Southwest Arkansas Daily
published by KDQN
870-642-2446 or 870-898-3624

[Home]     [Announcements]     [Branson Tickets]   [Cattle Report]   [Churches]     [Classifieds]    [Comments] [Contact Us]   [EEO Information]   [Live Remotes]  
 [Local News] [Obituaries]   [Photo Album]   [Sports]   [Swap Shop  [Trophy Room] [Upcoming Events]  [Weather]


 

 

 

Update from Washington

 

 

 

From Senator John Boozman

 

 

 

 

 

April 20, 2018

 

Prescription Drug Take-Back Day



Last month, I had the pleasure of spending some time with several mayors and local leaders who were in Washington with the Arkansas Municipal League. We had a lively and informative discussion on ways to continue the economic growth that has been taking off throughout Arkansas. While much of our conversation was focused on forward-thinking ways to continue these positive trends, there was also a frank and candid discussion about an issue that is currently holding our communities back—the opioid crisis.

Policy makers across our state have been struggling to help confront Arkansas’s heroin and opioid epidemic. The Natural State has been hit particularly hard by this national crisis. Retail data collected from pharmacies shows Arkansas has one of the highest per capita opioid consumption rates in the nation. Data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows we have the second highest prescribing rate in the country—enough for each Arkansan to have more than one opioid prescription in his or her name.

It’s an issue that all of us—from city leaders, to lawmakers in Little Rock, to our Congressional delegation in Washington—continue to work tirelessly to confront because we’ve seen how pervasive this crisis is and how devastating its effects are.

In Washington, our latest move ensured that substantial resources for a wide-ranging strategy to counter the epidemic, nearly $4 billion, was included in the recent spending agreement.

The funding bill—which was signed into law by President Trump—increases resources for law enforcement, allocates money to important grant programs that help state and local governments offset the costs of opioid abuse and provides funds for research into opioid addiction and alternative treatments.

While we continue to look for new ways to tackle this problem, one step Washington took years ago continues to help. The “National Prescription Take-Back Initiative”—an effort spearheaded by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)—has helped remove expired, unused and unnecessary opioids from homes. Research has found that the majority of opioid abusers get their drugs from friends and family, often lifting pills from a familiar medicine cabinet. Removing them from homes helps reduce experimentation and overdoses.

In early 2010, a coalition of federal and state law enforcement officials, prevention professionals and private organizations launched an ongoing education program to encourage Arkansans to monitor, secure and dispose of their prescription medications. The coalition organized Arkansas’s participation in the DEA’s “National Prescription Take-Back Initiative” and has hosted collection events for eight years. Despite our state’s small population size, Arkansas ranks thirteenth in the nation in total weight collected over the course of 14 statewide take-back events. That’s a testament to the coalition’s efforts.

These events have produced the return of almost 132 tons of unneeded medications, which amounts to over 400 million pills. This campaign is clearly succeeding at getting unnecessary prescription drugs out of circulation and helping break the cycle of addiction in our communities.

The next take-back event is Saturday, April 28. There are more than 130 permanent drop-off sites across Arkansas and many law enforcement agencies host temporary drop-off sites at this event.

We all have a role to play in this effort. Arkansas Take-Back Day is an easy way each of us can do our part.

 

 

April 18, 2018

 

Boozman Appointed to Migratory Bird Conservation Commission

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) has been appointed to serve on the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, the organization responsible for directing funds raised by the sale of the Duck Stamp to waterfowl habitat and hunting conservation.

“I am honored to serve on the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission and be a voice for Arkansas wetlands, which are extremely important to the Natural State’s wildlife, tourism industry and economy. As a duck hunting destination, it’s critically important that we protect waterfowl habitat in order to continue attracting sportsmen to our state. I look forward to working with commission members to preserve our lands for outdoor enthusiasts,” Boozman said.

Established in 1929, the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission was created and authorized to consider and approve the purchase of wetlands and other areas recommended by the Secretary of the Interior for purchase or easement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), as well as establish new waterfowl refuges.

The Duck Stamp is a major source of revenue that helps fund the purchase of migratory bird habitat. Since the commission's establishment, more than 5.6 million acres have been acquired by FWS for addition to the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The commission typically meets three times a year.

In addition to Boozman, members of the commission are:


Chair – Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior
Martin Heinrich, Senator from New Mexico
Robert J. Wittman, Representative from Virginia
Mike Thompson, Representative from California
Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture
Scott Pruitt, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency

 

 

April 14, 2018

 

Boozman Statement on Military Action Against Assad Regime



WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement following missile strikes by the U.S. military, in coordination with U.S. allies France and the United Kingdom, against the Syrian regime and President Bashar al-Assad:

“Chemical attacks by Bashar al-Assad on the Syrian people must be met with aggressive action to deter these atrocities in the future. This joint operation, with our steadfast allies the UK and France, delivered that message in a very measured and direct manner. It is past time for Russia and Iran to end their support of this brutal regime.

“As always, we are grateful to the men and women of our military whose skill and dedication are instrumental in defending our country and national interests.”

 

 

April 13, 2018

 

Arkansas Congressional Delegation Secures $48 million for Flood Recovery

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) and U.S. Representatives Rick Crawford (AR-01), French Hill (AR-02), Steve Womack (AR-03) and Bruce Westerman (AR-04) announced more than $48 million in federal funding was approved for Arkansas to rebuild and repair roads and critical infrastructure damaged from heavy rains and floods.

“These funds are critical to assist in the rebuilding and construction of roadways damaged by abnormally high amounts of rainfall and other effects of severe weather. Restoring our transportation infrastructure and other related facilities comes at a tremendous cost to our communities. These grants will assist in decreasing the burden placed on local, county and state governments,” Boozman said.

“Last year's flooding caused millions of dollars in damage to our state's roads and bridges, and nearly a year later much repair work remains to be done. These grants will be vital to the recovery effort, and it's good to see the people of Arkansas get the federal assistance they need,” Cotton said.

“As Arkansans recover from unprecedented flooding, this grant will ensure their communities can be restored. Grants like these not only help communities become functional again but help remove financial stress put on local government,” Crawford said.

“The last few years of abnormally severe weather conditions have had a substantial impact on communities throughout Arkansans. These grants are critical to assisting our local recovery efforts and will help facilitate the repair of our most vital infrastructure,” Hill said.

“In recent years, Arkansas has been hit by a wave of severe weather and flooding events, and the northwest corner of the state I represent in Congress is no exception. These storms caused severe damage to federal-aid highways, roads on Federal lands and Federal Lands Management Agencies transportation facilities that still require repair. The funding from the Department of Transportation will be put to good use in the Natural State,” Womack said.

“The floods of 2017 were devastating to the Fourth Congressional District, leaving millions of dollars in damage and scars that will not easily heal. As the recovery effort continues, these grants will help local governments replace necessary infrastructure,” Westerman said.

The following organizations were awarded Department of Transportation grants to repair, reconstruct and rebuild roads and facilities in Arkansas:

Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department: $40 million

National Park Service: $41,490

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: $5 million

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: $715, 226

U.S. Forest Service: $3.165 million

The following counties were approved for disaster assistance last year; Baxter, Benton, Boone, Carroll, Clay, Cleburne, Conway, Craighead, Cross, Faulkner, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Mississippi, Montgomery, Newton, Ouachita, Perry, Poinsett, Prairie, Randolph, Saline, Washington, White and Woodruff Counties.

Over the last several years, Arkansas has experienced several rounds of adverse weather that dramatically affected many communities across the state. Governor Asa Hutchinson issued disaster declarations for 36 counties and two cities in May 2017 after severe weather conditions resulted in widespread damage to many areas. He had previously designated 17 counties as disaster areas in 2015 following severe storms, flooding and tornadoes.

 

 

April 13, 2018

 

Urging Caution on Tariffs



The benefits of free and fair trade are numerous. Our economy grows when American manufacturers, agricultural producers and small businesses can fairly compete in today’s global marketplace. Americans are safer when we have strong trading partners who are in our corner. When fair trade agreements are negotiated with nations that are not natural allies, it enables us to not only trade goods, but ideas. The last point is particularly salient when it comes to our current impasse with China.

When it comes to playing by the rules of fair trade, there is no doubt that China is a bad actor. Among other things, the Chinese government has subsidized its steel and aluminum production, blocked importation of certain U.S. agricultural products and imposed significant trade barriers to hurt foreign pharmaceutical companies. By engaging in widespread theft of trade secrets and intellectual property, China has earned the label of “the world’s principal IP infringer.”

In an effort to protect American workers and force China to comply with proper trade practices, President Trump has threatened to impose as much as $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods. I certainly agree with the president’s goal, but I have serious concerns about the means to achieve it.

It’s important to note the same commitment to protect American workers and promote America’s economic interests has led the president to join with us to pass historic tax reform and cut regulatory red tape. These efforts have unleashed economic growth. I fear applying broad tariffs would be a setback.

There is no doubt that American businesses lack a level playing field in China. However, that can be accomplished without descending into a full-fledged trade war. I’m wary that we could be heading in that direction as the Chinese government has responded with its own proposed tariffs hikes, including some that could hit Arkansas farmers especially hard.

Agriculture is Arkansas’s number one industry. Soybeans, our state’s largest row crop, are among China’s targets for proposed tariffs. Arkansas is the 10th largest soybean producing state and approximately 50 percent of our crop is exported. Other Natural State products like cotton, corn and beef are also on the proposed tariff list, while pork exported to China is already facing a 25 percent tariff.

For the past five years, Arkansas farmers and rural families have been struggling with low commodity prices, high input costs and non-tariff barriers to trade. Now, additional retaliatory tariffs could become part of that list. This amounts to kicking farmers when they’re already down.

We can appropriately hold China accountable for its unfair trade practices without holding our agricultural industry hostage. I will continue to express to the administration how important it is to help ensure that our nation’s farmers, ranchers and producers do not suffer while we work to establish responsible, reciprocal trade with China and our other trading partners across the globe.

Fair trade deals, when properly negotiated, should be given a chance to succeed. If one partner is not acting in good faith, the chance at success is significantly impaired. I support the president’s goal of getting China to comply with its obligations and remain hopeful that can be accomplished while avoiding an all-out trade war. The escalation in trade rhetoric alone is negatively affecting markets and creating uncertainty. We need to continue to build off the economic momentum of the tax cuts and regulatory reforms, not stifle it.
 

 

 

 

April 5, 2018

 

Reaching More Veterans in Need of PTSD Care
 


This is the second in a series of columns on efforts to help veterans struggling with mental health issues. The first entry on veteran suicides can be found here.


According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as many as 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is a mental health problem that can develop after individuals experience or witness a life-threatening event. This understandably affects a large number of combat veterans.

While it is certainly not out of the ordinary for anyone to have stress reactions after a traumatic event, PTSD is much different. Upsetting memories, sleep issues and extreme nervousness and anxiety are symptoms that often worsen over time.

Veterans and active duty service members living with the invisible battle scars of PTSD are hard to identify. The perceived stigma associated with seeking help only adds to the challenge. Too often, we find out who needed help too late.

Congress passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act in 2015 to change this trend. Since then, the VA has been hard at work implementing the programs authorized by this landmark law, but it still struggles to meet the needs of our veterans—especially those in less populated areas.

Offering access to doctors outside of the VA is essential to rural states like Arkansas, but the tremendous shortage of mental health providers in our nation is a serious problem for veterans and individuals all across the country. In an effort to bridge the gap in care in areas that lack providers, the VA is turning to technology.

