Dr. Boozman's Check-up

The major federal disaster declaration, signed by President Obama on June 26, 2015, offers Individual Assistance in the counties of Crawford, Garland, Howard, Jefferson, Little River, Miller, Perry, Sebastian, and Sevier counties. Additional counties may be included at a later date.

There are several ways to apply for disaster assistance. 

  • Individuals can call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the speech- and hearing-impaired. If you use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362.
  • Another option is to register online at www.disasterassistance.gov or via web-enabled phone or tablet at m.fema.gov. 

The toll free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m.to 10 p.m. CDT, seven days a week. 

In most cases, a FEMA inspector will call you within a few days of registering to arrange a visit to your damaged home or apartment. A FEMA inspector will always have an official badge visible during the inspection. Request to see identification before allowing the inspector to enter your home. 

If you qualify for FEMA assistance, you will receive a federal government check or the funds will be directly deposited into your designated bank account. A separate letter also will be sent to you explaining how you may use the funds.   

If you have questions about FEMA assistance, call 1-800-320-FEMA (3362). You can also visit www.disasterassistance.gov or www.fema.gov.

It was a busy week in Washington that included decisions by the Supreme Court, a hearing on the cyberattack at OPM and honoring an Arkansas war hero. Read more in this Week in Review. 

  • SCOTUS Rulings- The Supreme Court ruled President Obama’s health care law allows premium subsidies for people buying health insurance through exchanges established by the federal government. Justice Scalia pointedly noted in the dissent that the Court went to great interpretive lengths to protect the law. I will continue to work with my colleagues to repeal and replace this failed program and give the American people real reform that puts them back in charge of their healthcare decisions. The Supreme Court also legalized same-sex marriage in a ruling today. I respectfully disagree with this ruling. This doesn’t change the fact that I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.  I am a cosponsor of the State Marriage Defense Act of 2015, legislation which respects the definition of marriage held by the people of each state and protects states from the federal government's efforts to force any other definition upon them. I’m disappointed this issue was not allowed to be decided by the states.

  • OPM Data Breach –As Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (FSGG), I am conducting oversight of the growing  problem of cybersecurity attacks of government agencies. The head of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) testified before the FSGG subcommittee about the recent data breach. As I told Neil Cavuto following the hearing, the government is doing a “sloppy, shoddy job” of protecting data.

  • Creating Opportunities for American Jobs and Economic Growth: The Senate passed, with my support, Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). This legislation ensures that we can negotiate a fair trade deal while increasing transparency and maintaining Congress’s important role in the process. This requires text of any trade deal be made public 60 days before Congress votes, requires the administration to consult with Congress during negotiations of a trade deal and sets clear negotiation objectives for the administration. International trade supports more than 340,000 Arkansas jobs. Opening new markets for Arkansas’s agriculture producers, small businesses and globally-engaged workforce will drive that number up.

  • Perryville Post Office  – Congressman French Hill and I introduced companion legislation to name the Perryville Post Office in honor of Sergeant Harold George Bennett, a Perryville native. Sgt. Bennett spent 179 days as a POW during the Vietnam War and his captors executed him on June 25, 1965. Thursday marked the 50th anniversary of his death. 
  • Disaster Declaration – The President issued a disaster declaration for Arkansas because of severe storms and flooding in the state. I was proud to join members of the Arkansas Congressional Delegation to support Governor Hutchinson’s request for federal disaster assistance for 33 Arkansas counties. We wrote a letter requesting assistance from the President.
  • Improving Rural Drinking Water – I joined Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) to introduce the Water Supply Cost Savings Act, legislation that would provide cost-effective solutions to improve access to high quality drinking water in rural communities. 

  • Honoring Arkansas Electric Cooperative Volunteers –  I honored Arkansas Electric Cooperative volunteers who helped provide electric service to remote villages of Guatemala in the Congressional Record. Read my statement here
  • Arkansas Airports Receive FAA Grants - The FAA awarded nearly $2 million to five Arkansas airports for improvements to runways, taxiways and aprons. These infrastructure upgrades will help accommodate future growth and development throughout the state. 
  • KASU Interview: I joined Jonesboro’s KASU radio earlier this week to discuss the busy week in Washington. We talked about trade issues and why I support Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), water regulations and the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and efforts in the Senate to comply with the World Trade Organization (WTO). 
  • Thank You Interns - Thanks to the students who spent their summer in my Washington office helping the people of Arkansas. If you know of a qualified candidate who might be interested in learning about the legislative process and constituent service you can find an application here.

I honored Arkansas Electric Cooperative volunteers who helped provide electric service to remote villages of Guatemala. I recognized their efforts in the Congressional Record with the following statement:

Mr. President, I rise today to recognize the work of 12 power linemen from nine electric cooperatives in Arkansas for their work to bring reliable electricity to citizens in Guatemala. 

