Update from Washington
Senator John Boozman
July 14, 2017
Fighting Child Hunger
School is out for the summer, but the doors at Nashville Elementary School open
weekdays at noon. For 30 minutes Monday through Friday, the school welcomes
students for lunch, making it easy for children who rely on free or
reduced-price meals during the school year to have access to nutritious food
when class is out.
The school is one of many across Arkansas participating in the United States
Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and
Seamless Summer Option (SSO). More than 60 percent of Arkansas children rely on
free or reduced meals during the school year. These programs extend the same
opportunity to kids in need during the summer.
I’ve long supported updating federal child nutrition programs to provide
consistency for Arkansas children who rely on the regularly provided meals at
school during the school year. Offering states more options to choose what makes
the most sense in their communities will allow us to fight hunger and
malnourishment in all corners of our state. The problem is that the
one-size-fits-all policy fails to take into account challenges in urban and
rural communities, such as transportation.
During a visit to Nashville Elementary School earlier this month, it was clear
that the summer meals program is a great model for other school districts across
the state. The dedicated staff are passionate about continuing to serve students
in the summer and, according to the principal, the number of students
participating continues to increase. One reason for the growth is that the
school provides transportation.
In Arkansas, programs like the mobile summer meals site sponsored by Arkadelphia
Parks and Recreation takes food to a location convenient to local kids: the
park. I saw first-hand how this approach to overcoming the lack of
transportation in rural areas is making a difference in the lives of our youth.
States deserve flexibility to implement strategies that improve the
effectiveness of these programs. I will continue to advocate for child nutrition
policies that will accomplish our goals while offering local and state leaders
the ability to find solutions to the unique challenges and situations specific
to their communities.
During Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s confirmation hearing, I encouraged
him to use his authority to update federal child nutrition programs so children
receiving meal assistance during the school year have the same opportunity
during the summer. The Secretary said he is committed to facilitating that kind
I am pleased to have the support of the administration on this initiative. The
good news is there is cooperation between federal, state and local entities to
Nashville Elementary School and Arkadelphia Parks and Recreation are just two of
many Arkansas organizations that serve meals to students during summer. Last
year, more than 180 sites in the state served more than 2.4 million free meals
Children all across Arkansas should be having a fun, safe and healthy summer.
Efforts like these to support kids go a long way in helping them to enjoy the
break from school.
July 13, 2017
Boozman-Authored Provisions for Arkansas Veterans & Military
Facilities Included in Senate Appropriations Bill
WASHINGTON– The Senate Committee on Appropriations approved the FY2018
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA)
Appropriations Bill that includes provisions introduced by U.S. Senator John
Boozman (R-AR) to help Arkansas veterans and military facilities.
“Our troops, veterans and their families deserve our support. This legislation
reflects our commitment to improve the care for our veterans at every age, and
ensure they have opportunities to improve their quality of life. We need to
ensure that taxpayer dollars are appropriately invested in military facilities
and this bill is an important step. I look forward to its consideration before
the full Senate,” Boozman said.
The following are Boozman’s provisions approved by the committee:
•Directing the Department of Defense (DoD) to conduct a review of authorities
needed to update Airfield Joint Use Agreements (AJUA) and associated
compensation for airfields impacted by a transition to Remotely Piloted Aircraft
(RPA) missions and report to Congress by March 30, 2018.
•Directing DoD to submit a report on the status of all reserve centers built
during the last 15 years, to include those facilities built as part of the 2005
Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). The report requires a detailed
assessment of individual facility usage rates, the cause of any utilization
shortfalls, and a review of the adequacy and accuracy of personnel and unit
forecasting in the construction of such facilities.
•Language to strengthen and improve the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
Prescription Drug Monitoring system’s utility and fight growing opioid
over-prescription and addiction.
•Language and funding for the Veterans Adaptive Sports Program, to strengthen
and expand support to disabled veterans and disabled members of the Armed
Forces. An additional $2 million is provided to support community based
qualifying sports programs and events in rural areas. This therapeutic program
has created positive changes in the quality of life for thousands of veterans
with physical and mental injuries.
•Language urging the VA to develop successful models for innovative and
clinically-integrated care for aging veterans.
•Additional funding for the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,
supporting evidence-based treatment of post-traumatic stress.
July 11, 2017
Boozman Questions VA Officials on Nursing Shortage
WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Senate Veterans’
Affairs Committee, questioned Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) officials
about nursing shortages at VA medical facilities.
Boozman discussed the significant shortage of critical nursing staff at John L.
McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in Little Rock and acknowledged the problem
extends beyond Arkansas.
He pressed VA officials on the need to recruit and retain nurses to practice at
“Nursing has been a problem for all of health care. We have been working
aggressively in Little Rock. We have had our chief nursing officer working with
the facility to identify staff in nursing to get to the facility,” Dr. Tom
Lynch, Assistant Deputy Undersecretary for Health Clinical Operations at the
Veterans Health Administration told Boozman during the hearing.
Lynch said VA is looking for opportunities to make the compensation for nurses
competitive with the private sector.
July 7, 2017
The House of Representatives passed two immigration reform bills this week.
Senator Boozman is a cosponsor of the Senate companions of these bills.
