Kansas Common Sense -Working for Cuba's Release of Alan Gross

Senator Jerry Moran
2012-12-10 19:05:07
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Kansas Common Sense
December 10, 2012


Dear Friend,

Welcome  to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you 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.

This week, the Senate unanimously voted on  final passage of legislation to fund the Department of Defense (DOD) for  the coming year. The Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization  Act (NDAA) will provide $631.4 billion in discretionary funds for the  Defense Department budget, the war in Afghanistan, the Department of  Energy and other national security programs related to nuclear safety.

I introduced an amendment to the NDAA to  mandate oversight of the DOD’s spending for conferences and conventions  by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and was pleased to see  its inclusion in the final legislation. Spending by government agencies  such as the General Services Administration has been scrutinized in  recent months following revelations of lavish and costly conferences at  the taxpayer’s expense. This amendment will hold the DOD accountable for  its expenditures at a time when federal dollars must be spent wisely  and effectively.


Working for Cuba’s Release of Alan Gross

On Wednesday evening, the  U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution I introduced (S. Res. 609)  along with Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) – and co-sponsored by 30 of our  Senate colleagues – calling on Cuba to immediately and unconditionally  release American Alan Gross. This is the first time Congress has taken  the step of passing a resolution condemning Mr. Gross’ arrest and  calling for his release. The resolution, introduced on the 3rd  Anniversary of Mr. Gross’ arrest in Havana, Cuba, also urges the Cuban  government to address Mr. Gross’ medical issues. I held a press  conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday with Judy Gross, Alan Gross’ wife,  highlighting this resolution and calling for action by Cuba. Click here to watch the full press conference.

Alan Gross, a sub-contractor for the United  States Agency for International Development, was arrested on December  3, 2009, and after a two-day trial, was given a 15-year prison sentence  by Cuban authorities for facilitating communications between Cuba’s  Jewish community and the rest of the world. Mr. Gross was simply doing  the type of work he had done his whole career in international  development – helping others in need.

The Senate’s passage of this resolution  sends a loud and clear message to Cuba: it is past time for Alan Gross  to come home. For more than a decade, I have worked to open Cuban  markets to American agriculture. This year, however, I stepped back from  these efforts because the Cuban government has a responsibility to  cooperate with the United States on the unjust detention of Alan Gross.  The path to improved America-Cuba relations has always been difficult,  but it is that much more difficult and unlikely until Cuba lets Alan  come home. Click here to learn more and read the resolution.

Alan Gross Presser


Extending Permanent Normal Trade Relations to Russia

This week, I voted to extend  Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) to Russia. Russia was admitted  to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in August of this year. In order  for them to fully engage the United States in trade within the WTO  structure, Congress had to address a Cold War Era legal provision  preventing them from full participation. The PNTR with Russia passed  easily in House and Senate due to the recognition that Russia holds huge  potential for American exports. Increased access to Russian markets for  Kansas exports of industrial, aviation and agricultural products will  result in much needed boosts to our state’s local economies. I will  continue to work to support market access for Kansas goods.


Supreme Court Hears Kansan’s International Custody Case

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case of Chafin v. Chafin,  which deals with Kansas native Jeff Chafin’s fight to bring his  daughter back to the Unites States. Jeff Chafin exemplifies the best in  our U.S. Army, is a dedicated and loving father, and I had the honor to  visit with him and his family on Thursday. For the past 2 years, Jeff  has struggled to regain custody of his daughter, Eris, after his  estranged wife was deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,  moved to Scotland and won a court decision allowing her to take Eris  with her. Jeff has been fighting to return his daughter to the United  States so that he may appeal this decision and be allowed the right to  fight for his daughter in the United States judicial system.

On Wednesday, Jeff, his family and legal  team accomplished quite an undertaking by presenting their argument  before the highest court in the United States. I know that the hearing  included passionate debate from both sides, which is to be expected on  this sensitive, family issue. I commend the Solicitor General of the  United States whose office spoke in support of and on behalf of the  Kansas native and his daughter Eris. I’m encouraged that the Justices  were diligent in asking pivotal questions related to the rights of  Americans seeking custody of a child caught between international  boundaries and laws.  I’m hopeful that the Justices will provide a  decision that will resolve this case, provide clarity for future  international custody cases and hopefully create an amicable resolution  for Eris. I will continue to monitor this case and consider  possibilities that the Justices have alluded to with regard to  Congressional action that may prevent unfortunate circumstances in the  future. Click here to see a photo from my visit with Jeff Chafin and his family.