The Arkansas linemen dedicated more than two weeks to completely change the lives of more than 1,390 residents in two villages in rural Guatemala – Jolom I’Jix and Zapotal. Through construction activities such as installation of poles, distribution transformers, household connections and meters, these volunteers extended the electric distribution system four miles, connecting homes to an electric grid powered by a small hydroelectric plant. 

Since 2013, Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas volunteers have worked to improve the lives of Guatemalans by providing electricity. The significance of this project stretches to impact numerous aspects of daily life for these residents. Electricity is a critical element in improving the quality of life and to providing healthcare, education, access to clean water, and economic growth. Equipped with this newfound source of electricity, hope for a brighter future exists for subsistence farmers whose main worry is simply providing food for their family. 

This effort, funded by participating co-ops and supporters in Arkansas, continues the state’s storied history of making an impact. By being a beacon of good for these villagers, the linemen were able to engrave a lasting impact, which will help future generations of Guatemalans. 

I offer my sincere gratitude to all those who contributed to make a difference for those who are truly in need. Doug Evans, Will Glover, Kyle Metcalf, Andy Caywood, Michael Counts, Andy Ward, Brent Hufstedler, Kirk Kempson, Joey Burk, Kris Rankin, Paul Garrison and Ryan Hayes; thank you for your dedication and service to helping connect citizens of Guatemala to electric service.

Today I want to share the story about an organization that was established by Dr. Merlin Augustine in honor and appreciation of his parents, Merlin Sr. and Nora Augustine.

Growing up Dr. Augustine had great role models who were always showing compassion during a time when there were no social programs to assist those in need. M & N Augustine epitomizes the spirit of the way Dr. Augustine’s parents lived when they were raising their family in Louisiana. Merlin Sr. was a janitor who raised sweet potatoes and sugar cane on the family farm. Salary may have been meager for a man with a wife and six children, but he never hesitated to help out a neighbor who was in need -- or offer his son's bedroom when a family needed shelter. Merlin Jr. thought his father was too generous, but eventually he came to understand it wasn't enough to toss a check in the collection plate. He had to do more, and that's what the M&N Foundation aims to do.

The M&N Augustine Foundation is a nonprofit organization helping people who have nowhere else to go and in need of assistance with food, clothing, medicine and shelter. The M&N Augustine Foundation has helped people all the way from Fayetteville to Africa. The Foundation’s outreach to feed the hungry is celebrated with volunteers throughout Northwest Arkansas the Saturday before Easter with its annual Easter Feed. This year was the 22nd year of this event. More than 6,000 people were supported by this effort.

I am proud to highlight the M&N Augustine Foundation for its faith-based outreach. Numerous organizations and individuals throughout our communities and the country are motivated by their faith to help others. People of faith often serve tirelessly behind the scenes to better our communities. Join me today by celebrating those who have generously given back to our community and recognize their faithful acts of service. Let’s #FaithitForward.

I joined Jonesboro’s KASU to discuss the busy week ahead. We talked about Tuesday’s Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee hearing about the recent cybersecurity attack of the Office of Personnel Management. This cost taxpayers nearly $21 million dollars and compromised personal data of millions of federal employees. The hearing, which I will serve as chairman, will focus on precautions that need to be taken to prevent this from happening again. We discussed the impact of the EPA’s WOTUS rule and my efforts to fight against this overreaching rule. On Wednesday in Greene County my staff will host a mobile office event. We talked about the assistance we are able to provide. Listen to the interview here

During Chester Lee Bean’s 90th birthday celebration, he had a special surprise- a medal presentation in recognition of his service to our country. 

Bean served in the U.S. Navy during WWII aboard the USS Raleigh. He continued his service in the Naval Reserve in Fort Smith following the war.  

For his service and dedication he earned the Navy Good Conduct medal, WWII Victory medal, American Campaign medal and the Asiatic Pacific Campaign medal. 

“(The medals) bring back memories of me – some I like and some I don’t – and make me think back on my time and about my friends,” Bean told the Times Record. 

I am proud of the efforts of my staff to honor our veterans and ensure they are recognized with the medals they earned for their service.  Col. Anita Deason (Ret) serves as a Military and Veterans Liaison for my office. She works with the Department of Defense to obtain the medals our veterans earned, but never received.  

“Mr. Bean, you have the heart of a servant,” Deason said during the presentation that 5News captured on video. 

You can watch the medal presentation here.

Week in Review: June 8-12 

The Senate is debating the National Defense Authorization Act, we approved legislation to scale back EPA overreach in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and I talked about issues impacting the agriculture industry on Agri-Pulse. These and more in this Week in Review. 

  • Agri-Pulse Open Mic - This week I joined Agri-Pulse to talk about Arkansas’ top economic industry. In the interview, we discussed the threat developing with the EPA and WOTUS, opening up trade with Cuba, and our work to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act.

  • National Defense Authoritzation Act (NDAA) Debate – During the Senate debate of the NDAA I delivered this floor speech about the importance of passing this national security legislation. I also introduced three amendments to support the needs of Arkansans.

