Ron Estes – Republican for U.S. House, Kansas District 4

Candidates

Responses are from the candidates and have not been edited.

Biographical Information:

Occupation: U.S. Representative (KS-04)

Education:
Tennessee Tech University, BS, Civil Engineering
Tennessee Tech University, MBA

Previous elected offices sought:
Kansas State Treasurer
Sedgwick County Treasurer

Civic Involvement:
Former Airport Authority Board Member
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
American Legion Post 4
Sedgwick County Republican Party
Support numerous local causes and organizations (Honor Flight, Kansans for Life, Exploration Place, others)

Personal Information:

Married to wife Susan for 28 years, 3 children

Campaign website/Facebook/Social Media:

EstesForCongress.com
PO Box 782952 Wichita, KS 67278

What is your response to the Black Lives Matter movement?

I believe every life is precious and should be protected. Racism is antithetical to the concept of equality. The Declaration of Independence highlights the foundational truths upon which our country was founded: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Our country was collectively outraged at the cruel murder of George Floyd and others. These deaths and the events that have followed showcase a need for transparent dialogue and reform.

What do you think needs to be done to promote social and racial justice?

Our country should follow the lead of those Kansans seeking justice peacefully, working together to correct inequities within our criminal justice system. Local Kansas law enforcement offices have also showcased the way officers and minority communities can work together and build meaningful relationships instead of sowing fear and distrust. America is not perfect, but we are all committed to working toward a more perfect union to ensure that the promise of the American dream is truly available to everyone.

Are you in favor of police reform? If so, what should it look like?

Congress should support local community policing efforts and provide the resources necessary to ensure that law enforcement agencies are provided with excellent training and the equipment they need to enforce local, state and federal laws with fair and even application of the law with respect to life and liberty.

Wichita has proven to be a great example in building community and police relations. With programs that began before 2020, the Wichita Police Department and Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office highlight the importance of local, engaged law enforcement officers with robust leadership, proper funding, and a community focus. I cosponsored the common sense JUSTICE Act that builds on what we’ve seen here locally, but the legislation was unfortunately blocked in both the House and the Senate.

What are your thoughts on how the U.S. has responded to the coronavirus pandemic? What would you want to be done differently?

This year, more than 1 million N-95 masks, 4.5 million surgical and procedural masks, 310,000 eye and face shields, 310,000 isolation and surgical gowns, and 2.9 million medical gloves have been shipped to Kansas through private sector, state, and federal collaboration. The Federal government has directly supported eight community-based testing sites in Kansas and provided over 30,000 swabs and 30,000 media to support state testing needs in August and deployed a Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System to Kansas that can decontaminate up to 80,000 N-95 masks daily. The Federal government coordinated the surge of supplemental personal protective equipment to all Kansas Medicaid and Medicare certified nursing homes and coordinated the provision of point-of-care rapid testing to specified Kansas Medicaid and Medicare certified nursing homes.

Medical facilities and providers in the State of Kansas have received over $1.3 billion in COVID-19-related allocations from HHS. This includes more than $1.2 billion from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund to support health care-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19 and ensures uninsured Kansans and others can receive testing and treatment for COVID-19.

We need to increase the number of tests and reduce the waiting period for results.

Do you support more stimulus money? If so, how should Congress pay for the stimulus?

The State of Kansas and eligible local governments received over $1.25 billion from the CARES Act’s Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) to help address unforeseen financial needs and risks created by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Tribal governments received over $18.4 million in CRF funding. SBA has issued over $5 billion in loans to over 50,000 Kansas small businesses, protecting more than 525,000 jobs, and nearly $1 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loans in Kansas. The Treasury Department has made 839,000 Economic Impact Payments totaling more than $3.6 billion to hardworking taxpayers of Kansas. HUD has made over $53.6 million in COVID-19 funding available to Kansas grantees via CARES Act authorizations to help America’s low-income families and most vulnerable citizens.

The US Department of Education provided $105 million to support postsecondary education students and institutions of higher education in Kansas, authorized $26.3 million for the State from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, and $84.5 million to ensure learning continues for all elementary and secondary students. The US Department of Transportation allocated more than $91.5 million to help the Kansas public transportation systems and $53.4 million to help Kansas airports.