In this column, the senator talks about the importance of enforcing our
Deterring Illegal Immigration
President Trump called on the Department of Homeland Security to redouble its
efforts to enforce immigration laws. It comes as no surprise that this has
resulted in increased arrests of individuals in the country illegally and
historically low levels of illegal border crossings. On our southwest border,
there has been a 64 percent decrease since May 2016. Having consequences for
breaking our laws is a deterrent.
This is a welcome change from the policies of the previous administration that
allowed federal immigration laws to be ignored and limited the crimes for which
a non-citizen could be held accountable. Undermining our immigration laws is a
threat to the safety of American families and communities. Unfortunately, it’s
become too common with ‘sanctuary cities’ purposefully protecting illegal
immigrants, including those who are violent and dangerous criminals. Congress is
rightfully taking action to force compliance with the laws.
The Senate’s Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act would restrict federal funding
from sanctuary communities that fail to comply with the law in an effort to
encourage them to eliminate these dangerous policies and allow local law
enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration officials.
Kate’s Law is legislation named for Kate Steinle, a young woman who was murdered
in San Francisco by an illegal immigrant who was supposed to be behind bars. The
bill would establish a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for illegal
immigrants who are found guilty of reentering the U.S. after being convicted of
an aggravated felony or being convicted of having illegally reentered the U.S.
I’m a proud cosponsor of these bills and was pleased to see that the House of
Representatives recently approved them. I encourage my Senate colleagues to
As chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, I’m working
closely with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure it has the funding
and manpower it needs to enforce our laws, decrease border crossings and protect
our Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection
These agents undergo rigorous training to protect our borders. Earlier this
year, I had an opportunity to experience some simulated real-life scenarios
these agents face at a training facility in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. It is
one of six Advanced Training Centers in the country that prepares agents for
situations they could encounter on the job.
As we look for ways to improve border security with technology, barriers and
infrastructure, it’s important that we provide CBP and ICE with the tools and
resources they need to safeguard themselves and our country.
We are a nation of laws and it’s right that we hold those who break our laws
accountable. I look forward to working with the president to enhance border
security, ensure proper vetting for immigrants coming into our country and
reforming our nation’s immigration policy.
Boozman Joins Arkansas Restaurant Owners for
LITTLE ROCK –U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) today joined local restaurant
owners at the Robinson Center in Little Rock for a roundtable discussion hosted
by the Arkansas Hospitality Association and the National Restaurant Association.
“I appreciate hearing the concerns of Arkansas restaurant owners and operators
about our economy and the steps they are taking to confront challenges, while
operating on thin margins. These job creators are important to our state. Having
input from those in the industry is important to crafting legislation that helps
create an environment that encourages growth and decreases needless and costly
regulations,” Boozman said.
“It was a great opportunity for us to sit down today with Senator Boozman. He
listened to our concerns about the impact of regulations that come out of
Washington on our businesses here in Arkansas. We appreciate the opportunity to
host an open dialogue with our representatives in Congress and we look forward
to working with him in the future,” said Montine McNulty, Executive Director of
Arkansas Hospitality Association.
Arkansas is home to 5,054 eating and drinking establishments, employing more
than 93,300 employees. This industry is expected to generate $4.4 billion in
sales this year. There are more than 42,760 hospitality jobs in Arkansas at over
80 properties. Hotels contributed $2.5 billion to the state last year.
(Pictured: Boozman joins members of the Arkansas Hospitality Association and the
National Restaurant Association for a roundtable discussion in Little Rock
Senators Boozman & Tester Introduce Legislation to Improve
Homeless Veterans Programs
WASHINGTON –U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Jon Tester (D-MT), senior
members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, introduced legislation to
strengthen job training for at-risk veterans and fight veteran homelessness.
The Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program Improvement Act stipulates that
veterans who receive housing assistance under Department of Housing and Urban
Development’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH), Native American
Housing Assistance, and Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) programs
are eligible to receive valuable assistance such as job training under the
Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program (HVRP).
Currently, if a veteran qualifies for housing under one of these programs, the
Department of Veterans Affairs no longer considers them “homeless,” and does not
allow them to participate in HVRP.
“The Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program is an important resource to
breaking the cycle of veteran homelessness. We need to build on the
accomplishments of this proven program and provide our veterans with the
training and tools they need for long-term success. I am pleased to have Senator
Tester continue to join me in in this fight to provide our veterans with stable
housing and job training opportunities,” Boozman said.
“Veterans have sacrificed a great deal on our behalf, and we have an obligation
to provide those who are struggling with the assistance and services they need
to get back on their feet,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’
Affairs Committee. “The Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program is a critical
program that does just that, and I am pleased to work across party lines on this
important bipartisan legislation to not only extend but also strengthen the
program to impact the lives of even more veterans.”
The Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program (HVRP) Clarification and
Reauthorization bill would:
1.Extend veteran reintegration programs for five years.
2.Extend the homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children
reintegration program for five years.
3.Clarify that veterans participating in the Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD) agency’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program
are also eligible for HVRP.
4.Clarify that American Indians participating in Native American housing
assistance program are also eligible to participate in HVRP.
5.Clarify that veterans participating in the Supportive Services for Veteran
Families (SSVF) program are also eligible for participation in HVRP.
