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 happened in October.
A New Speaker
On Oct. 25 the House elected a new Speaker – Mike Johnson of Louisiana.
Mike is a great pick to lead the House and I’m excited to work with him to advance the priorities of the American people – reducing federal spending, securing the southern border, holding the Biden administration accountable and supporting our ally Israel.
You may not have heard of Speaker Johnson before the vote – he’s not the type to seek the spotlight. He works hard to advance the right policies and is a man of faith, humility and integrity. He won the support of every Republican on the House floor, which is a testament to his solid voting record and strong character.
The process of electing a new Speaker was difficult at times, but I’m confident that we’ve elected an excellent Speaker in Mike Johnson and that he will lead the People’s House successfully through these challenging times.
Israel at War
In October the world witnessed Israel come under attack. The images we’ve seen are truly shocking and horrifying. I strongly condemn the atrocious assaults against one of our country’s strongest allies.
Yet the more we learn about the devastating attacks, the more it becomes clear that President Biden’s foreign policy is failing. Biden’s weakness on the world stage – like unfreezing the $6 billion in “humanitarian” assets of Hamas-backer Iran and haphazardly pulling out of Afghanistan – is a stark contrast to the previous administration’s work on establishing the Abraham Accords and decimating ISIS.
We’ve also seen continued protests across the country and around the world by people who are choosing to side with terrorists. The world was horrified by reports about a hospital tragedy in Gaza, and we mourn for all innocent lives impacted by the effects of war. Unfortunately, many in the media were quick to buy into the narrative that Israel targeted this hospital – parroting talking points from a known terrorist organization. Hamas cannot be trusted, yet initial headlines in the Associated Press, New York Times and others were absolutely false, and even President Biden publicly said that our own intelligence points to a misfire by terrorists within Gaza.
The quick and unashamed rise in antisemitism is alarming, and I condemn it in the strongest sense possible.
Israel was attacked, and they have every right to defend their people from terrorists. Those siding with Hamas – the governing authority of Gaza – are siding with people who used humanitarian aid like water pipes to build rockets to destroy human life. They are siding with people who killed entire families in front of each other, raped women beside their slain friends, and took Americans and many others hostage. There is no justification for this kind of inhumanity – none. And there is no justification for antisemitism.
The first action taken by the House after electing Speaker Johnson was to pass a resolution supporting Israel and condemning Hamas. We voted 412 to 10 to loudly and unequivocally condemn the brutal onslaught and firmly voice support for our ally and friend Israel. I was proud to be an original cosponsor on this important resolution.
Kansans who may still be in the Middle East can call my office at 316-262-8992 for assistance or visit my website at estes.house.gov/Israel for important links.
Rattlesnake Creek Watershed at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge
For years stakeholders in Kansas have been working with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) to find a comprehensive solution to questions of water access within the Rattlesnake Creek Watershed, which serves as a reliable source of water for numerous families, small businesses and communities in rural Kansas.
The FWS announced in October it has agreed to conditionally pause its request to secure its senior water right to the Watershed in 2024. In their letter, FWS called on the Kansas Department of Agriculture-Division of Water Resources and local stakeholders to come together to find a practicable and permanent solution to the current impairment. This is an important step and all of us in Kansas welcome FWS to work collaboratively and in good faith with Kansas stakeholders to develop a long-term solution that ensures our residents have access to water for years to come.
Budget Oversight Committee
The United States currently borrows one out of every five dollars we spend at the federal level. Imagine if that were your family budget or a small business. You simply couldn’t survive if 20% of spending had to be borrowed. This problem didn’t materialize overnight, but it’s accelerating as President Biden’s outrageous spending is the largest deficit spending by any president in history outside of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s time for change, and the new House Budget Committee Oversight Task Force will help do just that. Announced in mid-October, the Budget Oversight Task Force will focus on three key areas of reform: reining in wasteful spending, right-sizing the bureaucracy and unleashing economic growth through deregulation. I’m pleased to serve on this new Task Force that will bring greater fiscal transparency and responsibility to the federal government.
EPA’s Attack on Mom and Pop Shops
At the end of the month I sent a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan. The EPA has continually sought ways to punish hardworking Kansans and put the pressure of the federal bureaucracy on small businesses here in the heartland.
Their latest attack is on local meat processors. The EPA has proposed an expansion of the Meat and Poultry Products Effluent Guidelines and Standards that essentially requires the small meat processors, like many in rural communities here in Kansas, to implement the same major testing of phosphate and nitrogen that is required for large-scale meat processing operations. This onerous regulation should not apply to small operations that would be detrimentally impacted and do not operate in the same conditions.
Major operations have the capital, staff and technology to do this type of testing, but small mom and pop operations would be shuttered if this proposal takes effect. As I wrote in my letter, EPA’s compliance calculations range from $5,000 to $4 million in upfront costs and $5,000 to $700,000 in annual recurring fees.
Imagine being a downtown shop in rural Kansas faced with up to $4 million in mandated upfront costs and up to $700,000 each year to keep doing what you’re doing. This regulation lacks scientific reasoning and would close many local meat processors throughout our state. The EPA shouldn’t pursue this any further.
Build the Wall
The Biden administration announced something recently that I and my Republican colleagues have long known – a border wall is an essential tool to deter illegal migration into the United States.
That’s why President Trump built nearly 500 miles of a new border wall and Congress approved funding in 2019 for additional border wall construction, which President Biden has left to rot in an egregious waste of taxpayer’s dollars.
Resuming construction of the wall now – only after Democrat mayors and governors have started calling for help – is an admission by the administration that their policy is wrong and failing the American people, and the migrants who are being taken advantage of by smugglers and cartels.
With 2.47 million encounters at the Southern Border this year – a 40% increase from last year – it’s a little late to be resuming construction of a border wall.
Meanwhile, Republicans have been consistently right on border policy, and a wall is just one part of the solution – we have plenty more solutions in the House-passed Secure the Border Act, the most comprehensive border security legislation that I hope the Senate takes up.
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.
Congressman Ron Estes represents the Fourth Congressional District. Reach him at estes.house.gov.