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many pressing issues remain unaddressed in Washington, the Senate is out of session for August recess.
I believe my colleagues and I should be in Washington working to solve the country’s problems but
unfortunately Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada sets the agenda and the floor schedule. I spent
the week in Kansas attending several events across the state. I always appreciate the opportunity to
be back in the state and appreciated the chance to have conversations with Kansans.
VA Inspector General Report
week, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) inspector general released a report on operations at the
Phoenix VA Health Care System. The latest findings by the VA inspector general confirm what we have known
all along – systemic dysfunction and lack of leadership at the VA caused harm to our nation’s
veterans. Along with the IG report, the VA released new statistics about the change in direction of the
VA; unfortunately this information raises more questions, and makes is clear that the failures were preventable.
it was possible to reduce the new enrollee appointment request list by more than 60,000 veterans in two-and-a-half
months, there is little excuse for the list ever reaching that level in the first place. If, in one month,
the VA can schedule 200,000 new appointments, why had these same veterans already waited several months
simply to see a doctor? The short time frame in which these issues were addressed indicates these same
problems were allowed to grow for years without greater efforts being made to fix them.
the VA has taken many actions in recent months to address the issues plaguing veterans’ health
care, it is important to target the root of these problems. The VA’s dysfunction has never been
a funding issue – in fact, their budget has increased by more than 60 percent since 2009. President
Obama himself said, “We’ve resourced the Veterans Affairs office more in terms of increases
than any other department or agency in my government.”
Senate and House have taken action and called on the VA to live up to its commitment to care for those
who have sacrificed for our country. While H.R. 3220 offers hope to veterans by including some of the
most significant reforms that have been made within the VA in decades, Congress now has the even tougher
job overseeing the implementation of these vital changes at the VA. Veterans have made great sacrifices
for our nation, and I will continue working for a Department of Veterans Affairs that is worthy of their
Touring the NBAF Site with Homeland Security Officials
This week, I toured the Central
Utility Plant and the future home of the National Bio-and Agro Defense Facility (NBAF) with Department
of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Under Secretary Dr. Reginald Brothers
and members of the Kansas Congressional Delegation. I am grateful Under Secretary Brothers accepted our
invitation to visit Kansas along with other officials and get and update on the current status of construction.
Developing these relationships is vitally important to our state as this essential part of our national
security apparatus moves forward. NBAF will be a state-of-the-art bio-containment facility for the study
of foreign animal and emerging and zoonotic (transmitted from animals to humans) diseases that threaten
the nation’s livestock, agriculture and public health.
the future site of NBAF not only gave us a chance to get an update on construction – it also let
us see firsthand the real opportunities being created for the talented young men and women of Kansas.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I was committed to making certain NBAF remained a
top priority, and there is no longer any question about the project’s future. Kansas will become
a research epicenter, and the construction of this modern, world-class facility will ultimately create
jobs for Kansans in the fields of engineering, science and technology. NBAF will create up to 1,500 construction
jobs and 450 permanent jobs, and will generate an estimated economic impact of $3.5 billion in its first
20 years. Final funding to complete construction of NBAF must be approved and signed into law. In Fiscal
Year 2015, $300 million has been included in House and Senate appropriations bills. This winter, Congress
is set to debate an omnibus spending measure containing the final funding for NBAF and other measures.
Students Head Back to School
the past few weeks, thousands of Kansas students have returned to classrooms across our state. Each school
year, students are challenged to work hard so they can develop the skills needed to pursue their dreams.
Dedicated parents, teachers and administrators are committed to supporting our students in their efforts
to achieve success in the classroom and in life. Unfortunately, Congress has failed to share in this
commitment by neglecting to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – the
primary federal law relating to K-12 education.
enacted in 1965, the ESEA was most recently amended and reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act
of 2001 (NCLB). I opposed passage of NCLB because I believe a one-size-fits-all federally-mandated approach
to education is not in the best interest of Kansas students and schools. NCLB was a major expansion of
federal influence upon significant aspects of public K-12 education. Kansas schools have no problem being
held accountable – they simply ask that the federal government afford them sufficient flexibility
to tailor education plans to the unique needs of their students. Rather than being forced to teach to
a standardized test, schools need to have the flexibility to raise the bar and focus on preparing students
for careers and higher education. Decisions about how our students are taught in the classroom should
be made by the individuals in the best position to know the unique needs of our students – parents,
teachers, administrators and local school boards – rather than federal bureaucrats in Washington.
ESEA programs have not been reauthorized since expiring in 2008, so updating this law is badly overdue
and needs to be a priority. The U.S. Department of Education has granted Kansas and other states waivers
from certain requirements of NCLB; however, the Department is dangling relief from federal mandates in
front of states in exchange for agreeing to adopt Administration policies. I have long believed that
education functions best as a local and state function, and this is far from restoring local control
over education policy.
summer, the House of Representatives passed an ESEA reauthorization bill by a 221-207 vote. A year has
passed, and unfortunately the Senate Majority Leader has shown no interest in prioritizing ESEA reauthorization.