This legislation has the support of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
(NCHV), Center for American Homeless Veterans and Easterseals.
“The high-quality employment obtained through HVRP allows formerly homeless
veterans to re-enter the workforce, support themselves and their families, and
stay stably housed long-term,” said Kathryn Monet, CEO of the National Coalition
for Homeless Veterans. “HVRP is the most successful employment program available
to homeless veterans, and this bill makes needed changes to the program to allow
the system to work more seamlessly. Rapid access to housing should never prevent
a recently homeless veteran from accessing job training and other employment
“The Homeless Veterans Prevention Act is an inspired and admirable measure to
support American Veterans and their families, who combine to total 75 million
people,” said Brian Hampton, President of the Center for American Homeless
Veterans. “I applaud the Democrats and Republicans for moving this bill forward.
With 24 years of veterans' advocacy, I can unequivocally say, this bill will
help an immeasurable number of veterans and families and has the added benefit
of along the way, saving the taxpayers a great deal of money."
“Easterseals proudly supports the Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Programs
Improvement Act. This legislation will ensure that at-risk veterans have access
to employment training and community supports to help them find a job and
reintegrate into society,” said Maynard Friesz, Easterseals’ Assistant Vice
President of Government Relations. “As a Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration
Program employment provider, Easterseals applauds Senators Boozman and Tester
for their efforts to improve the program and for their commitment to ending
Congratulate Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council on National
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman and Congressman French Hill applaud the
Little Rock Air Force Base (LRAFB) Community Council for earning the distinction
as the ‘2017 Association of Defense Communities Member of the Year.’
“This is well-deserved recognition for the Community Council for its longtime,
unwavering support of the Little Rock Air Force Base. This prestigious honor is
indicative of its exceptional commitment and partnership for more than six
decades,” Boozman said.
“For over 20 years, in my work with the Little Rock Regional Chamber of
Commerce, I have watched the Community Council play an active and crucial role
in the growth and development of Little Rock Air Force Base. I am proud of them
for receiving this great honor, and I look forward to the continued successes of
the council and Little Rock Air Force Base as they maintain their partnership in
the years to come,” Hill said.
For 62 years, the LRAFB Community Council has advocated on behalf of the base’s
mission, its Airmen and their families to ensure the long-term viability of the
Air Force installation.
June 23, 2017
Landmark VA Reform
In 2014, Congress took immediate action to improve veterans’ health care after
learning that long wait times at a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital
resulted in deaths of veterans waiting to receive care. We addressed many
shortcomings within the VA system, but we knew those were just the first of many
steps to fix systemic problems. That is why the Senate continues to look for
solutions to improve care for our veterans with the recently-passed Department
of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act.
This important legislation, which I was proud to cosponsor, is critical to
further reforming VA and allows us to better serve our veterans by creating a
culture of accountability. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a
leading veteran service organization, said this bill ‘is the strongest VA
accountability measure that can be signed into law.’
As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I’ve worked with my
colleagues to craft significant reforms to make it easier to punish bad-acting
VA employees. Our veterans were promised they would be taken care of in return
for their service. This bill is key to living up to our commitment to provide
them with access to quality health care and other benefits they have earned.
This legislation will enable the secretary of VA to expedite the firing and
suspension of bad actors. Equally important, it protects employees who expose
It’s vital that we have adequate measures in place that allow VA to hold
accountable those employees who abuse their power and put our veterans in
danger. The inability to hold employees responsible undermines the core mission
of the department. While the overwhelming majority of VA employees do excellent
work, those few bad actors must be held accountable. We do the many, exceptional
VA staff members a disservice when there are limited or even no consequences for
those who fail to work in the best interests of our veterans.
The Trump administration is joining Congressional efforts to improve
accountability at VA. In April, President Trump created the Office of
Accountability and Whistleblower Protection. The Department of Veterans Affairs
Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act will codify in law this newly
VA Secretary David Shulkin supports this bill calling it ‘great news for
veterans and for hardworking employees at VA.’ The secretary also recently
announced the department is taking the positive, proactive step of overhauling
its electronic health records system to improve care for veterans and reduce
wait times. These developments are further proof that Congress and the executive
branch are working in a serious, bipartisan manner to improve the care our
nation’s veterans receive.
The president urged the House of Representatives to quickly pass this bill and
send it to his desk for his signature. I am confident that my House colleagues
will swiftly approve these necessary reforms.
Those we’ve entrusted to care for Arkansas veterans must be held to the same
standards and integrity that we expect of our nation’s service members. This
bipartisan bill is an important tool to ensure our veterans receive the care
Sen. John Boozman is a
member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee which has
jurisdiction over legislation relating to the construction and maintenance of
highways, improvements of rivers and harbors, public works, bridges and dams. As
a member of the committee, Boozman continues to advocate for smart investments
in infrastructure in Arkansas and across the country that will have a positive
impact on economic growth and development. We know that the quality of a
region’s infrastructure plays an important role in where businesses choose to
locate. Our country’s previous investments in its highways and interstates, rail
systems and airports have allowed us to remain highly competitive in the global
In his weekly column, Sen. Boozman highlights why now is an opportune moment to
make a wise and substantial investment in America’s infrastructure as Pres.
