U.S. Senate

Senator Claire McCaskill / Flickr - CC

For a Democrat running in bright-red Missouri, the 2018 election will be quite the challenge. Today, we speak with Sen. Claire McCaskill about a new Republican opponent's campaign bid as well as the latest developments on Capitol Hill. Then, we learn how the 2014 Farm Bill is affecting dairy farmers and why they're pushing for reform, not replacement.

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee

U.S. senators considering Gov. Sam Brownback’s nomination as ambassador for international religious freedom peppered him Wednesday with questions, including some about his actions as Kansas governor.

During the Senate committee hearing in Washington, D.C., Brownback argued that a lack of religious freedom lies at the core of many violent conflicts throughout the world. He firmly stated that he would stand for religious freedom internationally.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

For a public official unaccustomed to the limelight, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran can’t seem to avoid it when it comes to the national healthcare debate.

Moran’s Monday night tweet announcing his opposition to the latest Republican health bill triggered “breaking news” alerts on cable news channels.

And it briefly won him praise from the demonstrators who stage weekly protests outside his Olathe office. They cheered when Leslie Mark, an organizer for Indivisible KC, picked up a bullhorn and shouted “Thank you Senator Jerry Moran,” to kick off Tuesday’s event.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

UPDATE: In Washington, D.C. Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran issued a statement saying that he would support President Donald Trump's efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement.  That news quickly turned the mood of a demonstration at Moran's office in Olathe where opponents of the now failed replacement bill had been thanking the senator from Kansas for standing firm against it.

For 118 years, Missouri has been represented in the U.S. Capitol’s esteemed Statuary Hall by two statues of slavery opponents from the 1800s: Francis Preston Blair Jr., and Thomas Hart Benton (the politician, not the painter.)

That’s likely to change, according to U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill, who issued a rare joint news release a few days ago to declare, in effect, that they’re wild about Harry S. Truman and optimistic his statue will soon bump Blair’s.

Frank Morris / KCUR

Hundreds of people, including members of the activist group Indivisible KC, looked for answers at a town hall hosted by U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican from Kansas, Monday morning.

The Republican's town hall at the Lenexa Conference Center was his first in Johnson County in over a year. It was a long time coming for some. 

"Indivisible has been asking for a town hall in the eastern part of the state since January and we finally got one,” Indivisible KC Board Member Leslie Mark said.

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Updated, 4:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump's move to fire FBI Director James Comey shocked Washington Tuesday night. It's only the second time in American history an FBI Director has been dismissed in the middle of a term, and it comes as the FBI investigates ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

Reaction from members of Congress from Kansas and Missouri was mixed.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill stood on a stage at Park University Thursday and took questions from some of the several hundred people packed into the majestic college chapel.

It was the latest in a string of town halls she's holding around the state.

The Senator was in Sikeston and Hannibal earlier in the week. On Friday she’s scheduled to be in Springfield and Rolla.

The two-term Senator, a Democrat, has made it clear she plans to run for re-election in 2018.

Mark Schierbecker / Wikimedia Commons

In a statement on Twitter Friday afternoon, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, said she will oppose Federal Judge Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Senate Democrats / Flickr - CC

From his vantage point in the U.S. Senate, Sheldon Whitehouse is of the mind that the longstanding tradition of honor in American politics is disappearing. Today, he argues corporate infiltration into the political system is to blame.

Helene C. Stikkel / U.S. Department of Defense

As  the first woman to represent Kansas in the U.S. Senate, Nancy Kassebaum Baker is a political legend. Today she shares her thoughts on the current state of the Republican Party, locally and nationally. Also, tracing one's lineage is popular, but it remains challenging for descendants of slaves. A genealogist explains the common challenges that can arise, and offers professional advice to ease the journey.

Twitter

As expected, U.S. Senators from Kansas and Missouri this week voted on President Trump’s cabinet nominations along party lines.

Voting for former Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general included Republican Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts of Kansas and Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri.  

Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill voted against Sessions, saying that as a former prosecutor from Kansas City, she understands “the massive power of federal law enforcement.”

Wikimedia Commons

Updated, 11:40 a.m. Wednesday: The U.S. Senate has confirmed Betsy DeVos for education secretary, 50-50 with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote.

Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri; Jerry Moran, R-Kansas; and Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, voted yes. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, voted no.

The original post continues below. 

The U.S. Senate is expected to confirm Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s embattled pick for education secretary, Tuesday afternoon.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

These days political news provides plenty of fodder for Up To Date's Ethics Professors. Today, we ask them if it's okay for protestors to break the law for a cause. They also discuss whether Senate Democrats would be justified in stonewalling President Trump's new Supreme Court nominee, the same way Republicans refused to recognize President Obama's.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has endured for decades, but former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell believes a nonviolent resolution is still possible. Then, one data scientist says expanding misuse of algorithms and mathematical modeling is creating Weapons of Math Destruction.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Veteran GOP incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri kept his job Tuesday, riding the Republican wave of winners across the country.

