October 28, 2021

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We Cannot Recklessly Tax and Spend Our Way to Prosperity – Kansas Common Sense

Wishing Senator Bob Dole a Happy 98th Birthday

On Thursday, with great respect and admiration, I wished Senator Bob Dole a happy 98th birthday. Join me in wishing a happy birthday to Senator Dole by signing his virtual birthday card here.

The Democrats’ Tax-and-Spend Spree is a Direct Assault on Multi-Generational Farms and Ranches

On Wednesday, I spoke on the Senate floor to highlight the impact a potential tax provision in the Democrats’ spending legislation would have on Kansas multi-generational farms and ranches. Our farmers and ranchers should not be forced to shoulder the Democrats’ trillion dollar spending spree to expand social programs. Our tax code should work for American families, not against them, and especially for family farms and ranches that often lack the cash flows to make ends meet. I will always fight to protect family farms and ranches in Kansas and our country. Click here or below to watch my remarks.

Discussing the Infrastructure Proposal

On Tuesday, I joined Neil Cavuto on Fox News to discuss the bipartisan infrastructure framework and our work to successfully remove funding for IRS agents. I joined the bipartisan infrastructure group to help make certain provisions like funding for IRS agents were removed and that the bill focused on the actual infrastructure needs in our country.

We also discussed the Senate Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reckless tax-and-spend proposal. As we watch inflation rise at an alarming rate, we can’t tax and spend our way to prosperity. Click here or below to watch my interview.

Attention International Travelers: State Department Experiencing Passport Backlog and Delays

As travel came to a standstill in March of 2020, hundreds of thousands of American passports expired throughout the following months, resulting in a massive backlog. Though the State Department is currently working through this backlog, routine service can take up to 18 weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received. The 18-week timeframe includes up to 12 weeks for processing and up to 6 weeks for mailing times on the front and back end. Expedited service can take up to 12 weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received, and this timeframe includes up to six weeks for processing and up to six weeks for mailing times on the front and back end.

My office has personally handled hundreds of passport cases over the past few months, working to track down and return passports to Kansans before they leave the country. In many cases, these individuals were unaware of the extended processing and return times. Please visit the State Department’s passport services page by clicking here to make certain you are able to apply for and receive your passport before traveling.

If you are preparing for or considering international travel, it is vital that you make sure your passport meets the validity requirements for the country you are visiting. Many countries require a valid passport for at least six months beyond your planned date of departure. The U.S. Department of State: Consular Affairs has a traveler’s checklist to help you prepare for your trip. There you will find specific information about your destination, what documents you will need, how to get overseas insurance coverage as well as information about the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. The traveler’s checklist can be found by clicking here.

America Leads in Space

Blue Origin Reaches New Heights

American innovation continues to expand the possibilities of space travel. On Tuesday morning, we achieved a new milestone in space flight as Blue Origin launched its first successful human flight aboard New Shepard.

Aerospace manufacturers in the Air Capital of the World are important contributors to this new era in space travel. I recently hosted the Blue Origin CEO in Wichita to showcase our local aerospace manufacturing capabilities. Click here or below to learn more about their visit.

Promoting Space Traffic Management

On Thursday, I joined a Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Space and Science hearing that examined opportunities for American leadership in promoting space situational awareness and space traffic management. The increase in satellites in low-Earth orbit provides widespread telecommunication and remote sensing services. To continue providing Americans with reliable service, we must track the location of satellites and prevent them from colliding. A collision between satellites creates space debris, which threatens to increase the amount of untracked wreckage. As Americans continue to lead in space exploration and satellite deployment, I look forward to continuing to address this important topic.

HELP Committee Work

Following Up With CDC, Health Officials Regarding Mask Mandates for Travelers

The Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee hearing on Tuesday allowed me the opportunity to discuss the travel mask guidance still in place by the Transportation Services Administration (TSA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walenksy. Dr. Walensky shared an update on where the CDC stands in the process of updating the mask requirement for fully vaccinated individuals while traveling and the science they are reviewing. To Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell, I reiterated my calls for HHS to allocate the remaining funds in the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) to health care and senior living facilities. The CARES Act created the PRF to ensure health care entities could stay solvent during the pandemic and the funds Congress provided should still be used for this purpose, with particular preference to senior living facilities and rural health care entities.

Commending Organ Donation Rule Reform

I joined Congressional leaders commending the Biden administration for finalizing a rule to reform the organ procurement system in the United States and encouraging the administration to explore options to accelerate implementation of the rule. The ‘Revisions to the Outcome Measure Requirements for Organ Procurement Organizations’ Final Rule released by CMS takes a critical first step toward ensuring greater accountability of all 57 organ procurement organizations (OPOs) in the United States.

