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This Week In Congress


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Dear Friend,

Welcome to "This Week in Congress." I will be traveling in Kansas over the next two weeks as Congress will be out of session for the spring district work period. Here are the headlines for this week's newsletter:

Working to Repeal Obama Health Plan and Replace with Commonsense Reforms

Japan Should Fully Open Its Markets to U.S. Beef

U.S. Must be a Friend to Our Allies

Design Unveiled for National Eisenhower Memorial

Thanking Kansas National Guard Members and Families for Their Service

Working to Repeal Obama Health Plan and Replace with Commonsense Reforms

On Tuesday, President Obama signed health care reform into law following the bill's passage in the House of Representatives by a narrow, partisan vote on Sunday night. Instead of working to improve our current system, this plan increases our growing deficit, pushes unfunded mandates on to states and fails to reduce health care costs.

Our national debt is already more than $12 trillion, and this new plan will drive us further into the hole. The total cost of the plan is more than $1.33 trillion. While this price tag is staggering, it does not even take into account the nearly $400 billion needed to give Medicare payments to physicians - payments that Kansas doctors must receive to keep their doors open. Also, this cost estimate does not account for the $20 billion that states will have to spend to implement the Medicaid expansion contained in the plan. Kansas is not in an economic position to absorb these billions in new costs.

Well before President Obama began his push last year for health care reform, I spoke about the need to improve our health care system. Many Kansans cannot afford the escalating medical costs associated with illness and old age. In order to achieve true health care reform in this country, the kind of meaningful reform that Kansas families and business need, we have to reduce health care costs. If we do not control costs, then reform efforts - whatever they may be - will fail to make quality health care more affordable and more accessible, because health care expenses always get shifted to the patient.

This week, I introduced H.R. 4901 to repeal President Obama's health care legislation. Only by repealing this budget-busting mistake can we then replace it with true reforms that lower health care costs for Kansas families and businesses.

Japan Should Fully Open Its Markets to U.S. Beef

I recently introduced a resolution with Congressman Roy Blunt (R-MO), to support increased market access for exports of U.S. beef and beef products to Japan. Currently, Japan restricts access to a large number of American beef products. H. Res. 1196 states that Japan should fully open its markets to U.S. beef products, and urges the Obama Administration to insist on increased market access from Japan. U.S. Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE) has introduced similar legislation in the U.S. Senate.

It is time for Japan to fully open its markets to U.S. beef. For several years now, Japan has used non-scientific standards to restrict access to high quality American beef products. Japan asks for fair treatment of their products and America expects the same fair treatment - which means an adherence to internationally recognized, science-based trade standards.

U.S. Must be a Friend to Our Allies

I recently spoke to the House of Representatives about the need for the Obama Administration to publicly confirm our nation's close relationship with allies with words and deeds. Unfortunately, the Administration's reception this week of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not befitting of a friend. The White House refused any of the usual formalities that typically accompany the visit of the leader of a close ally. No reporters or photographers were allowed to cover the Prime Minister's meeting with President Obama, no press conference was held, no ceremony conducted. Moreover, this behavior follows the Administration's public scolding of Israel two weeks ago.

The President's treatment of Prime Minister Netanyahu contrasts sharply with the Administration's silence on a recent ceremony sponsored by the Palestinian Authority to dedicate a square to a terrorist who killed more than 30 individuals. When the President and his Administration fail to criticize actions that conflict with our values, it sends a signal of weakness to our enemies. When the Administration publicly argues with close friends, it empowers our adversaries. It is important to maintain strong relationships with our allies for the security of our country. I hope the President shows that America is still a friend to nations that share our values.

Design Unveiled for National Eisenhower Memorial

As a member of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission, I voted this week to approve the design for the National Eisenhower Memorial, created by world-renowned architect Frank O. Gehry. President Eisenhower represents the best of America, and the design the Commission approved will be a fitting tribute to one of America's greatest leaders. I commend Frank and his team for creating a design that will honor Ike's legacy and remind future generations of his deep commitment to freedom for all people.

