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Update from Washington

 

 

 

From Senator John Boozman

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 19, 2017

 

Boozman Supports Passage of National Defense Authorization Act 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement in support of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):

“Protecting our national security must be a top priority. We face constantly evolving threats from around the world and we must provide the resources our military needs to stay one step ahead of these dangers. This bill prioritizes modernization and military readiness so we can be prepared for today’s missions and tomorrow’s challenges. Members of our Armed Forces are committed to serving our country and we must honor our obligation to ensure they have the tools and training necessary to be successful.”

The bill includes an amendment authored by Boozman that requires a report that will support a concept to centrally locate manufacturing, storage and distribution of designated Chemical Biological Defense Equipment at defense department arsenals, like Pine Bluff Arsenal.

 

 

September 15, 2017

 

Never Forgetting, Never Losing Hope for Our POWs/MIA

Few people understand the horrors of being held captive by our enemies. The courage of the men and women who have been victimized offer an inspiring example of the human will to survive. We recognize their bravery in September on National POW/MIA Recognition Day, but their service and sacrifice deserves more attention.

Chief Warrant Officer Austin Knapp served with the 109th Medical Battalion, 34th Division. He was captured by the Germans in North Africa during WWII and imprisoned for more than two years. He detailed his ordeal in a journal.

His granddaughter, Andrea Fisher, coordinates the POW/MIA Ceremony at the Arkansas State Capitol. For her family, his journal is a cherished possession that shows what he endured as a POW and what motivated him to survive.

On the one-year anniversary of his captivity he wrote “…through it all I've learned that ‘HOME’ is the most pleasant word in any language.”

The promise of making it back to see loved ones is what inspired him to stay strong.

Just like our POWs and those missing in action fought with resolve in defense of our nation and its ideals, so too shall we be determined to bring these men and women home. No matter where they are, or how long they have been gone, we must commit to never give up looking for them and give answers to the families waiting to hear their loved one has been found.

This is the reason the men and women of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency spend years investigating possible recovery sites. I am grateful for these efforts and committed to dedicating the resources necessary to bring our men and women home.

We simply do not leave anyone behind, and we do not abandon those who remain missing.

18-year-old Marine Corps Private First Class Larry Roberts of Damascus, Arkansas fought against the Japanese on the island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll in November 1943. He was one of one thousand Marines and sailors killed in the battle. In 1949 his remains were declared non-recoverable, but more than seven decades later, he was identified. In June, he was returned to his family and laid to rest with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

Had we given up, Private Roberts’ family, friends and loved ones would not have had the opportunity to pay their final respects and give him a proper burial. Private Roberts gave everything for his country. While we cannot ever fully repay him, we must strive to fulfill our promise to him and all who are missing.

Each day when I walk by the POW/MIA flag outside my office, it is a reminder of the obligation we have to our prisoners of war, those missing in action, and their families. No one should ever wonder where their son, daughter, mother, father, husband or wife who served in uniform is, or when they will return home.

While fully aware of the dangers they face, our men and women bravely put themselves in harm’s way to defend our country, ideals and allies around the world. We continue to pray that our missing troops will be identified and return home soon.
 

 

 

 

September 8, 2017

 

SENATOR JOHN BOOZMAN NAMED 2017 "ARKANSAN OF THE YEAR"
BY THE ABA

 

 

The Arkansas Broadcasters Association recently named Senator John Boozman its “Arkansan of the Year” for 2017. Senator Boozman accepted the award during the group’s Awards Banquet at its Annual Convention.

The award is presented to a person who has made significant contributions to residents of Arkansas. In presenting the award, the ABA noted that Senator Boozman has always worked closely with Arkansas Broadcasters on issues affecting the industry, including signing on as a sponsor of the Radio Freedom Act which fights efforts to attach another “performance tax” to music played on radio and TV stations.

Past recipients of the, “Arkansas of the Year” were: Johnny Cash, John Paul Hammerschmidt, Lou Holtz, Governor Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Don Tyson, Patty Upton, Collin Raye, Senator David Pryor, Senator Dale Bumpers, Senator Blanche Lincoln, Senator Tim Hutchinson, Jerry Jones, Governor Mike Huckabee, Richard Davies, James L. "Skip" Rutherford, Jermain Taylor, Claiborne Deming, and Governor Mike Beebe.

