Congratulating Kansas Suppliers for Historic Launch of NASA’s Artemis I
Early Wednesday morning, NASA’s Artemis I launched from the Kennedy Space Center. I want to congratulate NASA and the suppliers across Kansas that helped make this mission a success. As the top appropriator for NASA, I have spent the last several years traveling to NASA suppliers across Kansas and the nation that have spent years working to advance the Artemis Mission. I also had the opportunity to host then-NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in Kansas in 2018 and 2019. Earlier this summer, I hosted NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in Kansas. To see the successful launch from the Kennedy Space Center was humbling knowing the dedication and talent that was years in the making to reach this accomplishment. Sixteen suppliers across Kansas helped make this mission a success and many more will be involved in the years to come.
This week marked a new era for our nation’s space program. I look forward to continuing to support this important mission and to see firsthand the benefits that will stem from this new exciting era of space exploration.
For the full list of Kansas suppliers that contributed to the Artemis I mission, click here.
Meeting with Harvesters
On Thursday, I met with Karen Siebert, an advocacy and public policy advisor for Harvesters–The Community Food Network and Association of Kansas Food Banks. We discussed the increased need for food assistance as many individuals in our communities are facing food insecurity. As inflation continues to climb higher, the rising cost of food creates an increased burden on many Kansas families. As co-chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus and a member of the Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture Appropriations, I have supported investments in federal nutrition programs such as the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to provide food and basic commodities to help those in need.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving, I want to thank those who are volunteering or donating items to a local food bank. If you are able, I encourage Kansans to donate food to help those in need this Thanksgiving. To find a local food bank in Kansas, click here.
Veterans’ Affairs Hearing on PACT Act Implementation
On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held an oversight hearing with witnesses from the Department of Veterans Affairs on the implementation of the SFC Heath Robinson Honoring our PACT Act. The PACT Act is the largest expansion of veterans’ health care and benefits in the VA’s history. As the VA works to fulfill this legislation’s promise to deliver long-overdue care and benefits to all generations of toxic-exposed veterans, from those exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam to those exposed to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is essential that Congress makes certain the VA is following the law and connecting the right veterans with the right care and benefits at the right time.
I remain concerned about the operational impact this legislation could have on the VA and will continue to work with the department, and my colleagues in Congress, to make certain that the VA is making full use of all the tools at its disposal to best serve veterans – both those enrolling for care or applying for benefits for the first time and those already in the system, as well as their survivors.
I encourage veterans and survivors in Kansas who think they may be eligible for care or benefits to call 1-800MyVA411 or visit www.va.gov/PACT to connect with people who can provide assistance in enrolling in VA care or filing a claim for benefits.
Meeting with General Rainey
This week, I met with General Joseph Rainey, the new commander of Army Futures Command. General Rainey was previously the Commanding General of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, and I appreciated the opportunity to see him again and speak with him about this new role. We discussed his new position at Army Futures Command – a command with the mission of helping the Army modernize and field the Army of 2030. We also spoke about how Kansas can continue to help the Army meet its modernization priorities.
I look forward to working with General Rainey in this mission. I also look forward to him joining me in Kansas to witness firsthand the collaboration that exists between industry, academic and the Department of Defense to highlight the opportunities for innovation and partnership in our great state. Thank you to General Rainey for his work in this important mission.
Making Certain Kansans Have Access to Broadband Services
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a draft of new broadband deployment maps that show where broadband coverage exists in the U.S. and where it does not. This is an important first step to identifying where federal resources are most needed and is the result of years of work between Congress and the FCC. In 2019, I sponsored the Broadband DATA Act, which required the FCC to create accurate maps using data from broadband providers and required the FCC to implement a process by which consumers and other stakeholders could challenge the accuracy of the maps.
Many areas of Kansas still do not have access to basic broadband services, a modern necessity for business, education and health care. Next year, the final version of these maps will be used to allocate broadband deployment funding, so it is critical these maps are accurate. I encourage Kansans to review their home and business locations to ensure accurate information is displayed, to make certain the federal government is efficiently and effectively providing resources to connect people in our state.
Meeting with Kansas Soybean Commission
Thank you to members of the Kansas Soybean Commission for meeting with me this week to discuss issues impacting Kansas agriculture and the renewable fuels industry. During our meeting we spoke about the importance of the biodiesel tax credit for the soybean industry as well as the Renewable Fuel Standard and the importance of continuing to support sustainable growth in clean fuels.
I want to thank Kansas Soybean Association CEO Kaleb Little of Topeka, Kansas Soybean Association Director of Field Services Dennis Hupe of Topeka, Dennis Gruenbacher of Andale and Bob Haselwood of Berryton for meeting with me and for their updates regarding this vital industry for our state.
Finland Foreign Affairs Committee Meeting
On Thursday, I met with members of the Finland Foreign Affairs Committee to discuss shared concerns regarding European security, focusing on Russian aggression in Ukraine. They were grateful for America’s ongoing support, and I appreciated knowing their belief that Europeans can and should be doing more to contribute to Ukraine’s defense. It is important for our allies to turn that belief into reality. It also is important for Finland to be approved by Hungary and Turkey to join NATO. The Senate voted overwhelmingly this past summer to welcome Finland and Sweden into the alliance. The Finnish people have long been reliable partners to the United States, and bringing them into the NATO alliance will serve to deter further Russian aggression. I want to thank my colleagues Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Jon Tester of Montana for their work to make this conversation possible.
Banking Committee Hearing
During a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Tuesday, I questioned the Federal Insurance Deposit Commission (FDIC) Acting Chairman Marty Gruenberg regarding his decision to roll back banks’ supervisory appeals process without public notice or comment. Providing a fair and effective supervisory examination process for banks is essential to maintaining a healthy and transparent financial system. I also questioned him on certain regulatory conditions that hurt community banks’ ability to access funding from Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBs), which provide crucial liquidity for the housing market. As a member of the Senate Banking Committee, I will continue to work towards the fair supervision of banks and sustaining the liquidity of the FHLBs.