Following our 18-month long investigation into the systemic abuse of amateur and Olympic athletes, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and I released a report on Tuesday detailing the results of our extensive investigation, which confirmed several instances where the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Gymnastics, Michigan State University, and even the FBI, failed to protect young athletes by failing to quickly act on credible claims of abuse at the hands of team coaches or doctors.
We also introduced sweeping reform legislation, the Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Act of 2019, to help prevent the future abuse of athletes and to reform the Olympic movement. Our bipartisan bill will empower and protect Olympic and amateur athletes through three key reforms.
First and foremost, our legislation will implement requirements to promote a culture where athletes and their best interests are put first. Second, it will ensure greater transparency and accountability throughout the amateur sports movement, and, third, it will fortify the independence and capabilities of the U.S. Center for SafeSport, the body responsible for investigating allegations of sexual abuse against athletes and coaches.
Read more about this bipartisan legislation here in my joint USA TODAY op-ed with Sen. Blumenthal.
Tuesday morning, Sen. Blumenthal and I joined NBC’s TODAY Show to highlight our investigation and discuss our work to protect athletes. Throughout the course of our investigation, we held four subcommittee hearings, conducted interviews with Olympic athletes and survivors, and retrieved over 70,000 pages of documents. To watch this segment, click here.
Many of the survivors who shared their stories with us during our investigation were athletes who represented our nation on the world stage while playing sports they love. Sports are meant to inspire and instill confidence in athletes – yet, during our investigation, we saw how adults repeatedly failed to quickly act when faced with abuse allegations against a coach or trainer. Sen. Blumenthal and I have been inspired by the brave testimony and advocacy of the survivors who have worked tirelessly to make certain no athlete has to suffer as they did. We’re committed to getting this bill across the finish line – for them, and for all future athletes – so that they may be able to participate in the sport they love without fear of abuse. Click here to watch our segment on ESPN’s Outside the Lines and to hear more about the survivors who have inspired our work.
Meeting with Kansas City Mayor Quinton LucasI sat down with Kansas City, Mo. Mayor Quinton Lucas while he was in Washington, D.C. meeting with area Senators on Tuesday to discuss ways we can partner to bolster Kansas City and attract job-creating businesses to the region. As we anticipate two USDA research agencies’ relocation to Kansas City, we also discussed how we can best welcome these employees and show them all that the KC area has to offer them and their families. Additionally, as infrastructure remains a top regional priority on both the Kansas and Missouri sides of the state line, I used our meeting as an opportunity to make certain Mayor Lucas knows I am committed to assisting local leaders in ensuring that KC’s transportation and infrastructure needs are met. I wish Mayor Lucas the best of luck in this new position.
Touring Juniper Hill Farms as Part of KFB’s Centennial TourOn Monday, I joined the Kansas Farm Bureau Centennial Tour to celebrate all they do to advance the interests of agricultural producers and rural Kansas. The farm tour began at Juniper Hill Farms in Douglas County, which produces and sells fruits, vegetables and other crops. The owner of the farm, Scott Thellman, spoke about his efforts to better connect his farm and produce with consumers through education and marketing. I appreciated the opportunity to provide remarks to kick off the tour, and remain committed to working with Kansas Farm Bureau to make certain agriculture and rural Kansas have a bright future.
Addressing the Aero Club of WashingtonOn Tuesday, I spoke to over 250 aviation stakeholders at the Aero Club of Washington. The Aero Club was founded in 1909 with the purpose of strengthening and promoting the aeronautics industry. Throughout the years, the Aero Club has hosted hundreds of national and international leaders, and I enjoyed speaking at their July event.
During my remarks, I discussed Kansas’ strengths within this industry, and provided an update on my work on the Aviation Funding Stability Act and the Aeronautics Innovation Act, bills I authored to promote and protect the aviation industry and its workforce. Aviation is imperative to the success of the Kansas and American economy, and as a member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation and Space, I will continue my work to support and bolster this industry.
Meeting with Army Vice Chief of Staff General MartinArmy Vice Chief of Staff General Joe Martin stopped by my office this week to discuss a number of Army programs that directly affect Kansas. General Martin was sworn in as the Army’s second-highest ranking officer last month, following an illustrious career that includes multiple commands of the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas.
Among the topics discussed were the Army’s hypersonics program and the Kansas National Guard’s Advanced Turbine Engine Army Maintenance, otherwise known as ATEAM. ATEAM, a Kansas Air and Army National Guard unit, provides unparalleled support to the Armor Branch of the U.S. Army and has proven essential to the operations of our armored vehicles.
General Martin is a capable leader, and I know the Army is in good hands with him as the Vice Chief of Staff.
Advocating for Moms in the National Guard and ReserveThis week, I also discussed pressing issues facing the military with Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Among the issues we discussed were Kansas’s unique ability to lead the nation in the aerospace arena and the need to bolster our cyber security workforce and training.
Importantly, we also discussed my bipartisan MOMS Leave Act, which would provide military mothers in the National Guard and Reserve with the same maternity leave as their active duty counterparts. I urged Sec. Esper to work with me in supporting military mothers through implementation of this policy, and I will continue engaging Sec. Esper and the Department of Defense on this issue.
Introducing Legislation to Expand Access to Allergy TestingThis week, I introduced the Allergy Testing Access Act of 2019, legislation that will expand access to allergy testing by addressing inconsistencies in Medicare and Medicaid coverage of confirmatory allergy testing. Allergies can significantly diminish an individual’s productivity, negatively affect their quality of life, and, in serious cases, can even be life-threatening. With more than 50 million Americans living with allergy symptoms, allergic diseases are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States and carry an associated cost of over $18 billion per year.
The Allergy Testing Access Act will address coverage inconsistencies and remove barriers preventing patient access to help properly diagnose allergies and provide quality care in rural communities.
Kansans in the Office
Griffin Bryant of Goddard
American Veterinary Medical Association
Patricia Burris of Lawrence
Garry Cowan of Wichita
Meghan Vorhees of Chanute
Capitol ToursAmelia Anderson of Paola
Gary Anderson of Paola
Grace Bevitt of Shawnee
Jack Bevitt of Shawnee
Jeff Bevitt of Shawnee
Jennifer Bevitt of Shawnee
Michael Bevitt of Shawnee
Lem Buster of Topeka
Patrick Buster of Topeka
Joshua Cain of Topeka
Justice Cain of Topeka
Brewer Clinkinbeard of Olathe
Gabrielle Clinkinbeard of Olathe
Karrie Clinkinbeard of Olathe
Sean Clinkinbeard of Olathe
Sierra Eichman of Hays
Braton Kay of Ashland
Karrie Kay of Ashland
Kendal Kay of Ashland
Kinley Kay of Ashland
Reece Kay of Ashland
Sloan Kay of Ashland
Lawrence Konrade of Ashland
James Olge of Topeka
Faith Phelan of Leawood
Heather Phelan of Leawood
John Phelan of Leawood
Mary Kate Phelan of Leawood
Morgan Powell of Greensburg
Jody Scoby of Hays
Mohan Tahiliani of Leawood
Shobha Tahiliani of Leawood
Brittany Woodbury of Wichita
Josh Woodbury of Wichita
Stephen Woodbury of Wichita
Trisha Woodbury of Wichita
High Plains Mental Health Center
Walt Hill of Hays
Kyle Kessler of Topeka
Honored to Serve You in WashingtonIt is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Thank you to the many Kansans who have been calling and writing in to share their thoughts and opinions on the issues our state and country face. I appreciate the words of Kansans, whether in the form of a letter, a Facebook comment, or a phone call, who wish to make their voice heard.
Very truly yours,