U.S. House Rep. Mann visits western Kansas, addresses vaccine rollout and COVID aid

Politics

FINNEY COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – United States House of Representative, Republican Tracey Mann visited western Kansas Wednesday.

Mann was elected to the 117th Congress of the U.S. House in November 2020 and assumed office in January 2021. He serves the ‘Big First’ District of Kansas which covers 63 counties in western and northern Kansas and is the 12th largest congressional district in the nation.

Mann is an advocate for agriculture and Kansas conservative values. During Mann’s visit to the area, he met with local officials at Finney County’s mass vaccination site located at the Finney County Fairgrounds exhibition building.

While there, Congressman was able to see firsthand how the vaccine rollout has been going in a rural part of the state. Officials spoke about how vaccinations have been going, as well as the shipments of doses, and the timeline between shots.

Mann says he is pushing for more doses to be allocated to Kansas. “We’re in phase two of the rollout in Kansas. Kansas has received 580,000 doses. We’ve administered 380,000 so far. Federally we are pushing to make sure we are getting more doses and as many doses as possible,” said Tracey Mann, Kansas’ 1st Congressional District Representative.

He says he wants to get more shots in the arms of those who want the vaccine. He says he wants to ensure they are able to receive the vaccine. “We’ve got to make sure we are getting more vaccines and that we have an efficient and effective process in place. You know it’s county by county so it’s a mixed bag on what the process is, how it is. But there’s no one better than the counties and the county health departments to know their residents, to know their citizens, and know how to help them,” said Mann.

Moving forward, Mann says on a national and state scale, he has three top priorities. “Number one, everyone that wants a vaccine is able to get one as soon as possible. Two, we’ve got to make sure we are getting kids back in school. We’re doing that in western Kansas better than in some other areas of the country, but we’ve got to get kids back in school, back in the classroom. It’s important for those kids. Thirdly, we’ve got to get people back to work. That’s happening by and large in the ‘Big First,’ but it’s not happening in some other areas of the country. Those are really three priorities we’ve got to be focused on moving forward,” he said.

Mann also addressed Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package. “The $1.9 trillion it’s not just COVID relief. It’s things like bailing out blue states, bailing out municipalities that have made bad decisions over the years, it’s hiking the minimum wage. There are things in that bill that are not good for the state. We have got to get our spending under control,” Mann said.

As for direct payments to citizens, Mann says he wants to help those most impacted and focus on those with greater needs. “I think we found this one-size-fits-all is really a one-size-fits-none. We’ve got to be much more surgical much more targeted if we’re going to spend the money it needs to go to the people that actually need it. We’re approaching $30 trillion in debt that’s really going to handicap us in the future and we’ve got to make good decisions now.”

He says for farmers, returning markets and demand to normal levels could be beneficial in terms of relief. “There was COVID relief that was passed at the end of December. It was almost a trillion dollars. Another $1.9 trillion is in the works. I’m concerned with the amount of money we are spending. That’s a total number of nearly three trillion dollars. We can’t continue to spend money like this. We need programs that are targeted for those that are actually negatively impacted,” he said. “The biggest thing we need to do is get people vaccinated, to get back to work, to reopen markets, reopen restaurants, so we can come to normal demand levels. That will push upward pressure on prices and that’s what we really need to do to help agriculture.”

Mann also spoke on the fear for many of higher energy costs following the recent rolling blackouts. “I think we need to look and make sure there is no price gouging going on. That is number one. We need to make sure people’s bills are fair,” said Mann.

Mann pointed out those in the agricultural industry have been hit hard by the deep freeze. “This cold snap is also a reminder to me, of the hard work that our men and women in agriculture do. It doesn’t matter the temperature outside, people are going out, delivering calves, watering animals, farming. You’ve got to really respect and appreciate even more the people in agriculture today.”

As for the start of his career in Washington, Mann says it has had some surprises as well as some challenges. “One thing that surprised me is the executive orders that we are receiving for the administration. I went to the inauguration and heard this talk about being unified and then the president proceeded to sign 25 executive orders. Those are more than the last seven presidents did in their first 10 days combined,” he said. “It was never our founder’s intention that our president would bypass Congress. I’ve been surprised by the extent they’re doing that and we need to push back on it.”

Mann will continue his visit Thursday in Dodge City where he will announce the opening of his western Kansas office.

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