Each month I want to provide you with regular updates about what’s going on in our nation’s capital and throughout the 4th District of Kansas. Here’s what has happened in the month of June.
Trade and the USMCA
I continue to be a fierce advocate for free and fair trade, and I know that trade negotiations have been challenging to some Kansans. Tariffs are not long-term solutions, and many have felt the short-term pain as we work toward better trade deals with our trading partners.
I recently launched a page on my website, estes.house.gov/tariffs, that addresses the tariff exclusions process in an effort to assist businesses, farmers and ranchers during this time. I’m also pushing for passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Mexico became the first country to ratify the USMCA earlier in June. Congress also received a letter from nearly 1,000 agriculture organizations from across the country urging swift passage of the USMCA. Like many of you, they understand that to be competitive globally, we need free and fair trade deals.
Every day we delay passage of the USMCA, our country loses out on jobs, higher wages, and economic growth for farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers across our country.
Medicare for All
Health care continues to be a critical topic around kitchen tables and in the halls of Congress. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I’m fighting to make sure all Americans have access to affordable, quality health care. Unfortunately, the Democratic majority is more interested in a government-run, one-size-fits-all Medicare for All plan that would remove choice and lower quality.
The plan would also be disastrous for our rural hospitals.
During a recent hearing, I asked our expert witness about the potential for negative impacts on these critical access hospitals. Her answer was telling, saying that “it’s very hard to see how most of them would be able to keep their doors open.”
USDA Relocates Some Services to the Heartland
On June 13, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the selection of the Kansas City region for their Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) headquarters. Earlier this year I signed onto a letter to Secretary Perdue urging the USDA to relocate to our area.
This is monumental news for Kansas and our country. In addition to new jobs for our region, this move brings vital agencies within the USDA closer to farmers, ranchers and producers in the heartland and shows a commitment by the Trump administration to hearing from voices beyond the Washington beltway.
Our country continues to witness the horrific humanitarian crisis at our border – which is finally being recognized by both sides of the aisle. I have voted for and supported comprehensive immigration reform. We need to address border security and our legal immigration processes while expediting the process for those seeking asylum and quickly sending abusers back to their home country.
Recent bills out of the House have been partisan in nature, did not pass the Senate, and could not have been signed into law by the President. I’m working toward bipartisan solutions that properly support the underfunded border agencies.
We have a humanitarian crisis and it’s time to stop playing political games.
Recent actions by Iran has caused grave concerns for our country. I supported President Trump’s action to end the Obama administration’s disastrous Iran Nuclear Deal and replace it with sanctions.
As Iran poses a major threat to the region and world, I will continue to support efforts to keep Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon while rebuilding our own military capability to respond to any threat. I will continue to monitor the situation in Iran and defend our national security.
Kansas has seen its share of disastrous weather recently, including tornados, flooding, hail, and more. Thankfully, Kansans are resilient in the face of such disasters and compassionate when our friends and neighbors are in need.
Additionally, Kansans are pragmatic. As I travel our District, I’m reminded that we continuously look for common sense solutions and work toward practical problem-solving.
In June, the House voted on a $19 billion disaster relief bill. Just like all other legislation, I reviewed the content of the relief package carefully and considered its effectiveness, as well as the impact on our national debt.
While I remain committed to helping our region and country recover from natural disasters, after careful review, the $19 billion disaster relief bill was not something I could support.
Helping communities recover is critical, and what should have been a unanimously bipartisan disaster aid bill ballooned to 19 billion unbudgeted dollars that will be tacked onto our national debt, without adequately addressing specific disasters in Kansas or funding border security measures which the White House had requested from the disaster relief bill.
As of the end of April 2019, the Disaster Relief Fund contains $29 billion and is projected to retain $18.2 billion by the end of this fiscal year – and that is without the additional $19 billion from this bill. In fact, roughly 86% of the non-defense portions of the funding wasn’t even requested by the Trump Administration.
Congress could have sufficiently provided aid to those who need it – compassionately and pragmatically. I’m working toward real solutions that will not burden our future generations.
While I hope that the recent aid package provides some relief to those struggling from disasters, Congress should and must do better.
Connect with Me
Interested in receiving regular updates about what’s going on in Congress? Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter at estes.house.gov and please don’t hesitate to reach out to my District Office in Wichita at 316-262-8992 if you have questions, concerns or need help with a federal agency.
Ron Estes is a 5th generation Kansan and represents Kansas’ 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means.