Traveling Around MO-4
Last week I had the pleasure of traveling around Missouri’s Fourth District, meeting with my constituents, and sharing the latest updates from Washington.
I visited Boone Hospital and had an encouraging discussion with its leaders about the steps the hospital is taking to combat the opioid crisis.
One of the first visits I made was to the Boone County Hospital. Many of us have heard about the onslaught of opioid abuse in our country, and this was our primary discussion. Boone Hospital is taking a proactive approach to the opioid crisis, limiting the amount of opioids prescribed to patients and taking the time to warn patients of the dangers of misusing pain-killing drugs. Through this approach, Boone Hospital President Jim Sinek and his team of professionals are trying to do their part to confront one of the biggest health issues facing Missouri and America today.
I met with FEMA Region 7 officials to hear how my bill, the FEMA Relief Improvement Act, which was signed into law in 2017, is improving the disaster relief process for local communities.
Another big issue that Missouri faces is flooding. Last Congress, I introduced a bill to improve FEMA’s response to local communities in the wake of these natural disasters. When the flooding occurred in Missouri in 2015 and 2013, for example, 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. 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.
During my district travels, I made time to meet with the Administrator for FEMA Region VII (Region VII covers four states that include Missouri), Paul Taylor, to learn what changes FEMA had made since my bill became law. I was thrilled to learn that they expect the implementation of my bill to allow local recovery projects in Missouri to be approved three times faster! I was also pleased to learn of several other changes the agency has made because of my bill, including uploading documents in a more user friendly format.
A big thank you to the Rotary Club of Lebanon for inviting me to their meeting to update them on what’s going on in Washington.
The next day, I visited the Rotary Club of Lebanon, where I outlined what we have been working on in the 116th Congress. Attendees also had the chance to share with me what was on their mind, like the economy, the crisis on our southern border, and health care. For instance, members shared with me that in Laclede County, individuals only have one insurer on the health exchange and it is very expensive. In turn, I was able to share that the President has issued an executive order allowing insurers to offer low cost catastrophic health care policies, and that finding solutions to more affordable health care is one of my top priorities. I constantly hear from families in my district about how much they are hurting from high premiums and deductibles, and helping with this problem is at the forefront of my mind.
Also at the forefront of my mind is national security. In my new role as Ranking Member of the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee on the House Armed Services Committee, I am committed to modernizing our fighting force, so that we are ready at a moment’s notice to confront growing threats around the world. In my new role, one of my specific areas of oversight is the National Guard’s equipment programs. As such, I was thrilled to tour the Missouri National Guard Aviation Classification Repair Activity Depot (AVCRAD) at Springfield-Branson National Airport, where our local troops work on and repair helicopters for fourteen states across America.
I had a great visit to the Aviation Classification Repair Activity Depot (AVCRAD) in Springfield.
While there, I was led through the hangars and shops where technicians work on helicopter parts and given an overview of the facility’s mission and operations. One helicopter in particular that I was shown, the UH-60 Blackhawk, has been produced since the 1980s, but the technicians at AVCRAD have constantly found more efficient and cost-effective ways to repair it, saving valuable taxpayer dollars.
At the Aviation Classification Repair Activity Depot (AVCRAD) in Springfield, I had the opportunity to see how our troops’ hard work and innovation on helicopter repairs have saved taxpayers over $100 million.
While I toured the facility, the AVCRAD Unit discussed ongoing items of importance with me. One puzzle they raised was the difficulty of retaining highly skilled technicians who can often find jobs in the private sector with higher wages and fewer hours. I believe we must look for ways to ensure these people are adequately compensated for the specialized work they are doing, so they can continue. This facility not only maintains our current equipment, its workers do so in a way that saves taxpayer dollars and ensures higher efficiency in the future. It’s vital that we retain these highly skilled helicopter and aircraft technicians so their crucial work can continue.
The National Guard facility in Springfield wasn’t the only military installation I had the pleasure of visiting: I also called on Whiteman Air Force Base.
I had the privilege of attending a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Consolidated Operations Building at White Air Force Base.
While there, I took part in a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Consolidated Operations Building, a $35 million state of the art facility that will house the operational squadrons for the 509th and 131st Bomb Wings, the 393rd Bomb Squadron Tigers, and the Missouri Air Guard’s 110th Bomb Squadron Mules. The facility will also integrate the 509th Operations Support Squadron Hawks. This new space will help to enhance our combat readiness for years to come.
It was wonderful to visit with Knob Noster High School’s FIRST Robotics Team.