Trump has indicated he is interested in doing. Boozman lays out why it’s
important to maintain and upgrade our transportation structures and highlights
the work he’s doing in the Senate to help Arkansas make improvements that will
spur economic development.
As always, please let us know if we can be of assistance.
Addressing Our Infrastructure Needs Must be a
Our national economy thrives in part because of how
inter-connected the United States has been throughout its history. The ability
to efficiently move goods and services across the country is a critical factor
as to why the U.S. has been able to compete and thrive within the global
Currently, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee is working
with the Trump Administration to develop legislation to address our nation’s
infrastructure needs. My colleagues on the committee and I have stressed to the
administration that it is time to broaden the scope of traditional
infrastructure investment. And it appears that President Trump has taken notice.
During a recent EPW Committee hearing, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao
offered assurances that the administration’s infrastructure proposal will not
just address the three R’s traditionally associated with infrastructure (roads,
rails and runways). Secretary Chao explained energy, water and broadband will be
included in their infrastructure proposal.
Ensuring Washington does not lose sight of the fact that our infrastructure
needs go well beyond the traditional focus has long been a priority for me.
Earlier this year, I joined with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) to introduce
bipartisan legislation to bring affordable relief to America’s crumbling water
infrastructure systems. Our bill, the Clean, Safe, Reliable Water Infrastructure
Act, would amend current law to expand the availability of resources for
drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects.
For the same reason, I joined my co-chairs of the bipartisan Senate Broadband
Caucus to press President Trump to include initiatives to promote the deployment
of high-speed, reliable broadband for all Americans as part of any
Expanding broadband access will empower Americans living in every community–from
urban city centers to rural towns–with economic opportunities that will
jumpstart growth in jobs and wages. For every $5 billion invested in broadband
infrastructure, 250,000 jobs are created, and with every percentage point
increase in new broadband distribution, employment expands by 300,000.
The traditional three R’s of infrastructure must certainly be a major focus of
the overall infrastructure plan. There are several reasons for us to invest
seriously in our roads, rails and runways in the immediate future.
First, safety is becoming an issue. Some of our roads and bridges are actually
beginning to crumble and deteriorate. We’ve employed temporary measures that
have succeeded in repairing and rebuilding many of these deficiencies in the
short term, but upgrading and enhancing them is a better and more cost-effective
Another reason it’s important to build and maintain efficient transportation
structures is that the quality of a state’s infrastructure is near the top of
the list of factors that business owners consider when deciding where to locate
a business or enterprise. That’s why I recently included a provision in the
Fiscal Year 2017 funding bill that enables Arkansas to designate a portion of
Highway 67, from North Little Rock to Walnut Ridge, as “Future I-57.”
Our infrastructure needs can’t be a partisan issue. Now is the time to push
ahead and make sensible, productive investments in our nation’s infrastructure.
Doing so now will ultimately save money in the long term. It will also help our
economy grow and equip our country to remain competitive in the global economy
in the years ahead.
Drug Courts Have
The opioid epidemic takes 94 American lives every single day, but Blayne is one
of the lucky ones. This Arkansan recently met with me and shared his journey to
overcome addiction. He was facing 20 years in prison because of crimes he
committed to support a 10-year dependence on prescription drugs, but thanks to
drug courts, he got the tools he needed to stop using drugs, and helped him
reconnect with his family, find employment and get his life back on track.
For more than two decades, drug treatment courts have offered Arkansas’s
drug-addicted, non-violent offenders an alternative to jail while rehabilitating
them through a strenuous treatment program.
Nearly 90 specialty courts in Arkansas provide life-saving treatment to more
than 3,000 individuals with substance use disorders. The results are impressive.
Our state also saves $45 million each year by diverting these offenders from
prison to drug courts.
They are a critical component of today’s criminal justice system. 90 percent of
Arkansas drug court participants’ drug tests come back negative for illegal
substances, compared to 64 percent of those on probation and parole.
Drug courts have proven to be an effective alternative to jail for individuals
convicted of non-violent narcotics charges.
Holding offenders with substance use and mental health disorders accountable
through strict supervision and treatment, drug courts and veterans treatment
courts have saved billions of tax dollars and the lives of more than 1.5 million
As Washington pursues options for criminal justice reform, drug courts are a
great example of a program that works. More than 25 years of research has proven
they reduce crime and substance use, break the vicious cycle of recidivism and
keep families together.
In Arkansas and every other state in the country, drug courts are making a real
We recognize May as National Drug Court Month. This is a great opportunity for
Congress to show its commitment to the Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program
and the Veterans Treatment Court Initiative at the Department of Justice.
While there are 150,000 Americans being served by drug courts and veterans
treatment courts today, there are more than one million individuals in our
justice system who do not yet have access to these life-saving programs.
I’ve encouraged my colleagues to support resources for these programs to improve
public safety, save taxpayer dollars and, most importantly, save lives.
The willingness of the judicial system to adopt alternative methods to jail time
is a cost-effective approach to changing the habits of drug addicts and saving
the lives of people like Blayne who today is a dedicated family man. He is quick
to credit drug courts for turning his life around. “Drug court was a chance to
become the father and husband I wanted to be,” he told me. We need to provide
others who struggle with addiction that same opportunity.
