Welcome to "This Week in Congress." One of the basic responsibilities of Congress is to set forth a budget each year for government spending. But this week, Congress adjourned and left Washington, D.C. without approving a budget. Instead, Congressional leaders passed temporary spending bills, known as a Continuing Resolution or "CR," to keep the federal government operating until December 3rd. Congress chose "business as usual" and kept government spending levels the same.
Unless Congress acts before the end of the year, taxes will increase for all Americans, many of whom run small businesses and employ American workers. This tax hike will only further damage our economy. Some Members of Congress want to pick and choose who will benefit from extending the tax cuts -- but the reality is that all American families and businesses will benefit from lower taxes.
Congress will return to Washington in mid-November after the elections. This week's headlines are:
* Introducing Legislation to Spur Job Creation
* Iran's Nuclear Program Must be Stopped
* Greeting Honor Flight Veterans in Washington
* Celebrating Homecoming 2010 "The Year of the Tiger" at FHSU
* Working to Support Rural Hospitals
* Congratulating Kansas Principals of the Year
* Recognizing Scientific and Technology Achievements at MRI
* In the Office
Introducing Legislation to Spur Job Creation
This week, I introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to spur job creation across America. Currently, the national unemployment rate stands at 9.6 percent and fifteen million Americans are unemployed. In South Central Kansas, for example, many aviation workers have been personally impacted by the downturn in our economy and job cutbacks. Many Kansas business owners would like to invest in their companies and hire new workers, but they are instead bracing for costly tax increases, burdensome government mandates and new regulations from Washington. The words of former President Reagan come to mind during this time of economic uncertainty: "Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem."
It is time for our government to change direction. When businesses have the certainty, resources, markets and freedom, they will succeed and create jobs. History shows that sustainable economic growth starts with the private sector, so I have introduced legislation to help Kansas companies grow, and most importantly, start hiring again. Government should be an ally of the people, not an adversary. Congress has a responsibility to reduce economic uncertainty, so businesses can move forward with confidence and start creating jobs.
Iran's Nuclear Program Must be Stopped
To confront the growing threat of Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, Congress passed the toughest, most comprehensive sanctions to date against Iran in June. While there are signs that the sanctions are having an effect, Iran continues to enrich uranium that could be used to build a nuclear bomb and is making it increasingly difficult for international inspectors to monitor its nuclear program. More must be done to stop Iran from developing the deadliest weapon known to man.
A nuclear-armed Iran would threaten the safety of American troops in the region and key allies like Israel, embolden terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, and could lead to a dangerous nuclear arms race in the Middle East that would threaten global security. Our country should be doing everything in our power to stop this from happening.
Fifty-five of my colleagues and I sent a letter to President Obama recently that urged him to take whatever action is necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon capability. President Obama must implement sanctions already approved by Congress and punish entities that continue to do business with Iran. The Obama Administration must also encourage other nations that have adopted sanctions to implement them vigorously. Finally, as Commander In Chief of the world's strongest military, President Obama must do more to show Iran that we will prevent it from having a nuclear weapon capability.
Greeting Honor Flight Veterans in Washington
On Wednesday, I greeted Kansas World War II veterans who were visiting Washington, D.C. with the Honor Flight Network, a grassroots organization that enables veterans to visit the WWII Memorial created in their honor in 2004. Thanks to the generous donations of many Kansans and the volunteers of the Central Prairie Honor Flight group, 115 veterans and 81 guardians from Central and Southeast Kansas were able to see the WWII Memorial for the first time.
During their visit to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the Holocaust Memorial Museum, I visited with the veterans and thanked them for their courage and sacrifice. I appreciated the opportunity to thank members of the Greatest Generation for giving all Americans the freedom we enjoy. Since Honor Flight was created in 2005, I have enjoyed visiting with Kansas veterans during no less than a half dozen of their visits to the nation's capital.
Celebrating Homecoming 2010 "The Year of the Tiger" at FHSU
On Saturday, I joined alumni and students of Fort Hays State University (FHSU) to celebrate Homecoming 2010, "The Year of the Tiger." In the morning, I joined Dr. Ed Hammond, President of FHSU and many others during the re-dedication ceremony for Picken Hall. This magnificent building was built in 1904 and is FHSU's oldest original building on campus. First an academic hall, and later an administration building, Picken Hall has served many purposes since its original construction. The re-dedication ceremony marked the completion of a $6 million renovation to re-purpose FHSU's oldest building as a one-stop center for student services. Thanks to President Hammond, and the many staff members who spent countless hours working to ensure the success of this renovation project.
Later that afternoon, I participated in the FHSU Homecoming parade as the grand marshal. I appreciated the opportunity to celebrate homecoming with many students, alumni and friends of FHSU. Special thanks to President Hammond for the honor of serving as grand marshal of the parade and for the invitation to speak at the re-dedication of Picken Hall. Thank you to the FHSU Alumni Association for putting together another successful homecoming celebration. Also, thanks to Don and Sharon Barton for providing a car for me to ride in during the parade.
