U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced this week the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has agreed to his request to deploy the advanced "unified method" of fishing for removing Asian Carp, an invasive species in Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake.

Thursday's announcement comes on the heels of McConnell's May visit to western Kentucky with members of the Trump Administration, where he discussed options to address the Asian Carp invasion with local elected officials, community leaders and the local media, a release notes.

One option discussed during the meeting was the "unified method," which involves corralling Asian Carp into one location using electronic technology and extracting the fish from the water with specialized nets. This technique has been successful in controlling Asian Carp populations abroad, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has successfully deployed it in Missouri and Illinois.

"Today's announcement is a major step forward in Kentucky's War on Asian Carp. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has answered my call to deploy an aggressive strategy to combat these invasive and dangerous species in Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. With coordination among several agencies at all levels, we can help protect Kentucky's treasured waters, support our boaters and anglers and bolster Western Kentucky's $1.2 billion fishing economy," said McConnell in the release. "As Senate Majority Leader, I've worked with local leaders like Judges Wade White and Kevin Neal to bring national attention to this pressing threat in our Kentucky lakes. In the War on Carp, I'm glad that Kentucky is receiving the national attention we deserve."

In approving his request, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Margaret Everson thanked Senator McConnell for his leadership on the issue, saying, "The Service is working with its partners, including the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR), to prevent continued Asian Carp migration. Thank you for your continued leadership and support for collaborative efforts to address the threat of Asian carp in our Nation's waters."

McConnell assists Volunteers of America in securing federal grant to assist homeless veterans

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recently announced that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has awarded multiple competitive federal grants totaling $866,121 to the Volunteers of America (VOA) Mid-States in Kentucky. The funds will be used to provide services in several locations across Kentucky as part of the Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Program (HVRP). Senator McConnell contacted U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta on behalf of VOA Mid-States in support of their competitive grant applications.

The program is designed to help homeless veterans re-enter the workforce and achieve long-term stability. According to DOL, HVRP grantees enroll thousands of homeless veterans annually in programs that involve emergency shelter, substance abuse counseling and treatment, job counseling and referral, employment assistance, transportation, housing and clothing.

"Our nation's heroes deserve all the support our nation can offer, and the Volunteers of America Mid-States can make a life-changing difference assisting homeless veterans," Senator McConnell said. "This grant will help deliver the training, counseling and other resources Kentucky's veterans need to get their lives back on track. I was pleased to work with Jennifer Hancock and her team to help the agency secure these federal funds which will be put to great use in Kentucky."

Jennifer Hancock, President & CEO of Volunteers of America Mid-States, said the organization was grateful for McConnell's support.

"He has stood with our nation's veterans once again by endorsing our program that enables them to get the services they need in order to return to self-sufficiency," she said. "At Volunteers of America we are deeply passionate about serving those who have proudly served our country, but have fallen on hard times, and we are eager to continue providing effective solutions in communities that need us the most."

Barr's legislation to increase veteran access to STEM scholarships passes House

Bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) to help increase veteran access to STEM scholarships recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives by voice vote.

H.R 2196 would amend the credit hour requirement of the Edith Nourse Rogers Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Scholarship program in the Forever GI Bill to make the scholarship more accessible to veterans across the country. The legislation works to ensure that this scholarship program can be used in the way Congress intended and ensure that student veterans in these important degree programs receive the support they need to pursue their dreams, according to release from Barr's office. The program helps student veterans who often need to take additional credit hours to brush up on critical math or science skills necessary for success in a STEM program.

"Supporting our veterans as they transition from service in the Armed Forces to civilian life is a bipartisan issue that we can all agree on, and I'm honored that my colleagues in the House supported this legislation which accomplishes this important work," said Congressman Barr. "Providing our veterans with more flexibility to use their Forever GI Bill benefits will help them better take advantage of the education benefits they are owed. I am honored to have my first bill as a member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee passed, and I want to especially thank Ranking Member Phil Roe and Economic Opportunity Subcommittee Chairman Levin for their leadership and support."

Current law would prohibit many student veterans from using this scholarship as there are very few undergraduate programs that meet the current 128 credit hour requirement. The legislation would ensure that student veterans enrolled in a STEM degree program are able to fully utilize their educational benefits by lowering the requirement to a much more common 120 credit hour requirement.

Jonathan Greene is the editor of The Register; follow him on Twitter @jgreeneRR.

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