Photo: Bob Connell with the Arkansas Broadcasters Association presenting award to Senator John Boozman at the ABA's Annual Convention

 

 

 

 

 

September 5, 2017

 

 

Boozman Statement on DACA Announcement

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement after the Trump administration announced it will rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program:

“The Obama administration overreached its authority when it unilaterally expanded the DACA program. I am pleased that President Trump is returning the power to Congress to restore the integrity of our nation’s immigration system. As Congress pursues immigration reform, I will push for legislative solutions to fix our broken immigration system, including the lengthy and burdensome legal immigration process.”

 

 

September 4, 2017

 

Celebrating Arkansas Rice


This is a busy time of year for Arkansas rice farmers like Jennifer James, a fourth-generation rice farmer from Newport. Across the Rice Belt, farmers are driving combines through their fields harvesting this year’s crop, and trucks are hauling the crop to the mill. This is a fitting time to celebrate the rice industry as we recognize September as National Rice Month. As the nation’s leading rice producing state, Arkansas rice farmers have a unique perspective on the rules, regulations and trade deals involving this commodity.

At a recent hearing held by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, James shared her experiences as a rice farmer to guide my colleagues and me as we prepare to write the next Farm Bill. She testified about the economic impact of the industry and the merits of increasing markets for rice.

Last year’s rice crop directly generated $5.6 billion. On top of this, $34 billion in total value added to the U.S. economy was generated from rice production, milling and selected end users. The industry provides jobs to more than 128,000 people across the country including 25,000 in Arkansas alone.

Nearly half of the rice produced in the U.S. is exported to more than 120 countries including the top markets of Mexico, Haiti, Japan, Central America and the Middle East. We are hopeful that soon our rice producers will finally have access to one of the world’s largest markets, China.

This summer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) completed negotiations with Chinese officials on a protocol permitting the import of U.S. milled rice into China for the first time in history. This is great news for Arkansas rice producers and our state’s economy. As the world’s largest consumer of rice, the Chinese market holds great potential for our rice farmers. James told the Senate committee that she looks “forward to hopefully exporting rice to China.”

It’s expected that Chinese inspectors will come to the U.S. within the next few weeks to examine the rice mills to ensure they meet the country’s sanitation requirements. Considering that American rice farmers grow a high quality, safe product, these visits should result in good news.

There are other markets where challenges remain. In her testimony, James offered the example of access to the Cuban market. One barrier facing Arkansas famers when trying to export to Cuba is that lenders are prohibited from providing lines of credit to export goods to the country. I’m working to eliminate this hurdle.

Together with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), I introduced legislation to increase the export of American agricultural commodities to Cuba. The Agriculture Export Expansion Act would lift the ban on private banks and companies offering credit for agricultural exports to Cuba. This is commonsense reform that ensures Arkansas farmers and agriculture producers across the country can compete fairly for the Cuban marketplace.

Rice is a staple of the Cuban diet, so for rice farmers like James, this increase in demand would be good for business.

Given the significant downturn the farm economy is grappling with, the next Farm Bill will be very important for producers and rural communities that rely on agriculture. As Congress writes this legislation and considers changes to agriculture policies, I am committed to being a strong voice for Arkansas rice farmers and all of our state’s producers.

 

 

 

 

August 14, 2017

 

Boozman Statement on Passing of Frank Broyles


WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement on the passing of Frank Broyles:

“Outside of family, the people who had the greatest influences on my life were my coaches and teachers. Perhaps none more so than Frank Broyles.

Coach Broyles was larger than life, always doing what he thought was best for the University of Arkansas. As a coach and longtime athletic director for the university, his devotion to the school, and the young men and women who attended it, helped put young Arkansans on a path to success while turning the University of Arkansas into a sports powerhouse. In his later years, his passionate advocacy on behalf of those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease raised awareness for the devastating impact it has on those affected and their caregivers, as well as funding for research.

I will be forever proud to be a Razorback and to have had the opportunity to be one under Coach Broyles.

Coach Broyles was fond of saying there are two types of people in this world: givers and takers. Live your life as a giver, not a taker. We lost a giver today, but we are so much better for what he gave us.”

 

 

August 11, 2017

 

Back to School

The signs of a new academic year are all around us. Parents are filling up carts with school supplies, college students are moving into dorms and teachers are preparing their classrooms and lesson plans for a new school year. It’s an exciting time of year with the promise of new friends, teachers and skills. With all Arkansas public schools connected to secure, high speed broadband, students all across the state now have access to opportunities to better prepare them for the future.