After visiting the Air Force Base, I drove nearby to meet with the “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST)” Robotics Team at Knob Noster High School. This group partnered with Whiteman AFB to design a 3D printed cover for the AMAD switch panel on the B-2 Stealth Bomber. It took 72 hours to design and perfect a prototype, and they were able to produce it at a cost of $1.50 per unit. The U.S. Department of Defense now uses this design in every B-2 that is produced! While speaking with these talented young people, I also learned the school district has been awarded a $2.25 million DoDEA grant that it will use to establish a STEM program and to expand its robotics program to middle and elementary school.
Congratulations, Knob Noster!
It’s an Emergency
U.S. Customs & Border Patrol agents in Nogales, AZ seize $432,000 in Meth and Marijuana.
I am pleased to share with you that I voted against House Joint Resolution 46, legislation designed to stop the Trump Administration’s efforts to secure our southern border to stop the flow of illegal immigration and illegal drugs into our country. Despite my vote and those of others concerned with drug traffickers and other dangerous criminals, the House approved this resolution to undercut President Trump’s efforts to protect our country. There is an emergency on the U.S.–Mexico border. I have visited that border and have seen for myself the lengths to which criminals have gone to bypass border security in order to traffic drugs into our communities. No emergency? The families of those victimized by the drug epidemic would no doubt disagree. I hope the Senate will not follow suit in voting for this misdirected bill.
Agriculture and Why Missouri is a Great Place to Live
On Thursday in a House Agriculture Committee hearing on the state of the rural economy, I had the chance to speak directly with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Click here or on the image above to see my questions.
The House Agriculture Committee had a productive hearing with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on the state of the rural economy this week. The Secretary was being hounded with implied accusations that he doesn’t care about children or the poor because of the changes USDA proposed to reform the SNAP program. However, these changes actually allow individuals to take advantage of training opportunities provided through SNAP that will enable them to get a job in their community. When it was my turn to speak with the Secretary, I confirmed with him that the changes he is making to the SNAP program will not kick people off the SNAP rolls and will, in fact, give them new opportunities while ensuring SNAP dollars are received by those who truly need them. In 2016, there were 3.8 million individual ABAWDs on the SNAP rolls, with 2.8 million (nearly 74%) not working.
Also, I had the opportunity to talk to the Secretary about the possibility of Missouri serving as home to the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), both of which are scheduled to be relocated out of Washington. I worked with Representative Emanuel Cleaver this winter, urging the Secretary to consider relocating these agencies to Kansas City. While there are many potential relocation options, I believe Kansas City provides the perfect balance for the various needs of these USDA agencies. The USDA has already located its Risk Management Agency and the Food Safety Administration in the Kansas City area. These agencies are already experiencing the benefits of Kansas City with a higher quality of life and lower cost of living compared to Washington, D.C., easy accessibility to multiple modes of transportation, and a highly qualified local workforce. Additionally, Kansas City is in the heart of America, and would allow these agencies to be closer to important stakeholders.
To see this discussion with Secretary Perdue, click here or on the image above.
Second Summit with North Korea
Here is some good news we can all get behind: it’s been 457 days since North Korea leader Kim Jong Un conducted a test missile launch, which is a big difference from 2016 when his country launched a missile every 24 days. We can be thankful to our current Administration for much of that progress.
President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un met this week in Vietnam for the second of their summits designed to discuss Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. This Administration has made great strides in bring Kim to the negotiating table. While no concrete agreements were reached at this meeting, I am hopeful Kim Jong Un will choose the path of denuclearization and prosperity for his nation.
A Gun Bill that Makes Sense
The House pushed through two pieces of anti-gun legislation that will really do very little to address gun violence. H.R. 8 would essentially eliminate gun shows (punishing law-abiding gun owners) while failing to focus on illegal gun sales, while H.R. 1112 would cause significant delays for any citizen wishing to purchase a firearm.
I have, however, co-sponsored a comprehensive bill that I believe will do much more to address gun violence. The Mass Violence Prevention (MVP) Act of 2019 would address the challenges underlying repeated tragedies, including failures in law enforcement coordination and response. It would establish fusion centers to coordinate information between local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to help them identify potential threats and respond quickly.
It would also reduce the flow of firearms into the black market, where violent criminals obtain their weapons without background checks. Specifically, the MVP Act would strengthen the penalty for theft from a Federal Firearms Licensee (better known as your local retail firearm store). The plain truth is that many of the firearms sold on the streets and used to commit crimes are obtained in robberies of legal firearms dealers.