To the Class of 2017
It’s time to recognize the Class of 2017. I had the
honor of addressing graduates at Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge
on May 13, 2017. Here is some of the advice I gave to graduates:
I’m sure many of you are documenting
this milestone on social media. You have a lot to be proud of so it is no
surprise that you want to share your accomplishment. If you check my Facebook,
Twitter or Instagram later today, you’ll likely see a picture of me
congratulating the Williams Baptist College Class of 2017 as well.
Social media offers a wealth of
information that helps keep us up-to-date with the latest news from around the
world to what is happening with our friend next door. The ease and convenience
of these platforms allows us to stay engaged with our friends and share what is
important to us. It’s become so easy to share about ourselves that we lose grasp
of the virtue of humility.
We are called to be humble, to follow
the example set by Jesus, but as a society we are struggling to follow on this
path. Social media makes it more pronounced.
In his book “Mere Christianity,” C.S.
Lewis wrote, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of
God has given us
each unique talents to help others. It’s a very personal path to understanding
how we have been called to help and how we can best serve the needs of the
community. This is important to living a life of faith. We should be asking
ourselves how can make the lives of others better? This is something we all need
to be reminded of – including Washington.
When I was first elected to Congress
to represent the Third District of Arkansas in 2001, I became friends with
Congressman Tom Osbourne who was representing a district in Nebraska.
Prior to being elected to Congress,
Tom was one of the winningest head coaches in collegiate football history. He
coached his teams to 13 conference championships, 3 national championships and
earned a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame.
He understood that this life we are
given is about more than personal accomplishments. He felt compelled to give
back and thought the best way to use his talents was to serve in the House of
The old football player in me sought
out the Coach for counsel when I got to Washington. He provided a wealth of
advice, but perhaps the best lesson he taught me is that, even in a place like
Washington, you can get a lot accomplished if you don’t care who gets the
That is the truth.
We are stronger and smarter as a team. When each person brings their individual
talents to the table we can change things for the better.
In a TED talk in April, Pope Francis
relayed a message to act humbly or risk ruin.
“The more powerful you are, the more
your actions will have an impact on people, the more you are called to be
humble,” he said.
We are all capable of helping others.
You don’t have to be a U.S. Senator or have your dream job or live in your dream
house. There is a role for us all to play.
Humility is a civic virtue. We all
want to leave our state, country and world a better place for future
generations. The question to ask yourselves, Class of 2017, is how can you make
As my college football Coach Frank
Broyles repeatedly told my Razorback teammates and me, there are two types of
people in this world: givers and takers. Live your life as a giver, not a
Boozman Applauds Executive Order to Improve VA Accountability
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following
statement after President Trump established an Office of Accountability and
Whistleblower Protection within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
“VA has struggled to dismiss lackluster and negligent employees. I am pleased to
see the commitment of the Trump administration to hold bad actors accountable
and institute protections for whistleblowers. This will allow VA to better serve
our veterans. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the
administration to build on this momentum and provide our veterans with the care
and attention they earned.”
Boozman Welcomes Fort Smith Pastor Marty Sloan as Guest
(Pictured: U.S. Senator John Boozman, Pastor Marty
Sloan and Senate Chaplain Barry Black)
WASHINGTON –Fort Smith Pastor Marty Sloan delivered the opening prayer in the
U.S. Senate Thursday as the guest chaplain at the recommendation of U.S. Senator
John Boozman (R-AR).
“Serving as the guest chaplain is an incredible honor. I am thankful for Pastor
Sloan’s ministry and am so pleased that he could be here to offer an invocation
asking God to guide and bless the efforts of Congress and America’s leaders,”
Boozman said on the Senate floor.
Sloan serves as Lead Pastor of Harvest Time, one of the most active and
well-attended houses of worship in Fort Smith. He has been in the ministry for
The Senate Chaplain invites two ordained clergy members, each month, to pray in
the Senate as guest chaplains. Guest chaplains have represented all the world's
major religious faiths.
April 27, 2017
Boozman Encourages Arkansans to Dispose of Unneeded and Unused Prescription
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) encourages Arkansans to
participate in Arkansas Take Back on Saturday, April 29 to get expired, unused
and unwanted prescription drugs out of their homes.
“Drug take-back programs are an important tool to combat prescription drug
abuse. I’m proud of the ongoing efforts across our state to get unneeded and
unused prescription drugs out of our homes. Arkansas Take Back is making a big
difference and helping save lives,” Boozman said.
Arkansas Take Back launched in 2010 to break the cycle of addiction by
collecting unneeded and unused prescription medications. Thanks to this
initiative, 105 tons of unwanted medication estimated at more than 290 million
pills have been removed from Arkansas homes.
Boozman has been a leader in the fight against prescription drug abuse, helping
secure a $3.9 million grant awarded to Arkansas last week to help combat opioid
addiction in the state.
Click here to find Arkansas Take Back drop off
April 25, 2017
Boozman Votes to
Confirm Perdue as Ag Secretary
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) issued the following statement
after voting to confirm Gov. Sonny Perdue as Secretary of Agriculture:
“I am proud to support Gov. Sonny Perdue to serve as Secretary of Agriculture.
