Voting to Overturn Biden Administration Rule Impacting American Retirement Accounts
I voted to support and pass a disapproval resolution under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) regarding a Department of Labor (DOL) rule that would allow asset managers to prioritize environmental, social and corporate governances (ESG) factors over the best financial returns for Americans’ retirement accounts.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) covers most employer-sponsored retirement plans, and the Employee Benefits Security Administration within the DOL is responsible for enforcing rules on how these retirement plans are invested. Last year, the DOL released a rule to allow retirement plan fiduciaries to consider ESG factors over financial returns when selecting investments for the retirement plans of more than 150 million American workers. This resolution enables Congress to express disapproval and nullify the rule.
The 401(k) accounts of millions of Americans are not a political tool for the Biden administration to use to further its agenda. This resolution now goes to the President to be signed or vetoed. I encourage the President to listen to the representatives of the people and sign this resolution to nullify the rule.
Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Annual VSO Hearings
As the lead Republican of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I participated in two joint hearings this week with the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee to hear from Veterans Service Organizations. These groups included the Disabled American Veterans, The American Legion, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Student Veterans of America, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs, the Black Veterans Empowerment Council, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Fleet Reserve Association, the National Congress of American Indians and the National Guard Association of the United States.
These joint hearings are unique to the Veterans’ Affairs Committees and are held each year in recognition of the important, bipartisan and bicameral work our committees do to support servicemembers, veterans and their families, caregivers, and survivors. Veterans fly to Washington, D.C. from across the country for these hearings and meeting with them – especially those from Kansas – to hear their concerns and priorities firsthand sets the tone for the work that I do as a leader on the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
Fleet Reserve Association Pinnacle Award
On Wednesday, after the second day of VSO hearings, I was honored to receive the 2022 Pinnacle Award from the Fleet Reserve Association. The Pinnacle Award is the Fleet Reserve Association’s annual recognition of Members of Congress who have demonstrated strong leadership for veterans and servicemembers. As I said when I received this award, there is no group of Americans I hold in higher regard than those who have served our country, except for those veterans who also care for and assist other veterans, just as those in the Fleet Reserve Association do.
I take seriously my responsibility to care for our nation’s veterans and look forward to continuing to work with the Fleet Reserve Association and other veteran organizations to make certain veterans, their families and survivors have the right care and the right benefits.
Meeting with Vietnam Veterans of America
On Tuesday, I met with a group from the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), including their National President Jack McManus. We discussed their legislative priorities for this Congress and how we can continue to work together to meet the needs of our veterans from the Vietnam era, including implementation of the SFC Heath Robinson Honoring our PACT Act. Kansas’ VVA chapters have been great advocates and resources in our work to serve those who served in uniform, and Veterans Service Organizations like VVA remain crucial partners in the mission to provide our nation’s veterans with the care and benefits they deserve.
Celebrating Listing of Pioneer Hall on the National Register of Historic Places
It was great to join Kansas Wesleyan University President Dr. Matt Thompson in Salina this week to celebrate and unveil the plaque listing Pioneer Hall on the National Register of Historic Places.
It was appropriate that we took a look back on the beginnings of Kansas Wesleyan University, at the historic value of the building and its symbolic value to Salina, to Kansas and to the students and faculty on campus. History can be something that invigorates us, that encourages us and tells us what the path forward is. I know Kansas Wesleyan has a bright future.
Touring New Terminal at Kansas City International Airport
It was great to fly into the brand-new terminal at the Kansas City International Airport for the first time this week. Congratulations to the entire Kansas City community on this exciting new milestone.
I want to thank Director of Aviation Pat Klein for giving me a tour of the new terminal this week. As Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation, I look forward to supporting our nation’s aviation industry and airports like MCI.
Meeting with Kansans
University of Kansas and Kansas State University Students
This week, I met with student government leaders from the University of Kansas and Kansas State University. These students were in our nation’s capital to represent their respective universities at the Big XII on the Hill Conference, where they met with other student leaders from across the nation as well as Members of Congress. During our meeting, we spoke about the impacts of college affordability and the importance of mental health resources for students. I want to thank each of these students for their advocacy and for sharing their input with me.