  • Water Research - I am pleased that the Senate supported legislation I introduced with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) that reauthorizes the Water Resources Research Amendments Act. This legislation provides continued federal support for important research on state and regional water challenges.

  • Flag Day – In recognition of honoring this symbol of our country I want to share this flag presentation my staff hosted in Stuttgart. My staff presents a program to Arkansas students about the importance of the American and Arkansas flags. Last school year year my staff was in more than 50 classrooms around the state.

Jun 08 2015

Agri-Pulse Open Mic

Agriculture is Arkansas’s top economic industry. As a member of the Senate Ag Committee I serve as a voice for this industry and work to champion federal policies that meet the needs of our farmers, ranchers and agriculture producers. This week I joined Agri-Pulse’s Open Mic to discuss issues influencing the industry and impacting the ability of our producers to continue growing the world’s safest supply of food. We talked about the threat that EPA’s Waters of the United States rule has on the ability of landowners to use their property, the Senate Ag Committee’s work to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act and my efforts to open up trade with Cuba. You can listen to the interview here.

Week in Review: June 1-5 

It was a busy week in Washington. Read more about what we worked on in this Week in Review. 

  • Supporting Legislation to Increase Veterans Disability Compensation – I am proud to cosponsor The Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2015, which seeks to increase veterans’ disability benefits. This legislation would allow us to stay ahead of the rising cost of living and provide the best service possible for our heroes and their families.

  • Irresponsible IRS Spending – The IRS needs to change the way it prioritizes what programs to fund. This won’t happen by providing the agency with more money. A change in culture at the agency is necessary to improve taxpayer service. Read my editorial in USA Today.

  • Cutting Red Tape – I’m working to eliminate duplicative and costly permitting requirements for pesticide application users like Arkansas farmers and ranchers. I joined a bipartisan group of senators to introduce the Sensible Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) to improve government efficiency and roll back this regulation.

  • Arkansas Airports Receive FAA Grants - The FAA awarded more than $6.5 million to 11 Arkansas airports for improvements to airport runways, taxiways and aprons. These infrastructure upgrades will help accommodate future growth and development throughout the state.

  • Families Urge Action to Bring Home Iran Hostages – Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee heard from American families who have relatives held hostage in Iran. These families called for a more central focus on the fate of the hostages in negotiations of the Iran nuclear deal. The Iran nuclear deal is the president’s most pressing foreign affairs issue and there is frustration over the lack of insistence to bring these Americans home. The Senate has taken action and we’re waiting for the President to do the same.

  • GAO Report Confirms Need for Science Advisory Board Reforms – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report this week that shows the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hindering the ability of the Science Advisory Board (SAB) to comply with the law. This is all the more reason for the Senate to take up legislation Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and I introduced to reform the SAB.

  • Making my Way Across Arkansas – I spent the week of Memorial Day traveling across Arkansas and meeting with people in Little Rock, Vilonia, Mayflower, Hot Springs, Pine Bluff, Mena and Waldron. Read more about my busy week in Arkansas.

Jun 03 2015

ICYMI: More money will not help the IRS

Agency is making irresponsible decisions with taxpayer dollars

Senator John Boozman authored this piece published here in USA Today, June 3, 2015. 

Americans expect a tax agency to protect their personal information, provide good customer service and be accountable and fair. The priorities of the IRS do not reflect the demands of hardworking taxpayers. 

Every agency in Washington has been asked to do more with less. The IRS is no different. By making irresponsible decisions with taxpayer dollars, the IRS is failing to adapt to today's fiscal realities.

One of the agency's first actions after receiving its funding for this fiscal year was to announce it would pay out more than $60 million in bonuses to employees. 

As an April report by the House Ways and Means Committee shows, the agency paid the same amount in bonuses as the previous fiscal year despite a cut in the agency's budget. 

In an email to IRS employees this year, Commissioner John Koskinen touted his ability to prevent a shutdown. But by also handing out hefty bonuses to employees, he misdirected resources meant for taxpayer services while protecting the priorities of the IRS union. 

With flexibility in how it allocates its funding, the agency's top priority should be taxpayer services, particularly protecting the personal information of millions of American taxpayers. 

Unfortunately, taxpayer service is the agency's most serious failure. The agency's focus clearly is elsewhere. Even before the latest tax season, Commissioner Koskinen estimated that only 50% of taxpayer phone calls would be answered; those still on the line would face wait times of at least 30 minutes. 

This disconnect, along with the agency's abusive policing of political speech and its misconduct with deleted and missing emails, gives the IRS a black eye and makes me question its priorities. 

The agency suffers from an erosion of taxpayers' trust because its actions undermine their faith in the system. 

More money won't help it regain Americans' trust. Only proving that its priorities are in the right place will accomplish that. IRS doesn't need more money to make that happen; it needs a change in culture. 

Sen. John Boozman, R-Arkansas, is chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Internal Revenue Service.

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