Kansans are proud to call President Eisenhower one of our "sons,' and we are proud to join all Americans in honoring his lifetime of service to our nation during some of our most challenging days. It is my hope that the National Eisenhower Memorial will inspire all Americans to recall our proud history and approach the future with confidence. Upon completion, the Eisenhower Memorial will be the first presidential memorial of the 21st century, and only the seventh in U.S. history. It will be built on a four-acre site in Washington, D.C., just off the National Mall.

Thanking Kansas National Guard Members and Families for Their Service

On Saturday, I spoke to members of the Kansas National Guard and their families at the Kansas National Guard Joint Conference in Wichita. I thanked the hundreds of Kansas Guard members and their families for their service and dedication to our country.

I also spoke about the progress being made to make sure Guard members and their families receive appropriate benefits. I have been a strong advocate in Congress for improving health, retirement and education benefits for Guard and Reserve members. Significant progress has been made in the past few years, but more work remains to be done and I am committed to ensuring they receive the benefits they have earned.

In recent years, our nation has demanded much from these citizen soldiers and airmen. They have been called to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, assist in tornado and flood recovery efforts in Kansas, guard America's southern border and most recently, respond to the devastating earthquake in Haiti. The Kansas National Guard has met each of these challenges with success, and all Americans are grateful for their service and sacrifice. Thanks to Michele Henry, Executive Director of the National Guard Association of Kansas, as well as Adjutant General Tod Bunting, for giving me the opportunity to speak with the Guard members and their families.

In the Office

Jose Miranda and Sergio Tristan of Wichita, Rubea Stouppe of Hutchinson, Kara Lineweber of Kansas City and Brandon Gilvin of Shawnee were in our nation's capital for Ecumenical Advocacy Days to share their thoughts with me about immigration. Eduardo Seput and Eduardo Seput, Jr. of Leawood, Angela Ferguson of Kansas City and Roger McCrummen of Prairie Village were in to speak with me about immigration reform. Members of AIPAC were in to talk about the urgent need to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons and the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship. In with the group were Robert, Miriam, Katie and Jessi Glueck and Phyllis Carozza of Leawood; and Jeff and Susan Horen, Lisa and Ben Bernard, Mari and Marc Birnbaum, Michael Lerner and Audrey Asher of Overland Park.

Corey and Shelby Waddell of Topeka, Will McIntyre of Gardner and Gary Townson of Rose Hill were in with the National Association of Postal Supervisors to tell me about the financial state of the U.S. Postal Service. Tom and Shelly Lippert of Hays, Karol Pykiet and Milo Smith of Clearwater, Judy Wasko of Hanston, Randell Collier of Towanda and Linda Fuller of Wichita were in with the National Association of Postmasters of the United States to speak about the sustainability of the U.S. Postal Service. Rod Holub of Manhattan was in with the National Association of Letter Carriers to talk about ways to enhance the viability of the U.S. Postal Service.

Tauna Spain of Topeka, Steve Reitan of Manhattan and Anthony Everett of Wichita were in with Job Corps to share stories of young people who have turned their life around. Jessica Brauer of Wright, Chelsey Smith of Hays, Wade Gutierrez of Belleville, Ryan Yenni of Lindsborg, Mariah Shultz of Burlingame, Maggie Seiler of Valley Center and Anna Muir of Stockton were in with Kansas 4-H to discuss community service and educational initiatives. The group was visiting Washington for the 2010 National 4-H Conference. Richard Lopez and Carolyn Benitez of Wichita were in with SER Corporation to tell me about their efforts to train agricultural workers in Kansas.

Maurice Miller of Healy was in with the American Seed Trade Association to express his support for crop insurance and agricultural conservation programs. Dave Christiansen and Myron Voth of Moundridge were in with the Mid Kansas Cooperative Association to talk about their concerns with cap and trade and their support for preserving current laws that govern organization of farmer-owned cooperatives. Mike Armstrong and Mike Orth of Lenexa were in with WaterOne and Black and Veatch, respectively, to speak about potential regulation of water treatment plants and pending infrastructure projects to ensure accessibility to drinking water. Bill Hanson of Manhattan and Sherrill Tubbs of Scott City were in with the Crop Insurance Agents to tell me about their concerns with the Standard Reinsurance Agreement that is being negotiated with USDA.