Since 2015, an average of more than 12,000 people have died each year while waiting for a transplant or were removed from the waiting list due to becoming too sick to undergo transplantation. Rural Kansans in particular have suffered from unfair federal liver allocation policies that send much-needed organs to higher populated areas, causing an already scarce supply to become even more limited in rural regions. This Final Rule takes long overdue steps to hold OPOs accountable, which marks critical progress towards improving the organ transplant system and is estimated to save more than 7,000 lives every year. The Final Rule is not set to be fully implemented until 2026, but as numerous American lives are lost every day the rule is not in place, my colleagues and I are urging HHS to expedite enforcement of the rule.

Opposing the PRO Act

I participated in a HELP Committee hearing related to the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. The PRO Act includes provisions that could codify a broad joint-employer standard which would undermine the franchise business model and change the standard for determining whether a worker classifies as an independent contractor, such as financial advisors, rideshare drivers, journalists and other occupations. There is a litany of misguided policies in the PRO Act which would have detrimental effects on job growth in our country, which is why I will continue to oppose this legislation.

Questioning Air Force Leaders about KC-135 Divestment

On Wednesday, the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing that focused on the divestment of aging Air Force and Navy programs. I questioned Lieutenant General David Nahom, the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs, about KC-135 divestment and how it will impact the Air Force. The Air Force is responsibly starting to retire older airframes that do not stand up to current operational threats and are costly to maintain. As this process continues, I want to be certain that there will not be gaps in operational capabilities and readiness during the transition.

The KC-135 tanker has been in the fleet since 1957, but it is still carrying out a majority of our air refueling missions. It is critically important that we continue to support these older airplanes as we transition to the KC-46, the Air Force’s newest tanker. The KC-135 will continue to be the workhorse of the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command while airmen around the world become certified on the KC-46. The Kansas Air National Guard’s 190th Air Refueling Wing flies the KC-135 on domestic and international air refueling missions throughout the year, and I wanted to be certain that they would not lose this mission set as divestment moves forward.

Protecting Small Businesses from COVID’s Economic Effects

This week, during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on a potential pandemic risk insurance framework, I discussed the role of the government and the private sector in supporting small businesses during a future public health emergency. Ensuring that both the public and private sector are prepared to meet the next public health challenge will be key to mitigating any economic damage from a future event. While unprecedented federal programs helped thousands of small businesses keep their doors open in 2020, I will continue debating all available options to ensure our nation’s businesses are insulated from the detrimental economic effects of another pandemic.

Discussing the Future of Agriculture

Speaking with the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition

On Tuesday, I spoke with the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) about the value of diplomacy and development to ensure the safety and prosperity of Kansans. In particular, I focused on the importance of making certain markets are open to our agriculture and manufacturing industries and how instability overseas threatens Kansans at home. Following the long line of Kansans who have made an impact on the world, from Senators Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum to Secretaries Robert Gates and Mike Pompeo, I had the opportunity to highlight my work promoting food aid and the role Kansas farmers play in feeding the world. I appreciated the conversation with USGLC President Liz Schrayer and the many Kansans who are members, and I thank my friends Secretary Dan Glickman and Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins for introducing me.

Kansas Grain and Feed Association

The Kansas Grain and Feed Association’s Tomorrow’s Agribusiness Leadership Class met with me this week to discuss the future of the agriculture industry. We spoke about the importance of investing in our nation’s infrastructure, while making certain to stop tax proposals that would harm family farms and ranches. The members of the class also expressed concern about burdensome federal regulations. I appreciated hearing from the next generation of the agricultural industry leaders in Kansas.

National Sorghum Producers

I also met with National Sorghum Producers to discuss issues important to the sorghum industry and farmers. We discussed my role in bipartisan infrastructure negotiations, including my efforts to keep the legislation focused on true infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges and waterways that are critical for Kansas farmers and manufacturers to be able to transport goods to export markets. We also spoke about the harmful impact the Democrats’ tax proposals, including changes to the estate tax and stepped-up basis, would have on the ability of family farms to be passed to future generations. I also expressed my support for legislation, the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act, to allow year round sales of E15 fuels to support farmers and ethanol producers continue to provide clean fuel for drivers across the nation. Thank you to the National Sorghum Producers staff and members who came to my office to share with me the issues important to sorghum farmers.