As part of a suite of mobile apps to support veterans and their families, the VA launched the “PTSD Coach” app as a joint project with the Department of Defense (DoD). The app is a tool for self-management of PTSD and includes a self-assessment and educational tools; relaxation and focusing exercises; and immediate access to crisis resources, personal support contacts and professional mental health care.

The VA has also recently launched a pilot telehealth program that will give rural veterans with PTSD remote access to therapy and related services. The therapy is delivered via interactive video from a VA medical center to a community-based outpatient clinic (CBOC) or the veteran’s home. The Little Rock CBOC is one of 12 locations selected to participate in the program.

Congress is working to reach more veterans in need as well. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, which was signed into law late last year, included provisions that ensure at-risk veterans can access critical mental health care that had previously been unavailable to them.

Washington will not be able to solve this problem alone. Thanks to the efforts of veterans’ service organizations and committed advocates, we have made strides to remove the stigma of PTSD and reach veterans in need of help.

One organization doing great work in this area is Rivers of Recovery. I’ve seen firsthand how the program empowers our veterans to change their lives. Using outdoor therapy as an innovative alternative to medicine, Rivers of Recovery helps our veterans heal and take control of their lives through empowerment, fraternity and an appreciation for the outdoors—a combination that has already changed the lives of so many veterans.

These methods should be the focus of treatment plans for more veterans suffering from PTSD. Our veterans should never face an uphill battle when seeking access to mental health care. We have a responsibility to provide care that supports the needs of those who have served in the defense of our nation, and I will continue to advocate for programs that achieve this goal.

 

 

March 27, 2018

 

Boozman Highlights Arkansas Air Force Installations and State’s Cyber Capabilities During Air Force Secretary’s Visit
 


WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a co-chairman of the Senate Air Force Caucus, welcomed Air Force Secretary Dr. Heather Wilson to Arkansas and touted the missions of the Little Rock Air Force Base (LRAFB), the 188th Wing in Fort Smith and the important national security role of the state’s cyber security programs.

“I’m proud to support the missions of Arkansas Air Force installations and the many airmen and civil servants who work tirelessly to keep our country safe. I appreciate Secretary Wilson’s time and attention in visiting Arkansas to see how our state supports the national security interests of the United States,” Boozman said.

As threats against our country and its interests evolve, the Air Force is leading the development of cyber capabilities to enhance its air superiority. Boozman helped procure a cybersecurity mission at LRAFB to train more cyber warriors. Last year, the Air National Guard Cyber Skills Validation Course graduated its inaugural class of students.

“I look forward to working with Secretary Wilson to examine how the Air Force and Arkansas can partner together to provide critical cybersecurity training and expertise. As the home of the sole cyber skills validation course, Arkansas plays a vital role in training tomorrow’s military and industry leaders,” Boozman said.

Arkansas continues to strengthen its role in support of our national security with increased development of cyber programs. The University of Central Arkansas received a $500,000 grant from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education in 2017 to help launch its cyber range, educating students to identify potential cyberattacks and stop them before they begin. On Tuesday, Boozman, Secretary Wilson and Congressman French Hill (AR-02) joined UCA leaders to learn more about the program and how its partnership with the Center for Cyber Futures is advancing cyber education.

In addition to LRAFB and UCA visits, on Monday, Boozman and Congressman Steve Womack (AR-03) joined Secretary Wilson in Fort Smith to highlight the capabilities of the 188th Wing.

 

 

March 23, 2018

 

Applauds Termination of DOE/Clean Line Partners Agreement


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) and U.S. Representatives Rick Crawford (AR-01), French Hill (AR-02), Steve Womack (AR-03) and Bruce Westerman (AR-04) released the following joint statement on the termination of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) partnership with Clean Line Energy Partners for development of the Plains and Eastern Clean Line Project:

“This is a victory for states’ rights and a victory for Arkansas. We are pleased that the Department of Energy responded favorably to our request to terminate this agreement. We support policies that put our nation on the path to energy independence, but they should not cost Arkansas landowners a voice in the approval process.”

Earlier this year, members sent a letter DOE Secretary Rick Perry urging him to pause or terminate the Project. This follows additional efforts pressing the Secretary to preserve states’ rights.

The Arkansas Congressional Delegation has fought against this federal overreach by introducing the Assuring Private Property Rights Over Vast Access to Lands (APPROVAL) Act, for the past two Congresses. This legislation would restore states’ rights. It would require the DOE to obtain the approval of both the governor and the state’s public service commission before exercising the federal power of eminent domain to acquire property for Section 1222 transmission projects.

 

 

March 21, 2018

 

Boozman, Leahy Introduce Legislation to Extend Assistance for Farmers, Veterans
Program Helps Connect Ag Producers with Technology to Improve Methods, Teaches Vets to Start or Expand Farming Operations

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, introduced the Veteran and Beginning Farmers Technical Assistance Act. This bipartisan legislation would reauthorize the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) program to continue educating farmers and ranchers on farming practices and assist veterans in becoming successful producers.

“Arkansas farmers and ranchers feed the world. Providing access and connecting producers to information helps them make smart business decisions, which is important to our economy and our food supply,”Boozman said. “Developing veterans’ agriculture skills equips them to become the next generation of producers. I’m pleased to work with Sen. Leahy to advance this legislation and preserve this critical program.”

Leahy said, “Farmers are constantly learning and searching for ways to improve their operations and strengthen their profitability. The valuable information and resources that ATTRA provides to Vermont farmers and to farmers across the country -- for free, on a wide range of farm topics -- is vital for American farmers’ survival, particularly as they work to diversify and thrive in competitive markets.”

ATTRA’s Armed to Farm program assists veterans in the transition to civilian life by training them for a career in farming. More than 20 participants in Arkansas have been trained through the program.

"ATTRA has served our nation's farmers for thirty years through training and technical assistance. In addition, we have been honored to assist military veterans as they enter farming careers through our ATTRA-supported Armed to Farm. We have seen veterans start and expand farming operations, enter new markets, and contribute to their local economies. We look forward to continuing this work for Arkansas farmers, and all the farmers and veterans across the country," said Margo Hale, Southeast Regional Director of the National Center for Appropriate Technology.

ATTRA was reauthorized in the 2014 Farm Bill. The program is set to expire this year.

 

 

March 16, 2018

 

It’s National Nutrition Month. In a 2017 study that looks at household food security for the previous year and found that food security in Arkansas is higher than the national average. Senator Boozman, a co-chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus, is committed to fighting hunger and food insecurity and has promoted, crafted and supported policies to reverse these numbers.
 


Creating opportunities to access healthy, nutritious food



March is recognized as National Nutrition Month. This is a time to focus attention on the importance of a balanced diet and healthy eating choices. As a co-chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus, I am committed to supporting and raising awareness of efforts that provide healthy meals, creating policies that fight hunger and advocating for programs that have proven to be successful.

I’ve seen how community involvement in Arkansas is fighting food insecurity. Efforts like the “Cooking Matters at the Store” initiative launched by the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance teaches families to compare prices, read food labels and buy fruits and vegetables on a budget. These skills seem basic, but they go a long way in helping families maximize precious resources. Grocery stores are also allowing SNAP beneficiaries to purchase locally grown produce at a discount, which promotes health and affordability at the same time.

State educators know how essential breakfast is to students’ progress, so they’re implementing programs to promote breakfast. They are also helping grow gardens where the food produced is used in school lunches.

Proper nutrition is crucial to our wellbeing. Creating opportunities to access healthy, nutritious food is also important to our state’s and the nation’s economic development.

The Department of Agriculture’s Child and Adult Care Food Program is a unique effort that uses public-private partnerships to meet the nutritional needs of vulnerable children and adults. It has become a critical tool in the fight against hunger. I was pleased to support this program and recognize the important role it plays in the health and wellness of those in Arkansas and throughout the country with a Senate resolution acknowledging its contribution.

Studies show that access to the Child and Adult Care Food Program can measurably and positively impact the cognitive, social, emotional and physical health and development of children, leading to more favorable outcomes such as decreased likelihood of being hospitalized, an increased likelihood of healthy weight gain and an increased likelihood of a more varied diet.

As a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, I will continue to press for flexibility in the Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program, so children who rely on school meals when class is in session can access healthy, nutritious meals during the summer.

In Arkansas, more than fifty thousand children receive nutritious meals through this program. For many rural areas of the country, including communities in the Natural State, this one-size-fits-all approach fails the children most in need. More than 60 percent of Arkansas children rely on free or reduced-price meals during the school year. We need to modernize the program so that summer meal sites are available to children, no matter where they live.

It’s time that federal policy provides the flexibility necessary to reach students in their communities.

In order to break the cycle of food insecurity we must work together. Hunger knows no boundaries, but it is preventable and we have the tools to help fight it. We’ve made significant gains in Arkansas, across the country and throughout the world to improve nutrition for the most vulnerable in our society and I will continue to be a champion of efforts to improve access to healthy, nutritious foods.

 

 

March 9, 2018

 

Committing to Ending Veterans Suicide

This is the first in a series of columns on efforts to help veterans struggling with mental health issues.


In 2016, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released the findings of the nation’s most comprehensive analysis of veteran suicide rates in the United States.


VA examined over 55 million records from 1979 to 2014 in an effort to better inform its suicide prevention programs. The study’s findings were nothing short of alarming.


We know that 20 veterans commit suicide each day, and the vast majority of those veterans have not sought care with the VA. In fact, 14 of those 20 are not under the care of the VA.


In Arkansas, where they represent about eight percent of the state’s population, veterans account for about 20 percent of suicides.


Based on this data and other trends, the VA has been stepping up efforts to develop meaningful suicide prevention programs.


For starters, VA expanded the 24/7 Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) which provides immediate access to mental health crisis intervention and support. The VCL is a critical tool, a last line of defense in the sense that it allows veterans in distress to connect with highly skilled responders before something tragic happens. I’m supporting an effort in the Senate that would authorize a formal study and report on how to maximize the effectiveness of the VCL.


VA has also stepped up its efforts to identify at-risk veterans and provide assistance before they reach the point of desperation. Screening and assessment processes have been set up throughout the system to help identify patients at risk for suicide. The goal is to determine veterans who run the highest risk of suicide to head off a tragedy. Veterans who have been identified as being high-risk receive an extra level of care to ensure that every effort is made to help them with their struggles.


Congress is working to provide VA with the personnel, services and proper tools to help veterans facing mental illness struggles, but Washington can’t do it all. That was the message shared by Robert Wallace, the Executive Director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Washington Office, during his recent testimony before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
During the hearing, I asked Mr. Wallace what we need to focus on to reduce the high rate of suicides among the veteran population. I noted that Congress is appropriating resources and VA is turning that into action, but the numbers continue to trend in the wrong direction. I wanted to find out what he felt we need to do to reverse those numbers.


Mr. Wallace’s message was that Washington is doing the right things, but government can’t do it all. It takes all of us working together and much of the heavy lifting needs to be done at the grassroots level. This is especially true since most of the veterans who commit suicide are not under the care of the VA. He highlighted the work VFW has undertaken to eliminate the stigma around mental health issues and the organization’s ongoing efforts to bring clinicians into communities to provide screening and help for at-risk veterans. Mr. Wallace said that the government has some great programs, but it takes organizations like the VFW to fill in the gaps at the local grassroots level.


It truly is a team effort. Washington has the want to help, and I am truly committed to ensuring that the federal government exhausts every effort to that end. Veterans service organizations, however, have the heart. These organizations are on the ground and first touch capabilities that the federal government could never match. We need to help them, help us in this endeavor as even one veteran suicide is too many.

