Restoration Following Local Natural Disasters
We once again witnessed the extreme power of nature last week as deadly tornadoes and dangerously strong winds tore through our state. I was saddened to learn of the deaths of three constituents of Missouri’s Fourth Congressional District when a tornado touched down near Golden City in Barton County. My heart goes out to the families of the victims. A short time later, a powerful tornado slammed into Jefferson City, our state capital, causing severe damage to homes and businesses. I am so proud of Boone County’s own Task Force 1, which the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) activated at the request of the Jefferson City Fire Department. Task Force 1, based in Columbia, had an advance team in Jefferson City within 45 minutes of initial notification. The men and women of Task Force 1 have responded to disasters all over this country and it is no surprise the unit was ready to answer the call as soon as it was needed in Jefferson City. Thanks, as well, to members of the Columbia Police Department and other first responders from Boone County, who were quick to arrive in Jefferson City and help restore order after the devastating storm hit. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those whose lives were lost and for those who were injured or suffered damages from this weather.
I stopped in Rocheport Thursday to meet with community leaders and volunteers who are on the front lines of the Missouri River flood fighting efforts.
As many in our state recover from the severe weather, others are coping with serious flooding that has already resulted in tremendous property damage. Several communities and neighborhoods have been evacuated as the Missouri River and its tributaries have risen. I want everyone in our district to know that my staff and I have been in constant communication with emergency management officials who are working to aid those impacted by the flooding. I am closely following developments and stand ready to assist FEMA with any help it might need during flooding in the Show Me State.
I continued touring Disaster Relief efforts with a stop at the Red Cross shelter in Boonville. I am grateful to all the volunteers and staff who are serving flood victims in the mid-Missouri region.
I personally had the opportunity this week to tour the damage and recovery efforts in Rocheport and Howard and Cooper Counties. Rocheport Mayor John Zondca and Boone County Emergency Management Director, Tom Hurley, showed me the flood damage including homes in jeopardy and the sewer treatment system nearly being topped. I got to speak with dozens of motivated volunteers who were faithfully filling sandbags to divert flood water and debris. I then visited the American Red Cross Shelter in Boonville where I met with staff and volunteers who were providing services, including food and shelter, to those impacted by flooding in Howard and Cooper Counties. It was heart wrenching to visit with families who have had to leave their homes but I am heartened by their indominable spirit that will carry them through. After that, I went to downtown Boonville to view the flooding from the bridge and to meet with business owners and farmers to discuss how they are being impacted and how the disaster relief bill I supported will be helpful to them.
Lastly, I toured the devastating Missouri River flooding in the New Franklin and Boonville areas. I also visited with farmers and business owners to discuss what disaster relief programs can help them recover. It was heartbreaking to see, but our resilient #MO4 communities will bounce back.
The disaster relief bill (a Senate amendment to H.R. 2157) assists victims across the nation of hurricanes, snowstorms, tornadoes, flooding and wildfires. It also contains provisions that will help Missouri communities and farmers impacted by the flooding, including $3 billion to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for expenses related to crop losses, including on-farm stored grain loss. Additionally, the bill authorizes $585 million for the Emergency Conservation Program, which provides technical assistance to farmers to repair damage to farmland, and $150 million to the Rural Community Facilities Program Account for essential community buildings. It also gives $2 billion for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant funds (including Community Development Block Grants) that can be used for disaster relief, long-term recovery, infrastructure restoration, housing, and economic revitalization. Lastly, the disaster bill includes $1 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for necessary expenses related to preparing for flood, hurricane and other natural disasters. This funding includes $35 million to study potential projects to reduce the risk of future floods and $740 million for the construction of flood mitigation projects.
Honoring America’s Heroes
It was an honor spending Thursday morning commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day with the veterans at the Warrensburg Veterans Home. The courageous acts and sacrifices made by these heroes and all our men and women in uniform must never be forgotten.