The bill would also give law enforcement more resources to prevent and deter firearm violence by prosecuting criminals for their firearm-related offenses as the law requires. Having additional Assistant U.S. Attorneys to enforce the laws on the books would help law enforcement to better protect innocent people by taking down violent gangs.
In contrast to the do-nothing bills we voted on this week, this legislation would be the better option to combat gun brutality, as it directly addresses firearms-related violence without infringing on anyone’s Second Amendment rights.
Combatting Lyme Disease
We know so little about Lyme Disease, but I have heard from so many who are affected by it personally. I am happy to co-sponsor 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. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that 300,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Lyme Disease every year! It’s time to prioritize this growing national health crisis, find cures, and protect our families from possible exposure to tick-borne diseases.
HHS Finalizes Title X “Protect Life” Rule
This week the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) announced that it has finalized the Title X Family Planning Grant Program’s “Protect Life” rule. The rule removes the Title X abortion referral mandate and requires clear physical and financial separation between abortion providers like Planned Parenthood and grant recipients. Specifically, grant recipients will now be prohibited from sharing a building with an abortion provider. Abortion is not healthcare and should not be a requirement for any federal program. I am also pleased to see the final rule expands protections for women and children who are victims of human trafficking and sexual violence, by ensuring grant recipients follow state reporting requirements for the victims of this sort of crime.
Photos to Share
It was a pleasure to meet with leaders of Rafael USA to discuss the developmental work they do for the U.S. Military.
We had a calf born in the night earlier this month! It was so cute. It’s so sad that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Green New Deal folks want to “get rid of” what they call the “farting cows”! To learn more about what a bad deal the Green New Deal is, check out my newsletter from the other week here.
A big thank you to Mike and Amy for showing me around their fantastic candy store, The Candy Factory, in Columbia!
It was such an honor to meet with Chris Stout from the Veterans Community Project to see how he is providing resources to veterans in the Kansas City area. His organization builds specialized communities of tiny-homes with onsite services to provide housing stability and address the underlying causes of veteran homelessness.
Lowell & I enjoyed taking our friend, Bill Shelton, out to lunch after church to celebrate his 92nd Birthday. Bill was in the Merchant Marines during WWII. I love to hear his stories & am so proud of him & his service to our nation!
In Washington, I was honored to take part in a Heroin & Opioid Task Force Round Table, where I listened to families impacted by the opioid crisis and health care experts, who discussed what can be done to address this crisis.
Congresswoman Ann Wagner and I spoke with abortion survivor Melissa Odhen and Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser after the Senate’s disappointing failure Monday night to get enough votes to protect innocent babies who are born alive. Pictured (L-R): Melissa Odhen, Rep. Ann Wagner, myself, and Marjorie Dannenfelser. It’s a sad statement when elected officials vote against protecting life.
It was a pleasure meeting with Missouri American Legion leaders on Tuesday to discuss veterans issues in the 116th Congress. Pictured (L-R): Blair Moran, Kerry Boardman, myself, Cathie Goth, and Kenny Goth.
On Tuesday, I got to hear from radio and television broadcasters across the Show-Me State. Thanks for stopping by!
I had an informative meeting with Grace Link, representing the Missouri Veterans Commission, to discuss ways veteran services in Missouri are being improved. The Missouri Veterans Commission is a veterans services organization that helps connect veterans with the services they have earned and oversees seven veterans homes (a total of 1,350 beds) and five Missouri veteran cemeteries.
On Wednesday I enjoyed talking with Trayana Georgieva, a student from Bulgaria, who is currently attending Laquey High School through the U.S. State Department’s Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange program.
It was an honor to receive the True Blue Award from Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, on Thursday. This award is given to members of Congress who consistently fight for faith, family and freedom, and I was humbled to receive it.
It was a pleasure to meet with members of MO Wing Civil Air Patrol Thursday to learn about the services they offer in Missouri. Their three missions are: aerospace education, cadet programs, and emergency services.
Weekly Dose of Good News
It’s no secret that feral hogs are a problem in Missouri, causing damage to farms and other property. But there is good news: the Missouri Department of Conservation reports that the Department, partner agencies, and private landowners removed 9,365 feral hogs from the landscape last year. The hogs are not wildlife and pose a serious threat to wildlife, agriculture, property, and natural resources. Furthermore, they carry diseases that threaten agriculture and human health. There is no way of telling how many feral hogs there are in Missouri, but trapping these invasive creatures is an ongoing pursuit, with the goal being complete elimination from Missouri.