 

 

 

Boozman Recognizes Importance of National Child and Adult Care Food Program During National Nutrition Month

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a co-chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus, is leading efforts to recognize the work of the Child and Adult Care Food Program in fighting hunger by introducing a resolution designating the week of March 11 as “National Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Week.”

“The Child and Adult Care Food Program plays a critical role in meeting the nutrition needs of those in Arkansas and throughout the country. As a co-chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus, I am committed to ending hunger both domestically and abroad, and the CACFP is one of the tools in our toolbox to achieve these results,” Boozman said.

The CACFP is run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service. The program supports child and adult care facilities and family or group day care homes by providing healthy foods that contribute to the wellness, healthy growth, and development of young children, and the health and wellness of older adults and chronically impaired disabled persons.

An increasing number of studies have demonstrated that access to the CACFP can measurably and positively impact the cognitive, social, emotional and physical health and development of children, leading to more favorable outcomes such as decreased likelihood of being hospitalized, an increased likelihood of healthy weight gain and an increased likelihood of a more varied diet.

Through the CACFP, more than 4.2 million children and 130,000 adults receive nutritious meals and snacks every day.

The resolution that Boozman introduced with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) honors and raises awareness about the important role the CACFP plays in improving the health of children and adults in childcare centers, adult day care homes and after-school care programs by providing nutritious meals and snacks.

 

 

 

March 8, 2018

 

Boozman Statement on President Trump’s Steel & Aluminum Tariffs Announcement

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement regarding President Trump’s announcement of tariffs on steel and aluminum:

“I certainly agree with President Trump’s desire to protect American workers, but I do not believe that applying broad tariffs is the right means to that end. The economy is doing well as a result of the tax cuts and our efforts to cut regulatory red tape. We do not want to stop that growth by creating an all-out trade war, and there is considerable concern that far-reaching tariffs might escalate to that level. The President has suggested that his policy will be applied with discretion. I encourage him to implement it in a manner that does not result in a situation that will hurt American exporters.”

 

 

March 6, 2018

 

 

Fort Smith Awarded $8.5 Million Grant for Infrastructure Improvements

 

U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Congressman Steve Womack (AR-03) announced that Fort Smith will receive a $8,527,893 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to repair and rehabilitate three rail bridges that cross Clear Creek and the Arkansas River.

One bridge spans the Arkansas River, and the project will rehabilitate many of its structural components, along with the electrical and mechanical systems controlling the lift span. The other two bridges cross Clear Creek, and the project will replace timber trestles approaching their spans, improving their safety and reliability.

“Upgrading our infrastructure is necessary to continuing and growing economic development in the region. This investment in Fort Smith will improve transportation routes to move Arkansas goods around the world,” Boozman said.

“Repairing these bridges will both protect the safety of all who use them and spur economic growth in the local community. This project is more than deserving of this assistance, and the people of Arkansas will put it to good use,” Cotton said.

“More than 50 Natural State businesses rely on these rail bridges for sending and receiving goods, and this funding will ensure that their products are able to move with greater efficiency, ultimately growing our local, regional, and national economy. I am confident it will have a positive impact on our communities,” Womack said.

The funding is awarded from the DOT’s TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grant program that invests in transportation projects that will have a significant economic impact.

“The highly competitive TIGER program recognizes projects that will have a significant impact on a region, metropolitan areas, or our country as a whole,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said.

 

 

March 2, 2018

 

Tax Reform is Working in Arkansas



When Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, there was a lot of talk about how detrimental it would be to our economy and to working Americans. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the tax cuts “open warfare” against the middle class and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi infamously described the tax plan’s benefits as “crumbs” and the passage of the plan as “The end of the world. Armageddon.”

Despite the dire warnings, it turns out that the economy is responding incredibly well to the changes we made to the tax code.

Now, businesses are beginning to do the math and are realizing that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will mean more savings. As a result, many have announced that they are passing some of these savings on to their employees or will now be seeking to grow and expand operations. As of today, more than 350 companies have announced pay raises, bonuses, and/or 401(k) increases, benefitting over 4 million Americans.

Recently, Entergy Arkansas announced that it plans to pass on savings from tax reform to its customers. It expects to save about $466 million as a result of tax reform and is acting on Governor Hutchinson’s request to send those benefits to ratepayers. Entergy officials estimate that residential customers will see savings of around $20 per month for every 1,000 kWh consumed and also expect bill reductions for commercial customers.

Small business owners are also feeling encouraged at where the economy is headed. Changes to the tax system and regulatory environment are positive indicators for them that the economic climate is becoming more advantageous. According to a recent National Federation of Independent Business survey, 32 percent of small businesses believe now is a good time to expand – the highest level ever recorded by this survey.

Companies of all sizes headquartered in Arkansas or with a sizable presence in the state are passing along savings to their employees through wage increases, bonuses and other benefits; giving to charity; and/or are making investments to grow their businesses and better serve customers.
Financial institutions like Bancorp South, Home Bancshares, People’s Bank, Bank of the Ozarks and Regions Bank are all announcing benefits for their employees and the communities they serve. Bonuses, wage increases and increased charitable giving are helping Arkansans and the towns and cities where they live and work.

Other businesses like Walmart, Tyson Foods, FedEx and UPS have also announced that they are investing in their employees and looking to grow their operations. This is a win for our state’s workforce and our economy. And lest anyone suggest otherwise, all these businesses have attributed their actions to the savings they are seeing thanks to tax reform.

There are other provisions in the law to be excited about as well. One in particular that could have an enormous impact on average Arkansans is a new incentive for employers to offer paid family leave benefits to their employees in exchange for a tax credit.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is proving to be anything but “crumbs” or “Armageddon.” It’s opportunity. It’s upward mobility. And it is what Americans deserve.

Learning about how tax reform is helping our economy and benefitting Arkansas families just confirms what we predicted would happen if we made American businesses more globally competitive and let average individuals and families keep more of what they earn. I welcome the positive news and trends we are already seeing and I’m confident that tax reform will have lasting, positive effects on our economy.

February 28, 2018

 

 

 

Boozman Leads Bill to Incentivize Businesses to Hire Military Spouses and Improve Access to Childcare
 


WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, joined Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Jon Tester (D-MT) to introduce the Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act of 2018. This legislation would change the tax code to incentivize businesses to hire military spouses and make it easier for military families to afford childcare.

Military families frequently face financial insecurity due to spousal unemployment, which impacts the overall success of our military. Somewhere between 12 and 25 percent of military spouses are unemployed.

“Military spouses are vital to our all-volunteer force. They make sacrifices, like taking on family duties during long deployments and supporting frequent moves, and they do it mostly without recognition. As a result, they face a unique set of challenges that make career advancement more difficult. This is a thoughtful approach to help ease the burden on our military families by improving employment opportunities for spouses,” Boozman said.

“The Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act encourages businesses to step up and play a bigger role in hiring military spouses who already sacrifice so much,” Kaine said. “And it further addresses a real obstacle to professional success for many military families: access to quality, affordable childcare. Addressing these issues will help military spouses advance in their careers despite frequent moves, and if we can do something to make life easier for our country’s military families, we should.”

“Our nation’s military spouses are no stranger to service and sacrifice,” Tester said. “This bipartisan bill will help provide more opportunities for them and ease the financial stress that so many military families face in the defense of our nation.”

Specific provisions of the Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act:

Work Opportunity Tax Credit
Expands the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) to incentivize businesses to hire military spouses, similar to veterans and other populations that face employment obstacles.
Dependent Care Savings Accounts
Makes flexible spending accounts available to military families so they can opt in to reserve pre-tax dollars from their paychecks to pay for out-of-pocket childcare expenses.

The Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act is endorsed by Blue Star Families, Military Officers Association of America, National Military Families Association and the Military Family Advisory Network.

 

 

 

February 23, 2018

 

Community Health Centers Deserve Our Support
 


With the rising costs of healthcare coupled with high premiums and even higher deductibles, many hardworking American’s are being priced out of having access to health care. While members of Congress disagree about the best policies to create a patient-centered health care system that is affordable and contains costs, there is one solution that has widespread support to meet patient needs; community health centers (CHCs).

Created more than 50 years ago, CHCs represent the nation’s largest primary care network. More than 27 million low-income patients including eight million children are served at more than 10,000 sites nationwide. In Arkansas there are 135 facilities that help nearly 200,000 people.

CHCs provide an effective and cost-efficient solution in meeting the challenges facing the delivery of affordable health care services. Nationwide, CHCs serve one in six people living in rural communities. For many of those individuals, CHCs provide health care that would otherwise be financially out of reach. In rural states like Arkansas, where provider shortages and expensive mandates limit services, CHCs are even more crucial to health care delivery.

These facilities are an important part of our health care system and a worthwhile investment. Besides saving lives, they also save taxpayer dollars. CHCs keep health care costs low and help our health care system save money in the long term by providing important preventative and comprehensive services many rural Arkansans can’t get anywhere else. Health centers generate $24 billion in savings annually for our health care system.

In addition to medical, dental and vision care, CHCs provide behavioral health care. In June 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it would provide $195 million in grants to CHCs to increase access to mental health and substance abuse services, including opioid addiction treatment.

Innovative, effective approaches are necessary to address the ever-evolving opioid crisis, especially in rural areas where the risk of abuse is higher. Through their work in mental and behavioral health and giving addicts seeking treatment a place to go, no matter what their circumstances are, CHCs are on the front lines of this battle.

These facilities are unique to the communities they serve, providing for the specific needs and challenges of the people who go there to receive care. Local community leaders have a stake in ensuring those they represent have access to quality care. If the people living in the community are living healthier lives, they’ll be able to be more productive citizens, and help the community thrive.

I understand the importance of this funding. That’s why I joined my colleagues on a bipartisan letter calling for action to extend critical funding that expired in September 2017. While funding was not approved by the end of the fiscal year, Congress recently passed, with my support, legislation that reauthorizes increased funding of CHCs for two years. This will ensure that CHC patients have stable access to care.

I’m grateful for the services and role CHCs play in providing access to quality health care and will continue to support them so Arkansans have a reliable and affordable health care option.
 

 

February 15, 2018

 

 

Boozman Statement on Senate Immigration and Border Security Votes

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement after the Senate failed to pass legislation that would resolve the status for DACA-eligible individuals while strengthening border security and enforcement measures to reduce illegal immigration:

“For months, Congress has been working very hard to try to help individuals who were brought here as minors through no fault of their own.

We all want to resolve the status of DACA beneficiaries with a long-term fix that ensures we are not right back in this situation again. That solution must address chain migration and the diversity visa lottery program, while providing our nation with desperately-needed, commonsense border security.

President Trump presented a thoughtful framework to accomplish these shared goals and Senator Grassley’s amendment, which I supported, turned that framework into legislation that could become law. Given our mutual goals, it should have passed the Senate in a bipartisan manner. I am disappointed that it did not.”

 

 

February 9, 2018

 

Boozman Statement on Budget Agreement

“Year after year, Congress struggles to reach a consensus on how to fund our national priorities. As each side digs in further, that commitment to come together becomes harder to find. This agreement is a breakthrough in that regard.

This bill ensures, that for two years, our military will no longer be hindered by sequestration. It allows us to uphold our promise to the men and women who served our nation in uniform, fight the opioid epidemic that is devastating our communities and begin to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

In addition, the bill includes disaster relief for the states and territories hit hard by last year’s hurricanes, a long-term reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), greater stability for community health centers and a one-year extension of recently expired tax provisions. The agriculture provisions will provide a workable safety net for cotton producers in Arkansas and throughout the Cotton Belt.

