During this past August work period, I had the honor of being a part of the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Fisher House at the Omaha VA Medical Center. This new facility will offer 16 fully furnished suites for the family of military service members who are receiving care here in Nebraska. There are 84 Fisher Houses in operation at military facilities across our nation, the United Kingdom, and Germany, but this will be the first one in our state. At the ceremony, Gold Star Mother Barbara Yllescas-Vorthmann said the Fisher House was an "answer to prayer" as it allowed her to stay by her son's bedside while he fought to live. Her story can be read in my recent weekly column.
The Fisher House groundbreaking is a testament to Nebraska's commitment to care for our heroes and their loved ones. Continue reading for more updates from my office.
Hearing From Nebraska Ag Producers at the State Fair
There are few better ways to experience Nebraska than to visit our state fair. With our longstanding traditions from the tractor pull to the Beef Pit, it's a reminder of what makes our state so special. This year on opening day, I led a roundtable discussion on disaster relief with Governor Ricketts and Congressman Smith. We heard from agricultural producers across our state talk about recovering from the catastrophic weather events we've had this year. Our farmers and ranchers are demonstrating their resilience during these difficult times, and we have to continue to work to make sure they are heard.
Progress in the Fight to End the Opioid Epidemic
Nebraska is not immune to the opioid epidemic that is affecting our loved ones and communities across the country. The number of Americans affected by opioid addictions is mind-boggling. More Americans have died from opioid overdoses than those who have given their lives in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and the Iraq wars combined.
Protections for Nebraskans Affected By Irrigation Tunnel Collapse
(Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)
This summer, the water supply to over 100,000 acres of land in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming was cut off due to the collapse of the Gering-Ft. Laramie-Goshen irrigation canal tunnel. I joined members of Nebraska and Wyoming delegation in sending a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting a prompt determination regarding whether this canal failure qualified for crop insurance. Fortunately, following our letter, Secretary Perdue deemed the collapse to be an insurable event. Because of this decision, Nebraska ag producers submitting claims for production and prevented planting losses will have more certainty about how this will be treated under their crop insurance policies.
Market Oversight in the Wake of the Tyson Beef Plant Fire
After a devastating fire occurred at a Tyson beef processing plant in Holcomb, Kansas, I penned a letter to Chairman Health Tarbert of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and called for them to provide commodity market oversight to help ensure market participants are not taking advantage of our ag producers. I also sent a letter to Administrator Raymond P. Martinez of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to ensure flexibility for livestock haulers.
Further, the USDA announced it would launch an investigation into potential anti-competitive behaviors following the fire. Given that this plant processed 6,000 head of cattle every day, I am pleased that the USDA will be investigating this issue.
Photos from My Travels #OntheRoadinNE
I had the pleasure of welcoming members of the 155th Air Refueling Wing of the Nebraska National Guard home from overseas deployment. The rain didn't stop us! It was an honor to be there to thank them and their families for their service and sacrifice.
It was fun catching up with Jack Mitchell with KLIN News Talk to give a Senate update. You can listen to the interview here.
During the homecoming ceremony for members of the 115th Air Refueling Wing, Major Ryan Watson, Master Sergeant Thomas Thompson, and Lieutenant Colonel Barry Veen were all presented with a Bronze Star medal for their achievements in combat zones. We are all indebted to them for their service and dedication to Nebraska and our nation.
Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and I recently toured Lincoln's Water System Treatment Facility to see the damage this year's flooding caused to the wells. It has been a rough year for Nebraskans and for this facility, and it was great to see the positive results from the staff's hard work to keep Lincoln with running water.
The Nebraska Chamber Legislative Summit is always a wonderful event for the entire congressional delegation. I was pleased to give members an update on disaster relief, national security, and trade.
I joined Senator John Thune of South Dakota, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, and telecommunications leaders for a Senate Commerce Committee field hearing on expanding high-speed rural broadband. It is crucial that we continue to work to provide reliable internet connectivity to these rural communities for health care, education, and our ag producers.
At the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Fisher House in Omaha, I spoke about the importance of these homes and how they will be able to help the families of veterans receiving care in Nebraska. It's always great to see members of the community come out and support our armed service members and their families.