Kansas Common Sense

Cleared for Landing: FAA Reauthorization Passes the Senate
After months of negotiations, the Senate came together to pass a long-term FAA Reauthorization. This legislation is poised to not only address the current demands of the aviation industry, but also the future ones. I have worked closely with Sen. Cantwell (D-Wash.), Sen. Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Sen. Cruz (R-Texas) to balance the priorities of the FAA, the aviation community, its academic partners and the flying public. This bill demonstrates our commitment to aviation safety and excellence.

As the Air Capital of the World, Kansas is the leader in aviation research, development and technologies and will continue to contribute to the greater aviation industry as a result of this legislation. I’m pleased that many of my priorities were included in this bill including new resources to bolster the aviation workforce, investments for infrastructure at airports in rural communities, critical safety enhancements and innovative research and development so Kansas and the United States remains the leader in aviation and aerospace.

You can read more about my priorities in the bill and watch my remarks on the Senate floor here.


Joining Squawk Box to Discuss FAA Reauthorization
On Wednesday, I joined CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box’ to discuss the importance of passing a long-term FAA reauthorization legislation. The FAA has been operating under a provisional extension since the expiration of the last long-term reauthorization.

When I appeared on CNBC Wednesday morning, there was considerable uncertainty surrounding the fate of the bill that the Senate passed on Thursday. I am grateful to my colleagues in the Senate for seeing through the important work of passing FAA Reauthorization. Rather than using this legislation as a vehicle for unrelated priorities, my colleagues and I kept aviation safety, infrastructure, workforce and innovation at the center of the bill.

As the lead Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee’s Aviation Subcommittee, I sought to ensure that this bill supports our leadership in aviation. Kansas is the Air Capital of the World and the leader in aviation research, development and technologies, and this bill provides critical resources for Kansas aviation stakeholders that will support the aviation industry in Kansas and throughout the country for years to come.

You can watch my interview on CNBC here.


Joining GAMA Board of Directors

Also on Wednesday morning, I spoke to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association’s (GAMA) Board of Directors to provide an update on FAA Reauthorization. Several Kansas companies were in attendance including Garmin, Textron Aviation, Honeywell, GE Aerospace and more. I appreciated the opportunity to provide an update to companies poised to benefit and contribute as a result of the legislation. Additionally, I highlighted the importance of the Farm to Fly Act, which I introduced alongside a bipartisan group of my colleagues, which aims to help accelerate the production and development of sustainable aviation fuel through existing U.S. Department of Agriculture programs. This legislation would allow for further growth for alternative fuels to be used in the aviation sector and create new markets for Kansas farmers.

I want to thank President & CEO of GAMA Pete Bunce for inviting me to participate in this annual event.


Pressuring Biden Admin after Decision to Halt Aid to Israel
There were reports earlier this week that the Biden administration deliberately halted a shipment of munitions to Israel. At a Defense Appropriations hearing, I questioned Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin about this misguided decision and if the reports were true. In response to my question, Secretary Austin confirmed these reports were accurate. This decision is irresponsible and emboldens Iran and Hamas. We should not be signaling to Israel’s enemies that support from the United States is conditional. This is also concerning since Congress overwhelmingly supported and passed additional aid to Israel last month. I will continue to demand transparency from this administration regarding aid to Israel and hold them accountable if aid continues to be withheld.  

I also asked Secretary Austin of Legislative Proposal 480 by the Air Force. This proposal would transition Air Guardsmen performing the space mission from the National Guard to the Space Force, while bypassing federal law requiring a Governor’s consent before transferring National Guard units to another branch. I urge the Department of Defense to reconsider this proposal that ignores state-level imperatives.

I look forward to working with the Department of Defense to ensure our country is readily equipped and our allies supported in a day and age where security is essential.

You can read about the hearing here and watch my questions  here.


Celebrating Mother's Day
Yesterday, we celebrated Mother's Day. I wish my wife Robba and two daughters a Happy Mother’s Day and to all moms in Kansas and across America.


VA Crisis Intervention Training Investigation
On Tuesday, I requested answers and an action plan from VA Secretary Denis McDonough regarding required crisis intervention and suicide prevention training for VA Police Officers that has not been completed. In 2020, Congress passed the COMPACT Act, which required VA to provide police officers with annual training on how to prevent suicide through crisis intervention and de-escalation skills. After hearing from whistleblowers that these required trainings were not being performed or implemented, my staff on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee contacted the VA, who confirmed that only 28% of all armed VA Police Officers were provided with the required annual trainings under the COMPACT Act from January 1, 2023, to March 8, 2024.

VA leadership has prided itself on being ahead of the curve nationally when it comes to training officers in de-escalation and crisis intervention, yet recent tragedies indicate there is much more work to be done. When a VA Police Officer is called upon to act in the course of their duties, they should have every resource and method available to them to carry out their mission safely and successfully. I expect VA’s leadership to take their duties and responsibilities seriously in order to equip these men and women with the training and resources necessary to provide the level of care our veterans have earned.

You can read about my inquiry to Sec. McDonough here.