Blunt, 66, easily overcame his Democratic challenger, Jason Kander. Blunt was part of the pack of Republicans racking up wins, including Eric Greitens in the Missouri governor's race and Donald J. Trump in the presidential race.

Blunt met with his supporters at a Springfield hotel where the crowd was chanting "USA! USA!"

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

With Election Day a week away, we check in with local political reporters for analysis of elections in Kansas and Missouri. Then, political commentator E.J. Dionne discusses the presidential campaign and themes from his book Why the Right Went Wrong. We finish with this week's Statehouse Blend Kansasfeaturing state Rep.

Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Senate hopeful Jason Kander has returned $25,000 in campaign contributions that are connected to an alleged straw donor system by a prominent Democratic law firm.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt may currently be Missouri's freshman senator but he has worked in the Capitol since 1997. Early in his career, he served as chief deputy whip for the GOP, eventually becoming House majority leader in 2005 and 2006.

Republican Roy Blunt has represented Missouri in Washington, D.C., for 19 years. After seven terms in the House of Representatives, Blunt moved to the Senate in 2010. Now, Blunt finds himself in a tight race against Democrat Jason Kander that may cost his party control of the U.S. Senate. Also, Brian McTavish presents the latest Weekend To-Do List.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

GOP incumbent U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt on Thursday denied ownership of pro-tobacco legislation that he tried to place in a homeland security bill in 2002, a criticism that has dogged him for a decade.

It’s a dreary, rainy day in Troy, Missouri, and Jason Kander is about to meet a small group of veterans at the Roasted Bean Coffee Shop. In a weird, parallel universe, the 35-year-old Democrat would be stumping for his second term as secretary of state. But Kander’s aiming higher and is focusing his time and energy on trying to unseat U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt.

Few national pundits believed Kander’s gambit would be worthwhile. They looked at presidential results and polls, and concluded (wrongly) Missouri was just too Republican for a Democrat to prevail. But Kander never bought into that type of assumptive prognostication. And now, Kander is within striking distance of being a building block for his party’s return to power in the U.S. Senate.

Aaron Pellish / KCUR 89.3

It's been 40 years since Missouri voters have sent two Democrats to represent them in the U.S. Senate. If Jason Kander has his way, that will soon change.

A recent poll released by Monmouth University indicates Kander, the state's Secretary of State since 2013, has narrowed incumbent Roy Blunt's lead to within the margin of error.

Aaron Pellish / KCUR 89.3

Missouri hasn't had two Democratic U.S. Senators in 40 years, but Jason Kander is looking to change that. Today, we speak with the current Missouri Secretary of State about his run to defeat incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt in what has become a very competitive race.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren rallied in Kansas City Friday for fellow Democrat Jason Kander, saying he is the candidate for the working middle-class while GOP incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt works only for “millionaires and billionaires.”

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Chris Wells’ orders are crisp, terse and quick.

“Shooter ready. Access,” Wells says to his student. “Fire. Sight. Fire. Scan and access. Place the firearm on safe. Re-holster.”

His student reacts to each command, pulling his pistol from back and under his shirt, and fires twice. He then sets the safety and puts the pistol back into the waistband of his jeans.

“Alright,” Wells says, “good job, good job.”

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

As the race for the U.S. Senate seat from Missouri is tightening, the candidates are taking on the bread-and-butter issues they hope will resonate with voters.

Secretary of State Jason Kander, who is challenging GOP incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt, on Wednesday met with a group of college students and university administrators about the high cost of college.

Kander told the group that he believes those costs – and resulting high student loan debt – is a middle-class issue that affects generations of families.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Every other Wednesday, the Rollin’ Grocer truck parts outside the Victoria Arms Building so residents can buy fresh food.

“Kansas City is the No. 6 city in the nation for food deserts,” says Natasha Ria El-Scari with Rollin’ Grocer. “Anywhere there’s more than one mile of walking distance or you have to catch more than two buses to get there is considered a food desert.”

There’s a Thriftway closer than that, but many of the people who live here are elderly or disabled. They’d have to cross 63rd Street in walkers or wheelchairs.

farmprogress.com

Jerry Litton, a congressman from northern Missouri, died in 1976 … on the same night that he won the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate.  His death was an unspeakable tragedy for a man many thought would one day occupy the White House.

Guests:

Former U.S. Senator John Danforth has spent years speaking out against the abuses of our political system. On this edition of Up To Date,  he speaks with Steve Kraske about Missouri, the 2016 presidential race and his latest book, The Relevance of Religion: How Faithful People Can Change Politics.

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