Visiting with Jeff Chafin and Family


Allegro Choir of Kansas City in Washington

On Wednesday my office enjoyed a special  visit from a group of young Kansans from the Kansas City area. The 27  member Allegro Choir of Kansas City stopped by the U.S. Capitol to  spread some holiday cheer during their tour of Washington, DC. The  choir, directed by Christy Elsner also shared their talent at the White  House Christmas party. Thanks to the ladies of the Allegro Choir for  bringing their holiday spirit all the way from Kansas. Click here to  watch video of their caroling.


Congress Unified in Opposition of U.N. Internet Governance

This week, the United  Nations’ telecommunications agency, the International Telecommunications  Union (ITU), met for the first time since 1988 to discuss revisions to a  treaty known as the International Telecommunications Regulations. At  the meeting, representatives from 193 nations consider dozens of  amendments, including some that could give the ITU the ability to  regulate the internet or offer countries, including Russia, China and  Iran, a UN-backed authority to manage traffic, monitor citizens, and  censor incoming and outgoing traffic. In September, the U.S. Senate  unanimously approved S. Con. Res. 50, which expresses the sense of  Congress that the United States should continue working to preserve the  current multi-stakeholder governance model that has allowed the Internet  to thrive. I was a cosponsor of this legislation and was pleased the  House of Representatives unanimously approved a companion resolution  opposing modifications that could undermine Internet freedom this week. I  am a supporter of Internet freedom and will continue to monitor the  negotiations as they move forward.


Honoring Graduates at Kansas State University

Fall commencement  ceremonies were held this past weekend at Kansas State University.  Almost 1,500 students walked across the graduation stage on K-State's  Manhattan and Salina campuses. The university awarded nearly 1,100  bachelor's degrees; nearly 300 master's; more than 70 doctorates; and  three associate degrees. Of the graduates, 126 are earning their degree  through distance education. I was at Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday for  the commencement ceremonies for the College of Business Administration.

Earl McVicker, chairman, president and CEO  of Central Financial Corp. and its subsidiary, Central Bank and Trust  Co. of Hutchinson, provided the commencement remarks. In his remarks, he  shared about the lessons he has learned over the years from his own  experiences and those of others. Building a personal foundation with  ethics and integrity and always having a solid set of goals and  objectives has played a major part in Earl’s success. He charged the  graduates to never stop learning and to always approach life and  business with “persistence” and “resilience.” Congratulations to this  weekend's graduates and their families and best wishes for continued  success. Click here to see a photo from the ceremony.

In the Office

This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below.

 Allegro Choir
Chandler Eisner of Olathe
Natalie Rall of Overland Park
Rachel Arends of Leawood
Alyssa Hemphill of Overland Park
Nicole Merrill of Leawood
Makena Jarboe of Shawnee
Hannah Smith of Overland Park
Mallory Droge of Olathe
Madalyn Torline of Shawnee
Lori Egan of Lenexa
Randi Jo Blackman of Olathe
Gretchen Harrison of Leawood
Geri Allcorn of Shawnee
Amy Cramer of Prairie Village
Jacob Narveud of Meriden
Kim Stout of Shawnee
Christy Elsea of Olathe
Erin Stout of Shawnee
Morgan Hannah of Overland Park
Madison Crowl of Overland Park
Elizabeth Trikes of Overland Park
Sarah Hanry of Olathe
Emma Dopheide of Overland Park
Haley Egan of Lenexa
Grace Sewell Overland Park
Maia Sohoenberg of Leawood
Chloe Stewart of Shawnee

Alzheimer's Association
Former Congressman Dennis Moore of Lenexa 

National Conference of State Legislatures
Senator Stephen Morris of Hugoton
Senator John Vratil of Leawood
Senator Terrie Huntington of Fairway
Representative Elaine Bowers of Concordia
Representative Pat Colloton of Leawood
Representative John Grange of El Dorado
Representative Carl Holmes of Liberal
Representative Janice Pauls of Hutchinson

Kansas City Orthopaedic Institute
Paul Kerens of Leawood 

Watco Co.
Ed McKechnie of Pittsburg

Association of Air Medical Services
Greg Hildenbrand of Topeka
Amy Hendricks of Wichita
Robbie Copeland of Wichita


Many Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the US Capitol this week including: 

Overland Park
Daniel Fry 

Dr. Michael and Mrs. Anne Sheehan
Faith Clarke

Steve & Taryn Schraad, and son Ethan

Max & Sharon Stewart

Mitch Miller

Betheny Garmache


Contact Me

It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Please let me know how I can be of assistance. To send me an email, click here. You can also click here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.

Very truly yours,