He has a proven record of advocacy on behalf of farmers, ranchers and producers
and I am confident that he will continue to be a strong voice for the industry
and rural America. I look forward to working with Secretary Perdue to support
and strengthen our agriculture community.”
As a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry,
Boozman questioned Perdue during his confirmation hearing in March. Boozman
asked Perdue about his support for opening new markets for American agriculture
products and urged him to use his authority as Secretary of Agriculture to make
federal child nutrition programs more efficient and flexible so children who are
receiving school meals have access to healthy and nutritious food in the summer
when school is out.
April 21, 2017
Boozman Statement on the Passing of Former Congressman Jay Dickey
WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement on
the passing of former Arkansas Congressman Jay Dickey:
“Congressman Jay Dickey was a devoted public servant who dedicated himself to
the people of Arkansas. He loved his state and was an unapologetic statesman who
worked for its betterment. Jay was very helpful and kind to me in many ways when
I became a congressman. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this
difficult time. Jay left a legacy of faith and example that they can be proud
New Tools to Combat Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug abuse is a nationwide epidemic that’s hitting close to home.
In Arkansas, the sale of opioids is 25 percent higher than the national average.
Arkansas Act 820 signed into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson earlier this month aims
to change that statistic by requiring practitioners to check the Prescription
Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) before prescribing opioids.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls this state-run electronic
tracking system one of the “most promising state-level interventions” for
addressing prescription opioid abuse. The law strengthens Arkansas’s
Other states that have implemented mandatory drug monitoring programs have seen
a sharp decline in prescription drug-related deaths. I am hopeful our state will
experience similar results. This is a great step forward in our fight to combat
prescription drug addiction and it opens the door to improving care to our
Veterans are twice as likely to die from accidental opioid overdoses than
non-veterans. The threat our veterans face is two-fold. Untreated chronic pain
can increase risks of suicide, but poorly managed opioid treatment can also be
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) practitioners are required to follow
state law where they practice, so unless a state requires using PDMP, monitoring
a veteran’s prescription history is voluntary. That needs to change.
Practitioners at federal agencies like the VA should be obligated to check this
database when prescribing medication.
I’ve addressed this issue with VA Secretary David Shulkin and I’m hopeful that
we can work together to create a commonsense plan that allows all health care
providers access to PDMP so they have the opportunity to advocate for
appropriate medications that are right for our veterans.
In March, President Donald Trump tapped New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to lead
an opioid task force to focus on drug addiction, prevention and treatment. This
builds on the commitment from Congress to capitalize on the efforts, best
practices and the input of law enforcement, doctors, drug treatment advocates
and patients on the path to recovery that began with the passage of the
Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) last year.
Congress followed-up with the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, which
includes a provision that authorizes the opioid crisis grant program. Arkansas
was awarded $3.9 million in grant funding earlier this month to help combat
opioid addiction in our state.
Efforts to fight prescription drug abuse in Arkansas have been underway for
years. In 2010, Arkansas launched a statewide effort to break the cycle of
addiction by collecting unneeded and unused prescription medications. Across the
state, Arkansas Take Back is decreasing the availability of unnecessary
prescription drugs by properly disposing of expired and unneeded medication.
There are more than 130 permanent drop-off sites across the state and many law
enforcement agencies host temporary drop-off sites bi-annually. The next Take
Back event is Saturday, April 29.
Drug take-back programs are important to breaking the cycle of addiction. We’ve
had great leadership from the governor, state legislators and law enforcement
officials who see the scope of prescription drug abuse. I’m confident that these
efforts coupled with the state’s new law to monitor patients’ history of
prescription drugs will save lives.
March 29, 2017
Boozman Congratulates Cyber Course Graduates
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) applauded the first class of
graduates of the Air National Guard Cyber Skills Validation Course at Little
Rock Air Force Base (LRAFB).
“This is a historic day at Little Rock Air Force Base. These graduates are
essential to combatting our nation’s growing cyber threat. This cyber training
course is an important mission to Little Rock and maintains an important role
for Arkansas in preserving our national security. I’m proud of the graduates and
the work done to launch this course and train these cyber warriors,” Boozman
Guard members started the inaugural class on February 7, and on Wednesday the
class of 20 was recognized in a graduation ceremony attended by the director of
the Air National Guard Lieutenant General L. Scott Rice.
Boozman, a co-chair of the Senate Air Force Caucus, joined the Arkansas
Congressional Delegation in fighting for a cybersecurity mission at Little Rock
Air Force Base. In 2015, then Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James
visited LRAFB to see the unique capabilities of the base.
This class is the first of its kind. The Department of Defense plans to increase
cyber missions nationwide.
March 17, 2017
Free File 2016 Taxes
With less than a month to go before our taxes are due on April 18, many
Arkansans are hard at work navigating our nation’s complicated and confusing tax
code. Over the past 15 years, there have been nearly 6,000 changes to the tax
code, an average of more than one a day. It’s no wonder that the Taxpayer
Advocate Service, an independent office within the IRS, estimates that
individuals and businesses spend six billion hours each year to comply with the
tax code. Fortunately, navigating the complex tax code has become easier. The
paper, pencil and calculator method of figuring out taxes now includes easier
ways to file income taxes.
