This Week in Congress
October 10, 2005
Welcome to "This Week in Congress." I hope you find this newsletter useful.
House Passage of Legislation to Increase Refinery Capacity
This week, I supported House passage of legislation to lower gas prices by encouraging construction of new refineries and expansion of existing refineries. The Gasoline for America's Security (GAS) Act also works to increase the fuel supply in the U.S. by promoting new pipelines for transportation of crude oil and refined products, encouraging conservation and establishing a federal ban on price gouging.
The concentration of refineries in the Gulf Coast states puts the oil and gas industry and the entire U.S. at risk during hurricane season. Fuel prices nationwide escalated when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita halted oil production and refining. In addition, no new refineries have been built in the U.S. since 1976, in large part due to the complicated permit process and other economic factors. The GAS Act helps expedite the bureaucratic process of site selection and approval.
Our need for oil has grown in the U.S., and domestic production and refining capacity have not kept up. The lack of domestic refineries drives up gas prices for Kansans at the pump. This is not a quick fix to the United States' problem, but it puts a strategy in place that has been needed for decades. Anything we can do to eliminate barriers to the construction and expansion of refineries will help America become more self-sufficient in our domestic energy needs.
Funding Legislation Approved for Homeland Security and Border Control
Also this week, the House passed legislation providing 2006 funding for the Department of Homeland Security. This legislation includes additional funding for border security and control. When combined with legislation passed earlier this year, 1,500 new border patrol agents and 568 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will be hired in 2006. In addition, this legislation includes additional funding for border security technology, surveillance and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Even more importantly, the legislation establishes a requirement for the Department of Homeland Security to submit a comprehensive immigration enforcement strategy that reduces the number of illegal immigrants and develops a national detention plan for undocumented immigrants. The Senate has approved this legislation, so it now goes to the President to be signed into law.
I understand that illegal immigration is an issue that concerns many Kansans. My top priority is the enforcement of laws already in place and the development of an immigration agency that protects our nation while operating in a fair, efficient and timely manner. I recognize that more needs to be done, but these actions represent a step in the right direction. As Congress continues to address illegal immigration, I will support common sense policies that protect our country.
Technical Problems Delaying Livestock Assistance Program Payments
I have recently been notified by several Kansas producers that they have not received their scheduled payment for USDA's Livestock Assistance Program (LAP). LAP provides payments to eligible livestock producers who suffered grazing losses due to natural disasters in 2003 and 2004.
My office is working with USDA to address this problem in an effort to resolve it as soon as possible. USDA officials informed me that the delay is due to technical problems. They said the first round of checks was delivered in late August, but the second round has been delayed due to these technical difficulties. The USDA has assured me that they are doing all they can to fix this problem, and they expect checks to go out within the next couple of weeks. I will continue to follow this issue.
Opening Ceremony for New WaKeeney Senior Housing Facility
I joined WaKeeney residents this week for the opening ceremony of a new senior housing facility. This new 24-unit independent living center is designed for low-income senior citizens. The project was made possible by collaboration among the First Federal Savings and Loan, the Citizens State Bank, Kansas Housing Resources Corporation, the WaKeeney City Foundation and others.
I commend the citizens of WaKeeney for their efforts to provide seniors with high quality housing. When a community comes together in an effort like this, everyone benefits.
Hosting a Pancake Feed for my Hometown Community
On Tuesday morning, I hosted a pancake feed for my hometown of Plainville. The town of 1,500 recently put up signs at the entrances to town that say, "Boyhood Home of Congressman Jerry Moran." I was very flattered that the community that has done so much for me was willing to put up the signs. My parents, Ray and Madeline, who still live in Plainville, were in attendance. Around 150 area residents turned out for the breakfast and allowed me to show my appreciation. Thank you to Bob Prockish of Stockton for making the pancakes and to the Plainville Veterans of Foreign Wars and Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary for their facilities and assistance with the event.
Plainville is just one example of the many small Kansas towns that support their community members and come together to celebrate. I am very blessed to have been raised in this great community.
