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 has happened in the month of March.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Report
On March 22, Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel provided his final report to Attorney General William Barr, who in turn provided Congress a summary on March 24.
I reviewed the summary that concluded what many in the United States already knew: there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. After months of calling for the Special Counsel’s protection, Democrats now say his report is insufficient, even after millions of dollars spent for nearly two years, 19 lawyers and 40 FBI agents, more than 2,800 subpoenas, and nearly 500 search warrants.
Attorney General Barr is diligently working to release as much of the report as he is legally able, noting that current U.S. law will force some restrictions including those that could impact other investigations.
The Mueller report says Russia’s intent was to “sow social discord,” but I’m hopeful that with the conclusion of the Special Counsel, our country can come together and move past the bitter partisan divide of the previous presidential election.
Protecting our Border
We have a crisis on our southern border. That’s why the president used the powers granted to him by Congress in 1976 to declare a national emergency to finally deal with this crucial issue. Lives have been lost because of the flow of drugs and trafficking at our southern border. This is not just a national security crisis – this is a humanitarian crisis.
Thirty-one national emergencies are still in effect from Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. While these were important declarations at the time, Kansans from across our district have shared that the crisis we face today is just as critical.
The House and Senate passed a resolution to denounce this national emergency declaration, but I stand with Kansans, law enforcement and the angel families who have lost their loved ones by supporting the president’s veto of this misguided resolution. When the House voted to override or sustain this veto, I proudly voted to uphold the veto and secure our border. The override vote failed on March 26.
Rejecting Ant-Semitism in the House and Recognizing Golan Heights
The U.S. House of Representatives’ vote on a resolution to condemn hate speech followed weeks of anti-Semitic tropes from an elected Member of Congress. While I voted in favor of this resolution to condemn hate speech in all forms, I was disappointed that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle couldn’t put more weight in the resolution to explicitly call out the atrocious comments about Jewish Americans.
Let me be clear; I will not stand for the disparaging comments from Members of Congress – or anyone – against our Jewish friends and our Israeli allies. This is not a partisan stance. This is an American stance.
Additionally, Israel is one of our most trusted allies. Recently the president announced the recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Standing with Israel is the right decision and is an important recognition for the region.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
It’s tax season. I recently spoke with a local tax accountant who found about 94 percent of his middle-class clients are benefiting from the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. While some may look at their refund to check their savings, this is not an accurate reflection of how you benefited. Instead, compare your total tax on line 63 of your 2017 Form 1040 with line 15 of your 2018 Form 1040.
The Kelsey Smith Act
In March I introduced the Kelsey Smith Act in the House of Representatives. It requires wireless communication providers to provide call location information to law enforcement officials when responding to a call for emergency service or when in an emergency situation that involves the imminent risk of death or serious physical harm.
To protect privacy rights while allowing law enforcement to save lives, the bill ensures that law enforcement officials can determine if an emergency exists that requires cellphone location information.
The bill is named after Kelsey Smith, who was abducted from a department store in Overland Park, Kansas, and murdered on June 2, 2007. Although the abduction was captured on a security camera leaving little doubt of the emergency nature of the circumstances, Kelsey’s body was unable to be located until four days after she disappeared when her wireless provider released location information from her cellphone to law enforcement.
I know Kelsey’s parents, and they’ve worked tirelessly to make sure other families across the country never have to experience the pain they’ve endured. The Smiths have successfully worked with 23 states to pass similar legislation, including Kansas. I am hopeful a national Kelsey Smith Act will help save lives, while also protecting individual privacy rights across the country.
Connect with Me
Interested in getting 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.
Ron Estes is a 5th generation Kansan and represents Kansas’ 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means.