Kansas Common Sense
USDA Names KC a Finalist for Home of New Agencies
Great news! On Friday, USDA announced that Kansas City is one of three finalists for the new Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) headquarters.
Kansas City is home to a highly-skilled workforce as a result of the state’s premier universities, research institutions, agricultural companies and industry producer groups, and I am thrilled that it’s a finalist for USDA’s ERS and NIFA. The animal health corridor, stretching from Manhattan, Kansas to Columbia, Missouri, is the largest concentration of animal health companies in the world; our state is also the future home of the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF), the nation’s foremost animal disease research facility.
The concentration of animal health companies and location of NBAF will not only complement the research capabilities of NIFA and ERS, but have also fostered a talented workforce that will help meet the personnel needs of USDA. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, I will continue advocating to Secretary Perdue and USDA that Kansas City be chosen as ERS and NIFA’s new home. To read more on this announcement and my advocacy for these agencies to be in Kansas City, click here.
Disaster Relief Legislation
I am working to see that Congress passes a disaster bill that helps farmers and ranchers recover from the recent floods that have devastated the Midwest, including portions of Northeast Kansas. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, I am working to make certain the disaster bill funds the Emergency Conservation Program to help Kansas landowners restore their damaged farmland, remove flood debris, and rebuild destroyed fences and infrastructure. The legislation also needs to assist producers who lost stored grain to the floods – many of these producers held onto grain after harvest hoping markets improved, yet now are left with nothing.
Seeing the devastation firsthand when I toured flood areas in northeast Kansas and visited Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa made it clear that Congress must act to pass a disaster bill, and I’m committed to seeing that bill through.
Chairing Hearing with NASA Administrator
This week, as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, I held a hearing with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Jim Bridenstine. During this subcommittee hearing, I questioned Administrator Bridenstine on NASA’s FY20 appropriations request, its ambitions for travel to the Moon and Mars, NASA’s overall priorities and Kansas’ contributions to aeronautics.
It’s an exciting time for NASA and all those who work to support this critical agency. The vice president has challenged NASA to land American astronauts on the Moon by 2024, including the first woman, and NASA continues to build new infrastructure that will enable humans to return to the lunar surface. This lunar exploration effort with both human and robotic missions will undoubtedly inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. I’m examining the resources necessary for NASA to complete these missions, and I especially look forward to holding them to their promise that the next person on the moon will be an American woman.
NASA is synonymous with “innovation” and “inspiration,” and is one of the most-recognized federal agencies because of its many great achievements and bold vision. Administrator Bridenstine and I agree on the important role NASA plays in inspiring students – the engineers, mathematicians, scientists and innovators of tomorrow. Click here to watch my questioning from this hearing.
Supporting our National Defense
On Tuesday, I met with General James McConville, the current Army Vice Chief of Staff who has been nominated to serve as Army Chief of Staff. General McConville is an experienced leader and I am confident that he will lead the Army through its critical modernization period. I look forward to working with him as the next Army Chief of Staff.
On Wednesday, I questioned Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson and Commandant of the Marine Corps General Robert Neller during their testimonies in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. The Wichita area and Wichita State University continue to make outstanding contributions to aerospace and aviation, and to our nation’s defense capabilities. During the hearing, I discussed these capabilities with Secretary Spencer.
I was pleased to hear the Secretary confirm what we already know – that Wichita State is setting the bar for how the Department of Defense can work with academic institutions to best achieve mission requirements. He summarized the value that Wichita State offers to the Navy well and I believe every Witchitan and Kansan can take pride in knowing that we are providing important capability for the defense of our nation. During this exchange, I also thanked Secretary Spencer for inviting me to give the keynote address at the Commissioning of the USS Wichita, a state-of-the-art littoral combat ship that now bears the city's name. Click here to watch this questioning.
On Thursday, I attended a classified briefing regarding the future of a U.S. Space Command and defense capabilities in space. Although I expect the Department of Defense to provide more information to Congress regarding the Space Command, I am encouraged that the Air Force Space Command is making progress now in developing our capabilities to meet global threats.