Meeting with Kansans
I recently met with community and professional leaders in Hill City and Concordia for Rotary meetings. Civic clubs across the state play an integral role in their communities by providing great opportunities for civic involvement, as well as community leadership and support.
I joined the community of Lindsborg this weekend for their 64th annual Svensk Hyllningsfest brunch and parade. I enjoy seeing Kansas communities take time to celebrate their heritage.
I also met with Kansas contractors in Hays to discuss federal and state highway funding. Transportation is a key issue in our state, and it is important for me to stay informed on our road construction needs.
In the Office
Junction City representatives were in my office this week to discuss transportation, housing and schools. Attending was Jack Taylor, Terry Heldstab, Mike Rhodes, Ken Talley, Mike Guinn, Ron Walker, Cheryl Lyn Higgins, Robert Munson, Susan Guinn and Mike Rhodes. Lawrence Chamber of Commerce representatives were in to talk about city infrastructure needs, transportation funding and the heritage area. In with the group was Boog Highberger, Mike Wildgen, Charles Jones, Lavern Squier, Judy Billings and Pat Flavin. City of Manhattan representatives were also in to discuss Fort Riley and transportation issues. Attending were Ed Klimek, Tom Phillips, Jayme Morris-Hardeman, Mark Hatesohl, Ron Fehr, Mike Kearns, Lyle Butler and John Armbrust.
In from Kansas City were Jewel Scott and William Duncan, representing the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute. Karyn Page and Rob Harmon of Wichita were in with Kansas World Trade Center, Inc., to provide an update on enhancement of trade services in Kansas. Jeff Roskam of Wichita was in representing United Bio Energy to discuss the growing ethanol industry.
Myron Stroup of Kansas City and Sean Rafferty of Wichita were in with the National Association of State and County Office Employees to talk about concerns regarding Farm Service Agency Tomorrow and the need to provide reliable service to farmers and ranchers. In with the Kansas Technology Student Association to discuss technology education funding were Darrin Allen of Udall; Brian Saddler and Curtis Fulwider of Colby; Carolyn Cole of Emporia; and Dawn Zimmerman, Sierra Lowry and Christina Neesen of Belle Plaine.
Gary and Glennys Doane of Downs stopped by my D.C. office while they were in town, as did Robin Jennison of Healy, former Speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives.
A large group of western Kansas residents was in Washington, D.C., for a tour of the Capitol building this week. In from Hays were William and Joanna Aubel, James and Patricia Bartels, Garner and Harriet Berg, L.J. and Dolores Gottschalk, Clet Hammerschmidt, Rose Janzen, Lois and Albert Nash, Jacqueline Skolout, Mary Skolout and Kay Williams. In from Sharon Springs were Nicholas Basgall; Ty, Trevor and Susan Bieker; Taylor, Jordan and Jeanette Compton; Kenneth and Patricia Miller and Florence Pancake. Also in with the group from Ellis were Gilbert and Janet Augustine and Ernest and Rosemary Pfeifer. In from Quinter were Loren and Joyce Jamison and Curtis and Karen Roesch. Others in the group included Jerry and Dolores Borgstadter of LaCrosse, Yvonne Gantz of Ness City, Adam and Gage Paul of Russell, Elaine Pfannenstiel of Victoria and Jean and Warren White of Norton.
Also in for tours of the Capitol this week were Susan Duffy of Topeka, Amy Schroeder and Donna Arnold of Wichita and Jane Shepler of Folsom, California. W.G. and Lavon Meili of Beverly were in with their daughter, Marsha Meili of Wichita. In from Emporia were Samuel and Lisa Tosti, Salvatore Tosti and Antonio Tosti, and in from Hutchinson were Marvin and Pam Surface and Kathy Huffman. Cleta Vanwye of Wichita was also in with her daughter, Sandra Cusumano of Campbellsville, Kentucky, as was Travis Coberly of Gove and John Ryan Sr., of Solomon with his children, Ann Haden, Betty Rush, Mary Kay Kuntz and John Ryan Jr., all of Salina.