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to ISIS Deserves Full Debate in Congress
week, Congress voted on a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded through December 11.
Continuing resolutions have become the norm on Capitol Hill over the last few years as Washington consistently
fails to fulfill its basic duty of passing annual appropriations bills. The CR included an amendment
to provide $500 million in funding authority for arming and training Syrian rebels in the fight against
the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. (ISIS). I voted against passage of the CR because I believe
ISIS is a real threat to the safety and security of Americans. The U.S. response and policy toward ISIS
deserves more than a few sentences in a $1 trillion stopgap spending bill passed moments before adjournment
for the mid-term elections. The Administration has portrayed that we are taking action to reduce the
viability of ISIS, while it is more likely we are arming and training rebels that will ultimately use
the weapons against our allies. There must be a discussion about the safeguards needed to ensure we aren’t
arming the next Taliban or Al Qaeda 10 years down the road. These weapons could also quickly fall into
the arms of ISIS – one must only look to the terrorists’ success overrunning Iraqi troops
to gauge the likelihood of these weapons being used against us.
I believe forceful and effective action must be taken to successfully confront ISIS, our course of action
deserves a full and open debate by Congress for the benefit of the American people. Too many Presidents
have begun a battle trying to convince Americans that not much will be required for victory and that
we can have success without sacrifice. The fight against ISIS must be well planned and thought out in
order to earn the support of the American people.
the Value of Hometown Financial Services
Tuesday, the Senate Banking Committee held a hearing at my request on the state of small lenders. The
hearing was intended to examine in greater detail whether federal regulations are preventing economic
growth. I had the opportunity to question regulators like the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC),
the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Federal Reserve, the National Credit Union Administration
(NCUA) and a representative of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors.
I am concerned that failure to address the growing federal
regulatory problem in Washington D.C. will prevent our hometown lenders from investing in their communities.
Only that local loan officer will be able to determine if a farmer is worthy of one more year of credit
to put another crop in the ground or if a grocery store is doing well enough to get the capital necessary
to fill the shelves. The federal government should not inject itself in those decisions. I have introduced
several bills such as S. 1349, the Community Lending Enhancement and Regulatory Relief Act or CLEAR Relief
Act and S. 727, the Financial Institutions Examination Fairness and Reform Act that would help make certain
that the institutions can remain an important part of the local fabric. To watch my comments, click
is an excerpt from the hearing:
primary motivation for me to serve in Congress has been a belief in the value of rural America. Relationship
banking is a significant component of whether or not many of the communities I represent have a future.
It is only that community financial institution that's going to make a decision about loaning to a grocery
store in town. It's only that entity that's going to decide that that farmer is worthy of one more year
of credit…And so as we develop policies in Washington, D.C., that make everything so uniform – a
cookie-cutter approach to lending – it means that many of my constituents in the communities
they live in will have a much less bright future, and a significant reduction in the opportunity to pursue
their farming and business careers and occupations.”
Report: HealthCare.gov Still Security Risk
week, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report detailing ongoing problems
with the security of the Obamacare website – HealthCare.gov. More than a year since its launch,
GAO raises concerns that HealthCare.gov users continue to face a serious risk of having their personal
information – including Social Security numbers, income and employment records, and tax returns
stored by the system – stolen by fraudsters and identity thieves. The Administration has consistently
kept Congress and the public in the dark about the serious security concerns with the Obamacare website.
am a sponsor of two commonsense bills to increase transparency surrounding Obamacare’s implementation
and help address the serious privacy and data security concerns associated with the law. The Exchange
Information Disclosure Act (S. 1590) requires the Obama Administration to disclose detailed information
about the performance of the Obamacare health insurance Exchange website, HealthCare.gov. The other bill,
the Health Exchange Security and Transparency Act (S. 1902), would increase the Administration’s
responsibility for safeguarding personal information of Exchange users in response to growing security
concerns about the website. This is not about politics, this is about personal security and privacy.
