Defaulting on our National Debt in no way Benefits Kansans or Americans
Reckless spending can be the demise of our country’s well-being and endless deficit spending will eliminate the American dream for our children and grandchildren. The Fiscal Responsibility Act is not legislation I would introduce. However, no deal is not a solution, and defaulting on the national debt in no way benefits Kansans or Americans.
Defaulting on our debt would send a message to the world that we are a nation that cannot be trusted to pay our bills. China is watching our ability to govern and would like nothing more than for our standing in the world to be damaged due to default. It is vital to our economy and our national security that we do not default and we preserve the dollar as the world’s primary reserve currency. Governing in a divided government is challenging. It requires negotiation and finding common ground. Unfortunately, President Biden refused to negotiate with House Republicans for months in an effort to intimidate Republicans and pass an unaltered debt increase. This would have opened the door for the Democratic majority to spend even more with no strings attached.
The debt-ceiling agreement does accomplish key conservative priorities that will benefit America and help put our nation on a better path towards fiscal responsibility. This legislation will slow the rate of spending through implementing non-defense caps, cutting COVID-19 relief funds, blocking new tax hikes, slashing billions in funding to the IRS, adding new work requirements for SNAP and promoting American energy production. Additionally, we must fulfill the most important responsibility of the federal government: to protect and defend our country and to keep our promise to the men and women who served our country. The debt-ceiling deal delivers on our commitment to support our veterans. The deal also secures the full funding for toxic-exposed veterans as authorized by the recently passed PACT Act.
Raising the debt limit is not something I or any of my colleagues should take lightly. The debate cannot end with President Biden signing the Fiscal Responsibility Act into law. Congress should not have to wait for a crisis or the debt ceiling to consider fiscally responsible measures. The federal government must spend less, set limits and stop waste. This should become the norm for every Member of Congress and the President. Without a serious long-term plan and subsequent action to reduce spending, we will be back in this position way too soon and will jeopardize the American dream. We must confront this threat head on and – using the debt-ceiling deal as a blueprint – develop a more fiscally responsible legislative agenda.
You can watch my full remarks on the debt ceiling agreement here.
Introducing Legislation to Support Aviation Safety & Accessibility
This week, as lead Republican of the Commerce Aviation Subcommittee, I introduced the Joint Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials and Safety Act with Commerce Committee Chair Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). In 2004, the FAA established the Joint Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials, formed by the collaborative efforts of Wichita State University and the University of Washington. This legislation broadens the scope of research conducted at the Centers of Excellence to include testing for accessible air travel for people with disabilities, such as in-cabin wheelchair users and passengers with mobility challenges, as well as increases federal resources for the consortium to accommodate additional research capabilities.
Our universities are necessary partners and pivotal contributors to aviation safety research. As the aviation industry continues to evolve, we need to make certain our research partners can continue identifying solutions for advanced structures and materials issues, while meeting the demands of a changing ecosystem to ensure that any passenger who chooses to fly can do so and in a safe manner. I am pleased this legislation will continue to support and invest in the important work conducted at Wichita State University.
VA Deputy Secretary Nominee Testifies before Senate VA Committee
As lead Republican of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I led a hearing this week to consider the nomination of the current Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Chief of Staff Tanya Bradsher to be the next Deputy Secretary of the VA. The Deputy Secretary position, often described as the Chief Operating Officer of the department, was left vacant when Donald Remy resigned on April 1.
If confirmed by the Senate, Ms. Bradsher would direct organization and policy for the Veterans Health Administration, the Veterans Benefits Administration and the National Cemetery Administration while also carrying primary responsibility for the rollout of the new Oracle Cerner Electronic Health Record across the VA health care system.
Ms. Bradsher is a combat veteran and Bronze Star recipient who served for 20 years in the United States Army. I appreciated meeting Ms. Bradsher and her family at the hearing and the opportunity to hear her testimony about her priorities for the VA if confirmed to this important role.
You can watch my remarks here.
Defense Appropriations Hearing on National Guard & Reserve Budget
This week, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense held a hearing with the National Guard and Reserve Service Chiefs regarding the FY2024 Guard and Reserves budget. Our Guard and Reserves are called upon to meet the needs of both the nation and their local communities. Ensuring they are properly manned, equipped and trained is a top priority for me.
During the hearing, I asked General Hokanson, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, for his best military advice on the establishment of the Space National Guard and its associated costs. I want to make sure the Space Force has the necessary reserve forces to achieve success, while also focusing on cost-effectiveness and operational efficiency during the transition from the Air National Guard to the Space Force reserve element. Of all the potential options, the Space National Guard meets this intent.
