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McConnell AFB and Forbes Field Selected as National Finalists for Tanker Aircraft Basing
On Wednesday I was pleased to announce that the United States Air Force selected both McConnell
Air Force Base in Wichita and Forbes Airfield in Topeka as finalists for the basing of the KC-46A tanker
program. Kansas is the only state to have both of their Air Force bases included on these candidate lists.
Final selection for KC-46A basing will take place in 2014.
The selection of not just one, but both Kansas Air Force bases as candidates is a testament
to the critical role our state plays in supporting all branches of our military and allied partners as
they carry out missions overseas and at home. Strategically positioned in the heart of the United States,
the location, capacity and mission of McConnell and Forbes make both bases exceptionally equipped to
provide air mobility globally at a moment’s notice.
Our efforts to ensure this outcome began months ago when we, along with state leaders, met
with Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Mark Welsh to make certain he understood the value of air
mobility assets in Kansas. In addition to meeting with General Welsh to convey Kansas’ long-standing
history of service and support to air power, in June 2012, Senator Roberts and I sent a letter to U.S.
Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley to encourage the selection of McConnell AFB as the first MOB
#1 for the KC-46A tanker.
With rising maintenance and support costs, the transition from the 50-year-old KC-135 tankers
to KC-46A tankers is the U.S. Air Force’s top acquisition and recapitalization priority. As the
process continues, I look forward to working here in Washington, D.C., with the Pentagon and Air Force
leadership, as well as with state and local leaders in Wichita and Topeka, including Adjutant General
MG Tafanelli, to continue to demonstrate the importance of both McConnell and Forbes to the Air Force.
Washington and the Startup Economy: First Do No Harm
The Consumer Electronics Association invited me to attend this year’s Consumer Electronics
Show (CES) where I participated on a panel called 'Washington and the Startup Economy: First Do No Harm.'
During my remarks, I outlined my principles for pro-growth policymaking and the importance of encouraging
innovation and helping new businesses form, grow, and create jobs for Americans. I explained how I teamed
up with Senator Ron Wyden to successfully defeat the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), because of its impact on
innovation, free speech, and national security.
This topic also provided an opportunity to speak about smart spectrum policy, and the economic
benefits of making more spectrum available for both licensed and unlicensed use. I also provided an update
on two bills I introduced last year called Startup Act and Startup Act 2.0. These bipartisan bills seek
to unleash the job-creating power of entrepreneurs to innovate, create, and grow the economy. I enjoyed
hearing from a panel of startups about their thoughts of how America can be friendlier to entrepreneurs.
Attending the 2013 Consumer Electronic Show
This week, I traveled to Nevada for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). This trade show demonstrates
the latest innovation in electronics - everything from vehicle technologies and driverless cars to ultra-high-definition
televisions and home health care products. On Tuesday evening, I traveled to the inNEVation Center, a
local incubator, coworking, mentoring, and networking space. There, I met with Dylan Bathurst of Talmage,
Kansas. Dylan attended Fort Hays State University before moving to Nevada to work at Zappos. Last June,
Dylan came up with an idea for a company called Rumgr at a Startup Weekend event in Las Vegas. Rumgr
is an online marketplace to buy and sell with people nearby. Shortly after creating the company, Dylan
and his two co-founders, both former Zappos employees, were successful in raising $500,000 from investors,
including Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. I enjoyed my conversation with Dylan and look forward to sharing his
thoughts and ideas about how to support local startups in Kansas.
On Wednesday morning, I toured the CES showroom to get a hands-on experience with the new technologies
at the show. During my tour, I stopped by a handful of company booths, including Garmin, to learn about
their newest products and to visit with National Sales Manager Andy Torburen of Olathe.
I also took time to visit Eureka Village, CES’s very own village of startup companies
showcasing their products and services. There, I met the founders of Troop I.D., a startup that seeks
to verify military members in order to provide them benefits and discounts. They have developed a list
of veterans that is more accurate than our own Department of Veterans Affairs. Internet entrepreneur
and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, was also spotted at Eureka Village listening to pitches
from entrepreneurs and even investing in some of these new companies. I was encouraged to see entrepreneurship
and innovation is alive and well in America.
Meeting with FCC Chairman Genachowski
During my time at CES, I managed to visit with four of the five commissioners of the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC), including Chairman Julius Genachowski. We discussed a range of topics,
including his thoughts on the show, the progress of the FCC in reforming the Universal Service Fund and
Intercarrier Compensation models that affect many rural Kansas telephone companies, and the future of
the wireless industry. I enjoyed our visit and also hearing his thoughts about the future of technology
in America and worldwide.
Visiting El Dorado High School
Monday morning I traveled to El Dorado High School and had an excellent tour given by student
body president Collin Just and representative Sierra Bonn. Principal House reviewed the school’s
history and changes that have taken place. He also told me about the 1-1 laptop initiative, which insures
that each student has access to a laptop computer. I had a great time visiting several classrooms and
chatting with the students and teachers. It was also nice to meet school resource officer, Kurt Spivey.
Thanks to my tour guides and to Mr. Fellers, Mr. Miller, Ms. Brown, Mr. Risch, Mr. Hull, and Ms. Blair,
and their students, who allowed me to visit their classrooms and learn about the things that are important
to El Dorado High School.
Kansans Honored as 2013 Captains of America’s Road Team Finalists
On Tuesday, two Kansans were honored as finalists to become Captains of America’s Road
Team for 2013, at a reception hosted by the American Trucking Association in Washington, D.C. Don Logan
or Eskridge and James Starr of Wichita were selected as finalists for their trucking industry expertise,
communication skills, community service and lifetime safety records. I want to congratulate these hardworking
Kansans, as well as all the fine men and women who deliver America’s most essential goods.
Visiting the Community of Natoma
On Friday, I visited the community of Natoma and made several stops around town including the
Post Office, City Hall, Masters Oil, Midland Marketing, USD #399, United National Bank, and Natoma Elementary
School. Thanks to all the folks who said hello and took the time to chat. I always appreciate the advice
and instructions I receive from conversations with Kansans.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed
Doug Scott, Jay Gibson, Derek Hess, and Russ Bartlett of Hawker Beechcraft
Russell Libby and Tom Kurz of Sysco
Ed Hill of Bank of America
Bob Casper and Kelly Casper of POET
Several Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the U.S. Capitol this week including:
Jonathan Foster and son, Shay
Rohit and Angel Krishna
Honored to Serve You in Washington
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. In recent weeks, I’ve been listening
to Kansans calling and writing in to share their thoughts and opinions on the debt crisis and the big
issues our country faces. Whether your thoughts are in the form of letter, a Facebook comment, or a phone
call, please know that I am listening and I appreciate messages from Kansans who wish to make their voice
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,