Weekly Columns

Technology has changed the way we communicate. The improvements provide us all more efficient ways to reach our loved ones, stay informed and meet new people. For me, it’s made staying connected to Arkansans while at work in Washington a lot easier. During the school year I’m able to talk with students via Skype from my office in Washington, D.C. Similarly, it allows me to talk with thousands of Arkansans across the state in interactive telephone town halls.

The Congressional Management Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to enhance the effectiveness of congressional offices, calls telephone town hall meetings “one of the most significant technological advances in Congress in the past two decades.” I’ve hosted a number of these events because they are a great way to engage with Arkansans about issues facing our state and nation. These allow me to speak with more people in a variety of locations and give me the opportunity to hear about the topics on the minds of the individuals and families I represent. 

I hosted my most recent telephone town hall in early July. We had a great discussion on a variety of topics in the news including legislation I recently introduced to ensure children have access to nutritious meals when school is out. The Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act will update federal child nutrition programs to make them more efficient and flexible so communities have more options to reach children in need of food assistance. Earlier this month I visited a meal site in Springdale to see firsthand how important this program is to the community and how these reforms will help support the needs of more children.   

Another topic on the minds of participants was the humanitarian and security crisis on the southern border. A record number of migrants have overwhelmed border facilities. The dramatic spike in the number of unaccompanied minors is creating a humanitarian crisis and we have a responsibility to care for them while their claims are adjudicated. That’s why Congress recently approved emergency funding to improve the housing standards and provide the basic necessities to protect these vulnerable children. 

Several callers had specific questions about veterans benefits. My staff is here to help Arkansans who have questions or are experiencing problems with their Department of Veterans Affairs benefits and any issues involving federal agencies. While I cannot override the decisions made by a federal agency, I can often intervene to cut through the red tape, get answers and try to help resolve the issue. 

I was pleased to hear that several individuals on the call have reached out to my office for assistance. We’re here to help. My goal is to make sure each Arkansan having trouble with a federal agency or a concern about policy a priority. 

I appreciate citizens across the state who listened and asked questions during this latest telephone town hall. If you would like to participate in the next event, visit my website www.boozman.senate.gov and sign-up to join. I look forward to talking with you soon.