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. With another
winter storm moving across Kansas, I hope you’ll follow the Kansas Department of Transportation’s
warnings and stay off the roads if they’ve become dangerous.
On Friday, government spending cuts known as sequestration will
take effect unless Congress reaches a resolution this week. Should the sequestration deadline pass, $85
billion will be cut from the government’s FY 2013 budget and $1.2 trillion will be shed from over
the course of a decade, as laid out in the Budget Control Act of 2011. It’s also notable that half
of all cuts will fall on the Department of Defense.
President and Congress must reduce federal spending and lower our national debt, but sequestration is
a poor way to do so. Cuts like these are irresponsible, affecting valuable and wasteful programs alike.
I feel strongly that Congress and the President must do what we were elected to do, and that means passing
a responsible budget which prioritizes the programs that effectively and efficiently serve the American
people. Unfortunately, it has been nearly 1,400 days since Democratic leadership in the U.S. Senate has
brought forth a budget. I will continue to work with my colleagues toward a meaningful and responsible
solution to our government’s spending problem. The President, who originally proposed the sequester,
is not being helpful and now says tax increases are the way to avoid spending cuts.
National Bio and Agro-Defense
Facility (NBAF) Central Utilities Plant Construction Contract Awarded
As a member of the Senate Appropriations
Committee, I was notified on Friday that the Department of Homeland Security awarded the $40 million
utility work contract for the construction of the Central Utilities Plant (CUP), an important step toward
constructing NBAF. The contract being confirmed is good news because without the capabilities NBAF provides
our country is at risk from foreign animal disease threats. The CUP will be a free standing 87,000 sq.
ft. building built on the NBAF site on the Kansas State University campus, and is expected to be completed
in two and a half years. I look forward to continued progress on this vital national security asset.
Kapaun to Receive Medal of Honor
During my time in the
House and Senate, I have worked with the Kansas delegation to urge the Secretary of Defense to recommend
the President award Father Emil Kapaun with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Finally, it was announced
Friday that Father Kapaun, a Kansan and Korean War hero, will be receiving this distinguished award in
April. I am grateful President Obama will use his authority to give Father Kapaun the long-overdue recognition.
Kapaun was from Pilsen and was a priest in the Diocese of Wichita. During the Korean War, Father Kapaun
served as a chaplain of the 8th Cavalry Regiment of the First Army Division. He was taken prisoner along
with other American soldiers and carried severely injured fellow soldiers on his back, while rallying
others to help in a similar fashion. While in the prison camp he served his comrades by escaping to steal
food from nearby farms to bring back to the starving prisoners. He cared for sick soldiers, washed them,
shared his food with them, and inspired them with his unfailing faith and acts of generosity until his
death in May 1951.
Olathe Joint Town Hall Meeting
On Tuesday, I was in Johnson County and
participated in a joint town hall meeting with Senator Pat Roberts and Congressman Kevin Yoder. More
than 200 citizens attended to speak and listen to their fellow citizens regarding their concerns on what
is happening — or not happening — in Washington, D.C. Issues discussed included the debt
crisis, subsidies, Medicare, veterans and upholding the Constitution. I appreciate Kansans sharing their
common sense so I can continue to work in the Senate on their behalf. Thank you to Olathe Mayor Mike
Copeland for hosting the event, and to Tim Danneberg for his assistance in organizing the event.
On Tuesday, I spoke at the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce Breakfast and
had the opportunity to answer questions about sequestration, the national debt, and the need for Congress
and the President to work together to cut spending and address the economic issues we face as a country.
We also discussed Topeka and Kansas-specific issues including levees, state taxes, and local investment.
It was good to see Topeka Mayor Bill Bunten and other community leaders at the event. I appreciate the
Topeka Chamber Members’ attendance and commitment to our state’s capital city.
Assignments Announced for 113th Congress
The Senate Subcommittee
Assignments for the 113th Congress have been announced, and I am pleased to be serving on several subcommittees
whose jurisdictions have a direct impact on the lives of Kansans and America’s economy.
a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, I have been chosen to continue my service as a member
of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration
and Related Agencies. This subcommittee has responsibility for setting annual spending limits for the
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration. Agriculture is a staple of
the Kansas economy and USDA plays many roles in helping to maintain agriculture’s success. I will
continue to work to find the proper balance that allows USDA to provide necessary services to rural America,
while at the same time reducing spending to bring our expanding federal debt under control.
will also serve as Ranking Member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human
Services, Education, and Related Agencies. I am grateful to my Senate Republican colleagues for entrusting
me with leadership of this subcommittee, which oversees a range of issues important to Kansans including
our nation’s commitment to advancing cures and treatments for disease through medical research,
as well as the ability of rural communities to access quality health care.
I am member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, which oversees funding for
the Department of Homeland Security. Strengthening our nation’s security efforts is one of my top
priorities and a critical responsibility of Congress. The threats our nation faces are real, and this
subcommittee plays an important role in making certain we can address these challenges. As a member,
I will continue to advocate for construction of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF). NBAF
is an essential part of our national security apparatus and must be constructed to protect Americans
from biological threats.
to Forbes Air Force Base
On Tuesday, I visited Forbes Air Force Base to discuss the base’s
recent selection as a finalist to receive the second installation of new KC-46A tankers. This major achievement
elevates the National Guard’s role in air mobility and refueling for the total force of the US
Air Force. It was good to meet many airmen from the 190th and see the Squadron Operations Building where
the 190th manages their air mobility missions. Thanks to MG Lee Tafenelli, Col. Ron Krueger, and the
other Airmen of the 190th Air Refueling Wing for briefing me on the critical and strategic role that
Forbes continues to play in the Air Force Air Mobility Command’s mission.
Rotary Club Lunch
On Monday, I had the opportunity to visit
with the members of the Marysville Rotary Club. It was good to be back in town, and we discussed issues
specific to the Marysville community including agriculture, rural hospitals and healthcare.
Club was held at the soon-to-be open bowling alley and eatery, Landoll Lanes. Don Landoll wanted to give
Marysville residents of all ages something fun to do in their hometown, and I applaud him for his efforts
to improve his rural community. Thank you to the Rotarians and Dan Landoll for inviting me to join them.
Thank you also to Marshall County Sheriff Dan Hargrave, Marshall County Commissioners, Marysville Mayor
Bill Phillipi and Chamber Chair Coleen Jennifer for your contributions to the Marysville community.
County High School Tour
This week, I toured Riley County High School
(RCHS). The high school serves the communities of Riley, Leonardville, Keats and the surrounding areas.
RCHS is also proud to serve many families from Fort Riley. I was impressed by the school’s dedicated
departments in art, agriculture, and science, and was glad to hear that even in this rural community,
enrollment numbers have remained steady. Thank you to Brad Starns, Superintendent, Dan Stron, School
Board Member, as well as Student Leaders Levi Bailey, Ian Eastes, Bree Busch and Abbey for a great tour.
Last week we had several visitors in the Washington,
D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below:
Michael Roberts of Lawrence
Lindsay Vogtsberger of Kansas City
Doug Ervin of Kansas City
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 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 heard.
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.