In his 18 years in Congress, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) said, politics has changed.
“And not for the better,” he said.
“I expect members of Congress to represent their districts and their states to the best of their abilities,” he said. “We all bring certain ideas, goals, philosophies, values to Washington D.C. This is a very diverse country. It does take a willingness to respect other people’s positions and try to find solutions to problems.”
Moran made a fast trip to Abilene to interview candidates interested in attending a military academy and briefly discussed the political scene in Washington with the Reflector-Chronicle.
He said he was reluctant to leave Washington with the recent closing of all nonessential federal government services and the lack of an approved budget. Congress has not agreed on a budget for the current fiscal year with the Affordable Health Care Act, sometimes referred to as Obamacare, front and center of the political debate.
The Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate have been unable to compromise, which closed down part of the federal government services.
Moran experienced firsthand how the Washington politics affected the town of Abilene.
Abilene is not only the home of many furloughed Department of Defense civilian employees but also the Eisenhower Presidential Museum and Library, the city’s No. 1 tourist attraction.
Moran, first elected to the House of Representatives in 1996, has been nominating students for the past 18 years and most of those interviews have been at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library.
Not this year.
Due to the closure of federal government services, the Library and the rest of the Eisenhower campus is closed.
“With so many civilian employees that live here, it is important to get this (Eisenhower campus) open,” he said.
Moran said more than ever, the country and the members of Congress are divided.
He said that half the people that call his office say, “Moran, don’t you budge one inch.” The other half will say, “Why can’t you work with other members of Congress and get things done?”
“In my view, they are both right,” he said. “There are things that they feel strongly about: core values or issues. The large majority of things require members of Congress from across the country with different points of view to find solutions.”
This year, 79 students in Kansas applied for a Moran nomination to a military academy of which only a handfull will receive one. This year the interview process was hastily moved to the Emmanuel Church.
“We appreciate the Methodist Church, at the last minute, giving us the opportunity to use their facilities. They have been great to work with,” Moran said.
“There is something special about the interviews and selecting my nominees to the academies at the Eisenhower Center,” he added. “It lends itself to inspiring kids. The story of Gen. Eisenhower and how this small-town boy from the middle of Kansas becoming the Supreme Allied Commander is one I want these kids to know and experience. It is disappointing the political challenges in Washington, D.C. didn’t allow us to use the Eisenhower Center.
“This is a great experience for me,” Moran said of the interview and selection process. “I appreciate it every year. This group of men and women were especially impressive.”
Moran shook hands and had a conversation with each candidate.
“They were very respective, very articulate, very focused on earning an opportunity to serve their country with a military education,” he said.
Moran said he is hoping for a resolution in Congress “soon.”
“I never thought that closing down the government is a particularly useful strategy. The consequences are significant.
“I will be returning to Washington, D.C. and will be doing everything I can to see that there is the opportunity for the House and Senate to vote in a way that hurries the time in which we can get things up and running.”