Kansas Livestock Association

This week, members of the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) were in Washington, D.C. to share the viewpoints and concerns of Kansas ranchers and the cattle industry with their Kansas lawmakers on Capitol Hill. While they were here, I had to opportunity to visit with KLA and to hear from them what issues are most important to ranchers and the cattle industry in Kansas. I will continue to be a strong advocate for Kansas ranchers in Washington, D.C.

Meeting America’s Warrior Partnership

This week, I had the privilege of meeting with former Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha, Medal of Honor recipient, and Jim Lorraine, President and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership. During our visit, we discussed my VA health care legislation, the Guaranteeing Health Care Access for Personnel who Served (GHAPS) Act, Senate oversight of VA’s implementation of the John Hannon Act, and keeping the VA accountable for their mental health and suicide prevention services. America’s Warrior Partnership also shared new data with my staff on veteran and servicemember suicides through their research project Operation Deep Dive, in collaboration with the University of Alabama and the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation.

Operation Deep Dive is a community-based suicide prevention study with the goal of identifying community factors that can develop an upstream approach to enhancing programs that improve veterans’ quality of life and reduce risk factors associated with veteran suicide and non-natural deaths such as overdose. This research project is incredibly important to learning the full scope of and unique factors of each veteran suicide, so we can tailor suicide prevention strategies to individual single veteran who are in need of help.

 

Learning More about Knowmadics’ Capabilities

On Wednesday, I met with Paul Maguire, CEO of Knowmadics, a technology company that specializes in cybersecurity for businesses and government organizations. Knowmadics has successfully deployed their technology to combat terrorism, child trafficking, money laundering and oil and gas theft. I enjoyed sitting down with Paul to discuss his work and learn about his vision for Knowmadics. During our conversation, I highlighted the outstanding tech and cybersecurity workforce in Kansas and how it could be an asset to this growing company that has a significant influence on our nation’s cyber framework. Cyber and IT security will continue to play an increased role in business and government operations, and I will continue to work with industry leaders to highlight all that Kansas has to offer.

Resolution Congratulating Blue Dragons Football Passes Senate Unanimously

This week, my resolution with Sen. Marshall recognizing the Hutchinson Community College Blue Dragons football team for winning the 2021 National Junior College Athletic Association National Championship unanimously passed the Senate. Congratulations again to the Hutchinson Blue Dragons football players, coaches and staff on their memorable season and historic championship. I’m grateful we could recognize their accomplishment in the United States Senate, and I look forward to them running it back next season.

Honoring William Fry, 98-Year-Old WWII Veteran

On Tuesday, 98-year-old WWII Veteran William L. Fry of Wichita was awarded France’s highest distinction, the French Legion of Honor, for his participation in the liberation of France during WWII.

First Lieutenant William Fry served with the 452nd Bomb Group, 730th Squadron as a pilot on board B-17 Flying Fortress aircrafts as a part of the 8th Air Force. He participated in 24 missions in three major campaigns: Northern France, Rhineland and Ardennes-Alsace. For his service, Lieutenant Fry was awarded the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Theater Ribbon with three Bronze Stars and the Good Conduct Medal. After the war, he became part of the Air Force Reserve and retired in 1983 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Thank you to Consul General Lacroix, who traveled to Kansas to present the medal on behalf of President Macron and to all those who have diligently worked to properly honor Lieutenant Colonel Fry. Thank you also to his wife, Beverly, for being there with him and to Lieutenant Colonel Fry for his bravery and his sacrifice.

Connecting with Leadership Kansas Class Members

On Thursday evening, I connected with this year’s Leadership Kansas class members during a reception at Grand Street Café in Lenexa. I was pleased to join Lenexa Mayor Mike Boehm in welcoming the class to the Kansas City metropolitan area. Facilitated by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Kansas is a statewide program designed to enhance and motivate leaders from various communities across the state. Each year, 40 individuals are selected to participate in this esteemed process of behind-the-scenes tours and discussions with company owners to gain knowledge and insight about our great state. I am pleased to be one of more than 1,400 alumni who have graduated from this program and thank Grand Street Café for hosting our discussion. 

Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant Still Accepting Applications

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications to help small and midsized meat processors increase market opportunities through the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant (MPIRG) program. This program was created by my legislation, the Requiring Assistance to Meat Processers for Upgrading Plants (RAMP-UP) Act, and provides $55.2 million in grants for small and midsized meatpacking plants to make the necessary investments to become federally inspected. Currently, meatpacking facilities can only make sales across state lines if they are federally inspected.

MPIRG applications must be submitted electronically through www.grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, August 2, 2021. For more information about grant eligibility and program requirements, visit the MPIRG webpage, or contact [email protected]

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.