This week we commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day—a day that turned the tide in the war against facism and secured freedom for millions of people across the world. Back home, I was honored to visit with several veterans at the Missouri Veterans Home in Warrensburg to commemorate this momentous day. It was an honor to visit with these heroes who experienced these battles and made history with their bravery. One man was on a Navy transport ship June 6 off the coast of Normandy. He remembers waking up to the sound of thousands of planes roaring overhead heading towards the beach and watching some, but not all, of them come back. He remembers the thousands of men that were transported ashore and stormed the beach—many giving their last full measure of devotion. Another man was a B-17 pilot who was shot down and a POW in a German prisoner camp. He did what needed to be done and changed the course of history. Another veteran was involved in the battle of Iwo Jima and liberated Guam. He remembers how grateful the people were to finally be free. These courageous acts and sacrifices made by the greatest generation changed the course of history. It was an honor to visit with them and to thank them on behalf of a grateful nation. May their lives inspire future generations to stand tall for freedom, as well, and to never forget what their bravery and sacrifice.
Nevada Hospital Gets Boost
Last week, the Nevada Regional Medical Center (NRMC) received a “Sole Community Hospital” designation from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a designation that will provide the hospital with an annual $800,000 subsidy.
NRMC (Nevada Regional Medical Center, Nevada, Mo.) applied in January to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to be designated as a "Sole Community Hospital." This application came in the wake of the recent closing of Mercy Hospital in neighboring Fort Scott, Kansas and the failure of so many rural hospitals across the country. Members of the “Committee to Strengthen our Hospital” reached out to me. I contacted U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, and we immediately petitioned the Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Seema Verma, advocating for the “Sole Community Hospital” designation and asking for a quick decision.
I was pleased when we got the news that they had received this helpful designation. I’m honored to come alongside community members working to save the hospital which is so important to Nevada and Vernon County. The Sole Community Hospital program will help give NRMC the boost it needs to be able to continue to operate and provide care for nearby residents!
The full text of the letter Senator Blunt and I sent to CMS can be found here.
Awareness of Tick-Borne Illness
At the House Agriculture Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee hearing, I asked what measures are being taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to protect people and livestock from tick borne diseases like Lyme disease. Click here or on the image above to see my question.
This warmer springtime weather has been a welcome change! However, higher temperatures also bring unwelcome pests, including disease-spreading ticks. Given the threat, I introduced a resolution to designate May as National Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease and Condition Awareness Month. I have heard from many constituents in our district who have been affected by Lyme Disease. Sadly, many people who became ill were not previously aware of the dangers of Lyme Disease and how it can be contracted. I want to raise awareness of this debilitating disease that affects Americans in all 50 states, resulting in 300,000 new cases of Lyme Disease each year. Tick-borne diseases are difficult to diagnose and many of them have no known cure. Raising awareness of the seriousness of these diseases and conditions is essential if we are to properly protect ourselves from tick-borne illnesses.
In addition, I’ve cosponsored H.R. 220, the National Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Control and Accountability Act of 2019, which would create a new national strategy for combatting Lyme Disease while strengthening efforts to fight, treat, and prevent tick-borne illnesses.
Working to Get Our Warfighters What They Need
This week, as Ranking Member of the Tactical Air and Land (TAL) Forces Subcommittee, I helped lead the Subcommittee markup of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA establishes policy and authorizes appropriations for the Department of Defense (DOD), nuclear weapons programs of the Department of Energy, DOD elements of the intelligence community, and defense-related activities at other federal agencies.
I was pleased that the markup addressed the importance of modernization and worked to ensure acquisition strategies are aligned with the National Defense Strategy. I was also particularly pleased with how the markup improved oversight of Air Force fighter force structure challenges. We will need a highly capable mix of 4th generation and 5th generation aircraft, complementing one another, in order to meet the objectives of the National Defense Strategy.
The markup also rightfully supported both the F-15EX and the F-35 programs. This will set the conditions to ensure the Air Force will field the needed high/low mix of 4th and 5th generation tactical fighters, enabling the delivery of required capacity while also continuing crucial investments for 5th generation capability.
The markup also appropriately directed the Army to focus on the requirements and acquisition strategies for providing critically needed Vehicle Active Protection Systems for combat vehicles. Lastly, I was pleased to see the markup continue oversight of DOD’s plans and efforts to mitigate physiological incidents in tactical aircraft.
The Subcommittee’s mark will now be incorporated into the final NDAA package which will be debated next week. I look forward to helping shepherd this year’s NDAA through to passage, so we can better support those who put their lives on the line to protect our country each and every day.
Helping Those Nationwide: Updates to FEMA
In my meeting last week with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), we discussed how the FEMA Relief Improvement Act (my bill which was signed into law by President Trump) has been a catalyst for positive changes in how the agency handles disaster response across the country.