Arkansas is placing great emphasis on empowering students to learn 21st century skills. The recent completion of the Arkansas Public School Network makes Arkansas one of only six states to have all of its public schools connected to high speed internet. This upgrade will link students across the state to learning opportunities all over the world. We hope and expect that it will also foster an interest in computer science and coding that could lead to highly competitive and good-paying jobs. Under Governor Asa Hutchinson’s leadership, interest in coding has increased by almost 400 percent in four years. The prospect of a labor pool trained and proficient in these new and developing technologies will help attract business to our state because they will recognize that Arkansas has the workforce they need.

I had the opportunity to participate in a coding exercise last school year. During my visit, it was clear that our students were confident this skill would help prepare them for job opportunities after they complete their education.

Schools across the state are finding innovative ways to enhance education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Fort Smith Public Schools is transitioning to digital classrooms, providing students with laptop computers and teaching them to learn online both in school and at home.

These updates to how and what we teach Arkansas students is laying a solid foundation for the future. At the federal level, we’re working to promote STEM opportunities for students of all ages.

The Senate-passed legislation to expand post-9/11 GI Bill benefits provides for increased resources and authority for educational assistance for veterans to pursue STEM programs. I was proud to author this provision in the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 to allow veterans to learn valuable 21st century workforce skills such as computer coding and programming. Modernizing educational benefits allows our veterans to be more competitive in the global economy.

Promoting coursework that offers students training and skills to match the needs of employers is an investment in the workforce and the economic prospects of our state. As students and teachers head back to school we can be proud that they will have the tools to open doors for the future.



 

 

August 11, 2017

 

Boozman Announces Planned Surgical Procedure in August



WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement:

“As many of you may remember, I had surgery in 2014 to repair a tear in my aorta. About 30 percent of the time after this type of procedure, additional surgery is required. My doctors have been monitoring me since the surgery. After consulting with my doctors, I have elected to go ahead and have this done during the August recess so I will be ready to go when the Senate comes back into session in September. As always, Cathy and I appreciate all of your prayers, kind words and well wishes.”

Boozman scheduled his procedure for Tuesday at a Washington, D.C. area hospital.


 

 

August 7, 2017

 

Boozman Introduces Bill to Update FSA Loan Limits

WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined Senators John Hoeven (R-ND) and Luther Strange (R-AL) to introduce the Capital for Farmers and Ranchers Act, legislation to increase the maximum loan amount that an individual farmer or rancher can receive under the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Direct and Guaranteed Loan Programs for Farm Operating Loans and Farm Ownership Loans.

“Arkansas agriculture producers rely on access to credit to operate and grow their farms and ranches. Given the challenging economic conditions currently facing the agriculture industry, producers have been increasingly dependent on USDA loan programs to obtain credit and continue producing. This legislation updates USDA lending limits to more accurately reflect current farming operations and to better respond to downturns in the ag economy,” Boozman said.

“Our farmers and ranchers need access to credit, especially during challenging times like these,” Hoeven said. “This legislation will help our agriculture producers maintain their operations by increasing FSA loan amounts to reflect the modern costs of farming and ranching. This would not only help ensure they can continue producing the highest quality, lowest cost food in the world, but also provide greater stability to rural economies across the country.”

“As agricultural equipment costs continue to grow, access to capital is critical to the long-term success of our nation’s growers and producers,” said Strange. “Alabama farmers contend with tax burdens, price fluctuations and everything Mother Nature can throw at them, but one thing they should not have to worry about is securing the resources to start and maintain prosperous operations. I am proud to join my colleagues in carrying this legislation to make life easier for those growing the future of our state.”

Many producers have shared their concerns that the current maximum loan amounts do not grant them the flexibility they need to operate when revenue is limited, for instance, when facing low commodity prices or natural disasters.

The legislation would increase the FSA loan guarantee amount from $1.39 million to $2.5 million and double the amount of direct loans from $300,000 to $600,000. This covers two types of loans and loan guarantees:

· Farm Operating Loans – To purchase livestock, farm equipment, feed, seed, fuel, farm chemicals and insurance and to cover other operating expenses. It can also be used for minor improvements to buildings, costs associated with land and water development, family living expenses and debt refinancing in certain circumstances.


· Farm Ownership Loans – To purchase farmland, construct or repair buildings and other fixtures, develop farmland to promote soil and water conservation and to refinance debt.
 

 

 

August 4, 2017

 

End Confirmation Delays

In August, the Senate confirmed Arkansan Mike Platt to serve as Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Mike is a devoted public servant who has spent a career making the lives of Arkansans and all Americans better. While I’ve known him for many years, his recent meeting with me was routine for presidential nominees to federal posts that require Senate confirmation.

