NBAF Funded in Initial House Bill
This week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security released its version of the FY2013 Homeland Security Appropriations bill. The subcommittee approved language includes $75 million for the construction of the Nation Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan and directs the Department of Homeland Security to complete a funding plan for the completion of the NBAF. Congress has previously appropriated $40 million in FY2011 for the construction of the Central Utility Plant at the NBAF and $50 million in FY2012 for the construction of the facility as a whole. All told, these funds will bring the total House commitment to construction on NBAF to $165 million.
The protection of our Nation's citizens and food supply is a critical mission of the Congress and the Federal Government. I am pleased that the House Appropriations Committee has once again recognized the dire need for NBAF in our efforts to fulfill this responsibility to the American people. The Department of Homeland Security, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, and the House Appropriations Committee, under both Democrat and Republican leadership, have made it quite clear, time and again, that our Country needs the NBAF and the best place for the NBAF is Manhattan.
While I was disappointed that President Obama's budget included no funding for construction of this facility of tremendous significance to our national security, I appreciate the diligent work of my colleagues on the Homeland Security Subcommittee to ensure funds for the NBAF are included in their appropriations bill. I look forward to working closely with them, the full Appropriations Committee, and the whole House to ensure these funds are included in the final legislation.
EPA Regulation May Increase Kansas Energy Rates
On Thursday, I was joined by all three of my fellow Kansas House delegation members in sending a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson requesting that Kansas be allowed additional time to comply with the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). The letter submitted to Administrator Jackson is in addition to legislation introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo of Wichita (H.R. 4387), along with companion legislation introduced by Kansas Senators Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts (S. 2300).
States originally included in the rule were given more than four years to prepare and to make necessary changes to their power plants in order to comply with the new clean air requirements. However, Kansas was included only when the CSAPR rule was finalized in July 2011. This means that Kansas-based utilities have had less than one year to comply.
The Kansas House delegation is concerned that Kansas utilities will have to increase rates on Kansas customers in order to comply with the recently imposed environmental regulations. The penalty for not complying will result in significant fines from the EPA -- which, consequently, would ultimately result in higher rates as well.
Each week when I return home to Kansas, business owners and hardworking Kansans tell me that high energy prices and an alphabet soup of overbearing federal regulators are making it harder to hire and do business. The CSAPR regulation and its unrealistic time frame is just the latest example of the EPA unfairly overreaching and negatively impacting Kansas. Clean air standards are important, but in this fragile economy arbitrary timeframes shouldn't come at the expense of jobs and energy prices.
Father Kapaun Deserves the Medal of Honor
On Tuesday, the Kansas Congressional delegation also teamed up to send a letter to President Barack Obama urging the White House to award the Medal of Honor to (Captain) Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun. In the letter we made the case that Father Kapaun should be recognized as a war hero for his acts of valor in the Korean War.
Father Kapaun served as an Army chaplain for the 8th Cavalry Regiment of the First Army Division when the unit came under attack in the devastating Battle of Unsan in 1950. During the siege and after their capture Father Kapaun remained with his men and cared for them by stealing food to sustain them, carrying soldiers on his back, and inspiring them with his unfailing faith and acts of generosity. Sadly, Father Kapaun died in this service to his fellow men and to his country in 1951 in a Korean prison camp.
The Kansas delegation has been pushing to award Father Kapaun the Medal of Honor posthumously for years. Now, the delegation has appealed to the President to finally make it a reality. Read the full text of the letter below.
Dear Mr. President:
We write in strong support of your awarding the Medal of Honor to (Captain) Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun.
During the Korean War, Father Kapaun served as a chaplain of the 8th Cavalry Regiment of the First Army Division. Amidst the devastating Battle of Unsan, Kapaun pulled wounded soldiers to safety and attended to their injuries. He was taken prisoner along with other American soldiers and carried severely injured fellow soldiers on his back--rallying others to help in a similar fashion.
While in the prison camp, he served his comrades by escaping to steal food from nearby farms to bring back to the starving prisoners. He cared for sick soldiers, washed them, shared his food with them, and inspired them with his unfailing faith and acts of generosity until his death in May 1951. Fellow soldiers who benefitted from or witnessed the many examples of Father Kapaun's service shared the stories of his heroism after their release. One soldier's description of Father Kapaun's courage is most fitting: "Father Kapaun's courage had the softness of velvet and the strength of iron."
In 2009, the Kansas Delegation was informed that Father Kapaun's Medal of Honor application received official support from the Secretary of the Army. From there the Delegation worked to pass time waiver legislation allowing the President to make the actual award. The time waiver provision was ultimately included in the final Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 112-81). In January of this year, the Delegation requested Secretary Panetta's quick action in advancing the Medal of Honor to your desk for final consideration. If and when you are presented with the opportunity to award the Medal of Honor to Father Kapaun, we urge you to act positively and expeditiously.
Father Kapaun is an inspiration for people in both the Catholic faith and military communities. His selfless and heroic service has been a model for generations of Americans. It is beyond time to properly recognize this amazing solider, spiritual leader, and American.
We appreciate your time and attention to this important matter.