Boys and Girls Clubs of America
On Wednesday, I met with Monica Dittmer, CEO of Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence, Andy Pitts, Board Chair of Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence, and Jim Clark, President and CEO of Boys and Girls Club of America. We spoke about the workforce readiness programs and academic support that our local clubs in Kansas help make possible. Through experiences in organizations like Boys and Girls Clubs of America, our state and country’s next generation of leaders are being equipped with the skills and values necessary to reach their full potential and find success.
Kansas Municipal Utilities Group
This week, I met with members of the Kansas Municipal Utilities to discuss the harm that supply chain issues have on energy production and tax incentives for reliable renewable energy. The shortage of transformers is threatening energy producers’ and home builders’ abilities to offer affordable energy and housing. Grid reliability remains a top priority for our utilities, especially after Winter Storm Uri upended Kansas families and businesses in 2021. Additionally, we spoke about the importance of linemen training programs to make certain that our utilities have the resources and personnel needed to deliver dependable services to communities across the state. This group provides vital services to Kansans, and I thank the delegation for their time and for sharing insights into these issues.
Kansas Credit Union Association
On Wednesday, I was pleased to speak with members of the Kansas Credit Union Association. Their organization represents the 900,000 Kansans who are members of credit unions across the state. During our meeting, we discussed pressing issues that local credit unions face. Credit unions play an important role in Kansas communities, and I look forward to continue supporting their efforts.
America’s Communications Association-Connect
This week, I had a meeting with America’s Communication Association (ACA) to discuss the work of their Kansas members to build networks in unserved areas and the importance of federal broadband deployment resources being used to duplicate existing private networks, also known as overbuilding. Broadband deployment to unserved areas is crucial for promoting economic growth and creating job opportunities, as it helps connect businesses and entrepreneurs to a larger market. It can also improve access to vital services such as telemedicine and remote learning, which are especially important in rural areas.
I will continue to work on ensuring broadband deployment resources are directed toward unserved areas, in an effort to make certain every Kansan has access to the economic, educational and health care benefits of the internet. I appreciate Lou Borrelli of Overland Park and Patrick Knorr of Lawrence joining the group to discuss these important issues.
Meeting with Director of the Air National Guard Lieutenant General Loh
I met with Lieutenant General Michael Loh, the Director of the Air National Guard, to discuss the future of the Kansas Air National Guard. The Kansas Guard is well positioned to receive new missions because of the proven capabilities of our servicemembers and equipment and its geographical location as the center of the Continental United States. During this meeting, we spoke about the incredible work of our Kansas National Guardsmen. I look forward to continued conversations with Lieutenant General Loh and other Air and Army National Guard leaders to make certain our Kansas Guard is adequately equipped, manned and trained to meet the needs of our state and nation.
Questioning FAA Administrator Nominee Phil Washington
On Wednesday, during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing, I had the opportunity to question Phillip Washington, the nominee for Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Kansas has a storied history of aviation and is home to the “Air Capital of the World.” It is critical that we have a strong and capable leader at the helm of this important agency, and I look forward to continuing the dialogue and review of this nominee for this position.
Preventing Foreign Adversaries from Buying American Farmland
I cosponsored the Promoting Agriculture Safeguards and Security (PASS) Act to protect America’s farmland from being acquired by actors and entities originating from China, Russia, Iran and North Korea who do not have the greater interest of global food security and America’s national security in mind. This bipartisan legislation would also add the Secretary of Agriculture as a standing member of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to consider agriculture needs when making determinations affecting U.S. national security.
This legislation would also require the President to submit a report to Congress on any waiver granted to a prohibited country and require reporting from the Secretary of Agriculture on the risk of foreign purchases of agricultural companies to the American agriculture sector. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. would review agricultural transactions and if the transaction would result in foreign adversaries controlling agricultural land the President shall prohibit the transaction.
