An Independent Voice for Kansas
There is tremendous pressure in Washington to vote a certain way. Insiders in our nation's Capitol do not relish, nor do they respect, independent thinking.
This fact was very obvious last Monday when we learned that House leadership stripped four Republicans of our preferred committee assignments -- including my representation of you on the Agriculture and Budget Committees. We have asked the Steering Committee -- a group of about 30 or so leadership Republicans led by Speaker John Boehner -- to provide a written explanation of why we were removed from our preferred committees.
It is clear that an insider "scorecard" was used to rate how often members voted the way House leadership wanted us to. If this is in fact true, then this flies in the face of our form of government. The last time I checked, I am supposed to serve as the voice for the First District in Kansas -- not as another "yes man" in Washington. The reason Washington is in the poor shape it is in is precisely because there are too many "yes men" willing to cut insider deals that fail to fix any of the real problems facing our nation.
My other colleagues who suffered the same punishment have joined me in asking House leadership to release the scorecard. You, my constituents, deserve answers just as much as I do. Kansans sent me to Washington to be their voice -- the voice of reason in a government that spends, borrows, and taxes too much. I make no apologies for defending our shared goals, values, and conservative principles.
I have also requested that the Steering Committee reinstate me to the Budget and Agriculture Committees. My background was the reason I was chosen to serve on those two committees, and it is the reason I should stay on. Furthermore, Kansas has had a continual presence on the House Ag Committee for decades. Read my letter here.
I had a number of media appearances this past week to discuss the issue, including a spot on "Hannity." Please take a few minutes to watch it.
Nutrition Nannies Backing Down
On a more upbeat note, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack informed Congress at the end of last week that they would temporarily lift the caps set on meats and grains in school lunches. It is a step in the right direction to eliminate these limits, but we need USDA to go further, make the reprieve permanent, and get rid of the calorie caps. The decisions about what our children eat and how much of it should be left to parents and local schools -- not to bureaucrats in Washington. This September, my colleague Rep. Steve King of Iowa and I introduced legislation to undo the new school lunch mandates that are leaving students' stomachs empty and school trash cans fuller than ever.
I want to acknowledge the efforts of our constituents in helping to push USDA to incorporate reality into their rule-making. The students in Sharon Springs who produced "We Are Hungry" and those in Rolla who made "The Hunger Games" get so much credit for using new media for activism. The students in Abilene and in other schools across not just Kansas but the entire nation who used responsible and respectful methods to raise awareness about the issue should also be credited. Way to go!
We are looking into options to reintroduce the legislation in the next Congress. In the meantime, catch up with the efforts on Facebook.
KanCare to Launch
The State of Kansas has announced that the Obama Administration has approved the KanCare Medicaid reforms to begin on January 1st. This set of reforms should improve health care in the Medicaid program and simultaneously reduce costs. Yes, those two goals can be achieved together.
During my time in the Kansas State Senate, I served on the Task Force on Medicaid Reform, and I am thrilled to see many of our recommendations and discussion items finally being enacted. Friday's announcement caps more than ten years of my efforts to bring high-quality health care reforms to the people of Kansas. I commend Governor Brownback and Lieutenant Governor Colyer for proactively developing this patient-centered Medicaid reform. It is my hope that reforms like KanCare can be implemented throughout the United States by reforming Medicaid into a block grant program that allows states greater flexibility and opportunity for innovation.
Learn more about legislation I have introduced to target and transform Medicaid to a block grant program.
Guests in the Office
Your D.C. staff and I had the privilege of meeting with Aaron Popelka and Myndee Reed on behalf the Kansas Livestock Association; Greg Hildenbrand and Robbie Copefield on behalf of Life Star of Kansas; Allie Devine on behalf of Kansans for Sensible Immigration Policy; Curtis Sneeden on behalf of Collective Brands; and representatives of BNSF, Physician Hospitals of America, Gorham Telephone, Project to End Prostate Cancer, Alliance for American Manufacturing, and International Christian Concern.
Member of Congress