Sen. Jerry Moran talks infrastructure, Afghanistan during Garden City stop

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
US Sen. Jerry Moran talks about issues facing Congress Wednesday morning during a federal legislative coffee by the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce at Garden City Community College.

United States Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., gave an update on things at the federal level when he stopped at the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce federal legislative coffee Wednesday morning. 

One topic he touched on was the federal infrastructure bill, of which he was one of the 11 republicans who joined 11 democrats to create the bi-partisan proposal on infrastructure. 

Moran said Kansas has a lot to gain with infrastructure investment – it's the middle of the country and what's produced here has to get outside to world markets. 

"Our access to the rest of the world and how efficient that is determines whether or not we get the contract, whether or not we sell wheat to Egypt is determined in part by how much it costs to get it there," he said. "Infrastructure matters. I wanted Kansans to have a voice in the group of 22 senators negotiating a bill and I wanted to bring Kansas priorities to that legislation." 

Funding and ability to pay for the bill was Moran's priority while developing the bill.

It could be a great thing for the country, but at the end it needs to be paid for, Moran said. The Congressional Budget Office indicated the bi-partisan bill is only paying for half of itself.

"My suggestion to my colleagues was if we can only pay for half of it, why don't we spend half of it?" he said. "That apparently wasn't the right kind of answer that people wanted, so we're spending money and we're not paying for the bill, it's more deficit spending." 

Moran also hoped an agreement on the bill to pay for traditional infrastructure such as roads and bridges, with the addition of broadband, would end the conversation about spending another $3 trillion to $6 trillion, but it hasn't. 

Many of the things that were removed from the infrastructure bill that Moran thought were objectionable will now be placed in a new bill to move on to congress. 

"It's like we're having a temporary victory, get bad things out of this bill, pass a bill that's modest in its expenditures and its scope, but next month we're going to pass one that's this big, five-times bigger than this one," he said.

While worried about the spending of the new bill, Moran said it will be beneficial to the community such as Amtrak and its Southwest Chief line and the Garden City Regional Airport terminal project. 

The situation in Afghanistan was also a topic discussed at Wednesday's event.

Moran is displeased with how the U.S. leaving behind military equipment, giving up Bagram Air Base and relying upon Kabul and the ill-preparedness in getting visas and a process to get American citizens and Afghan allies out. 

The idea that there is a set date is troublesome to Moran, who grew up with the Vietnam War in the background as a teenager. 

He remembers watching scene on the news of people clinging to helicopters trying to escape as the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam, and he believes that because the U.S. has experience and history in withdrawing from places where things aren't calm, they "ought to know how to do it differently today than what transpired then."

"The answer that I get when I ask why is this date so important, it's because that's what the Afghans have told us we have to be out by," he said. " I guess maybe we've agreed to that, but this is the United States of America and we have a responsibility to not leave people behind and it doesn't matter if we have an agreement or a date by which you have to do that, we need to complete our task before we arbitrarily say we're done."  

Moran also voiced concern for veterans who served in Afghanistan. 

"We're having conversations with veterans, we're talking to the Department of Veterans Affairs and I know from those conversations there are many who served in Afghanistan who are significantly troubled by what's going on, what they see on the news," he said. "I would encourage this community, Kansans, to reach out to those who served in Afghanistan and make certain they know that we honor and respect their service and that the challenges we're facing today, they much more involve people who are suits and not people who wear the uniform. Our veterans need to know that in this difficult, chaotic time in Afghanistan that we honor their service."