Finally, I met with my friend Lieutenant General Joseph Martin who has been nominated to serve as the next Army Vice Chief of Staff. General Martin spent a significant portion of his career at Fort Riley, most recently serving as the Commanding General of our Big Red One soldiers. I know he will continue to be a friend of Fort Riley and Kansas in this new role.
A reliable and trusted leader, General Martin is deserving of this assignment and this opportunity to lead our soldiers at the highest level. I am pleased he will assume this new role and I look forward to working with him in the future.
Introducing Legislation to Provide Regulatory Relief for Livestock Haulers
On Wednesday, I participated in a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing that examined the principles behind a national framework for consumer data privacy. I questioned consumer advocates on the importance of a single framework to govern privacy across the entire country, as well as the existing and needed authorities of the Federal Trade Commission to effectively protect consumers from harms associated with unfair and deceptive uses of their personal information. As chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection, I will continue working to make certain that we create a strong set of rules to protect our citizen data privacy that will also allow business and innovation to flourish. Click here to watch this questioning.
Supporting USAID’s Mission Abroad
On Monday, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Mark Green visited my office to discuss the importance of America’s foreign aid programs in advancing peace and prosperity ahead of his testimony before our Senate Appropriations subcommittee.
I asked Administrator Green about essential hunger programs such as Food For Peace, Feed the Future and Dole-McGovern Food for Education, and their goals to promote stability and development in countries around the world. These programs are crucial not only to aiding people in need but also to enhancing America’s relationships with other nations. As China seeks to use its financial clout to boost its own interests, I asked Administrator Green about the challenges posed by China’s Belt and Road Initiative. As low commodity prices impact Kansas farmers and ranchers and famine continues around the world, it is vital that we utilize more Kansas grain and protein to feed our hungry world. I am committed to working with the Administrator and members of the subcommittee to provide the resources necessary to counter adversaries, improve lives and advance our nation’s interests. Click here to watch my questioning.
Meeting the 2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year
It was an honor to meet Whitney Morgan, the 2019 Kansas Teacher Year, this week in Washington, D.C. Whitney, a Kansas native and K-State graduate, teaches English and English for Speakers of Other Languages at Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, Kansas. Whitney shows profound dedication to her students and to her profession, and that’s evidenced by this prestigious award. Thank you, Whitney, for the life-changing work you do every day for Kansas students.
Meeting with Dr. Roy Jensen, KU Cancer Center
On Wednesday, I met with representatives from the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI) including AACI President and University of Kansas Cancer Center Director Dr. Roy Jensen. During our meeting, we discussed the National Institutes of Health, breast cancer treatment, and the prevalence of prostate cancer in the African-American community and our work to increase access to care. I was also pleased to visit with Broderick Crawford and Kim Jones who accompanied Dr. Jensen on this trip. During our meeting, they told their own stories about battling cancer and caring for loved ones, and the importance of outreach to minority communities to increase prevention efforts.
I will continue supporting NIH and biomedical research, as well as supporting ways to improve screening and treatment of at-risk cancer populations to ensure that treatable cancers are found early and lives are saved.
Calling for Permanent Delay to Misguided Liver Allocation Policy
On Thursday, I sent an inquiry with Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar asking for a continued delay in the changes made by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) to the national liver distribution policy. HHS has temporarily delayed the changes, which were scheduled to take effect on April 30, and we are seeking to continue the delay pending additional information we have requested from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The new OPTN policy will have a chilling effect on Midwestern and Southern states, as well as rural areas. No longer will locally-donated livers be more likely to stay in Kansas, Missouri, or other Midwestern states that have high donation rates. Instead, the OPTN rewards locations that underutilize existing organ donation resources and have historically troubled organ procurement organizations. Under the plan, Kansas could lose 45 percent of livers donated in the state; Missouri could lose 32 percent.
Meeting with Kansas Community Bankers
On Tuesday, I met with Kansas Community Bankers Association members to discuss common-sense reforms for Kansas’ community and regional banks. This group plays an important role in representing the interests of community banks and provides valuable resources that help generate economic growth in Kansas. Our discussion reaffirmed the importance of strong and continued regulatory relief for Kansas banks and the communities and businesses they serve. Later this month, the heads of our federal government’s regulatory agencies will testify before the Senate Banking Committee. As a member of this Committee, I intend to question the regulators on our government’s policies and procedures that impact economic growth and prosperity in our rural communities.