Members of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association were in to share their thoughts with me about the National Broadband Plan and grant and loan programs to fund broadband expansion in rural areas of Kansas. In with the group were Dick Veach and Catherine Moyer of Ulysses, Steve Davis of Medicine Lodge, Rhonda Goddard and Jim Harries of Lenora, Kendall Mikesell of Clearwater, Terry Force of Wheaton, Kathy Faircloth of LaCygne, Sam Hartley and Michelle Ly of Lake City, Wilda Pentola of Farlington, Dale Hudson of Brewster, John Showman of South Haven, Steve Argu of Vermillion, Jimmy Todd of Little River, Dan Reiff of Council Grove and Mike and Connie VanCampen of Turon.

Vicki Howe of Hanston, Preston Sauers of Kanopolis, Kathy Tucker of Downs and Susan LaBonte of Leawood were in with the American Health Information Management Association to describe how health IT streamlines costs, reduces medical errors and eliminates redundant tests. Leila McKenzie of Topeka was in with the Kansas Podiatric Association to update me on how podiatrists treat and prevent diabetes and other lower limb complications. Kevin McDonald of Hays and David Duchene of Kansas City were in with the American Urological Association to talk about health care reform legislation.

Anne Oliver of Prairie Village was in with the Big 12 Student Government Association to express support for higher education initiatives to make college more affordable. Students from the Kansas Intern Program were in to discuss current events and learn about the "Big First." In with the University of Wichita were Derek Blair, Bill Brichacek and Veronica Ndambi. In with the University of Kansas were: Kathleen Bole, Christina Garcia, Katelyn Cofer, Alex Davis, Matt Lanning, Michael Maddox, Adam Magargee, Derek Martin, Megan Shackelford, Samantha Speer and John Thompson.

City Manager Toby Dougherty, Mayor Ron Mellick, Chris Channell, Barb Wasinger and Bob Michael were in with the city of Hays to discuss airport improvements and other issues affecting their community. Paul Joseph, Cliff Mayo, John Dehn, Reynaldo Mesa, Eric Dopperschmidt, David Crase, Matt Allen and Randy Partington of Garden City and Gary Newman and Robin Pena of Holcomb were in with Garden City/Finney County delegation to update me on the progress of several projects underway and to discuss the area's long term growth goals. Rozelle and Darrel Webb, Robert and Nikki Burkey, Michael Shannon, Dave Harrison, Tim and Terri Long, Alan and Donna Sill and Alyssa, Kelly, Christy, Kaityln and Nichole Kirk, and Debra Giskie were in with the city of Liberal to update me on several new initiatives and to talk about the improvements the city would like to make in partnership with Seward County.

Great Bend Mayor Mike Allison, Allene Owen, Ken Roberts, Howard Partington, Jan Peters, Kathy Straul and Ron Straub were in discuss current projects in Great Bend. We also talked about the Essential Air Service program. Tom Thull, Judi Stork and Kevin Glendening of Topeka were in with the Conference of State Bank Supervisors to talk about financial regulation reform. Brandon Bortz of Preston was in with the American Society of Civil Engineers to speak about legislation to help improve highweays and infrastructure in America. Shelly Buhler of Rossville and John Dicus, Coleen Jennison, Neil Dobler, Bob Archer, Norton Bonaparte and Doug Kinsinger of Topeka were in with the city of Topeka to tell me about the numerous economic development projects that city of Topeka is undertaking.

Students from Phillipsburg High School, Thunder Ridge High School in Kensington, Logan High School, Northern Valley High School in Almena and Smith Center High School came by to see me while visiting Washington. Jane and Steve Richard of Delphos also stopped by my office.

Many Kansas stopped by my office to visit the nation's Capitol this week. In for tours were: Robert, Luann and Emily Wellborn, Brian, Jana, Katie, Emily, Ashley and Jess Neufeld, Dewey and Debra Nichols, and Rick, Bryant, Brady and Jennifer Little of Hutchinson; Cory and Charlene Beougher, Rachel Renken, Trenton Heinen, Molly Suter, Ryan Gasper, Joel Cushing, Lohgan Brush, Martina Emmanuele and Christopher Steinshouer of Downs; Jim and Susan Beck of Clay Center.

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