Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) paid a visit to Great Bend as part of a five-city tour Tuesday. Moran, who was born in Great Bend and raised in Plainville, served as the keynote speaker at Tuesday’s meeting of the Great Bend Lions Club at Playa Azul Mexican Restaurant.
Moran covered a variety of topics, including the current political and social divides in the nation.
“It’s become much more difficult to find agreement in Congress,” Moran told Tuesday’s gathering. “But it’s also true of people outside of Washington. From my observations, people seem to be increasingly consumed by politics.”
He added that organizations like the Lions Club serve as a venue for people to pull together for the overall welfare of the community. “In rural Kansas, everybody knows about everybody,” he said. “If we spend all our time getting and staying mad at each other, we get nothing done and our communities don’t prosper and have no future.”
Debate and consensus on economic recovery
On issues relating to the nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Moran said he has reservations about the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 which is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package proposed by President Joe Biden. “I was one of 10 Republicans to visit the White House and spent two hours with the President,” said Moran. “I believe this package is a mistake. It’s an attempt to ram through a costly bill that has little to do with COVID-19.”
In response, Moran and other Republicans proposed a version that allocates $650 billion as opposed to the $1.9 trillion.
Moran stated that even in the Republican version of the stimulus bill, there were still some items that he found unnecessary but stressed that both parties need to find common ground.
“If the decision is made to pass the $1.9 trillion, then we are obligated to hold President Biden to his promise of bipartisanship he made during his campaign and find other ways that are much less damaging to the nation and its future economy,” said Moran. According to Moran, the $1.9 trillion is just the tip of the iceberg. He added that a $3 to $4 trillion infrastructure bill is in the works. “I get worried that now all you have to do to pass a bill in Congress is write a $1,400 check for every American and we’ll pass anything.”
Ag and medicine
On other subjects, Moran discussed his commitment to farming and agriculture.
“I serve on a number of committees that I think matter to Kansas,” said Moran. “One of the matters that is of great importance to me is farming and agriculture, particularly how those relate to rural Kansas and America.” He said part of America’s future depends on the success of farms. “Farming is one of the most common ways to bring people back to our communities and helps ensure the strength and vitality of those communities for our kids and grandkids,” said Moran.
On health care, Moran stressed the importance of keeping hospital doors open and keeping physicians in communities. “That includes pharmacies on Main Street and how we manage Medicare and working with reimbursements.”
Small business, big impact
Moran touched on the issue of small business creation and development and how it benefits smaller communities.
“It’s probably not as much of an issue here in Great Bend but in other, smaller, outlying towns within the county and area, economic development can spell the difference between whether or not a community has a grocery store,” he said. “I’m probably one of a very few in Washington that understands why that can be such a big concern.”
Moran added that small businesses and their relationship to small town life serve as a reminder of the importance of keeping the cost of operations as low as possible. “My job is not to pass legislation saying that there has to be a grocery store,” said Moran. “But I want to make sure that smaller businesses have as much opportunity to succeed by keeping factors in check such as taxes, insurance, worker’s compensation premiums, regulations, all those things that increase the cost for businesses to stay in business.”
Swimming with no stream
In light of the ongoing pandemic, Moran expressed concern about the lack of adequate access to broadband internet service.
“We’ve learned during COVID that in both education and health care we still lack sufficient broadband services to meet the needs of students and patients,” he said. “So we’re working to increase that access for more remote areas of the population.”
Moran added that a map was created by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to indicate locations where there was an absence or low level of broadband service.
According to the FCC map, there are almost zero locations indicating a lack of broadband or cell service in Kansas.
“There are five commissioners on the FCC and I have invited all of them to Kansas to drive with me through the state and warn them when they’re about to lose a phone call or internet,” said Moran. “So we don’t want to spend a bunch of money when we have flawed maps telling us that we have no lack of broadband or cell service in our own state. Let’s make sure those maps are accurate on coverage areas; then we can decide how best to address the issue.”
Power at the local level
On the subject of education, Moran said that greater school district autonomy is needed.
“We need to do everything we can to make sure that decisions about education are made at the local level and not in Washington D.C.,” said Moran. “Much of the legislation that’s dreamed up in Washington generally doesn’t comply with what we do in Kansas. Those decisions need to be made by local school boards, administrators and teachers, not the U.S. Department of Education.”
About Sen. Moran
Gerald Wesley Moran has served as a senior United States senator since 2011. A member of the Republican Party, he served as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the 113th U.S. Congress, during which he led successful Republican efforts in the 2014 election, producing the first Republican Senate majority since 2006. Previously, he served as a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Kansas’s 1st congressional district.