Private businesses have made filing taxes more painless for us. Advertisements
for tax preparation services and tax software are fixtures on TV during this
time of the year. More than 90 percent of individuals rely on these to file
their income taxes.
For more than a decade, the IRS has worked with several private online tax
preparation businesses to form the Free File Alliance. This program helps make
it easier for people to file their taxes online. Taxpayers who earned less than
$64,000 last year are eligible for free online individual income tax preparation
and electronic filing services.
Unfortunately, this program is underutilized by eligible taxpayers. That’s why I
recently joined Governor Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas organizations to increase
awareness of this program.
Arkansas is one of 21 states that has its own Free File programs, allowing
eligible taxpayers to file both their federal and state tax return online for
free. This is an important service that enables Arkansans to keep more of their
I’m proud to support the goals of the Free File Alliance. This is an important
resource that makes tax preparation easier and increases access to free online
filing options for eligible taxpayers and makes the federal government operate
more efficiently. The Government Accountability Office estimates the Free File
Alliance has saved the IRS at least $105 million in processing costs. This is an
important public-private partnership that uses the expertise of tax preparation
companies to empower Arkansans and all Americans to better understand their
finances and ease tax filing complications.
There is still time to take advantage of this service for 2016 tax filings. I
encourage Arkansans to learn more about this program and use this free service
Homeland Security Directive: Rhetoric vs. Reality
When President Trump began his campaign for the White House, he made national
security—and in particular, homeland security—a cornerstone of his platform.
His calls to secure the border, keep terrorists off of U.S. soil and protect our
communities struck a chord with a large majority of Americans who for years felt
that Washington ignored their very real concerns about our porous borders and
broken immigration system.
As expected, the president has moved quickly to deliver on his promises to fix
this broken system.
The Trump administration recently rolled out a revised version of its Executive
Order aimed at restoring confidence in the the procedures we use to vet refugees
fleeing from nations known to harbor radical and violent extremists.
The revised version appears to have benefitted from the engagement of the
president’s cabinet, especially the key input of Homeland Security Secretary
John Kelly. This valuable input underscores how important it is for the
president to have his team in place to govern effectively. It is vital that
every agency involved in implementing this directive is engaged during its
Congress has many problems to tackle, but protecting our nation is at the top of
that list. That requires we work together to govern. It also requires that we
take a step back from the heated rhetoric and have honest conversations. Taking
the fundamental steps to protect our homeland does not diminish the fact that we
are a welcoming nation that strives to help the vulnerable.
It is no secret that ISIS and other violent extremists want to exploit our
nation’s generosity and welcoming spirit to sneak terrorists onto American soil.
We can, and must, take reasonable measures to prevent that. It is reasonable,
responsible in fact, to put a pause on accepting refugees from these nations in
order to fix the flaws in the process and instill confidence in the system.
There are considerable challenges we face when trying to vet refugees from the
countries impacted by this directive. Four of the countries on this list don’t
even have a U.S. embassy, so you can understand how difficult it is to get a
complete picture of the refugees seeking asylum from those countries when we
don’t even have open communications channels with them. If we can affect
positive outcomes and overcome these challenges, as was the case with Iraq, then
we can confidently remove a country from the list.
Every country will be evaluated within twenty days of this directive. If a
country comes up short of where it needs to be, it will have fifty days to fix
the failures in communications with us.
Taking these reasonable steps to reduce this threat in no way runs counter to
the ideals that our nation is built upon. We can be proud of the resources the
U.S. has provided to support those fleeing persecution in war-torn Syria. I have
visited the refugee camps we support in Jordan and Turkey. Our commitment to
their well-being is strong. The rhetoric just doesn’t match the realities when
it comes to this issue.
As Chairman of the Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, I strongly
support President Trump’s efforts to get Washington to uphold our most important
responsibility—protecting the American people. I stand ready to work with him,
Secretary Kelly and my colleagues to accomplish this goal.
March 3, 2017
Arkansans Bring Recommendations for VA Improvements to
Our Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) are leading on the frontlines to
ensure that our nation follows through with its promise to take care of those
who have served us. They offer a unique perspective on how Department of
Veterans Affairs (VA) policies affect our veterans and what changes need to be
made to improve services. As Congress continues to modernize VA and strengthen
the delivery of care, accountability and benefits our veterans earned, the
recommendations of our VSOs are invaluable.
Arkansas members of the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and Veterans
of Foreign Wars recently traveled to Washington to reaffirm their support for
our veterans and advocate for policies on their behalf. One of the topics we
discussed in detail was mental illness in our veteran community.
In Arkansas, veterans represent about eight percent of the population, but about
20 percent of suicides. We must take action to change this tragic reality. We
need to improve access to meaningful mental health services and strengthen
suicide prevention awareness among our veterans.
Mental health is a battlefield that many of our men and women who served in our
nation’s uniform find themselves facing here at home. These invisible injuries
are why we struggle to identify at-risk individuals. Two years ago Congress
passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act to deliver
help to our veterans, but this was only a first step.
We need to continue making improvements to ensure that struggling veterans have
access to the VA programs that have proven to work, and provide the personnel,
services and tools to support them. Appointment cancelations with mental health
providers have left veterans waiting for up to six months for an appointment.