The House of Representatives passed its own version of both bills with broad, bipartisan support, yet
the Senate Majority Leader has yet to bring the bills up for a vote in the Senate.
to Health Care for Veterans
a hearing with the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee two weeks ago, I questioned VA Secretary Bob McDonald
about the persistent challenges veterans experience with access to health care that must and can be remedied
immediately. To highlight the difficulties facing our veterans, I shared the personal stories of Kansans,
one of whom was Mr. Larry MacIntire. Larry was forced to drive three hours from Plainville to Wichita
to get a cortisone shot in his shoulder. He travels to Wichita several times a month for other minor
procedures, which is incredibly frustrating because the local hospital, Rooks County Medical Center,
has the ability to provide such care. Secretary McDonald agreed that it is unnecessary for Mr. MacIntire
and many other veterans like him to experience this burden of travel when they should be allowed to access
care closer to home. I am pleased that the Secretary also believes that veterans should be able to receive
timely, quality care regardless of where they call home.
week, I am happy to report that Mr. MacIntire was contacted by the Wichita Dole VA Medical Center and
informed that another upcoming procedure for an MRI was scheduled at the Hays Medical Center, easing
the burden of a long drive to Wichita and allowing him to receive the exam closer to home. This is great
news for Mr. MacIntire, but there are many more veterans in Kansas that face a similar situation who
haven’t received a phone call informing them of an easier option for accessing care. Mr. MacIntire’s
story should be the rule, not the exception and Secretary McDonald has committed to me that he will do
what is in the best interest of the veteran. As we wait on the VA to formally implement the Veterans
Access, Choice and Accountability Act – the legislation passed to help – the Secretary must
make certain that the choice to access timely and quality health care is available to all veterans who
are either waiting too long for an appointment or driving unnecessary distances to receive care in a
VA facility. I encourage Kansas veterans to contact their local VA about accessing non-VA care locally
and let me know if you experience push-back.
the West African Ebola Outbreak
Ebola outbreak in West Africa is a health crisis of massive proportions. Ebola is a virus that causes
fever, severe headache, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding and stomach and muscle pain. Transmitted between
humans through direct contact with bodily fluids, the virus often proves fatal for infected individuals.
As of September 18th, the total number of probable, confirmed and suspected Ebola cases in the current
outbreak was over 5,300, including over 2,600 deaths. With no proven vaccine or treatment currently available
and with the outbreak continuing to escalate, fear and concern have risen across the globe. On Tuesday,
I participated in a Senate hearing on the response to this health crisis. We had a distinguished panel
of witnesses, including Dr. Kent Brantly, an American missionary physician who was successfully treated
for Ebola in the United States.
While West Africa is facing the most devastating and unprecedented Ebola
outbreak in history, Ebola can be stopped now by helping Africans and before it becomes a threat to the
United States. The single most important thing that can be done to protect Americans is to stop Ebola
at its source. And that is where the attention is needed now. There are several promising therapies and
vaccines in the pipeline that hopefully will help with our long-term approach to fighting this virus.
While it would be advantageous to have a proven drug therapy or vaccine to tackle the virus, there are
basics we can provide now to significantly help those infected and to prevent the spread of disease.
These include providing a trained medical workforce to coordinate activities on the ground, educating
local communities about Ebola and how it is transmitted, supplying basic medical equipment like masks
and gloves, and assisting the governments in West Africa to strengthen their public health systems and
emergency response infrastructures. We need to declare war on Ebola. This requires a global response
and the United States needs to provide the necessary leadership to make certain that the war is won. Click
view my remarks at this hearing. Also, click
read an editorial I wrote about attacking the Ebola outbreak that was published on CNN.com.