Getting an agreement on all these big-ticket items takes considerable effort. It is my hope that by removing these obstacles, we can return to regular order, where we are no longer governing by crisis and funding decisions are made in a timely and responsible manner with proper congressional oversight.”

 

 

February 9, 2018

 

Why DOJ Needs to Restore Critical Grant Funding

The role of law enforcement is changing. Today we ask the men and women who serve and protect our communities to perform a variety of roles from emergency response to public safety and community outreach. As a member of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, I am committed to supporting our officers and advocating for policies and resources to help them successfully carry out their missions. This is why I recently called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to restore critical Department of Justice (DOJ) funding that Arkansas law enforcement agencies rely on.

The Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) program was created more than a decade ago to help states and local law enforcement agencies purchase essential equipment and support drug treatment and enforcement activities. It is the largest source of federal justice funding to provide law enforcement officers with the tools and training to protect our communities.

Arkansas law enforcement agencies have received millions of dollars through this program to support training, personnel, equipment, supplies and information sharing. Our state is eligible for more than $2 million in funding from Fiscal Year 2017. Unfortunately, DOJ has frozen payments nationwide because some communities and states are violating federal immigration law. This leaves states like Arkansas, scrambling to continue funding crucial safety programs.

In the Natural State, Byrne JAG helps fund multi-jurisdictional programs like Drug Task Forces. In a meeting recently in Washington, Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane said limited funds threaten the ability of the task forces to accomplish their missions. This spring, matching funds from the state will run dry, so unless DOJ releases Byrne JAG funds, the critical work done by officers who are a part of theses task forces to fight the opioid epidemic and other drug abuses will be out of business.

Law enforcement leaders across the state have similar concerns. The Byrne JAG program is vital to supporting their agencies and combatting drug problems and violent crime in Arkansas. DOJ needs to reconsider withholding these funds because of the long-term negative consequences to the safety of our communities. Denying these resources is counterproductive to fighting crime. Byrne JAG is an investment in our safety and our law enforcement officers.

The tradition of courageous public service is carried on today by the men and women who keep communities across the country safe and who are always ready and willing to respond to a call for help. We need to continue our commitment to ensuring they have the tools and the resources they need to do their jobs so they can return home to their families. It’s time that DOJ does its part to make this a reality.
 


February 2, 2018

 

WATER INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT REFORMS NEEDED


In the State of the Union address, President Donald Trump urged Congress to send him a bill that will provide “safe, fast, reliable and modern infrastructure.” I agree that we need to make critical infrastructure investments. As a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, I’m working to do just that because infrastructure investment boosts our economy, creates immediate jobs and produces decades of economic opportunity. Since being elected to Congress, I have been a constant advocate for increased investment, particularly in our nation’s water resources.

In water infrastructure funding alone, the United States faces an over $500 billion shortfall, which includes drinking water, wastewater, stormwater and water supply projects. This funding shortage is reflected in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ overall grade for America’s infrastructure, a D+.

This is a national emergency. We need to prioritize and fund our nation’s water infrastructure. The EPW Committee has already held two hearings this year on the needs and challenges of our nation’s water infrastructure. As we work to craft and pass a new Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), we are examining water infrastructure requirements nationwide.

In Arkansas, this means funding the 12-foot channel for the Arkansas River. Arkansas and Oklahoma have been working for years to deepen the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) so barges and boats can carry larger loads. Deepening the channel would provide a 40 percent increase in the capacity of river barges to transport products for Arkansas farmers and factories and reduce the price of goods for consumers across the country. I’ve long supported this initiative and will continue to prioritize and advocate for the project.

I’m also leading a new bipartisan effort to reject the fix-as-fail approach currently used to maintain the nation’s infrastructure by introducing the Securing Required Funding for Water Infrastructure Now (SRF WIN) Act. This legislation would modernize water infrastructure investment by empowering states to invest in multiple water infrastructure projects. The bill combines the best aspects of state revolving funds (SRFs) with the leveraging power of the Water Infrastructure and Innovation Act (WIFIA) to make the process easier and more affordable for states to meet their underserved or unmet water infrastructure needs. This bill is an innovative approach to helping communities of all sizes, in every state secure loans so they can improve their aging infrastructure.

Water infrastructure investment needs to be a priority. Access to safe and reliable water is critical for all Americans. It is time for leaders across the country to be realistic about our water problems and commit to funding this vital building block. Clean water and safe roads, railways and bridges are important to public safety. I am hopeful that comprehensive legislation to repair to our nation’s infrastructure will have bipartisan support. Improving, upgrading and investing in our water infrastructure is a great place to start.

 

 

 

January 30, 2018

 

Boozman: State of the Union Address ‘Call to Work Together’

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) issued the following statement in response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address:

“President Trump’s address was a positive, optimistic message to all Americans. It laid out an opportunity to work together on many pressing issues facing our country. I look forward to working with the president and my colleagues to build on policies that have helped create jobs, grow our economy, improve consumer confidence and let hardworking Americans save and plan for the future. We can continue this momentum by rebuilding our infrastructure. I am encouraged by President Trump’s commitment to improve our crumbling roads and bridges and protect our water supply.

“We also have a lot of work ahead of us to protect our homeland and all Americans. We must continue to use every tool available to combat terror which includes maintaining Guantanamo Bay as a detention facility for the world’s most dangerous terrorists. I am pleased President Trump is reversing the Obama administration’s decision to close Gitmo.

“I appreciate the president’s dedication to work with Congress to restore the integrity of our nation’s immigration system and his efforts to end chain migration, the diversity visa lottery and secure the border.”

 

 

January 25, 2018

 

Boozman, Cotton Join Efforts to Encourage Action to Improve Drug Pricing Transparency in

Medicare Part D

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) joined a bipartisan group of senators in expressing support for a proposal from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that would help increase the transparency and accuracy of prescription drug costs in Medicare Part D.

“Pharmacy price concessions account for real differences between the listed prices of prescription drugs and those drugs’ final, actual costs,” the senators wrote in a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “By requiring that all of these pharmacy price concessions be reflected in the negotiated price at the point of sale, CMS’s proposal will help increase the transparency and accuracy of prescription drug costs in Medicare Part D, and help significantly lower American seniors’ out of pocket drug costs.”

The letter was led by Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Jon Tester (D-MT) and also signed by Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Susan Collins (R-ME), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), John Hoeven (R-ND), John Kennedy (R-LA), Angus King (I-ME), James Lankford (R-OK), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jerry Moran (R-KS), David Perdue (R-GA), John Thune (R-SD), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

The full text of the letter is below.
 

Dear Administrator Verma:

We write to express our support for the proposal related to pharmacy price concessions in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service’s (CMS) proposed rule for the 2019 Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit program. Pharmacy price concessions account for real differences between the listed prices of prescription drugs and those drugs’ final, actual costs. By requiring that all of these pharmacy price concessions be reflected in the negotiated price at the point of sale, CMS’s proposal will help increase the transparency and accuracy of prescription drug costs in Medicare Part D, and help significantly lower American seniors’ out of pocket drug costs.

In June 2016, a bipartisan group of Senators raised concerns with the current lack of transparency in pharmacy price concessions in Medicare Part D. In the letter, the Senators noted the impact these concessions had on beneficiaries’ cost sharing, federal reinsurance payments, and additional cost-sharing assistance for low-income beneficiaries. Many of these same Senators have also proposed legislation to bring greater transparency to pharmacy price concessions, lower seniors’ out of pocket costs, and bring certainty to the community pharmacies who serve them.

We thank CMS for hearing these concerns and taking concrete steps to address them. We are particularly pleased that the proposal would effectively prohibit retroactive pharmacy Direct and Indirect Remuneration (DIR) fees. Part D plan sponsors, often through their pharmacy benefit managers, claw these price concessions back from pharmacies well after they have already sold and dispensed the drugs. These claw backs sometimes occur as much as six months after Medicare beneficiaries fill their prescriptions.

We have heard from numerous pharmacies in our communities—many of which are rural or medically underserved—that these claw back fees cause so much uncertainty that they do not know if they can continue to serve American families. They do not know when the fees will be collected, how large a fee they will have to pay, and if the final amount they are paid will actually cover the cost of dispensing the drugs. This sort of opacity in the real cost of prescription drugs and the method of paying for them is exactly why Americans are so frustrated when they try to fill a prescription.

While CMS’s proposal will provide much needed certainty to the community pharmacists who serve American seniors, it will also reduce Medicare beneficiaries’ out of pocket drug costs. CMS has noted that this proposal would reduce total beneficiary drug costs by $10.4 billion. Seniors should no longer have to bear the burden of artificially inflated drug prices when they go the pharmacy counter. This proposal will help reduce the financial strain on seniors with fixed incomes and protect them from exposure to the Part D coverage donut hole.

For these vital reasons, we encourage CMS to adopt its proposal on pharmacy price concessions. We thank you for hearing concerns about the negative impacts of concessions like retroactive DIR fees, and look forward to the implementation of the proposed changes to address these concerns.

 

 

 

January 24, 2018

Boozman Supports National School Choice Week

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined his Senate colleagues to introduce a resolution declaring this week, January 21-27, National School Choice Week.

“I am proud to support school choice policies. As a former school board member, I understand that education decisions should be handled at the state and local level. The flexibility provided in Arkansas empowers parents to choose the best education options that meet the needs and learning styles of their children,” Boozman said.

The resolution introduced by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) is also cosponsored by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Richard Burr (R-NC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), James Lankford (R-OK), John McCain (R-AZ), Rand Paul (R-KY), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Todd Young (R-IN).

 

 

January 23, 2018

Arkansas Congressional Delegation Presses DOE to Pause or Terminate Clean Line Project

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) and U.S. Representatives Rick Crawford (AR-01), French Hill (AR-02), Steve Womack (AR-03) and Bruce Westerman (AR-04) sent a letter today to Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry outlining Clean Line Energy Partners’ failure to comply with the agreement signed with the Department and urged Secretary Perry to pause or terminate the Plains and Eastern Clean Line Project.

Late last year, Clean Line Energy Partners sold its Oklahoma assets to a company not mentioned in the agreement with the DOE. It also dropped its interconnection agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority, the most significant potential energy customer for the Project.

“With the Project eminently unable to reach the pre-conditions set out in the Agreement, and the uncertainty of an altered Clean Line Project which has not been properly studied, the Arkansas delegation requests that the DOE pause the Project to either study or terminate its participation before the deadline,” members wrote.

The Arkansas Congressional Delegation has fought against this federal overreach by introducing the Assuring Private Property Rights Over Vast Access to Lands (APPROVAL) Act, for the past two Congresses. This legislation would restore states’ rights. It would require the DOE to obtain the approval of both the governor and the state’s public service commission before exercising the federal power of eminent domain to acquire property for Section 1222 transmission projects.

Last year, members sent a letter to Secretary Perry urging him to review the project. In September 2017, members met with the secretary about this project.

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Secretary Perry,

Following our September 25, 2017 meeting regarding the Plains and Eastern Clean Line Participation Agreement (Agreement), we write today to bring new developments to your attention concerning the Department of Energy’s (DOE) participation in the Plains and Eastern Clean Line Project (Project). We appreciate the time and diligence you’ve given to our concerns.

First you should be aware that in December, Clean Line Energy Partners announced it had sold the entirety of the Project’s Oklahoma assets to a company unmentioned in the Agreement. Also late last year, Clean Line Energy Partners dropped its interconnection agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the Project’s most significant potential customer on the eastern end of the 700-mile transmission line. Without an interconnection agreement, it is reasonable to conclude the Project’s ultimate delivery of energy is not expected to occur for at least several more years.