Demanding Answers About PACT Act Spending
On Thursday, the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report with findings that showed VA had improperly awarded $10.8 million dollars in PACT Act Critical Skills Incentive (CSI) payments to senior executives in the VA Central Office. The CSI payments that were included in the PACT Act were meant to improve recruitment for difficult-to-fill positions across VA, not to increase the salaries of senior executives.

The failings detailed in this report by the Under Secretaries for Health and Benefits raise serious questions about the checks and balances in place within the very top levels of the Department and their ability to manage these agencies that veterans across the country depend on for their health care and benefits. The poor decisions demonstrated in this report reflect many of the systemic issues we continue to see across VHA and VBA. I want to acknowledge that Secretary McDonough was correct to quickly recognize this issue and ask the VA Inspector General to complete a full investigation. I look forward to learning what Secretary McDonough is doing to hold those involved accountable to prevent this from happening again.

You can read the full report here.

National Beef Association 
On Wednesday, I met with Tim Klein, founder and CEO and Monte Lowe, COO of National Beef in my Washington, D.C. office for an update on cattle markets, animal research and plant operations. National Beef plays a key role providing safe, high-quality beef and value added products to consumers in Kansas and across the nation. Thank you to Tim and Monte for the conversation.  


Meetings with Kansans
Meeting with Kansas Association of Realtors
On Tuesday, I joined the Kansas Association of Realtors to hear about the Kansas housing market and roadblocks to homeownership. We discussed certain hurdles that veterans face while buying a home and changes in VA policies could remove these barriers. From preserving Section 1031 like-kind exchanges to expanding rural housing programs, I will continue to advocate for increasing the housing supply to open up new opportunities for the American dream of owning a home.


Meeting with Eisenhower Excellent in Public Service Series
This week, the Eisenhower Excellence in Public Service Series visited my office. We discussed issues facing our nation, Senate procedure and ways to be involved in government. Organizations like the Eisenhower Excellence in Public Service allow individuals to broaden their understanding of the government and participate in state and local events.

Thank you to Ivette Arango, Nicole Atwater, Ralene Bergquist, Wendy Bingesser, Lisa Carney, KoKo Cooper, Nancy Freese, Trish Harryman-Buschbom, Stephanie James, Christie Kriegshauser, Vickie Matney, Cathy Nugent, Holley Palacio, Abby Rankin, Suzanne Robb, Amy Siple and Emily Wellman for meeting with me.


Shannon Robolledo
On Thursday, I met Shannon Robolledo of Wichita, a recipient of the Service to America Medal. The Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal honors members of the federal government workforce who have gone above and beyond to improve the governance of the United States. To be nominated for this honor, Shannon worked with a team to discover more than 100 children illegally working on dangerous machinery in 13 meat slaughterhouse plants across eight states, leading to civil penalties and a new approach to child labor law enforcement. Thank you to Shannon for her dedicated public service and for her commitment to improving the lives of Americans through important oversight work.


Visits Across Kansas
McPherson County All Schools Day Parade
On Friday morning, I joined area residents for the annual McPherson County All Schools Day Parade. The tradition began in 1914 as a way to celebrate 8th grade graduates. Since then, it has grown into a week-long annual Kansas event honoring graduates from eighth grade, high school, career and technical school and colleges and universities with hundreds of participants. It was great to see so many old friends and new faces. A special thanks to Kyler Jost for arranging my participation and to Gene Wilson for driving me in the parade.


Midwest Energy
On Friday, I gathered with community leaders at Midwest Energy to announce over $8 million in grants for the region. This is a major step in upgrading the most leak-prone steel pipeline in Central Kansas, building on their recent upgrades over the past decade and reduce methane emissions. With more than 3,000 miles of gas pipeline spanning across 35 counties, these grants will vastly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of gas leak surveys. Thank you to CEO Pat Parke and Mike Morley, Corporate Communications and Government Affairs Director, for the opportunity to provide remarks, and thank you for your work to provide Kansans with clean, safe and efficient energy. 


Holocaust Remembrance Days and Fighting Against Antisemitism
Monday, May 6th marked the start of the internationally recognized week for Holocaust remembrance, an annual observance that comes at an especially crucial time for Americans this year. The on-going anti-Israel protests taking place on college campuses across the country have exposed a disconcerting rise in antisemitic behavior by young Americans. These egregious actions and protests reaffirm the importance of remembering the dangers of intolerance and indifference. Recently, I have cosponsored bipartisan congressional letters and resolutions to condemn anti-Israel rhetoric and strengthen federal efforts to combat rising antisemitism in the United States. The horrors of the Holocaust must never be repeated and the responsibility of ensuring it never happens again rests with each of us. As we continue to remember the innocent victims and the brave survivors of one of the darkest times in human history, we must also renew our commitment to combatting hatred and prejudice in today’s world. 


Free State Debate Team
Congratulations to Coach Kelly Thompson and the Free State Highschool Debate Team on winning the KSHSAA 6A state speech championship on May 4th. This win marks the fifth straight state speech championship for Free State!