Heroes with an Honor Flight to the WWII
I was honored
to welcome a group of World War II veterans from Kansas on Thursday as they visited their World War II
Memorial in Washington D.C. It is inspiring to meet Kansans who sacrificed and served our country for
the most noble of reasons – not because they believed in partisan politics, but because they believed
in protecting our nation, their children and future generations. I am always mindful of their courage
and duty when we welcome them to the memorial built in their honor. The sacrifices made by veterans for
our freedoms and liberties should never be forgotten, and it is a privilege for me to join them during
their time in our nation’s capital.
The veterans and their guardians were flown to the nation’s capital
by the Kansas Honor Flight – a grassroots organization that has made it their mission to send our
Kansas veterans to see the memorials built in their honor on the National Mall. These individuals represent
the best of America, and it is due to their extraordinary sacrifices that we enjoy the freedoms we have
from October 2012 visit)
Kansas State Fair
2014 Kansas State Fair wrapped up on Sunday, September 14th. I hope you had an opportunity to visit the
fair in Hutchinson and experience the exciting rides, wonderful foods, educational exhibit halls and
livestock barns. Going to the fair and visiting with Kansans is one of my favorite traditions each year.
Congratulations to the Kansas State Fair Board on another successful fair. Please take a moment to watch
which is a great recap of the annual, 10-day celebration of our state.
Congratulating the Kansas Wheat Commission
to the Kansas Wheat Commission for being selected to receive an investment award from the Economic Development
Administration for the construction of a greenhouse and head house complex at the Kansas Wheat Innovation
Center in Manhattan. The project will double the greenhouse space at the innovation center and be used
to expand and enhance public-private collaborative research and commercialization in wheat biotechnology.
I was happy to support this investment because the existing greenhouse space proved too small for the
innovation center’s ambitious research program.
The work being done at the innovation center is crucial not just for Kansas
farmers, but to the future of agriculture globally. The innovation center’s research program is
focused on increasing genetic diversity and yields. With global demand for wheat expected to increase
by 60 percent over the next 50 years, it is essential that we continue to invest in agriculture research
and development. I am proud that Kansas continues to lead the way.
Savings Legislation Passes House
week, the House of Representatives passed the American Savings Promotion Act (H.R. 3374), companion bill
to legislation I introduced in the Senate (S. 1597). This development demonstrated that the bill has
broad, bipartisan support and represents smart and sensible policy that ought not be derailed by campaign
politics. At a time when 44 percent of Americans have less than three-months worth of savings, this legislation
will enable financial institutions to offer new products that will help Americans develop healthier personal
finance habits that can protect their financial future. As the 113th Congress enters its final months,
the Senate should act swiftly to schedule a vote on this commonsense bill and get it to the President
before the year’s end. To learn more about this legislation and how prize-linked savings can promote
high savings rates and economic mobility, I encourage you to read this
recently wrote in Business Insider.
General Welfare Exclusion
week unanimously passed H.R. 3043, the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act. I had introduced the Senate
version of this legislation, S. 1507, to exclude general welfare benefits provided by tribal governments
from taxable income. This protects tribal sovereignty from an encroaching IRS by treating tribal governments
the same as state and local governments. For our four Native American tribes in Kansas and those throughout
the United States, tens of thousands will receive income relief that will bolster their local economies
and improve their quality of life. The GWE is a bipartisan, commonsense bill that shows Washington can
work to reduce the harmful effects of the federal government’s intrusion on our lives. I look forward
to President Obama signing this legislation into law soon.
Academy Selection Board
week, I announced the members of my 2014 Kansas Service Academy Selection Board. The 20-member board
will review applications and interview candidates who are applying for admission to U.S. Service Academies.
These include the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy and U.S. Merchant
Marine Academy. Those selected will enter the academies in June 2015.
country is fortunate to have so many intelligent, hard-working and patriotic young men and women interested
in serving our country through the Armed Forces. I know the Selection Board will have a difficult time
narrowing the field of qualified candidates, but I value their insight and thank them for their help
in making difficult decisions. See below a full list of board members: