In 2007, the Great Bend Tribune was named the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year. Up to that point after 131 years, the newspaper had touched the lives of a lot folks. One of those made a special video appearance at the chamber’s annual banquet when the honor was announced.
That person was Sen. Pat Roberts, a veteran lawmaker, advocate for rural Kansas and trained journalist. He was elected to Congress in 1980 and to the Senate in 1996.
Roberts has spent decades in Washington, D.C., serving the Sunflower State. But, after all that time, when he was asked to submit a message for the award presentation, he jumped at the chance, addressing the Tribune’s news staff by name and even recalled antidotes about interviews and media appearances long past.
It was announced this week that Roberts is no longer the top Republican on the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee. But he promised Thursday to remain a strong advocate for farmers, ranchers and rural areas and added that he expects to get another important assignment.
“Rest assured, I will remain a strong and vocal champion for agriculture as a senior member of the committee,” he said in a statement. “I will retain my Finance Committee seat and as a senior member of this committee, I am able to affect trade policy, especially ag trade, tax reform, and rural health care.”
Roberts isn’t leaving the Agriculture Committee altogether, just stepping aside as its ranking minority party member after two years in favor of Mississippi’s Thad Cochran, who has served longer in the Senate. Roberts said the move was dictated by Cochran’s seniority but has his full support.
“No matter whether I hold the gavel, or whether I am the ranking member or whether I am a senior member, agriculture has always been a top priority of my efforts in public service,” Roberts said. “Nothing will change that. My message to Kansas farmers and ranchers is that I will continue to be your voice and your champion at every turn.”
Roberts has never forgotten his Kansas roots and has always fought for his home state. Despite the shift in his responsibilities, it is assured he will continue to be a strong, sensible voice.
Let’s just hope everyone else listens.