Mike is one of hundreds of presidential nominees who are vetted by the Senate, questioned in committee hearings and approved on the Senate floor as prescribed by the “advice and consent” clause in the Constitution. This obligation allows the Senate to ensure the president surrounds himself with good advisors. It is important that the Senate act on these nominees in a timely fashion so our federal agencies have the personnel needed to fulfill their responsibilities to our country.

Unfortunately, Senate Democrats have continuously delayed the confirmation process for noncontroversial nominees despite widespread, bipartisan support in committee. Slowing down the approval of presidential nominees is a disservice to the American people. It hinders the ability of the Executive Branch to follow through on and implement the president’s agenda.

Democrats in the Senate are using unnecessary procedural hurdles because they don’t like the results of the presidential election. My colleagues on the other side of the aisle have allowed only 10 percent of President Trump’s nominees to be confirmed by voice vote, while more than 90 percent of President Obama’s nominees had been confirmed by voice vote at this point in 2009.

The Senate took a big step in early August, by confirming a number of qualified individuals to serve in a variety of important positions including a nominee to serve on the National Labor Relations Board, judges to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and Christopher Wray to serve as director of the FBI. Unfortunately, a number of key advisor positions remain vacant. It’s time to end the needless delays and procedural hurdles that have prevented well-qualified individuals from filling positions within the administration.

This includes nominees like Cody Hiland who President Trump nominated to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. I urge the president to expeditiously nominate qualified individuals to the other federal positions in Arkansas that are vacant like the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas and U.S. Marshals for the Eastern and Western Districts.

I look forward to working with my colleagues and the administration to ensure we have men and women in place who are willing to serve our country in critical positions that support the White House and its agenda.

 

 

 

July 28, 2017

 

Boozman Statement on Senate Effort to Repeal and Replace Obamacare


WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement after supporting stalled efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare:

“For years I have been committed to repealing and replacing Obamacare. While we were unable to reach a consensus in the Senate, that doesn’t mean our work to provide relief to families from skyrocketing health care costs ends. It’s too important for the future of our country and the livelihoods of hardworking Arkansans who struggle with the cost of Obamacare. Almost everyone agrees that our health care system is broken. It’s time to work together to find a way forward that ensures access to quality and affordable care for all Americans.”
 

 

 

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 of transition.

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 maximize participation.

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 to children.

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.

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5U3zWBQ3MI&feature=youtu.be

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 VA facilities.

“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 immigration laws.


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. twice before.

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 follow suit.

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 (CBP) officers.

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.

 

 

July 5,2017

 

Boozman Joins Arkansas Restaurant Owners for Roundtable Discussion

 

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 Wednesday.)


 

 

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 services.”

“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 veterans’ homelessness.”


 

 

 

Boozman, Hill Congratulate Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council on National Recognition

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

 

Boozman Applauds Signing of VA Reforms into Law

WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, joined President Donald Trump at the White House for the signing of landmark reforms to improve accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs and protections for employees who expose wrongdoing.

“I appreciate the President’s support of Congressional efforts to ensure our veterans receive the quality care they earned. This law allows the Department of Veterans Affairs to hold employees accountable for their performance and protects the hardworking staff who uphold the highest standards of care when serving those who served our nation. Signing these reforms into law continues our promise to our nation’s veterans,” Boozman said.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act will allow the secretary of the VA to dismiss employees for poor performance while ensuring protections for those who expose wrongdoing.

Boozman cosponsored the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. With his support, the legislation passed the Senate VA Committee on May 25 and was approved by the full Senate on June 6.

 

 

 

 

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 wrongdoing.

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 created office.

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 they earned.
 

 

 

06/05/17

 

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 marketplace.

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 Priority

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 marketplace.

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 infrastructure initiative.

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 long-term solution.

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.

 

 

05/26/17

 

Drug Courts Have Positive Impact

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 people.

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 difference.

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.
 

 

 

05/19/17

 

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 yourself less.”

 

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 Representatives.

 

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 credit.

 

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 a difference?

 

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 taker. 

 

 

 

 

 

04/27/17

 

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.”
 

 

04/27/17

 

Boozman Welcomes Fort Smith Pastor Marty Sloan as Guest Chaplain
 

 


(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 22 years.

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 Drugs



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 locations.
 

 

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 of.”
 

 

04/21/17

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 six-year-old PDMP.

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.

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 fatal.

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 said.

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 hard-earned money.

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 at www.irs.gov/freefile.
 

 

 

March 10,2017

 

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 development.

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 Washington



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 need.

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 efforts.

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 Congress:

“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 veterans earned.

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 service.

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 succeed.

 

 

 

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 Reserves.

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 civilian employers.

“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 the nation.

"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."