Marshall town hall meeting gets to the point quickly in Pratt: Who is running this country?

Edward J. Naughton
Pratt Tribune
U.S. Senator from Kansas Dr. Roger Marshall addresses a Pratt crowd at a recent, Saturday morning, town hall.

About 70 people came together for a town hall meeting with U.S. Senator Roger Marshall from Kansas last Saturday in Pratt. 

The meeting, held at the Pratt Chamber of Commerce Office downtown was billed as an opportunity to hear questions and concerns offered by citizens in order to help Marshall  better understand what issues are important to his constiuents reguarding local, state-wide, national or international concerns.

The townhall started right on time at 8:30 on June 19. There was a lively and interested group of people in the room. Participation in the discussion flowed well and actively involved many senior citizens in the room with very traditional Kansas values.

Many topics were discussed which are controversial in the nature because opinions about what to do about certain serious problems we are facing as a nation came into focus.  The first question - Who is running the country? broke the ice and got discussion moving from the get-go.

Marshall answered that question with a parry, 'Who are the people behind the curtain?'

"I will try to be polite here," he said. "The senators have gone to our President to negotiate on an infrastructure bill. They tell me he is very agreeable, nodding his head, but the people behind him, his staff, are shaking their heads no.

"Even though there is some progress in the negotiation, his staff finally comes back and tells us - no, they are not interested in any type of bipartisan solutions, and specifically on infrastructure."

Marshall went on to say that, much like a corporation or a church has a board, he believes there is an unofficial board of people actually making decisions for the President.

"For me to say there is one person, I don't know," Marshall said. "I think his Chief of Staff is very powerful as well."

The issue of gun violence in America was discussed briefly when a lady in the back of the room talked about a program on television she watched that documented the severity of wounds that children experience when particularly a high-caliber bullet enters their body such as might be from a semi-automatic rifle or AR-15. She wondered how children who are being caught in the cross-fire during street battles could be better protected, suggesting perhaps better background checks for those who purchase weapons. 

Marshall responded and said that mental illness is a serious problem and an underlying issue behind gun violence. The subject triggered some back and forth in the room about gun rights. 

Hank Bingaman of Pratt brought up the concern he had for the nation of Israel as he felt we need to better support our partner in the Middle East. 

Marshall said that President Biden is not standing with Israel, though he reassured participants in the town hall meeting that financial appropriations from the U.S. Senate are in place to help Israel. He said bipartisan support is not there. Finally Marshall emphasized the spiritual aspect he personally feels, and said supporting Israel is a 'spiritual priority for me.'

The southern border crisis also was discussed in the town hall. Marshall explained that countries south of the border from which much of the flow of illegal migration originates, need two basic improvements in their respective country of origin: they need law and order, and they need a good economy.

He said that one of the complicating and dangerous factors involved in this dramatic in-flow of migrants is that approximately half of the people attempting to or actually successfully entering our country without papers, DO NOT claim Mexico or anywhere in Central America as their homeland. The implication being obviously that people from remote parts of the world who are perhaps adversaries to our freedom as a nation appear to be coming into the United States unchecked.

"The rate of illegal drugs, weapons, and aspects of human trafficking are ever increasing especially since the new administration took office in January 2021, which is a threat to our security," he said.

Marshall next did his best to explain to everyone present that bill HR1 presented by Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the U.S. Congress is something that does not have adequate support in the U.S. Senate in order to pass. He said that Pelosi cannot get even 50 votes in support of HR1 in the United States Senate.

One of the reasonsMarshall said he opposed HR1 is because he objects to the idea of sending unsolicited ballots to households which obviously presents many problems relating to voter integrity. He said that he supports voter identification as in using drivers' licenses to be presented at the polls before people cast their ballot, so that their identity is verified in some way. But he said that Speaker Pelosi wants to ban the voter identification requirement many states use.

Marshall also said he was against ballot harvesting which Democrats seem to encourage which involves unsupervised collection of ballots and then deciding what to do with them.  He summarized the situation by saying that laws should make it easy to vote but harder to cheat. 

Agriculture concerns were discussed also at the meeting. Marshall said he is very supportive of the cotton-growing industry in Kansas. He also made it clear he is very supportive of the biofuel initiatives ongoing and wants to see more. He said that fat from a rendering plant in Garden City, Kansas, is processed and turned into a kind of biofuel and they sell that product to California.

In a pitch for one of the local issues, a senior citizen from Pratt brought up an issue of significant concern for her because of her work as a volunteer at the Pratt County Food Bank. She said she helps people with food, but often they come and relate how difficult it is for instance, a family of four, two parents and two children, to be able to access affordable housing, even working regularly. She asked if there was something that could be done to help people in a state like this.

Marshall said that one of the problems is that rural America does not have the scale to essentially deal with the shortages in affordable housing especially in smaller towns. He said that communities need to get creative in helping those in housing crisis situations.

On the international scene, Doc Marshall said heis not at all supportive of the prospect of re-entering any kind of nuclear deal similar to the one President Obama made with the Iranian government when he was in office, which President Trump subsequently set aside in light of the terroristic threats made and aggressive military actions advanced against the United States Armed Forces and our partners in the Middle East.