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Dr. Boozman's Check-up

Here’s a round-up of some of my public comments about the new coronavirus (COVID-19), including how my colleagues in the Senate and I are responding to this crisis.

U.S Senator John Boozman met with the fire chiefs in Northwest Arkansas today to learn how they are serving their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The senator got the hear what kind of challenges they face and how fire stations are adapting to health guidelines.

“These things like having a great fire department which we are so blessed with in Arkansas, it’s like turning on the lights we just take it for granted,” Boozman said.

Boozman went on to thank the fire teams for continuing to keep our communities safe.

The Trump administrations carries out a major piece of its regulatory reform agenda this week, while some lawmakers hold out hope for breaking an impasse over a coronavirus relief package...

...Perdue has been under pressure from members of Congress to expand the list of commodities that are eligible for the program.

Arkansas Sen. John Boozman, who is in line to become the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee next year, told Agri-Pulse he still hoped a new coronavirus aid package can get enacted before the election, but he noted that Perdue “has plenty of money” available to make the CFAP-2 payments.

Senate Republicans on Thursday failed to advance their substantially scaled-back stimulus plan amid opposition from Democrats who called the measure inadequate, further darkening the already dim prospects that Congress will enact another economic recovery measure to address the toll of the coronavirus pandemic before November's election...

...In a written statement, U.S. Rep. John Boozman, R-Ark., called the vote a "disappointing development."

"Instead of delivering a result, our Democratic colleagues chose to block progress on this package while also refusing to negotiate on any realistic solutions that stand a chance of becoming law," he said.

"I'm certain the frustration I feel about this lack of cooperation is shared by Arkansans and others across the country," he said.

When U.S. Sen. John Boozman stood in front of officials and frontline workers employed at White River Health System, his message was not only of praise for the efforts that have been put forth, but also gave a glimpse of what is to come.

He also answered a few tough questions during his visit, which was held on the campus of the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville.

Boozman said there is no timetable on a vaccine to combat COVID-19.

“This disease is unique, and so acquiring a vaccine, we want to make sure that it works, that it’s safe, and so it’s really difficult to do,” Boozman said. “So the timeline we are on right now is very, very advanced. Hopefully, we’ll have something at the first of the year.”

Boozman shot down any ideas that the virus was politically motivated.

“I think when you look at the timeline we are on, no one thought it was humanly possible to be as far along as we are,” Boozman said. “On the other hand, it’s like when you’re building a home. When you frame it, it goes really fast. When you get to the finish work, we are doing the finish work now. I don’t think it’s politicized.”

Boozman added that people should be proud of the world that the National Institute of Health is doing.

“Everyone is working hard,” Boozman said. The good news is that the mortality rate has come way down because of the treatments that are out there now. Our providers are doing such a good job of using their experience that they have gained to keep people healthy.”

Sen. John Boozman told Unity Health officials Wednesday “there is still a lot of money in the pipeline” to make sure health care workers have the resources going forward to do a great job protecting themselves and to provide the best patient care imaginable.

Boozman, Arkansas’ senior U.S. senator, spent the early morning at Unity Health’s south campus on Main Street thanking health care workers on the front line for all they have been doing in the age of COVID-19.

“In the CARES [Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security] Act, a lot of money was provided,” Boozman said. “... When you talk about those kind of sums, it’s actually difficult to push it through the channel, so we push it out of the federal government into the state sometimes directly but it just takes a while to get through that pipeline, so there’s still dollars in the pipeline.

“We are in the process now of discussing what we’re going to do in the future. I think what you will see coming up is a number of smaller bills, very targeted bills.”

Supporting community health and hospitals and education are things both Democrats and Republicans agree on, explained Boozman, who is a Republican.

“You have to remember we have probably spent close to 3 trillion dollars at this point,” he said. “In the senate that was unanimous. That was the Democrats and the Republicans working together, coming up, trying to come up with solutions to a very difficult problem.”

U.S. Senator John Boozman  is spending the next few days visiting different parts of Arkansas to talk with and thank frontline health care workers for the work they’re doing to care for and help Arkansans during COVID-19. The past two days have been in southwest Arkansas, including Hope. “We’re certainly grateful for them all the time, but especially amid a public health crisis. I also appreciate the opportunity to hear feedback and concerns directly from these health care heroes as we work to address their needs in future relief legislation in the Senate,” Boozman said.

Tuesday, the senator made stops in Texarkana with representatives from CHRISTUS St. Michael,  UAMS Southwest Regional Campus – Texarkana, and Wadley Regional Medical Center; in Hope at Pafford Medical Services; in Nashville at Howard Memorial Hospital; and Malvern at Baptist Health Medical Center.

Monday night, he had dinner with personnel from Little River Memorial Hospital in Ashdown to wrap up Day 1.” It’s a real privilege to be able to thank these men and women for the job they’re doing and also hear from them about ways I, my staff and the federal government can support them as they wage this incredibly important fight against COVID-19. I’m happy to be getting to offer my thanks and appreciation in person as well as listen to their experiences and learn about what more we can do to help them do their jobs more effectively,” the Senator added.