Meanwhile in Arkansas, there are landowners who agreed to easements, who now face an uncertain future, due to the circumstances in Oklahoma and Tennessee. The essentially new Clean Line Project has put these landowners in a special predicament where they face potentially debilitating outcomes with indefinite resolution.

We understand this is a problem your agency inherited from the previous Administration. Therefore, we have included suggestions to either pause the project or detach the DOE from this case of gross federal government overreach. We request that you give our suggestions your full consideration.

The Clean Line Energy Partners’ sale of Oklahoma assets changes the current version of the Project from the one in which DOE originally agreed to participate. It is clear this drastically changes the Project scope originally agreed to by the DOE. Therefore, we request that the DOE immediately pause the Project and conduct a new study to see if the scope of the altered Project is achievable. If you are unwilling or unable to conduct a new study, we ask that you explain the DOE’s justification of participation following this sale.

Additionally, Article VII of the Agreement enumerates many occurrences where the DOE may terminate its participation. We believe one option is especially pertinent as follows: “(B) the Commencement Date has not occurred by December 31, 2018.” In light of the recent events previously mentioned, it is reasonable to anticipate failure to achieve this deadline.

With the Project eminently unable to reach the pre-conditions set out in the Agreement, and the uncertainty of an altered Clean Line Project which has not been properly studied, the Arkansas delegation requests that the DOE pause the Project to either study or terminate its participation before the deadline.

Once again, we appreciate the time and diligence you and the DOE have given to this matter. We believe that Clean Line Energy Partners will be unable to meet the pre-conditions set out in the Agreement and the DOE is justified in terminating the Agreement by the end of this year. As a champion of states’ rights throughout your career, we ask that you continue to work with us to end this lingering overreach of the previous Administration.

 

 

Bringing Broadband to All Corners of Arkansas
 

Arkansas students now have access to high-speed broadband in the classroom thanks to the completion of the Arkansas Public School Computer Network (APSCN) championed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. This provides students in public and charter schools across the state access to the internet for schoolwork and allows their teachers to bring in educational resources available online.

Unfortunately, some students only experience the benefits of high-speed broadband while at school. Arkansas is among the first states to achieve 100 percent connectivity in its schools. This impressive and important achievement highlights the great need and continued work necessary beyond the walls of our schools to accomplish connectivity for all Arkansans.

Arkansas is ranked as the 48th most connected state according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). As a rural state, there are more challenges to providing access to the minimum speed of wired broadband that experts agree is functional: 25 megabits per second.

As a founder and co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, a group launched in 2016 to strengthen broadband infrastructure and deployment across the country, I’m leading efforts to extend broadband service to Arkansans all across the state.

The co-chairs of the caucus recently urged President Donald Trump to include dedicated, stand-alone funding for broadband deployment in an infrastructure proposal. In a letter to the President, we encouraged him to prioritize funding for broadband deployment to help close the digital divide that exists, especially in rural America.

This follows efforts initiated by the caucus last year calling on the administration to prioritize policies that will promote high-speed broadband in an infrastructure plan. The letter we sent was signed by more than 40 of our colleagues.

There is widespread support in Congress for improving broadband deployment, and the White House is on board too.

In a recent speech at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention, President Trump expressed his support for rural connectivity and signed two executive orders to expand broadband to rural America. These executive orders will help streamline and expedite requests by cutting red tape to encourage private sector investment in high-speed internet.

I’m pleased to see the administration is joining our efforts to improve rural broadband. Having the ability to get online is as essential as having modern roads and bridges and it’s a key component of economic development.

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 jobs. Yet, according to the FCC’s 2016 Broadband Progress Report, one in ten Americans lacks access to sufficient broadband. In rural America, it’s even higher at 30 percent.

Broadband investment strengthens our economy and expands opportunities for healthcare, agriculture and education.

Arkansas students shouldn’t have to rely on high-speed internet access only at school to complete their homework and expand their horizons. They deserve to continue to hone the skills they learn in the classroom at home, but that requires expanding broadband access. Increasing the availability of affordable, high-speed internet will close the digital divide. I’m committed to working with my colleagues to accomplish this goal.

 

 

January 12, 2018

 

Boozman Recognizes Arkansas Korean War Veteran
 

 

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized the service and sacrifice of Korean War veteran E.L. Heffley in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans.

Heffley, the youngest of seven siblings, grew up on his family’s farm in Newton County.

He worked in a factory, earning 40 cents an hour, but he wanted something better. So, he and a friend went to Russellville to look for work. “We were going down past the courthouse and they had a sign out [that read] ‘Uncle Sam needs you.’ That’s what got us,” Heffley said.

As a 17-year-old, Heffley needed the permission of one of his parents to enlist in the Army. After his dad signed the paperwork, he was sent to Camp Chaffee, now known as Fort Chaffee, before basic training at Fort Ord, California. “It was eight weeks of pretty hard training,” he recalled.

Less than two years later, in 1950, he was training to deploy to Korea. “We went through two weeks of the hardest training that I ever went through,” Hefley said.

Heffley and his fellow soldiers got on a ship in San Francisco, but they didn’t know where it was going. One day before shore, they learned it would land at Pusan, Korea, today known as Busan.

“Our first contact in battle was just a day after we had landed,” Heffley said. “When we got in combat we found out we were a disorganized unit. They withdrew us and brought us back and reorganized. Some of our officers got relieved, some of our noncommissioned officers got relieved.” Heffley, a gunner on the 81mm mortar, was also reassigned. “The lieutenant called me over to the tent and he said ‘would you volunteer to be the forward observer?’ I said I won’t volunteer, but I’ll do what you ask me to do.”

Heffley attained the rank of sergeant during his one year deployment in Korea. For his service, he was awarded several military medals including the Korean Service Medal with six bronze service stars.

While some of his friends were interested in reenlisting after their tour, Heffley had no interest. His time in combat is something he tries to put out of his mind. He admitted that he talked more about it during the interview, than any time before. “War was not good for me,” Heffley said. “I think about the young people that got killed that didn’t have a chance in life.”

“I am grateful for E.L. Heffley’s dedication and service to our nation. His memories of his military service are an important part of our history and I am pleased to be able to collect and preserve his stories,” Boozman said.

Boozman will submit Heffley’s entire interview to the Veterans History Project, an initiative of the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center to collect and retain the oral histories of our nation’s veterans.

 

 

January 5, 2018

 

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wrote in the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report that “Human trafficking is one of the most tragic human rights issues of our time.” I agree. Human trafficking, the criminal enterprise of smuggling people for forced labor and sex slavery, is a heinous crime. These atrocities are happening all across the globe including, unfortunately, the United States. Congress is making progress to combat this modern-day slavery and President Trump is raising awareness by declaring January National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

An estimated 25 million people are victims of human trafficking around the world. It’s hard to believe, but it’s also happening in Arkansas. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 19 cases of human trafficking in Arkansas were reported through June 2017. Fortunately, our state is fighting back. Last year Arkansas legislators approved a law requiring state-licensed truckers to be trained in spotting the red flags of human trafficking. Using their position on the road, these drivers have the tools to recognize the signs of human trafficking and alert the authorities to any suspicious activity.

Congress is also increasing efforts to combat human trafficking. In September, the Senate unanimously passed two pieces of legislation to renew existing programs in support of survivors of human trafficking and help bring perpetrators of these horrific crimes to justice.

The Abolish Human Trafficking Act provides more resources to law enforcement in their effort to combat human trafficking and establishes Human Trafficking Justice Coordinators at every U.S. Attorney’s office and at the Department of Justice. In addition, the legislation helps survivors rebuild their lives by extending the Department of Justice Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act reauthorizes key programs to help survivors in their recovery as well as offering specialized training on human trafficking to judges and federal investigators on human trafficking.

We have made progress, but more needs to be done. That’s why I’m a cosponsor of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. This legislation would eliminate federal liability protections for websites that assist, support or facilitate online sex trafficking and allow prosecution of these offenders. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation unanimously approved the bill late last year. I looking forward to supporting it when it comes before the full Senate.

This fiscal year, the Senate Appropriations Committee included at least $90 million in federal funding to combat human trafficking. As a member of the committee, I will continue to support funding for these important programs and look forward to the Senate completing work on fiscal year 2018 funding bills.

We can be proud of the United States’ leadership in combatting human trafficking worldwide. This fight requires attention from the international community. That’s why last Congress we passed the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act to partner with governments and private organizations to assist in ending trafficking. This helped establish the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery. The U.S. and the United Kingdom have contributed $25 million to the fund which will be used to formulate a global strategy to eliminate this crime.

I’m pleased to see all levels of government lending their support to help fight this crime. Together we can end this attack on human rights in our state, our country and around the world.


 

 

December 28, 2017

 

America’s Economic Revival is Just Beginning

The positive strides our economy has made over the past twelve months is perhaps the most underreported story of 2017.

Over 1.7 million new jobs have been created since the start of the year—including 159,000 new manufacturing jobs. Unemployment has decreased to 4.1 percent, a 17-year low. Consumer confidence and investor optimism are both at 17-year highs, which has sent the stock market soaring to new heights. The Dow Jones increased by 5,000 points in one year. This has never happened in the index’s 121-year history.

This progress didn’t just happen in a vacuum.

President Trump and a Republican-led Congress have promoted a pro-growth agenda that has put the economy on the right path. Since the moment the new session of Congress began, we have been moving to undue the regulatory abuses of the previous administration that killed jobs, forced businesses overseas and cost our economy trillions of dollars.

The constant flow of overreaching rules and regulations from President Obama’s administration continuously thwarted Main Street’s attempts to get our economy moving again. When agencies overregulate, our economic growth comes to a grinding halt. Overbearing, excessive regulations take farmers away from tending to their crops, slow the lines at manufacturing plants and sap resources from small business owners that could otherwise be put toward hiring more Americans.

Our move to eliminate and overturn regulations has been met with an overwhelming positive reaction for our economy. Congress passed, and President Trump signed into law, 14 resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to overturn Obama-era rules—many of which had very damaging effects on our economy. Along with that, the Trump administration has cancelled or delayed over 1,500 planned regulatory actions.

This new approach out of Washington is creating an economic environment that allows a recovery to take hold on Main Street. If fourth quarter gross domestic product growth hits the estimated growth rate of 3.8 percent, it will be the third consecutive quarter of over three percent growth.

Throughout the Obama years, many middle-class Arkansans struggled in an economy that was stuck in neutral. Our outdated, inefficient and ineffective tax code has played a large role in preventing a full economic recovery from taking hold.

The historic tax reform bill recently passed by Congress and signed by President Trump is the push the recovery needs to get across the finish line.

First, it means hardworking Arkansans will keep more of their money in their own pockets. It nearly doubles the standard deduction, lowers rates and eliminates loopholes.

But it also will help our economy build on the gains achieved over the past year. By permanently reducing the corporate tax rate, currently the highest in the developed world, we will make American businesses more competitive and keep well-paying jobs here at home.

This type of strong economic recovery has been a long time coming. It has been held back for too long by poorly designed regulations and misguided policies, but Washington is finally getting out of the way. With comprehensive tax reform and regulatory relief on the books, we are in a position to really see the economy take off.

 

 

 

 

December 21, 2017

 

 

USS Little Rock Added to Navy Fleet

Despite the cold weather in Buffalo, New York, there was a warm welcome for the USS Little Rock, its crew and myself and fellow Arkansans who traveled to celebrate the commissioning of the Freedom-class littoral combat ship earlier this month.