After the 2013 flooding in Missouri, my constituents’ interactions with the Federal Emergency Agency (FEMA) were complicated and frustrating. FEMA was there to help, but many Missourians were left in the dark when it came to the status of their applications and grants, what was being done to help, and which agency or person they should speak with at any given time. As a result, last Congress I introduced a bill to improve FEMA’s responses to local communities in the wake of these natural disasters. My bill provided more transparency to communities that were being helped, increased consistency, and ultimately, aimed to furnish better assistance to communities during the recovery phase. Congress passed my bill and the President signed it into law in October 2017.
Since then, I have met with FEMA several times about how my bill is being implemented. Now, I am pleased to report a designated FEMA Project Manager is assigned to disasters so local communities have consistent access to the same FEMA personnel to help shepherd their application through the stages of disaster recovery. FEMA also now provides on-site technical specialists, consolidated resources across regions to provide consistent service, and a user-friendly online grant portal that helps ensure paperwork is never lost in the shuffle. My bill has made way for local recovery projects in Missouri to be approved three times faster!
As communities in Missouri’s Fourth District work with FEMA through this trying time of natural disasters, I encourage constituents to reach out with feedback regarding their experiences with FEMA.
Photos to Share
At the end of May I had the privilege to meet Col. Daryl Hood, who has recently been assigned to be the Commandant of the U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) School at Fort Leonard Wood. The CBRN School trains and educates soldiers to fight and win in a contaminated environment as part of large-scale ground combat operations and in support of the defense of our nation.
It was humbling to meet Mama Maggie, the “Mother Teresa of Cairo” who was awarded an International Women of Justice Award by the U.S. State Department this year. Through her work, she has raised global awareness of poverty, built schools, offered free medical services, and provided food to marginalized families in Cairo.
I had a great visit from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, where we discussed ways to improve the IRS to benefit hard working Americans. Thanks for stopping by!
On May 21st I was pleased to speak on the House floor celebrating the centennial anniversary of the House’s passage of the 19th amendment. Click here or on the image above to watch my speech.
I attended a joint House Armed Services and House Veterans Affairs committee hearing on the suicide epidemic impacting our veteran and military communities. One loss to suicide is one too many. We must keep pushing to find solutions and remember to be there for our veterans.
I had a productive meeting about Medicare’s competitive bidding program with Patrick Naeger of Healthcare Equipment & Supply Co. and Karan Atkins with Mobility First, both of which are located in Missouri.
I was honored to meet with Dr. Uzi Landau, Chairman of the Board for Rafael Advanced Defense Systems in Israel, and Azarel Ram, President & CEO of the same entity. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, along with DRS Land Systems in St. Louis, is the developer of the Trophy Active Protection System, which is being outfitted on U.S. Army Abrams tanks to protect our warfighters.
I had a great visit with Phil and Chriscinda Jamison from Macks Creek, Missouri who recently were awarded the “Making a Difference” National Volunteer award from the Bureau of Land Management for supporting the Wild Horse and Burro Program for 27 years. Thanks for all your hard work!
I was honored to take part in the Family Research Council (FRC) Watchmen on the Wall Pastors event with Senator Josh Hawley and Tony Perkins. Our pastors do so much for communities and are key to ministering hope and healing to our nation.
I enjoyed visiting with Missouri State Senator Crawford and Dallas County students while they were here in DC learning about our nation’s history. I’m excited to see what these young people do!
Thank you Dr. Kristin Sohl and Alicia Curran from University of Missouri Child Health for making the time to stop by my Washington office to discuss project ECHO and how it leverages healthcare expertise by connecting physicians through telehealth networks so rural providers have the latest information they need.
In the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research hearing this week, I showcased letters from land-grant universities and bipartisan letters of support from my colleagues highlighting the benefits of relocating the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) & National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to Kansas City.
I had a good meeting with members from the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies to discuss the importance of insurance in helping our communities recover after disaster. Thank you for your insight and time!
Weekly Dose of Good News
One of the things I enjoy most about representing Missouri’s Fourth Congressional District is learning about the success of our student athletes and sharing the good news. As such, I want to congratulate the Lincoln High School Girls Softball team for winning the Missouri State Spring Softball Championship - Lincoln High School’s first state championship ever! Lincoln defeated Kennett High School 8-3 to capture the title. Congratulations, again, to the Lincoln Lady Cardinals!