In his last two years of his nearly 40 in office Sen. Pat Roberts told Garden Citians on Wednesday he has several final priorities: a bill on children’s nutrition, completed tax incentives, trade policy that could help farmers and progress following an upcoming bi-partisan hearing on climate change.
As his career comes to a close, there’s still work to be done.
Roberts gave a legislative update to a handful of locals Wednesday at Garden City Community College, an event organized by the Garden City Area of Chamber of Commerce.
Roberts said in a separate interview that he and his colleagues have brought a parade of stakeholders — farm organizations, big food companies, farmers, ranchers, growers — before President Donald Trump to discuss trade. Trump asks them questions and understands but little has changed, and an ongoing trade war is killing prices and causing farmers to lose out on foreign markets, Roberts said. When answering a question, he said he thinks Trump’s approach has been “very counterproductive.”
“We have a crying need, an urgent need for certainty and predictability on behalf of our farmers and our ranchers and our growers. Agriculture is so, so important to Kansas and important to the country in a troubled and hungry world,” Roberts said at the update.
The upcoming hearing on climate change will also relate back to Kansas farmers and ranchers, he said. The meeting will not be a back and forth on the existence of climate change, Roberts said. “Everyone knows” it’s happening, he said. The meeting will be to determine paths forward to research trends in global warming and how individual farmers can access the means and technology, like drip irrigation instead of circular irrigation, to make meaningful changes to protect the planet.
“That’s the nature of the hearing. Avoid the politics and let’s find some answers,” Roberts said in a separate interview.
In response to questions, the senator said student debt is a real problem, but free college was not something the Senate would pursue. The rural health care system is in trouble and Medicaid expansion would “be an answer to many small, rural hospitals trying to keep their doors open,” but he does not know how he would vote if he were in the state legislature.
As he wrapped his statement, he turned to his long tenure in office.
“Thank you for the privilege of representing you for so long,” Roberts said.
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