Military Spouse Appreciation Day
Friday was Military Spouse Appreciation Day. On May 10th, we recognize and honor the sacrifices military spouses make every day. Military service is family service and I want to give a special thank you to our nation’s military spouses for their dedication to our country and military communities at home and abroad.


Remembering Lyndon Joel "LJ" Cosgrill-Flax
Petty Officer Third Class Lyndon Joel “LJ” Cosgriff-Flax, from Hays, tragically passed away while performing a Navy training exercise in Yorktown, VA. LJ attended Fort Hays State University for two years before joining the United States Navy where he held the rank of Master-at-Arms. Robba and I are praying for his family and friends during this unimaginable and difficult time. 

LJ’s obituary states that he was a kind, loyal, hard-working, humble person with a love of the outdoors, especially hunting and fishing. LJ will be remembered for many things, but what people will remember most was that he had a huge heart and sought out opportunities to help others.

You can read more about LJ's life here.


Capitol Tour
Ron Arnold of Baldwin City

Sally Arnold of Baldwin City

Martha Christie of Baldwin City

Blaise Gammon of Overland Park

Barbara Grace of Wichita

Mary Hartnett of Overland Park

Eileen Krebs of Lenexa

Tom Krebs of Lenexa

Mary Kay Mahoney of Lawrence

David Reed of Baldwin City

Donna Reed of Baldwin City

Raunda Rocket of Wichita

Adam Stoll of Olathe

Andrew Stoll of Olathe

Ashley Stoll of Olathe

Brett Stoll of Olathe

Caroline Stoll of Olathe

Kate Stoll of Olathe

Diane Woolfolk of Baldwin City

American Land Title Association
Casey Finlay of Syracuse

Denise Finlay of Syracuse

Kevin Mohr of Olathe

John Stauffer of Leawood

Grant Zehner of Overland Park

American Portable Diagnostics Association
Kim Billinger of Shawnee

American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association
Kevin Keller of Olathe

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Jeanette Walther of Lawrence

Duane Anderson of Seneca

Catherine Moyer of Ulysses

Community Foundation Awareness Initiative
Debbie Wilkerson of Kansas City

Eisenhower Excellence in Public Service Series
Ivette Arango of Prairie Village

Nicole Atwater of Basehor

Ralene Bergquist of Park City

Wendy Bingesser of Olathe

Lisa Carney of Auburn

KoKo Cooper of Olathe

Nancy Freese of Topeka

Trish Harryman-Buschbom of McPherson

Stephanie James of Olathe

Christie Kriegshauser of Topeka

Vickie Matney of Andover

Cathy Nugent of Overland Park

Holley Palacio of Olathe

Abby Rankin of Salina

Suzanne Robb of Topeka

Amy Siple of Sedgwick

Emily Wellman of Alden

ESOP Association
Jordan Bergkamp of Overland Park

Amanda Clark of Leawood

Levi Kelley of Overland Park

Gary Shorman of Hays

Fort Hays State University
Kelli Arnold of Hays

Stephanie Niblock of Hays

Tawnya Rohr of Hays

American Golf Industry Coalition
Claudia Alterman of Merriam

Jeff Eldridge of Overland Park

Chava McKeel of Lawrence

Abby Olcese of Lawrence

Libby Queen of Lawrence

Elliot Rausch of Lawrence

Howard Richman of Roeland Park

Tyler Stover of Eudora

Jeff White of Olathe

Mischia Wright of Lawrence

Great Plains Manufacturing
David Disberger of Salina

Hope for Stomach Cancer
Vy Bailey of Andover

Thanh Bui of Wichita

Lan Ly of Wichita

Kansas Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence
Michelle McCormick of Topeka

Kansas Education Policy Leadership Program
Edwin Birch of Kansas City

Jeremy Higgins of Olathe

Anthony Lewis of Lawrence

Francisco Litardo of Kansas City

Jim McMullen of Olathe

Richard Moulin of Bonner Springs

Eric Punswick of Olathe

Josh Robinson of Spring Hill

Kansas Respiratory Care Society
Terri Lesser of Topeka

Lacey Ninemire of Lenora

Jeremy Plambeck of Manhattan

Kansas State University
Eric Fitzsimmons of Manhattan

Jennifer Ifft of Manhattan

Debbie Kirchhoff of Olathe

Joe Parcell of Manhattan

National Council on Aging
Rebecca Nimz of Hiawatha

Karen Wilson of Hiawatha

National Electrical Contractors Association
Curtis Mitchell of Wichita

Dusty Moore of Hutchinson

Dylan Woodard of Wichita

Safari Club International
Chris Tymeson of Overland Park

Service to America Medals Finalist
Shannon Robolledo of Wichita

SMACNA Construction Employers of America 2024
Justin Gunter of Lenexa

Specialty Equipment Market Association
Kyle Fickler of Tonganoxie

Zach Hampton of Larned

Connie McCarthy of Olathe

Timothy McCarthy of Olathe

Sports Car Club of America
Michael Cobb of Topeka

Wichita State University
Debra Franklin of Wichita

Andy Schlapp of Wichita

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