Voting to Require Congressional Approval of U.S. Involvement in the Saudi-Led War in Yemen
On Thursday, the Senate once more considered the Joint Resolution on Yemen, which I have voted for four different times. It is Congress’s constitutional responsibility to authorize when the American military engages in war. The Senate’s failure to assert that authority continues American involvement in the war in Yemen, which was never properly debated or approved by Congress.
Congratulating BVNW ‘We The People’ Participants
Congratulations to the Blue Valley Northwest students participating in “We The People,” who recently won the Kansas competition and participated this week in the national competition in Washington, D.C. We The People is a nationwide program that promotes civic competence and responsibility in schools. This civic education is vital for young people across our country, and the students expressed how fulfilling and impactful this program has been to their current and future academic endeavors and community involvement.
Oversight of NOAA in Charleston
On Friday, as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies – with funding jurisdiction over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – I toured the NOAA National Center for Coastal and Ocean Science Charleston Laboratory and the Hollings Marine Laboratory. The work completed at this state-of-the-art facility is critical to maintaining ocean health and coastal economies in a number of facets such as: coral preservation, protecting our oceans and lakes from harmful algal blooms and developing next-generation aquaculture technologies. Thank you to Dr. Neil Jacobs, Acting NOAA Administrator, for helping to share the great work they do and to all the folks at the facility.
Visiting Boeing Manufacturing Plant
On Friday, before heading back to Kansas, I toured Boeing's manufacturing plant in Charleston, South Carolina along with Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina. This Boeing facility is home to the company’s second 787 Dreamliner final assembly and delivery facility, and the hardworking men and women here build all three versions of the 787. As co-chairman of the Senate Aerospace Caucus, this visit provided updates on the manufacturing and assembly of aircraft that are driving our nation's economy and I saw firsthand how we can support the men and women who build these impressive planes. Boeing is important to Kansas and the Air Capital of World and I'll continue working with partners across the company to grow this relationship.
Thank you to Boeing Vice President of 787 Operations Dave Carbon for his informative tour of the facility. Thanks also to my friend, Senator Scott, for hosting me in his home state of South Carolina.
Honored to Serve You in Washington
Kansans in the Office
Steve Foss of Topeka
Richard Gamer of Osawkie
Tami Greenberg of Prairie Village
Jon Hampel of Wichita
Mark Johnson of Topeka
Chava McKeel of Lawrence
Uma Selvamoni of Olathe
Dyane Smokoroaski of Andover
Tim Steele of Olathe
Benjamin Stone of Atchison
Carol Strickland of Emporia
Michelle Wadell of Leawood
American Association of Child Psychiatry
Aasritha Ganta of Olathe
American Society of Hematology
Joseph McGuirk of Westwood
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Dr. Jane Wegner of Lawrence
American Traffic Safety Services Association
Denise Shelton of Eudora
Kevin Shelton of Eudora
American Veterinary Medical Association
Dr. Cary Christensen of Overland Park
Dr. Garry Cowan of Wichita
Association for Advanced Life Underwriting
Brandon Paulseen of Wichita
Association of American Cancer Institutes
Broderick Crawford of Kansas City
Roy Jensen of Kansas City
Kim Jones of Kansas City
Bienvenido and Hispanic Chamber of Congress of Greater Kansas City
Alad Aguirre of Kansas City
Noah Barder of Overland Park