It’s been more than four decades since the Navy had a ship named after the City of Little Rock, and it is an honor to have one of its more versatile warships named after our state’s capital city.

The commissioning of the USS Little Rock marked the first time in the history of the Navy that a ship was commissioned alongside her namesake. This special occasion brought together crew members of the original USS Little Rock and those like Lieutenant Robert Dyer from Mountainburg, Arkansas who is a member of the current crew.

During its time as a light cruiser and then as a guided missile cruisier, the original USS Little Rock and its crew were vital to defeating growing threats.

The new USS Little Rock is just as critical to our Navy’s sea power. This ship, and the strength and resolve of its Warhawg crew, is the future of the Navy, offering unique capabilities to defend against evolving threats around the globe.

In order to protect our national security, the Navy needs the resources to stay ahead of the threats our adversaries pose to us and our allies. We also need the resources to work toward the goal of a 355-ship fleet.

Achieving this larger, more capable fleet will take decades to complete, but Congress can make it easier by passing individual appropriations bills instead of relying on continuing resolutions.

Earlier this month, Navy Secretary Spencer said the service has wasted $4 billion since 2011 because of continuing resolutions. This could have gone a long way toward growing our fleet.

A continuing resolution means that the Navy is operating on the previous year’s budget level and last year’s priorities. It means delays in shipbuilding and ship repair. It also means reducing training opportunities, flying hours, and steaming days. That forces more requirements onto the operational fleet, which is already stretched thin after decades of constant worldwide deployment.

Funding the government is the basic responsibility of Washington. It’s an obligation that my colleagues and I on the Senate Appropriations Committee take very seriously as we craft the appropriations bills, set priorities and make difficult decisions on how to spend taxpayer dollars.

We must return to a process in which we debate and pass annual spending bills in order to provide much needed predictability to our military leaders. We can make this happen by returning to regular order and passing individual appropriations bills.

We owe it to our service members, their families and all Americans. We owe it to the crew of the USS Little Rock.

Admittedly, Little Rock is not the first place most people think of when you mention the Navy. Our state doesn’t border an ocean, but now the state capital will once again have a place on the high seas. This is a tremendous honor for the City of Little Rock, and I know that the ship and its crew will make Arkansas proud.
 

 

 

December 20, 2017

 

Boozman Applauds Senate Passage of Tax Reform Bill


WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement after the U.S. Senate gave its final approval to a comprehensive tax reform package:

“Historic tax relief is not far from being signed into law. This is great news for hardworking Arkansans and it is great news for our state’s economy.

For too long, middle-class Arkansans have struggled in an economy that feels like it is stuck in neutral. Our outdated, inefficient and ineffective tax code has played a large role in preventing a full recovery from taking hold.

Tax reform will change that. It will help hardworking Arkansans keep more of their money in their own pockets by nearly doubling the standard deduction, lowering rates and eliminating loopholes. By permanently reducing the corporate tax rate, currently the highest in the developed world, we will make American businesses more competitive and keep well-paying jobs here at home.

This bill is the push our economic recovery needs to get across the finish line.”


 

December 15, 2017

 

End the Diversity Visa Lottery

The bombing at New York City’s Port Authority is the second terrorist attack in the Big Apple in as many months. These are reminders that our homeland continues to be the target of violence by individuals who are intent on threatening our nation and its ideals. While the methods our enemies use continue to change, we must ensure our national security officials are able to stay one step ahead of these evolving dangers.

Our national security is the number one responsibility of the federal government. As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, I’m pushing for the necessary resources to meet the needs of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and advocating for policies that safeguard American soil.

The recent attacks make it clear that we need to improve our immigration policies to reflect the fact that we face very real threats. That begins with eliminating the Diversity Visa program. This lottery system is based on random chance rather than merit-based criteria which allows citizens of certain countries to attain permanent resident status in the U.S.

This is how Uzbekistan native Sayfullo Saipov, accused of attacking innocent people on a New York City bicycle path on Halloween, legally entered our country. The alleged terrorist who attacked the New York Port Authority six weeks later, Akayed Ullah, was also a beneficiary of the Diversity Visa program. He was permitted to enter the U.S. in 2011 because a relative, who won a visa through the lottery, sponsored family to immigrate to the country through a process known as chain migration.

A 2007 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report raised concerns about potential security risks because of the Diversity Visa program’s vulnerability to fraud. The State Department’s Office of Inspector General reported in 2013 about an investigation that “produced a detailed portrait of [a] pervasive and sophisticated fraud scheme" affecting the program in Ukraine.

The alarms have been sounding for more than a decade, but the recent terror attacks put the problems with this program in the spotlight. It’s clear that we must end this program.

Earlier this month, the Senate approved confirmation of Kirstjen Nielsen to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. She called the program “misguided” during a press conference the day after the latest New York attack and agrees that ending it and modifying chain migration will lead to improved national security.

I’m pleased to support Secretary Nielsen and President Trump in their call to reform our immigration policies so that we can prohibit individuals who are intent on attacking the United States from entering our country.

Americans have stood strong in the face of terrorism and we will continue to be resilient. The terrorists will not win, but that won’t keep them from trying to attack us and our way of life. Terrorists groups like ISIS will continue to radicalize supporters and recruit within our borders. We must remain vigilant and take the necessary measures to protect our homeland.

 

 

December 11, 2017

 

Boozman Leads Call for Nationwide Review of VA Providers in Light of USA Today Report

WASHINGTON—A bipartisan group of U.S. senators are calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct a nationwide review of its providers after a USA Today investigation found multiple providers hired by the Department had at least one state medical license revoked due to malpractice.

In a letter to VA Secretary David Shulkin authored by Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), the senators presented a series of questions.

“For years, states have experienced provider shortages across many different medical specialties, and like the private sector healthcare industry, the VA has faced similar provider shortages,” the senators wrote to Shulkin. “As such, we request information about the VA’s oversight of provider hiring guidelines to ensure that the pressure to fill shortages has not led to insufficient health care quality controls.”

In addition to Boozman, the letter was signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Barrasso (R-WY), Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).


Full text of the letter can be found here and below:

December 8, 2017

The Honorable David Shulkin
Secretary
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Ave NW
Washington, DC 20420-0001

Dear Secretary Shulkin:

We write to express our serious concerns regarding recent media reports suggesting that the Department of Veterans Affairs offers employment to medical practitioners with a known history of licensure revocation by a state medical licensing board. The national reporting also highlighted cases of the VA hiring providers with known conduct and performance deficiencies that resulted in sanctions and criminal charges of the individuals.

For years, states have experienced provider shortages across many different medical specialties, and like the private sector healthcare industry, the VA has faced similar provider shortages. For states, such as Arkansas, in which many veterans eligible for VA care are rural, the provider shortage is even more pronounced. As such, we request information about the VA’s oversight of provider hiring guidelines to ensure that the pressure to fill shortages has not led to insufficient health care quality controls.

We request that the Department of Veterans Affairs conduct a nationwide review to identify all providers by state and specialty, who were known to have had adverse actions taken against their clinical privileges, to include the revocation of state medical licensure, and were subsequently hired by the Department. Of the individuals identified by the aforementioned report, what is the employment status of each individual identified? What additional oversight measures are required for providers identified through this review who remain employed by and practicing within the VA?

In addition to a review to determine the current status of providers within the VA, we would also like information relevant to oversight of VA policies regarding hiring of individuals who have disciplinary or performance deficiencies that resulted in sanctions, claims, or charges. At what level is a final personnel decision approved? Does the VA have regular reporting and review of any providers hired under these circumstances? How is the performance and conduct of such individuals tracked, including the healthcare outcomes they deliver for veterans? When the VA intends to hire a provider with known medical malpractice claims, what additional scrutiny or consideration are such applicants subjected to?

Does the VA have authority to hire a provider whose license has been revoked? When the VA considers hiring these providers, at what level does the VA approve a final offer of employment? Are such hiring decisions subject to reporting requirements to the Department? If so, to what level? Following the employment of such a provider, does the VA require any probationary periods of review or mandatory consultation prior to authorizing the direct provision of care to patients? Do these positions include any responsibility for the direct provision of medical care?

Please confirm the status of this request and provide a timeline for completion of the requested review. We ask that you please keep our offices updated on this issue. Thank you for your consideration of this request.
 

 

December 11, 2017

 

 

This week the Senate voted to send the Senate-passed tax reform bill to conference committee with the House. This is an important step toward delivering tax relief to hardworking Arkansans.

In this column, Senator Boozman talks about the comprehensive tax reform plan passed by the Senate and the next steps to completing this overhaul.


Tax Reform: One Step Closer

It’s the season of giving, and Congress wants to celebrate it by giving you more of your money back. This year, Congress is on track to provide historic tax relief to hardworking Americans by passing the first comprehensive legislation to overhaul our tax code in over 30 years.

Our current tax code makes it difficult to get ahead in today’s economy and to save for the future. That’s why the Senate spent significant time developing a comprehensive tax reform plan that will allow families to keep more of their money rather than send it to Washington.

This tax overhaul has been a thorough, years-long process. The Senate Finance Committee has held 70 hearings on how to simplify the tax code and make it fair and more efficient for all Americans. The committee’s working groups created bipartisan solutions that were used to help guide members as they crafted legislation that will lower federal income taxes across the board.

I was pleased to support the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act because of the relief it will provide to middle-income Arkansans. The standard deduction doubles to $24,000 for married couples. This means that families aren’t subject to federal income tax for the first $24,000 they make. Similarly, the standard deduction increases to $18,000 for single parents. The Senate plan also doubles the child tax credit to $2,000. These improvements will help families keep more of their hard-earned money to help make ends meet or save for the future.

According to the Tax Foundation’s state-by-state analysis, the Senate bill will add 7,800 new full-time jobs to the Arkansas economy and middle-income Arkansas families would see a $2,020 increase in income.

In addition to providing relief to the middle-class, this update to our tax code will help grow the economy. The bill permanently reduces the corporate tax rate, currently the highest in the developed world. The lower corporate tax rate will make American businesses more competitive and keep well-paying jobs here at home. It will also help small businesses expand, invest in their employees and increase wages.

While the federal government cannot create jobs, it can implement policies that create an environment that encourages job creators to expand and invest. This overhaul of the tax code is an invitation to do business in the United States.

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. While members of both chambers have to hammer out the differences between the Senate and House bills before delivering a final package to President Trump for his signature, our goal remains the same - provide Americans with a more fair, simpler tax system that encourages job growth while keeping more money in the pockets of hardworking individuals. I look forward to supporting a final bill that achieves this.


 

 

December 8, 2017

 

Boozman Presses for Extension of Secure Rural Schools Program

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined a group of senators in sending a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), urging them to include a reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) Program in any end-of-year legislation. SRS supports public schools, public roads, forest health projects, emergency services and many other essential county services for more than 775 counties across the country including 27 in Arkansas.

The SRS program expired on September 30, 2015, and has not been reauthorized. Forest counties and schools received their last authorized SRS payment in 2016. Without the SRS program, existing revenue-sharing payments are not sufficient to support the critical services that these counties must provide.

The Senators wrote:

“The SRS program continues to be a critical safety-net for forest counties as we work to diversify rural economies, improve forest management and forest health, strengthen historic forest revenue sharing with local governments, and ensure that our forests provide a range of values such as clean water, jobs, and wood fiber for local economies.


