USDA Jobs Come to Kansas City
I am thrilled to share that two agencies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will soon be calling the Kansas City-area home. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced last week that the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will be relocated to the Kansas City region! Many of my colleagues and I, on both sides of the Missouri-Kansas border, have been working hard to make this a reality since USDA announced the proposal to move the agencies last year.
The simple fact, in the words of Secretary Perdue, is “the Kansas City Region has proven itself to be hub for all things agriculture and is a booming city in America’s heartland.” There is also acknowledgement from the Secretary that the Kansas City area already has a wealth of agricultural talent that will provide “access to a stable labor force for the future.”
Because of the wonderful cost-of-living in the KC area, the USDA will also save $20 million a year on employment costs and rent, which can be used for more research. Additionally, the move puts the two agencies closer to their customers, most of whom are in the Midwest – not Washington.
The final decision is a testament to the wonderful attributes of the Heartland and reflects the hard work of our local Congressional representatives and members of the Kansas City community who did an excellent job highlighting the benefits of relocating these jobs to our area.
The General Services Administration (GSA) this week announced it will be accepting applications for lease space from three counties in the region, including Jackson County, Missouri. There is no doubt that the Kansas City Region, which includes a number of MO-4 counties, will see the benefits of this wonderful decision.
Making Sure our Veterans are Covered
This week I was pleased to introduce bipartisan legislation to aid the medical transportation of our veterans. Under this bill, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would be allowed to reimburse certain veterans for ambulance transportation required during their medical treatment. Current law allows the VA to reimburse emergency ambulance rides to and emergency treatment at non-VA hospitals until the VA patient is medically stable. But if the veteran is stabilized and then requires continued care at a VA facility, the VA is not allowed to reimburse his or her transportation to that facility.
Obviously, such transportation could incur costs that many veterans cannot afford to pay out of pocket. My bill would repair this hole in the safety net, to ensure that veterans and community health providers are not left holding the bill for costly medical transfer. I am working to move my common-sense legislation through the House and then to the Senate for approval.
Open Now: Application Period for Service Academies
This is a good time to remind students who are considering applying to one of the United States Service Academies that the application process, which runs through October 4, 2019, is now open. The academy nomination process requires you to apply through your Congressional offices and directly to the academies. If you have not already contacted the academy of your choice, I would encourage you to do so as soon as possible to ensure you have all the necessary information to apply. My application for 2019 is available on my website here.
The U.S. Service Academies are among the most respected educational programs in the nation. If accepted, students receive their college education for free of charge. The honor of attending one comes with the obligation and commitment to serve in the military for a minimum of five years upon graduation.
I look forward to receiving applications from the many qualified students in our Congressional district.
SCOTUS Rules to Protect Cross Honoring WWI Heroes
You may have heard before about the Bladensburg Memorial, a 40-foot cross on public land in Maryland that commemorates 49 local soldiers who died in World War I. Several years ago, a humanist group sued Maryland over the cross, claiming that its shape, which is a religious symbol, violated the Establishment Clause. I signed onto two amicus briefs concerning this case: the first petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case, and the second argued in favor of the Bladensburg Memorial.
Today, I’m happy to report that the Supreme Court ruled the historic cross does not violate the Establishment Clause. This peaceful monument has stood for nearly a century, honoring the memory of 49 local fallen World War I heroes. Faith has always had a prominent role in American society. We should seek to preserve our treasured religious freedom, which is exactly what Thursday’s decision did.
Religiously-based symbols and monuments throughout our country, much like the Bladensburg Cross Memorial, honor all of America’s service men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country. These monuments will continue to honor our religious heritage and honor those who sacrificed to secure our freedoms.
Photos to Share
In last week’s House Agriculture Committee’s Livestock & Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing, we discussed just how important the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is. The agreement opens new markets for dairy poultry, eggs, and wheat to Canada and preserves a no tariff policy for Mexico. With Mexico and Canada being Missouri’s number one and number two export markets for agriculture, it’s essential we lock down this pivotal agreement.
Lowell and I enjoyed the Twilight Show of Wings air show over Whiteman last Friday. We enjoyed catching up with the dedicated airmen and families at Whiteman, seeing historic and current aircraft, and being wowed by the skills displayed in the air show, which included a night jump by the U.S. Army’s Golden Knight Jump Team. So proud of this base and all our servicemembers.
We’re working hard to get our soybeans planted after the wet spring and flooding. The beans we planted three weeks ago are having a hard time coming up, due to the crust the pounding rain created. We were thankful for a shower that brought puddles last Friday night and are hopeful more beans will be able to push through. Other parts of the district are still too wet to plant. I’m praying for all farmers during this challenging planting season.
My visit to the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Pleasant Hill brought me up to speed on the forecasting tools used during the most recent flooding of the Missouri River and its tributaries. This NWS center services 44 counties in the greater Kansas City region and provided information that was essential to keeping citizens safe during the recent flooding. The men and women of the National Weather Service are providing valuable information to Americans across the country, and I am grateful for the work they do.
I was thrilled to pick up my very own USS Missouri stamps from Natalie Thompson at the Pleasant Hill Post Office on Monday. The USS Missouri was the backdrop of the official end of World War II, its deck serving as the spot where Allied powers and imperial Japan signed documents confirming Japan's surrender. This new stamp was released last week to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the ship’s commissioning on June 11, 1944. It is a fitting tribute to the historic “Mighty Mo” – a truly iconic American battleship. Pick up your piece of history today!
It was wonderful to meet with MO Electric Cooperatives Youth this week! They represent the “cream of the crop” of the rural youth of America from our district. I was honored to spend some time with them and appreciated their coming to visit me in the Capitol.
Weekly Dose of Good News
There is something very special about neighbors helping neighbors during rough times. We saw exactly that when the California Women’s Business Council and other local businesses stepped in to raise money for those affected by the May 22 tornadoes. The California Women’s Business Council, composed of six California, MO business owners, created a “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” raffle fundraiser that brought in over $20,000. Eighty-five businesses from California and other parts of Moniteau County donated raffle prizes for the event. I am so proud of the good people of Moniteau County for taking the initiative and helping their fellow Missourians as they work to recover from the devastating storms.