Any additional temporary and targeted relief should be used to assist families and small businesses that are still hurting from pandemic, such as extending unemployment benefits at a level that supports families without discouraging returning to work and expanding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) so that employees can continue working for our local small businesses.

Congress has already appropriated more than $3 trillion to tackle this pandemic and help the American people, a large but necessary amount to make sure we could provide appropriate research and relief. Now that we are past the initial months of the pandemic, we should make sure that every dollar spent is necessary and targeted, so that in the coming years we can reevaluate our spending. I’m a huge proponent of a balanced budget amendment to our Constitution to ensure that we live within our means. The sooner we get back to fiscal responsibility, the better our country will be for our children and grandchildren.

What are the top 3 things you think deserve your immediate attention in Washington and what action would you take on them, including how you’d compromise with members of the other party?

1. Stabilizing our aviation manufacturing industry – there’s no question that Kansas has been devastated by the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX and then the coronavirus pandemic. That’s why I introduced the Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Act, which is bipartisan legislation to help aviation workers in Wichita and across the country.

2. Expanding PPP for small businesses – small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities, whether in rural Kansas or in the heart of Wichita. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) supported 525,000 jobs in Kansas, but forced shutdowns and slow openings continue to plague some small businesses in the state. Expanding PPP would help those companies and their employees weather the storm. This idea is not partisan, as Republicans and Democrats already agree. I’m working with my colleagues on the House Ways and Means to try and push this forward.

3. Bring critical medical manufacturing back to the United States from China – the current crisis has highlighted our dependence on China for critical medicine and medical products. This must end. Even before the pandemic, I introduced a bipartisan bill to encourage research and development here in the United States to help bring manufacturing back to our country. The bill has support from Republicans and Democrats and was recently named by the National Taxpayers Union as one of their top ten “no-brainer” bills that Congress should pass this year.

Do you believe our healthcare system needs to be reformed? If so, what will you do to change it?

Obamacare broke the health care system that was working for most people while trying to fix a problem that affected only a small percentage of health care consumers. We need to allow the free market and private sector to do what they do best by removing burdensome and expensive regulations, encouraging the expansion of telehealth options, expanding affordable choices, protecting pre-existing conditions and ensuring transparency and efficiency in the health care delivery system while providing a safety net for the most vulnerable. In addition, I have led the effort to eliminate surprise medical bills and lower prescription drug prices.

Give us your stance on gun control/2nd Amendment rights.

The Second Amendment places no restrictions on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

Do you think we need immigration reform and what changes would you support?

Our country is a nation of immigrants. However, our current immigration system is broken. Individuals who attempt to apply legally have difficulty navigating and completing the process, while others cross our borders illegally and stay for years. We need a revised process that considers the national security and free market needs of our country while allowing immigrants to complete the legal requirements of residency and citizenship in a timely, accountable manner.

What steps would you support to strengthen the nation’s security?

America needs a strong military deterrent and a robust foreign intelligence presence alongside diplomatic efforts that produce effective outcomes while not enabling despots to accumulate resources to use against the U.S. and our allies. The recent Abraham Accords agreement is a historic step in the right direction.

What are your thoughts on climate change? What should Congress do about it, if anything?

Recent events like the damaging hurricanes and devastating wildfires are irreversible, life-changing events for the families and businesses that are affected. While the causes of climate events are still being debated by reputable scientists on both sides of the issue, we need to ensure that FEMA and other federal and state emergency responses are equipped with resources and training to help fellow Americans who experience catastrophic events.

Kansans have always led the way as stewards of the environment, preserving our land, water and air, and ensuring that we protect our natural resources. Farmers, ranchers and others are some of the best conservationists, and much of their work is done without burdensome regulations.

Would you vote in favor of spending bills that add to the deficit?

Our country simply cannot sustain the level of debt that has been accumulating for decades and now made worse by the necessary COVID-19 relief packages. Our children and grandchildren will have a lower standard of living created by higher federal taxes required to service this debt if we are not working to reduce the debt with a determined, disciplined process moving forward.

I support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution that would require the federal government to ensure that the federal government is required to live within its means.

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