Additionally, I sought insights from Lieutenant General Daniels, the Chief of the Army Reserve, regarding the significance of the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account for the US Army Reserve’s ability to meet its requirements. This annual appropriation plays a crucial role in facilitating equipment modernization for the National Guard and all other Reserve Components. Without adequate modernization, their readiness to defend our nation abroad would be compromised.
The National Guard and Reserve Components hold a critical and unique position in safeguarding our nation’s security. However, without the necessary resources and support from Congress, they would encounter difficulties in meeting the needs of their troops and fulfilling their missions. To address this, I will continue advocating for proportional and concurrent allocation of resources for our Guard and Reserve Components. I am deeply grateful for the men and women who have chosen to serve our nation in their local communities and their dedication deserves our unwavering support.
You can watch my full remarks here.
Senate Votes to Repeal Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan
On Wednesday, I voted in favor of a resolution providing for congressional disapproval of the Biden administration’s decision to forgive federal student loan debt. The decision to forgive federal student loan debt is an overreach of executive power, circumvents the authority of Congress and the Supreme Court is currently reviewing its constitutionality after hearing oral arguments this past spring.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, President Biden’s student loan cancellation plan is estimated to cost taxpayers $400 billion. The student loan cancellation program reflects unprecedented executive overreach by ignoring the fiscal powers vested exclusively in Congress. Where the President has failed in his duty to faithfully execute the law, it is the province and duty of Congress to remind him of that obligation.
Meeting with Kansans
John Leslie, KSU & State Department Fellow
On Wednesday, I met with John Leslie, PhD, a Kansas State University distinguished professor of plant pathology, who is currently serving as a Jefferson Science Fellow at the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Food Security in Washington, D.C. We discussed the challenges with global food security and how U.S. agricultural innovations and technologies can help to bridge the gap with food systems in challenged nations. I appreciate his time and insight into the important work being done to feed a hungry world.
Norton Junior High School
I enjoyed the chance to visit with students, parents and faculty from Norton Junior High School during their trip to Washington, D.C. this week. We discussed the importance of public service and how vital it is to be an active, engaged member of one’s community. Thank you to Coach Lucas Melvin and this great group of students for taking the time to visit.
David & Julie Pope of Topeka
It was great to catch up with David and Julie Pope of Topeka on Wednesday before their tour of the U.S. Capitol. During our conversation, I appreciated hearing an update from David on water issues in Kansas and his work in this area.
Michael, Anne & Joseph Perryman of Lawrence
Thank you to Michael Perryman and his children Anne and Joseph for taking a few minutes to speak with me this week during their visit to my Washington, D.C. office. I always appreciate the opportunity to visit with Kansans during their trips to the nation’s capital.
Update from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
On Thursday, I hosted the Deputy Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Deputy Director-General Beth Bechdol to hear an update on global food security efforts. Director Bechdol spoke about the global food security challenges around the world, with nearly 258 million people in need of emergency food aid. One of the major challenges we discussed is the need to shift and transform aid to provide global farmers and ranchers with new tools and technical assistance for agricultural development and resiliency. As Co-Chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus, I am committed to working to find ways to bridge these gaps.
Meeting with Chief of National Guard Bureau
On Wednesday, I met with General Daniel Hokanson, the Chief of National Guard Bureau, to discuss the needs and priorities of the Guard. General Hokanson and his team effectively represent the interests of more than 430,000 guardsmen and women across all states and territories within the highest levels of the Department of Defense (DoD). However, the existing rank disparity for General Hokanson’s Vice Chief limits its ability to advocate for soldiers and airmen at the same level and with equal authority as the sister services. I am committed to collaborating with the DoD to address this bureaucratic issue and make certain the Guard’s voice is heard equally.
We also addressed the Guard’s recruitment efforts and its positive results despite the broader recruiting challenges faced by the military. The Army National Guard is projected to meet its recruiting goals, while the Air National Guard is expected to achieve nearly 97% of its target. This success speaks to the Guard’s impact on our communities and its appeal to young men and women.
Additionally, I expressed my support for extending the DoD STARBASE program in Kansas, especially to rural communities. General Hokanson emphasized the program’s positive influence in engaging young minds and fostering interest in STEM. It is crucial to make certain that children have access to the resources necessary for them to achieve success right here in Kansas. I look forward to continuing to partner with General Hokanson to further achieve this goal for our state.
As a steadfast advocate for our servicemembers, I will continue to fight for the resources and support needed to address the Guard’s priorities and to support its critical role in national security and our communities. The Kansas Guard plays an important role, and I am dedicated to making certain that both the Kansas Guard and members of the Guard nationwide have the necessary tools for success.
Speaking at 104th Annual Kansas American Legion State Convention
It was a great crowd at the 104th Annual Kansas American Legion Convention in Topeka on Saturday morning. It is always an honor to address this group and to recognize their service to our nation.