Day here.

Introducing Legislation to Help Ranchers
This week, I introduced the Butcher Block Act, which is a bipartisan and bicameral piece of legislation that seeks to provide resources for small and medium-sized meat processors and rendering facilities to upgrade and expand their operations and ultimately make it easier for ranchers to bring their livestock to market. In addition, this legislation will help eliminate waste, support small businesses, and provide consumers with more affordable options at the grocery store. My legislation has the support of the Kansas Farm Bureau, National Bison Association, Northern American Renderers Association, and the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to get this legislation included in the Farm Bill.

You can read about the Butcher Block Act here.

Honoring Surviving Military Families
On Wednesday, I had the honor and privilege to meet with several surviving military spouses and families to discuss their experiences and the ultimate sacrifices that their loved ones have given in service to our nation. I met with Marcie and her fiancé, Nelson out of Manhattan; Kellie from Overland Park; Courtney and her fiancé, Eric, from Kansas City; Kaanan and Hana from Baton Rouge, LA; and Gina and her fiancé, Cally, from Edmond, OK. During our meeting, one of the things we discussed was my bill, the Love Lives on Act.

Under current law, if a surviving spouse remarries before the age of 55, they lose many of their survivor benefits from both the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense. My bill would correct that. In particular, it would allow surviving spouses who lost a loved one during, or as a result of, military service to remarry before the age of 55 without losing their survivor benefits. We should not penalize surviving spouses if they choose to bring a mother or father figure back into their children’s lives after the untimely death of their spouse as a result of their service to our country. About 30,000 surviving spouses are younger than 55, and I have heard time and time again from survivors who choose to delay or avoid remarriage altogether to avoid losing benefits because of how it would impact themselves and, more importantly, their children. That is simply wrong. I will continue working with groups like TAPS and my colleagues to ensure we get my bill to the President’s desk and fulfill our pledge that military service is family service.