The Buzz

Here’s who Kansas, Missouri lawmakers are bringing to Trump’s State of the Union

Kansas Dem. Sharice Davids plays up bipartisanship: ‘I think it starts with me reaching out’

Congresswoman-elect Sharice Davids discusses her outreach to marginalized groups of voters, her plans to work with Kansas Republicans as the state's lone Democrat in Congress and her goals for a bipartisan health care plan.
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Congresswoman-elect Sharice Davids discusses her outreach to marginalized groups of voters, her plans to work with Kansas Republicans as the state's lone Democrat in Congress and her goals for a bipartisan health care plan.

Freshman lawmakers from the Kansas City region are using their first time attending the State of the Union to highlight health care and education.

Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kansas, announced last week that she would be bringing Laura Robeson, a Prairie Village mother whose 7-year-old son has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and cortical vision impairment.

“Hosting her as my guest for the State of the Union is an opportunity to highlight the dangers of allowing insurance companies to discriminate against people based on their medical histories,” said Davids, who had emphasized maintaining protections for people with pre-existing conditions during her successful campaign to unseat Republican Kevin Yoder.

Davids turned over her Twitter account Tuesday morning to Robeson, who posted photos of her and her son, Danny, making the journey to Washington. Danny will not attend the speech, but will meet with Davids in Washington along with his mother.

Kansas’ other freshman lawmaker, Rep. Steve Watkins, a Republican whose district includes Lawrence, will be joined by University of Kansas Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Carl Lejuez.

Watkins serves on the House Committee on Education and Labor and was named last week to a subcommittee that oversees higher education and workforce development.

Sen. Josh Hawley, a freshman Republican from Missouri, will be joined by his wife, Erin Hawley, an attorney who he met when they were both working as law clerks for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in 2007.

Another lawmaker from the region, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, also plans to bring his wife, Franki Roberts, to the speech.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, will be accompanied by Kansas House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins, a Wichita Republican who has been an outspoken critic of Gov. Laura Kelly’s push to expand Medicaid in Kansas.

Hawkins said in a text message that ahead of the speech he and Moran met to discuss “real, workable solutions to the challenges facing rural healthcare in Kansas.”

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, isn’t bringing a guest and chose to donate his extra ticket to a freshman member of Congress.

Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican and member of GOP leadership, hasn’t announced any guests for the State of the Union, but he weighed in on the importance of the speech for President Donald Trump during an interview with The Star Monday.

Blunt is one of 17 lawmakers working on a bipartisan deal to avert another shutdown and Trump’s speech comes 10 days before Congress’ Feb. 15 deadline to pass a bill.

“It’s clearly an opportunity for him. It is a time when the president is the most listened to… and I would hope to see some focus in the economic accomplishments particularly and how we move forward in our foreign policy and infrastructure and how we deal with the problems that created a 35-day shutdown,” Blunt said.

The Kansas City Star’s Lindsay Wise contributed to this report.
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Bryan Lowry covers Kansas and Missouri politics as Washington correspondent for The Kansas City Star. He previously served as Kansas statehouse correspondent for The Wichita Eagle and as The Star’s lead political reporter. Lowry contributed to The Star’s investigation into government secrecy that was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize.


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