Shawn Barder of Overland Park
Mikayla Davis of Olathe
Jennifer Dillbeck of Overland Park
Sierra Dillbeck of Overland Park
Jenna Fergel of Topeka
Chase Ford of Topeka
Bridget Fowler of Overland Park
Chris Francik of Topeka
Zoe Goetz of Topeka
Michael Grein of Olathe
April Hay-Hall of Overland Park
Nathan Heller of Olathe
Shawn Heller of Olathe
Caleb Hillrichs of Topeka
Jason Jones of Overland Park
Samson Jones of Overland Park
Jacqueline Kelly of Wichita
Jayda Kelly of Wichita
Trey Kelly of Wichita
Kaiya Key of Overland Park
Andrea Kosmicki of Topeka
Alexandra Lawler of Olathe
Lesli Lawler of Olathe
Dave McIntire of Wichita
Thaddeus Moore of Topeka
Madhavi Padala Reddy of Wichita
Shreya Reddy of Wichita
Marc Richardson of Olathe
Ryan Richardson of Olathe
Kerstin Schmitt of Topeka
Kevin Schumm of Overland Park
Megan Schumm of Overland Park
Peri Schumm of Overland Park
Christine Thurber of Olathe
Joshua Veltri of Overland Park
Jeffrey Veltri of Overland Park
Brooke Wagoner of Olathe
Richard Wagoner of Olathe
Abbie Walton of Lenexa
Heather Walton of Lenexa
Greg Wiemers of Olathe
Council on Undergraduate Research
Dr. Brian Hollenbeck of Emporia
Dr. Qjang Shi of Emporia
Song Yang of Emporia
Emergency Management Association
Gary Denny of Newton
Charlie Morse of Pittsburg
Dan Robeson of Olathe
Alex Grecian of Topeka
Christy Grecian of Topeka
Graham Grecian of Topeka
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rabbi Moti Rieber of Overland Park
Food Marketing Institute/National Grocers Association
Jon McCormick of Lenexa
Kansas Electric Cooperatives
Jim Christopher of Falun
Susan Cunningham of Topeka
Bruce Graham of Topeka
Clare Gustin of Hays
Leslie Kaufman of Topeka
Tara Mays of Topeka
Pat Morse of Dodge City
Kathleen O’Brien of Axtell
Pat Parke of Hays
Randy Quint of Dodge City
Keith Ross of Long Island
Mark Scheibe of Girard
Doug Shepherd of Hays
Mark Farr of Nickerson
Roni Knight of Garden City
Sandra Walker of Lawrence
Kansas Teacher of the Year
Whitney Morgan of Kansas City
KS State Park Director
Linda Lanterman of Pratt
McPherson Church of the Brethren
Grace van Asselt of McPherson
Mului Bannister of Hays
Jerry Bowen of McPherson
Jessi Inman of McPherson
Ethan Kingery of McPherson
Hannah Kirchner of McPherson
Shane Kirchner of McPherson
Christopher Malaby of McPherson
Isaiah Moyer of McPherson
Tristan Prater of McPherson
Lindy Reynolds of McPherson
Karlene Tyler of McPherson
Laura Ullom-Minnich of McPherson
National Electrical Contractors Association
Curtis Mitchell of Wichita
Shawn Smith of Topeka
Dylan Woodward of Wichita
National Pawnbrokers Association
Bruce Harris of Wichita
Macaela Harris of Wichita
National School Transportation Association
Joe Leggett of Hutchinson
Poetry Out Loud Championship attendee of Kansas
Khadija Ceesay of Olathe
Deb Kohn of Salina
Susan G. Komen
Kirsten Bruce of Lindsborg
Peggy Johnson of Wichita
Gayle Thomas of Wichita
Charlene Wallace of Lenexa
We Are Golf
Jeff White of Olathe
Alix Fisk of Topeka
We The People Students
Wyatt Benteman of Overland Park
Ryan Blank of Overland Park
David Centeno of Overland Park
Mohamad Darweesh of Overland Park
Sayan Grover of Overland Park
John Hansen of Overland Park
Austin Harpenay of Overland Park
Nicholas Harrington of Overland Park
Elise Henderson of Overland Park
Grant Hill of Overland Park
Katie Hurndon of Overland Park
Rashmika Kondapalli of Overland Park
Preston Miller of Overland Park
Chase Pearson of Olathe
Arvino Shankar of Overland Park
Ken Thomas of Overland Park
Brock Weinstein of Overland Park
ZERO TO THREE (Strolling Thunder)
Andrew Hembree of Overland Park
Deborah Burch of Wichita
Jessica Hembree 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 letter, a Facebook comment, or a phone call, who wish to make their voice heard.
Very truly yours,
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