Dr. Boozman's Check-up
Feb 28 2014
Supporting veterans’ funding, preventing IRS targeting, Senate confirms a new federal judge for Arkansas and much more from a busy week in the senate in this edition of the “Week in Review.”
- Advanced Funding for Veterans: I was happy to visit with Arkansas veterans representing Disabled American Veterans who joined representatives from leading veterans’ organizations at a press conference with us in front of the Capitol to highlight veterans’ funding and support a bill we introduced called Putting Veterans Funding First Act. This legislation keeps our promise to veterans and would expand one-year advanced funding for all veterans programs, services and benefits—like we currently do for veterans health care—to ensure that all the services which our veterans have earned, and depend on, will continue should there be future funding issues.
- Urging for improving efficiency and accountability at VA: I spoke on the Senate floor about the need to provide our veterans with the care they deserve. We’re facing a backlog of veterans claims, long waits in the appeals process and programs not fully implemented at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. We need to fix these existing programs we are committed to before expanding programs and increasing the responsibility of VA.
- Preventing Internal Revenue Service Targeting: We joined efforts to preserve the First Amendment rights of all groups and prevent the IRS from targeting social welfare organizations. The House passed similar legislation this week.
- Judicial Confirmation: The Senate confirmed Judge James “Jay” Maxwell Moody, Jr. to serve as United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas. His nomination was confirmed by a vote of 95-4.
- Corps of Engineers Bill Reinvests in our State: We introduced legislation that restores previous practices of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and uses the fees for operation, maintenance, and management at the recreation site where collected. We're proud that the Arkansas delegation is leading the charge to reinvest in these recreational facilities in our state.
- Conway Airport: We’re working with members of the Arkansas Congressional Delegation to continue moving the Conway Municipal Airport forward and help the city improve its infrastructure and economic potential.
- Saline County FEMA Funds: Funds to help clean up Saline County after the Christmas Day storm in 2012 were delayed. We worked with county officials to move the process forward and secure the $1.1 million for reimbursement to the county.
- Propane Shortage: We’ve heard from a lot of Arkansans who are paying higher prices for propane as a result of the shortage and last week I visited one Arkansan farmer who, like so many others, is impacted by the cost. Arkansas is one of more than twenty states that has issued a disaster declarations related to the propane shortage. We led a bipartisan coalition of senators pushing the Obama administration to provide relief for families, farmers, and businesses suffering from a significant spike in propane prices this winter. I believe that we need to continue and expand flexibility and assistance across agencies. For example, the Department of Transportation can temporarily suspend regulations that drive up the cost of shipping propane.
- Pastor Abedini: I have heard from many Arkansans about Pastor Abedini, a dual Iranian-American citizen who has been imprisoned in Iran for over a year in challenging conditions, simply because of his Christian faith. The Iranian foreign minister recently signaled some potential flexibility in this case, and I joined bipartisan, bicameral efforts to keep this case in public eye to take advantage of these comments with the ultimate goal to bring Pastor Abedini back home.
- Helping Wounded Warriors: We’ve been leading efforts in Congress to improve the care for our injured servicemembers and veterans. In 2012, our initiative to improve rehabilitative services for our nation’s veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury was included in a larger bill and signed into law by President Obama. There is still a lot of work to do. We talked with the filmmakers for a documentary produced by the Wounded Warriors Project about our work in Congress to make sure our veterans are getting the care they need.
- Friend of U.S. Rice Award: I was proud to receive the first ever Friend of the U.S. Rice Industry Award. As the number one producer of rice in our country, Arkansas has a unique role in the industry. We are proud to promote policies and help craft a Farm Bill that enables our farmers to manage risk and ensures that high quality U.S. rice remains a staple on dining room tables across the globe.
- Geography Legislator of the Year: Geography education is a critical component to learning, working and competing in our global economy. National Geographic honored our commitment of to improve geography education and recognized me as us a Geography Legislator of the Year.
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