Working to Support Rural Hospitals
On Wednesday, I sponsored H.R. 6376, to support rural hospitals and increase patients' access to outpatient therapeutic services. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced a new rule that requires a physician to be present for the delivery of outpatient therapeutic services, such as drug and blood infusions, pulmonary rehabilitation services and psychiatric services. These services are currently performed by non-physician practitioners, subject to a physician's guidelines.
This new CMS rule is ill-advised and will force rural hospitals in Kansas and across the country to limit services to patients. Many Kansas hospitals face physician shortages and will find it very difficult to meet this burdensome supervision requirement. This policy change will force many hospitals to cut therapy services that Kansans rely on every day.
H.R. 6376 would allow qualified non-physician practitioners to provide outpatient therapeutic services under a physician's orders, without requiring the physician's presence. I led efforts to introduce H.R. 6376 because if CMS fails to modify its policy through regulatory channels, legislation will be required to change the policy. As Chairman of the House Rural Health Care Coalition, I also authored a bipartisan letter on September 17th, requesting that CMS re-evaluate this policy to afford flexibility to rural hospitals. Sixty-six Members of Congress joined me in making this request.
Congratulating Kansas Principals of the Year
On Thursday, I was honored to meet with Jacque Feist of Dodge City High School and Jim Krone of Atchison Middle School, Kansas' MetLife/NASSP (National Association of Secondary School Principals) Principals of the Year. I congratulated Jacque and Jim and thanked them for their outstanding leadership and for making positive, significant differences in their communities. This award is particularly impressive because Jacque and Jim were nominated by their peers for their exemplary contributions and commitment to Kansas students. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to discuss education priorities with Jacque and Jim, two principals making great things happen for their schools and students.
Recognizing Scientific and Technology Achievements at MRI
On Thursday, I attended Midwest Research Institute's (MRI) for the 66th annual banquet. Just last week, I had the opportunity to tour the facilities in Kansas City with President and CEO, Michael Helmstetter. MRI is a not-for-profit scientific research organization that contracts research and laboratory consulting services for clients in government, industry and academia. This year's event celebrated "MRI's 66-year Route of Unparalleled Science and Technology" and included an audience of more than 500 business, civic, government and academic leaders from throughout the Midwest.
Congratulations to Smithsonian Institution Secretary Wayne Clough, Ph.D, who was presented with MRI's Trustee Citation Award. The award is presented by MRI each year to a person who exemplifies leadership in science, business, academia or the arts. Wayne gave an excellent speech about math and science education and its importance to global competitiveness. Thanks to President Helmstetter and the MRI Board of Trustees for their hospitality and invitation to attend the event.
In the Office
Members of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network were in to discuss the importance of cancer research and prevention programs. In with the group were Judith Calhoun of Emporia, Gay Cornell of Coffeyville, Sue Jirkovsky-Landers of Tecumseh, Cherri Dorsett of Wichita, Christopher Masoner of Topeka, Jim Miksch of Prairie Village and Ryann Summerford of Kansas City. Carolyn Smith and Bruce Witt of Wichita and Cynthia Smith of Lenexa were in with the Catholic Health Association of the United States to visit about issues facing Kansas hospitals.
Jeff Melcher, Ronald Kroeger, Charlene Turner and Sharon Spangler of Kansas City were in with the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities to visit about regulations affecting career and technical schools. Kimberly Howard of Udall and Bob Thesman of Overland Park were in with the Kansas National Education Association to discuss education issues affecting Kansas students. Members of Catholic Charities were in to tell me about their work in Kansas and dedication to fighting poverty. In with the group were Cynthia Colbert, Brenda Keeler and Tonya Knipp of Wichita; Debbie Snapp of Dodge City; Maribel Panuco and Karen Hauser of Salina; and Gerri Wybo-Vopata of Marysville.
Daniel Trott of Olathe was in this week on behalf of Russell Stover Candies and the National Confectioners Association to discuss sugar policy in the 2012 Farm Bill and pending food safety legislation. Dennis Kerschen of Wichita, President of the Associated General Contractors of Kansas, and Executive Vice President of the Associated General Contractors of Kansas Corey Peterson of Topeka stopped by to talk with me about the state's economy, pension plans and intrusive government regulations.
Members of the Kansas Telecommunications Industry Association were in to share their thoughts about Universal Service Fund reform legislation and the impact of the Federal Communications Commission's National Broadband Plan on Kansas telecommunications companies. In with the group were Brian Boisvert of Wilson; Nathan DeWitt of Madison; Robert, Katherine and Brandon Koch of Holyrood; Archie Macias of Udall; Mike and Tonya Murphy of Gorham; Steve Sackrider and Michael Rice of Wamego; Zack Odell of Medicine Lodge; Dale Jones of Council Grove; and David Rosenthal of Topeka. Kent Cornish of Topeka was in the with the Kansas Association of Broadcasters to discuss radio performance tax proposals, expanding radio chips in cell phones and the current system of negotiations between broadcasters and cable companies.
David and Vickie Henke of South Hutchinson stopped by my office in Washington D.C. this week to receive a tour of the U.S. Capitol building.
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Please let me know how I can be of assistance.
Very truly yours,