“In the interest of working together in a bipartisan way to support local rural communities, we ask that you include a reauthorization of Secure Rural Schools in any end-of-the-year legislation. We appreciate your assistance with this matter.”

Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) led the bipartisan letter that in addition to Boozman was signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael F. Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Dean Heller (R-NV), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joe Manchin III (D-WV), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jeffery A. Merkley (D-OR), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Patty Murray (D-WA), Gary Peters (D-MI), James E. Risch (R-ID), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Jon Tester (D-MT) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).


The full letter is as follows:

Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer:

We write to strongly urge the inclusion of at least a two-year reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program, which enjoys tremendous bipartisan support, in any end-of-the-year legislation.

On U.S. Forest Service land, the federal government has historically shared 25 percent of timber harvest revenues with counties to compensate for federal ownership. On certain land managed by the Department of Interior, the Bureau of Land Management shares 50 percent of the revenue from federal timber sales with counties. Due to declining timber harvests, a critical source of funding for rural counties, sometimes referred to as “forest counties,” has seen significant decreases, often decimating impacted county budgets.

In 2000, Congress passed SRS with broad bipartisan support as a fiscal solution to help fund essential services resulting from the reduced revenue-sharing receipts. Since then, SRS has been a critical lifeline for over 775 counties in over 40 states across the country by helping fund more than 4,400 schools, road maintenance, law enforcement, and search and rescue operations. However, SRS authorization lapsed last year and rural counties are now back to simply receiving the timber revenue-sharing receipts. These receipts are up to 80 percent less than what forest counties received under SRS.

 

We are now witnessing firsthand the hardships rural counties face as a result of SRS authorization lapsing. Without the certainty of SRS payments, schools, libraries, and jails are closing. Schools that remain open will see a reduction of teachers. Roads go unpaved and become unsafe. Mental and physical health services are scaled back or even ended. Fewer and fewer law enforcement officers are forced to patrol larger and larger areas.

The SRS program continues to be a critical safety-net for forest counties as we work to diversify rural economies, improve forest management and forest health, strengthen historic forest revenue sharing with local governments, and ensure that our forests provide a range of values such as clean water, jobs, and wood fiber for local economies.

In the interest of working together in a bipartisan way to support local rural communities, we ask that you include a reauthorization of Secure Rural Schools in any end-of-the-year legislation. We appreciate your assistance with this matter.

Sincerely,


 

November 22, 2017

 

Boozman Promotes Small Business Saturday


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is leading efforts to recognize Small Business Saturday and encourage Arkansans to shop locally on Saturday, November 25.

“Small Business Saturday is an opportunity to show our appreciation for the contributions local retailers and neighborhood businesses make in our communities. The success of small businesses depends upon customers willing to support them. Giving our business to local merchants helps our neighbors, friends, church family and budding entrepreneurs who want a piece of the American dream. We can do our part to help them thrive. I encourage Arkansans to join me in supporting our small businesses this holiday season,” Boozman said.

Boozman is a cosponsor of the Senate-passed resolution that designates Saturday, November 25, 2017 as Small Business Saturday, encourages consumers to shop locally and highlights the importance of small business to our economy.


 

Committed to Improving Veteran Services

November 22, 2017

Honoring our veterans is one of the greatest privileges I have as a U.S. Senator. Earlier this month, President Trump proclaimed November “National Veterans and Military Families Month.” As we recognize our veterans and honor the sacrifice and heroism of those who answered the call to serve our nation in uniform, we must recommit ourselves to fighting on their behalf.

As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I am committed to honoring the promise made to our veterans. We’ve made tremendous progress during this Congress. In June, President Trump signed the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. This law strengthens accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by allowing the Department to dismiss bad employees while protecting those who expose wrongdoing.

We have also enhanced post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to increase educational opportunities. I’m proud to have played a role in crafting this law, along with my colleague Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). This bipartisan legislation is a great example of how we work across the aisle to get things done. For several years, we championed fixing an oversight that prevented combat-injured members of the National Guard and Reserve from receiving the same GI Bill benefits as active duty military members. Wounded and injured service members were being unfairly penalized from accruing educational benefits they rightly earned while in recovery. This was a priority for us because these men and women deserve better. To correct this injustice, we introduced legislation earlier this year as well as in the last Congress. I’m pleased it was included in the comprehensive GI Reform bill that was signed into law this summer.

While we’ve made improvements, there is still more that needs to be done including the expansion of VA services for female veterans. I encourage my colleagues to support the Deborah Sampson Act to address these concerns, and I urge VA Secretary Shulkin to implement reforms written in the bill that don’t require congressional action.

In the coming days, the Senate VA Committee will consider bipartisan legislation to consolidate and improve access to community care – a must needed update to the Choice Program, created by the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act. That law was passed by Congress in 2014 to expand access to community health care for veterans. We knew then that this was just the first step. We’ve made incremental improvements to the program since then, but more must be done.

The VA estimates that one third of enrolled veterans live in rural areas. We must improve how we are meeting their needs, especially how we deliver treatment and care. Earlier this year I hosted listening sessions with Arkansas veterans to obtain their input on the strengths and weaknesses of the program as we continue to expand access to adequate health care options for veterans. I am committed to ensuring our veterans are getting the very best care so hearing input directly from veterans was tremendously helpful.

This country made a promise to our veterans that we must live up to and I’m proud to be a champion for them to ensure we follow through with our commitment. Working together, we can find solutions that deliver the results they expect and earned.

 

November 17, 2017

 

Shop Locally on Small Business Saturday



Our holiday shopping habits have changed over the years. Instead of waiting until Thanksgiving to unveil the season’s sales, we’ve seen more stores offering online deals, advertising the big bargains days in advance of Black Friday and opening their doors before the Friday morning rush. While the Friday after Thanksgiving has long been the unofficial kick-off to holiday shopping, recent efforts are continuing that momentum into the weekend. Since 2010, the Saturday after Thanksgiving has been known as Small Business Saturday.

The idea behind this initiative is to promote and encourage us all to shop at our locally-owned small businesses. It’s paying off; more shoppers are spending money at small businesses. According to 2016 results by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and American Express an estimated 112 million people reported shopping at a small business on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, a 13 percent increase from 2015.

Money spent at our small businesses gets reinvested in the community and draws attention to local merchants. By taking the small step of shopping locally this holiday season, we can make a big impact on our communities.

To highlight the many important contributions of our local businesses and neighborhood retailers, I cosponsored the Senate-passed resolution in support of Small Business Saturday. It’s important to recognize the significant contribution our small businesses make to our economy. Arkansas is home to nearly 250,000 small businesses that employ more than 400,000 people. Nationwide, small businesses account for 55 percent of all jobs in our economy and have provided 66 percent of all new jobs in the U.S. since the 1970s. I am committed to creating a climate where businesses can succeed and consumers feel confident about spending their hard-earned income.

This can be accomplished by preventing the inefficient, ineffective and unnecessary regulations that are keeping our small businesses from expanding and reforming our tax code to make it more fair and easier for all Americans. NFIB, the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization, supports the tax reform legislation that recently passed the House of Representatives as well as the Senate’s plan. These bills provide tax relief to small business owners which allows them the opportunity to invest more money in their businesses and employees.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving and think of what we’re thankful for, add small businesses to the list. They are owned and operated by our neighbors, friends, church family and budding entrepreneurs who want a piece of the American dream. We can do our part to help them thrive.

Let’s continue the success of Small Business Saturday and on Saturday, November 25, shop at our locally owned businesses and retailers.

 

Senate Approves National Defense Authorization Act with Boozman Provision for Pine Bluff Arsenal

 


 

November 16, 2017


U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) supported the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report. The bill, which passed the Senate on Thursday, includes an important provision introduced by Boozman to study the viability of developing a Chemical-Biological Defense Logistics Center at the Pine Bluff Arsenal.

“Arkansans have a proud history of defending and protecting our nation and troops and want to continue this commitment. Securing and maintaining missions for Arkansas military installations must be a priority. Pine Bluff Arsenal plays a critical role in maintaining the readiness of our troops. Studying the viability of expanding its mission will allow us to better prepare for tomorrow’s challenges,” Boozman said.

The bill requires the Department of Defense to deliver a report by March 2018 on the need and requirements to centrally locate manufacturing, storage and distribution of designated Chemical Biological Defense Equipment at defense department arsenals, like Pine Bluff Arsenal.

The bill also includes $129 million to modernize the C-130 Hercules fleet to continue the Air Force mission at Little Rock Air Force Base and $20 million to build a dormitory at the base.

Other NDAA highlights include:

Authorizes a 2.4 percent pay raise for our troops;
Preserves basic allowance for housing (BAH) benefits for military families;
Preserves Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) payments to surviving military spouses;
Supports the Arkansas defense industrial base by authorizing an additional $183.5 million to address an Army unfunded requirement to maximize production capacity of Excalibur 155mm precision guided artillery rounds.

“I am proud to support this bill that prioritizes modernization and military readiness so we can be prepared for today’s missions and the evolving threats facing our nation,” Boozman said.

The House of Representatives approved the NDAA conference report on Tuesday. It now heads to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law.

 

 

November 10, 2017

 

My Highest Priority is Helping You
 



Elected officials are entrusted by the public to represent their interests and fight for them. Throughout our nation’s history, we’ve seen public figures take different approaches and embody different styles of public service. I’d like to take a moment to share with you what I see as my number one job as one of your United States Senators: helping you.

As the late Arkansas Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt demonstrated, public service means more than just showing up to vote on legislation or appearing at local festivals, parades and public events to meet and greet voters. Those things are important, but there is another aspect of representation that goes on behind the scenes that can sometimes make a world of difference in someone’s life. I’m referring to the concept of “constituent service” that Congressman Hammerschmidt excelled at and which I have made it my goal to emulate for citizens across our state.

One of the mottos I have always carried with me during my time as an elected official is “to use the power of the office for good.” I’ve used this phrase to help foster a culture among my staff about the importance of serving and fighting for constituents. Our goal is always to be as helpful as possible whenever Arkansans turn to my office for assistance.

It’s important to note that this commitment to serve you transcends political parties, labels and ideologies. Whether or not we agree on a bill or a policy matter, it’s my job to be your advocate when you need a question answered or you’re having a problem with a federal agency.

Some of the most common forms of constituent service, or casework as it is sometimes referred to, are reaching out to federal departments and agencies like the IRS, Department of Veterans Affairs or the Social Security Administration when constituents have questions or concerns that are not being addressed. I take these situations seriously because I believe that your government should be accountable to you. Sometimes it unfortunately takes an inquiry or request from my office to force the bureaucracy to act.

While I will continue pushing to streamline bureaucratic institutions and promote efficiency within the federal government, I remain committed as ever to being a voice for you if you’re facing a problem that I can help with.

There are lots of ways to reach out and let me know how I can help. You can visit my website or contact any of my offices across the state. Another way for you to share your input or take the first step in alerting me to the trouble you’re having is to visit one of my mobile office events which are designed to bring my staff and our resources to you if you can’t make it to us.

I frequently host mobile offices throughout the state, and there are five coming up in Madison, Phillips, Little River, Van Buren and Lincoln counties during the week of November 12th. Please reach out to my office for more information about these events or with questions about any other ways that I can help you. I will continue my efforts to provide unmatched assistance to Arkansans for as long as I hold public office and encourage you to take me up on the offer to fight for you.


 

 

November 3, 2017

 

 
Honoring Veterans One Memory at a Time
 

Arkansas veteran Garland Gable was a member of the 69th Infantry Division during WWII. He lived through some of the toughest battles in the European Theater, seeing and experiencing the grim realities of war.