Our global adversaries should not be allowed to take ownership of farmland in the United States. Kansas plays a crucial role in producing food for the American people and the world, and we cannot allow malign actors to disrupt or manipulate these supply chains by taking possession of farms, ranches or the agriculture industry. This legislation would help protect our national security, keep bad actors out of our agricultural economy and maintain vital food production for our nation.
Boosting Hiring of Military Spouses
As co-chair of the Senate Army Caucus and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I cosponsored the Military Spouse Hiring Act, bipartisan legislation to amend the tax code to incentivize businesses to hire military spouses.
According to a survey by Blue Star Families, military spouse employment is the top issue impacting active-duty families and the top contributor to financial stress among military families. Military spouses consistently experience unemployment rates substantially higher than the national rate, and two thirds of employed active duty military spouses report underemployment. Frequent moves often stall military spouses’ upward career progression and force them to find new jobs. This hurts military families and military readiness. The Military Spouse Hiring Act would address the issue by expanding the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program – which incentivizes employers to hire individuals who experience unique employment barriers – to include military spouses.
Military service is family service, and our servicemembers are made stronger by the family members who support them. The spouses of our men and women in uniform deserve the opportunity to pursue successful careers that aren’t inhibited by the service of their loved ones.
Receiving Update from BNSF Railway
On Tuesday, I met with Katie Farmer, the CEO of BNSF Railway, to discuss rail safety and investments in Kansas. She updated me on industry best practices and the measures BNSF takes to prevent rail accidents. During our meeting, I also received an update on the investments BNSF is making in Emporia and Topeka to improve service to Kansans.
Visiting Kansas Communities
It was great to be in Garden City to announce a $19.1 million federal investment for an innovative water reuse project for the Garden City area. Garden City and its partners are working to treat wastewater and transport it to favorable ground to further filter and replenish the Ogallala Aquifer. This project will stabilize and secure access to water for years to come, and it is an example of a community coming together to provide solutions that will outlast them.
I appreciate Mayor Deb Oyler, City Manager Matt Allen, Water Resources Manager Fred Jones and the entire Garden City team for allowing us to be helpful with this project. I also enjoyed the opportunity to visit with Police Chief Courtney Prewitt, State Treasurer Steven Johnson, Economic Development President Lona DuVall, Charlie Robinson and everyone who came to celebrate this project.
I was also in Jetmore to announce a grant for repairs to the Hodgeman County Courthouse. For nearly 100 years, this building has been a place for community members to gather and connect with the government closest to the people. I am pleased to see the efforts of the county commissioners, the county clerk and many others to make certain this building is preserved for future generations.
Thank you to County Clerk Sarah Rains, Commissioner Chris Klein, District Magistrate Judge Kenton Gleason, Hospital Administrator David-Paul Cavazos, Hospital Board Chair Lonnie Ruff and all who joined for this announcement.
Remembering the Life of Jack Vanier
While in Salina this week, I attended the funeral service of Jack Vanier, someone I was privileged to know and work with closely. Jack was a long-time supporter of Kansas State University, former president of the Kansas Livestock Association and advocate for rural Kansas.
Jack and Donna were involved in nearly every good project that benefited Salina and central Kansas. They made everyone feel comfortable in their presence and helped a young guy from Hays become their congressman and later senator. If you were to look for a role model citizen, copy Jack. His legacy will live on in the Kansas farms and ranches that will continue to be passed from generation to generation thanks to Jack’s contributions to our state.
We need to find these people, to honor them and to model them. Our country desperately needs good citizens like Jack who decided to make a bright future for generations to come.
Touring the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum
On Friday, I visited Abilene to tour the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum where the memory and legacy of President Dwight D. Eisenhower is preserved for future generations. The Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum are a reminder that the ideals that were important to Kansans at the time of Eisenhower’s life and presidency are still relevant today. It is always good to spend time in one of the places where Kansans show our love for our nation’s 34th President.
Special thanks to Eisenhower Foundation President Meredith Sleichter and Board Members Mary Jean Eisenhower and Tim Holm for joining me and for sharing updates on their efforts to honor President Eisenhower’s memory.