This unfortunate reality is unacceptable. These appointments are much too
critical to delay. Sadly, we are seeing the tremendous shortage of mental health
providers in our nation impact veterans across the country.
Another challenge to determine veterans who need assistance is that some of the
most vulnerable people we need to reach aren’t formally affiliated with the VA
and may be unknown to veteran groups in their communities. VSOs have made great
progress by initiating their own programs in order to recognize those veterans
In testimony before a joint hearing of the Senate and House VA Committees
earlier this month, VFW Commander Brian Duffy said its community based program
is making a difference. “No group can relate to a veteran in distress as easy or
effectively as a fellow veteran,” he told committee members.
Peer-to-peer support programs have proven successful for VSOs and I believe the
VA can have the same success. VA should invest in expanding its peer-to-peer
The input from our VSOs is vital to my colleagues and me as we improve VA health
care delivery. When it comes to our nation’s veterans, their commitment to our
country is without question, and our commitment to them must be the same.
March 2, 2017
Boozman Statement on the President’s Address to Congress
WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following
statement in response to President Trump’s Address to a Joint Session of
“Arkansans supported a new direction for our country in the November election.
In his address to Congress, President Trump laid out a vision that seeks to
revitalize our economy by pursuing policies that will promote innovation and
unite Americans with a common purpose. Whether it be jobs, education,
healthcare, infrastructure or national security, our nation is facing serious
challenges that will require Congress and the president to collaborate and
pursue solutions that will answer these difficult questions. I look forward to
working with the president and any of my colleagues who are willing to do the
tough work required to meet these challenges and help improve the lives of
Arkansans and Americans across the country.”
February 24, 2017
Creating Opportunities for Rural America
The diversity of Arkansas’s landscape makes the Natural
State a truly unique environment. We can be proud of the resources that exist in
our state that support a wide range of industries, interests and jobs. An
important aspect of our state’s makeup is its rural identity. In the 2010
census, 44 percent of Arkansas’s population identified as rural compared to 19
percent of the entire nation. We must keep our rural communities in mind as we
create policies to improve the lives of all Americans.
Arkansans deserve access to quality and affordable health care no matter where
they live. Unfortunately, in recent years, rural hospitals and clinics have
reduced services or eliminated them entirely because of the costly burdens of
Obamacare. It’s important that Congress consider the challenges facing health
care in rural America. That’s why I recently joined my colleagues in sending a
letter to the Trump administration urging the President to implement policies to
improve and strengthen access to health care in rural communities.
We’ve made progress on health care access for veterans in rural areas. In 2014,
Congress passed, and the president signed, legislation reforming access to
health care services for our veterans. One of the highlights of the law is that
veterans can see non-VA providers if they live 40 miles or more from a VA health
facility. This ensures more veterans have access to timely, reliable and
dependable health care. I am committed to continuing to improve this benefit our
New models for health care delivery include telehealth. This is an innovative
approach that is helping to meet the needs of rural Arkansans by using
technology like video conferencing and the internet to deliver quality patient
care. A key component for this method is access to high-speed broadband internet
The internet has become an essential tool for how we communicate and conduct
business but a digital divide exists in Arkansas and much of rural America. The
Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Broadband Progress Report released
last year shows that 25 percent of Arkansans don’t have access to broadband. For
those people who do have access, they lack adequate internet speed.
Access to quality, high-speed internet has quickly become the cornerstone of a
prosperous economy and is the backbone for economic innovation. As a leader of
the Senate Broadband Caucus, I'm determined to extend this service to all
Arkansans, regardless of where they live. That’s why we must include it as part
of infrastructure discussions and support its expansion. I was proud to join
members of the caucus in sending a letter to the president urging him to
prioritize policies that will promote deployment of high-speed, reliable
broadband for all Americans as part of any infrastructure initiative.
As we shape policies for the future, we must consider the well-being of rural
communities. I am proud to support the needs of rural Arkansas and will continue
to advocate for solutions that provide opportunities for rural communities to
Boozman Honors Military Support in Arkansas
ROGERS, AR – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) honored employees at Sealed Air
Rogers today for their support of co-workers who serve in the National Guard and
Boozman presented plaques from the Secretary of Defense to Greg Williams and
Andy Morrison on behalf of Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).
Williams and Morrison were nominated by two National Guardsmen who work at
Sealed Air Rogers. ESGR is a Department of Defense program established in 1972
to promote understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their
“For every Arkansan serving our nation to do their best it takes great support
from friends, family and co-workers who understand their sacrifice and service,”
Boozman said. “I am grateful that Sealed Air Rogers and these great Arkansans
are there to back up our men and women who protect and defend us.”
During the visit Boozman toured the plant and visited with employees. He was
also presented with the National Association of Manufacturers Legislative
Excellence Award for support of manufacturing jobs in Arkansas and throughout
"Senator Boozman has worked hard for North American commerce, including
manufacturing and agriculture. With his support, we continue to gain
competitiveness and to pursue growth opportunities,” said Sealed Air Rogers
plant manager Ross Tompkins. "Additionally, Senator Boozman is a strong
supporter of veterans, a key component of our workforce. We thank Senator
Boozman for being able to come to our plant today."