“We relieved the 99th Infantry Division. They’d been dug in for several weeks. They looked awful,” Gable recalled of his first trip to the frontlines. “While we were relieving them, the Germans turned loose the artillery. We had men killed before we got started.”

His memories depict the harsh realities of war, but also underscore his selfless sacrifice and dedication. Hearing the personal accounts of veterans like Garland is an unforgettable experience. Now the Conway resident’s memories will be something future generations can hear and learn from as part of the Veterans History Project (VHP), a program of the Library of Congress that preserves the oral histories of our nation’s veterans.

This project is a very healthy way for our veterans to share their memories and for families to hear about what their loved ones endured, sometimes for the very first time. As the son of a WWII waist gunner on B-17s, I didn’t hear my dad talk of his experiences during the war. I wish I had asked more about that time in his life. My office is working to make sure that other families don’t have this same regret.

Sharing the importance of this program increases participation by veterans and the volunteers interested in recording their memories. I’m proud of the work we’re doing to encourage more Arkansans to contribute to the VHP. We’re making sure that more Arkansas veterans are part of the collection by conducting interviews and hosting workshops around the state to teach others how to join this effort.

These events have inspired more Arkansans to capture these living histories. I’m pleased to see the enthusiasm for preserving the memories of our veterans, and I’m excited by the support of organizations around the state that are helping amplify this message.

As part of the launch of Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” documentary, Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) collaborated with my office to promote the VHP, hosting events across the state and including my staff in a recent live broadcast of “Arkansans Ask: Veterans History Project.”

The Library of Congress has recognized the work we are doing to feature this program and facilitate participation. My staff has shared our practices with other congressional offices so they can create their own programs to capture the memories of our veterans.

VHP Director Col. (ret.) Karen Lloyd saw the support from Arkansans for this project during a weekend visit to the state earlier this fall. She met with veterans and volunteers who are champions of the project and are contributing to the library’s collection.

Preserving the experiences of Mr. Gable and so many other veterans in our state is an honorable way to recognize their bravery and dedication to our country. As we celebrate Veterans Day, consider supporting this rewarding project and capturing the oral histories of the men and women who stand in defense of our nation.
 

 

October 27,2017

Stop Confirmation Obstruction


The Senate has a unique responsibility in our constitutional system. We’re in the personnel business, or in other words, the Senate must approve many of the Officers of the United States who are nominated by the president as described in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution. It’s customary for senators to meet with executive branch nominees when the senator serves on a committee that oversees the department or agency at which the nominee will serve.

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, I recently met with Kirstjen Nielsen, President Trump’s nominee to serve as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. I appreciate her willingness to accept this call to serve our nation in an extremely challenging capacity. Given her experience, she is a worthy candidate for this role, but before she begins this job, she has to be confirmed by the Senate.

Considerable time is spent in committees reviewing the qualifications and backgrounds of presidential nominees. Within the last two weeks, the committees I serve on – the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Agriculture Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee – all approved nominees to serve in various administration positions. It’s important that these positions are filled in order to carry out the work of the agencies. Unfortunately, the Senate has a logjam of nominees including federal judges, numerous unfilled agency positions and a U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas.

There is no reason for the needless delays and obstruction occurring on these nominees. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats are using procedural tactics to stall the confirmation of non-controversial nominees. The reality is the president’s nominees will be confirmed, so forcing these roadblocks won’t alter the result. Even nominees with bipartisan support from Senate committees and who would otherwise be confirmed by voice vote are awaiting approval by the full Senate.

Slowing down the process is an inconvenience that forces the Senate to spend more time on confirmations that would be better spent on debating legislation like appropriations bills and the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

This obstruction has become too familiar in the Senate. In President Obama’s first year in office, Republicans used a procedural hurdle for one of his judicial nominees. This year, Democrats forced this maneuver for all of President Trump’s judicial nominees, except one.

This follows a desperate pattern by Democrats that began with stalling votes for Cabinet-level nominees, stricter scrutiny of candidates and boycotting committee hearings to vet President Trump’s Cabinet nominees.

There are more than 90 presidential nominees awaiting Senate approval. In early August, the Senate confirmed 60 nominees by voice vote in one day. Senate Democrats need to end their unnecessary delays that are preventing well-qualified individuals from getting to work so our federal departments and agencies have the fully functioning staff they require to advance the priorities of the administration.
 

 

 

 

October 25, 2017

 

Boozman Meets with Secretary of Homeland Security Nominee
 

(Pictured: U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) visits with Kirstjen Nielsen in the Hart Senate Office Building after the two met in Boozman’s office)
 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, released the following statement after meeting with President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Kirstjen Nielsen:

“Ensuring Americans are safe at home is one of the federal government’s most important responsibilities. I appreciate Ms. Nielsen’s willingness to accept this call to serve our nation in an extremely challenging capacity. Given her experience, she is a worthy candidate for this role. If confirmed, I look forward to working closely with Ms. Nielsen and her team to ensure that Congress is giving DHS all the support it needs,” Boozman said.


 

 

 

October 13, 2017

 

Cybersecurity Awareness Month

The internet has changed the way we live. It’s become common to manage banking transactions, shop for birthday presents and communicate with our friends and family, often times from our phones. While it’s convenient to conduct business over the internet, it also means we’re sharing more of our personal information. This includes bank accounts, social security numbers and home addresses which makes us more vulnerable to hackers trying to, and often succeeding at, stealing our information.

A 2016 Pew Research Center study found that 64 percent of Americans have been victims of a data breach that included fraudulent credit card charges, a compromised Social Security number and attempts to get loans or a line of credit fraudulently. Unfortunately, this is a problem that transcends industries, individuals and businesses. Equifax Inc. recently revealed that it was hacked over the summer, compromising the personal information of 143 million Americans. This is the latest in a string of high-profile breaches to hit our nation such as those at Yahoo! Inc. and Target which affected 1.5 billion and 41 million consumers, respectively.

We can all take measures to reduce the risk of our information being breached. October is recognized as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This effort raises awareness of the importance of cybersecurity and encourages us all to take action to protect our information and our nation’s critical cyber infrastructure. Incorporating safety measures like creating strong password protection, securing our mobile devices and updating mobile apps are just a few steps we can take to safeguard our sensitive information.

Just as critical is protecting cybersecurity in the workplace. This is a shared responsibility among all employees, no matter where we work or our position. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reminds us that cybercriminals often rely on human error to gain access to systems, so it’s critical that everyone within the organization knows what to watch for in order to maintain safety. Installing software updates, deleting suspicious emails and reporting them to the IT Department and establishing a strong password are simple steps that go a long way to preventing a cyberattack and compromising the data of any organization.

The federal government has unfortunately fallen victim to cyberattacks. Our cyber-networks are under constant attack. We must continue developing capabilities to protect our information as attacks evolve and become more sophisticated.

A February 2017 Government Accountability Office (GAO) study recommended actions to strengthen our cybersecurity and protect critical infrastructure which includes the electrical grid, banks and traffic lights that connect to the internet. A breach of our infrastructure could have serious consequences for our economy. As Chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, I’m working with my colleagues to ensure we have the resources and tools to safeguard our nation’s infrastructure.

We have made progress, but there is still much to be done to ensure we prevent cyberattacks. Our lives are more dependent on the internet than ever before. This trend will only continue. President Trump showed his commitment to cybersecurity with the nomination of Kirstjen Nielsen to serve as the next Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Nielsen has impressive national security and cybersecurity background which will be helpful as we secure our country against future cyberattacks.
 

October 2, 2017

 

Honoring the Legacy of the Little Rock Nine


It’s been 60 years since nine African American students integrated Little Rock Central High School. These courageous teens challenged the status quo, facing an angry mob and hostile classmates head-on. They were pioneers in the fight for equality and continue to be a voice for progress.

In its 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled “separate but equal” unconstitutional. The process of desegregating public schools was complex and faced incredible opposition. In September of 1957, the Little Rock Nine were determined to receive the same education that had only been available to their white peers, not knowing their memories of their first days of school would be something written about in history books and reflected upon decades later.

On the first day of class, Little Rock Central High School became ground zero in the movement for public integration. Governor Orval Faubus called in the Arkansas National Guard to block students from entering the school. Eventually, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army to Little Rock and federalized the Arkansas National Guard to protect the students and ensure public safety.

Even though they were allowed to attend Central High, the students were still subjected to daunting abuse and taunting from students and school leaders. Each of them chose to confront injustice and inequality in a very visible and courageous way.

The integration of Central High serves as a poignant reminder of where we’ve been as a country, but also where we are headed. The story of those students and their legacy is important to the history of our country and the fight for equality.

I’m proud to support legislation to expand the boundary of the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site in order to preserve the surrounding buildings as they looked on the first day of school for these nine students.

In addition to the Little Rock Central National Historic Site, the importance of this event to our nation is being told through an exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Several of the nine students donated items for display in order to tell their story about the fight to obtain the same quality education.

I am grateful that they are willing to share their memories for the entire country to observe and understand, and I encourage all Arkansans to tour this museum when visiting our nation’s capital.

This anniversary gives us all the chance to remember and reflect upon the Central High integration and the Little Rock Nine, and also to educate younger generations about the struggle for equal rights. I am eager to continue working with my fellow Arkansans and all Americans as we pursue a better future for our children, our grandchildren and ourselves.

 

 

 

September 25, 2017

 

Fly, Fight, Win: Air Force’s Missions Critical to National Security

For 70 years the United States Air Force has bravely fought to protect freedom, liberty and peace on every continent around the globe. From active participation in major international conflicts to providing humanitarian support throughout the world, the United States Air Force has continued to be the nation’s leading edge across every domain and throughout every location by meeting the challenges of an ever-changing world with limitless strength, resolve and patriotism.

As co-chair of the Senate Air Force Caucus and the son of a retired Air Force Master Sergeant, I have been personally touched by the storied history of this distinguished service. That’s why I was proud to recognize the 70th anniversary of the Air Force and support the needs of our Airmen.

Today, more than one hundred thousand Airmen are standing watch at 175 global locations -including members of the 189th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base and the 188th Wing in Fort Smith- committed to continuously defending the people and interests of the greatest nation in the world.

National security must be our top priority. To ensure our Air Force personnel have the critical resources needed to accomplish their missions, Congress and the Air Force must maintain an open dialogue so that we are always ready to take on today’s threats and tomorrow’s challenges.

The Senate recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act to provide our Airmen, and all of our troops, with the tools they need to stay one step ahead of evolving dangers. I was proud to support this bill because it prioritizes readiness and modernization, something Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and other Air Force leaders have been urging Congress to restore.

During President Obama’s tenure, our military shrunk to the smallest it has been in decades and is now operating with outdated weapons and equipment as in the case of the Air Force’s use of 55-year-old B-52 bombers.

It comes as no surprise that since these bombers were first used, the mission of the Air Force has evolved and its responsibilities have expanded beyond airpower to include space and cyberspace missions.

The Air Force has made tremendous strides in the technological innovation and operationalization of air, space and cyberspace warfighting capabilities, and we need to continue investing in and encouraging the development of advanced airpower capabilities.

We owe our Airmen a tremendous amount of gratitude for the sacrifices they have made in defending the greatest country on earth as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the United States Air Force.

As the leader in air, space and cyberspace, the Air Force continues to modernize and innovate to meet the growing challenges in defending our nation and its allies. Our Airmen deliver the best airpower the world has ever known, bravely protecting freedom and liberty in all corners of the globe. I’m proud to honor our Air Force and the men and women who make it truly exceptional.

 

 

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."