Most of the Sunflower State’s representation in Congress came to Wichita on Friday to speak before local business and political leaders.
Sen. Pat Roberts and Reps. Ron Estes, Lynn Jenkins and Kevin Yoder pushed similar policies on trade, immigration, taxes and regulation at a luncheon in Old Town hosted by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.
Health care was largely absent from the forum as the Senate considers next week another effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
The all-Republican panel praised the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back regulations, which they view as threatening to jobs and economic growth. Jenkins said she hears more about regulation than any other issue, including taxes and health care, in her eastern Kansas district.
“The boot of the regulator is on your neck,” Jenkins said. “You feel like a lot of times the federal government might just come … to extort money from you. They don’t even want to solve a problem. They just want to shake you all down.”
Jenkins said Congress needed to exert its authority on ending regulations that affect economic growth. She said they could do that by lowering vote requirements for bills in the Senate.
“We can get things through the House. It’s just right now the Senate can’t ever come up with 60 votes to do anything,” Jenkins said. “At this point in the nation’s history, we need to do away with that, we need to run the tables and then ask the electorate in the next election cycle, ‘Are you happier with the growth that we’ve seen?’”
They argued for a simpler taxing system with lower corporate rates and fewer brackets.
“If we can achieve economic growth, that’s really what we’re about,” Roberts said.
Estes said he was impressed with President Trump’s approach to improving international trade deals.
“Since the election and even before he took office, that message changed and the phrasing and the terminology went from tearing up agreements to ‘Let’s focus on free and fair trade,’” Estes said.
But they emphasized the president’s southern border wall can’t be the only approach to addressing immigration issues. Yoder, who represents the Kansas City area, said Congress needs to boost border security technology and address people overstaying their visas.
“A wall is not going to change that,” Yoder said. “So we need to completely reform how we do our entry-exit system on visas.”
Roberts received a Hard Hat award for a 100 percent voting record on the Kansas Chamber of Commerce’s legislative agenda.