It is well past time for the Senate to fulfill this responsibility. This measure needs to be brought
to the Senate for a full debate where senators will have the opportunity to offer amendments.
Importance of Research with Kansas State University Researchers
Friday morning, I met with Kansas State University (K-State) researchers to discuss the importance of
biomedical research for saving and improving lives, reducing health care costs, and driving economic
growth for our state and nation. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the focal point of our nation’s
medical research efforts, supports basic and clinical research in medical centers, hospitals, and research
institutions throughout the United States, including at K-State. During my visit, I had the opportunity
to tour K-State research laboratories that utilize NIH support and meet students assisting in these labs’
research initiatives. Thanks to Professor of Biology Dr. Clem and Associate Professor of Biology Dr.
Kristin Michel for leading my tour.
appreciated the opportunity to visit with K-State about the importance of NIH support for groundbreaking
research taking place in Manhattan. By investing in research, we are investing in our future. Given the
vast amount of progress made over the last century and the great potential current research holds, now
is not the time for our nation to waiver on its commitment to advancing scientific research. In Kansas,
the bioscience industry has grown at an impressive rate compared to the national sector. This growth
opens the door for new medical and technological advancements and drives economic growth. As Ranking
Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds NIH, I will continue working to prioritize
NIH’s budget to produce more research advances that are helping create a brighter future for Americans.
Thanks to Dr. Karen Burg, Vice President for Research and Dr. Brian Spooner, interim Dean of the College
of Arts and Sciences for hosting my visit. Here, I'm pictured with K-State Undergraduate Student Cody
Simmons of Leonardville.
Stop in Thomas County
continued my Kansas Listening Tour across the state this week in Thomas County with a visit to the Kiwanis
Club meeting open to the public at the Colby Community College Student Union. It was good to see so many
local residents come by to have a conversation, including students from the local FFA chapter, Kansas
Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer and Former-U.S. Sen. Shelia Frahm. The conversation focused on concerns of overreach
by the federal government including the EPA with the Clean Water Act and the UFWS with the lesser prairie
chicken. We also discussed President Obama’s attempts to legislate from the oval office and the
importance of keeping rural America alive and flourishing. Thanks again to Colby Community College for
letting us use their campus for the conversation and to the Kiwanis Club for hosting me.
Goodland Community Visit
my way to Colby, I stopped in Goodland and visited with folks at City Hall, Black Hills Energy, Sherman
County Courthouse, Goodland Regional Medical Center, The Goodland Star News, and Cure & Bain, PC.
I also stopped at the Butterfly Café and visited with the large coffee crowd. They shared lots of
concerns with me and I appreciate the conversations.
I enjoyed seeing the area residents
of Louisburg on Monday and participating in their Labor Day parade. Several communities across the state
celebrated American workers with parades and festivities this weekend. I have always been proud that
Kansans know the value of a hard day’s work and appreciate the prosperity our state gains from
that work ethic.
Louisburg parade is well known throughout the area, and it was an honor to participate. Thanks to Colby
Jones for driving Robba and me, and to Ted Halpin for the loan of his classic Oldsmobile convertible
for this event. It was great to see folks and listen to what the residents had on their mind as I visited
with the crowd before, during and after the parade. Thanks to Chuck Hammeke for coordinating participation
in this event.
Accepting Spring 2015 Internship Applications
am now accepting applications for paid congressional internships in my Washington, D.C., and Kansas offices
for spring 2015. An internship in my office – either legislative or communications – provides
a unique opportunity to work closely with Senate staff on behalf of the state of Kansas. Legislative
interns will gain a better understanding of the legislative process in the U.S. Congress, and develop
knowledge and professional skills valuable to future career pursuits. Communications internships offer
an intern the chance to learn about how political communications and the legislative process intersect,
and gain practical knowledge about the inner workings of a fast-paced press office.
application deadline for spring 2015 is November 1, 2014. Applications may be obtained and completed
under the “Services” section of my website at www.moran.senate.gov.
Applicants should submit a completed application form, resume, academic transcript, two letters of recommendation,
and a cover letter explaining their interest in public service and addressing a policy issue of personal
importance and a suggested recommendation to resolve that issue. Please submit required materials to: xxx.
Service Academy Nomination Application Deadline
students headed back to school this month, I want to remind interested students that the application
deadline for nominations to the U.S. Service Academies will be here soon. I consider appointments to
the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine
Academy one of my most treasured responsibilities as a U.S. Senator. Each fall I appoint a 20-member
selection board to interview the applicants and help me make the tough decisions. This year’s
application are due to my Olathe office on Friday, September 12, 2014, and if qualified, applicants will
interviewed at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene on Saturday, October 18, 2014.
For more information about eligibility and the application process please visit my website. For
additional questions please contact Lisa Dethloff in my Olathe office by email or
by calling 913-393-0711.
in the Office
Durie of Leawood