Senator Boozman and his staff Tuesday stopped by for a visit at the Pafford Corporate Office in Hope.

In a statement, Pafford said, “We appreciate the Senator for taking time to visit with our crews, listen to concerns regarding the VA, and taking notes on other issues ambulance providers face on a daily basis as we are the healthcare safety net in so many of our communities during this global pandemic. Thank you to Rep. Danny Watson for joining us today as well and continuing to be a voice for our region.”

Arkansas Senator John Boozman visited UAMS Family Medical Center- Texarkana on Wednesday morning. 

Senator Boozman thanked frontline workers and spoke with hospital officials to make sure the medical centers have all the resources they need.

UAMS Health Family Medicine Physician Russell E. Mayo, M.D. says it’s important for the senator to understand what obstacles they face in this pandemic. One of those obstacles is testing supplies due to the spike in cases across the country.

The senator said a new testing option is on the way to help ease the shortage.

“In the not too distant future, we will actually have testing that you can do in five to 15 minutes, salvia test, $1 to $5 that you can buy in the local store,” said Boozman. “There should be a better situation in a couple of months.”

According to Boozman, the concerns are the same statewide for medical centers of all sizes. He says hospitals are in reasonable shape with personal protection equipment and funding. He is currently seeking additional funding to make sure it stays that way.

“Senator Boozman’s done a good job at representing Arkansas through the pandemic,” said Texarkana, Arkansas Mayor Allen Brown.

United States Sen. John Boozman anticipates further hospital assistance from government officials is on the way.

Boozman, during a meeting Tuesday morning with healthcare workers at Mercy Hospital-Booneville, said he anticipates legislation at state and federal levels is coming “soon” to hospitals in Arkansas. He said he expects the legislation will provide assistance to hospitals while enabling them to continue measures that have worked during the pandemic.

Logan County on Tuesday afternoon had 105 active COVID-19 cases. This total follows an outbreak at the Booneville Human Development Center, which at one point reported 66 active cases between staff and clients. Dr. Syed Hamed reported at least six people required hospitalization from that outbreak.

Mercy officials at the meeting said rural hospitals like Mercy-Booneville allow for patients in their communities that contract COVID-19 to receive treatment without being moved to larger communities like Fort Smith.

Boozman said lawmakers are looking at the future functions of hospitals and healthcare professionals in light of needs that have been uncovered during the pandemic. He said he wants rural communities to keep healthcare so they can provide services to people in proximity.

Mercy officials told Boozman they would like to see aspects of healthcare during COVID-19 such as telemedicine and the waiving of medicare replacement policies to stay the same.

“The way you can help us is, as you’re doing now, keep giving us a list as to what you’ve found helpful, because we really have been able to move quickly from the government compared to how we have in the past with these emergency declarations, which really makes your life easier,” Boozman said.

Boozman said the federal government is spending “a tremendous amount of money” on COVID-19 testing.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, urged U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to continue providing flexibilities to schools and sponsoring organizations for school meals and child nutrition. 

Boozman and his colleagues sent the letter to Secretary Perdue to ensure students have access to healthy, nutritious meals through USDA’s child nutrition programs this school year.

“As the school year begins, the challenges brought on by the COVID emergency persist. We encourage continued use of the child nutrition program waiver authority ably used thus far to assist school food authorities and non-school sponsoring organizations who work collaboratively to provide children meals while schools explore various and blended models of in-person and virtual classroom sessions,” the Senators wrote in the letter. “During this COVID emergency, we ask USDA to utilize program flexibilities, grants or reimbursements that assist school food authorities with procuring, preparing, and serving meals in a manner consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 school re-opening guidelines and that support non-school sponsors providing meals to children on remote-learning days or when in-classroom learning is unavailable.”

Leadership shared a glimpse of the Rogers School District's fall opening plan with U.S. Sen. John Boozman during his visit Friday to Northside Elementary.

The school was chosen to give Boozman, R-Ark., an opportunity to see the building's major renovation, said Ashley Kelley Siwiec, district communications director. The renovation cost about $6.7 million, said Charles Lee, assistant superintendent for general administration.

Superintendent Marlin Berry said the project was comprehensive and included new flooring, ceilings, cabinetry and a heating and cooling system. Boozman's toured the cafeteria, halls and a classroom to see how the spaces will be configured to help prevent the spread of covid-19...

..."The bottom line is we just have to think outside the box," Boozman said, adding it's clear the district is doing so. "You've thought of everything."

Boozman said the school year will have to be addressed on a day-to-day basis. "I feel very strongly that we can make something work," he said.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton and Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack, and Bruce Westerman announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided Arkansas Public Housing Agencies $3,458,460 in funding to support the prevention, preparation, and response to the coronavirus pandemic in public housing.

“As Arkansas continues to combat the impacts of COVID-19, it is important to put resources in the hands of our communities. These investments will provide locally-driven assistance to help protect and assist families and individuals in need throughout the Natural State,” members said.

Arkansas delegation is urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to amend eligibility thresholds when determining the high-impact payments through the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund.

Congressman Steve Womack (AR-3) led a letter alongside U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton and Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, and Bruce Westerman to HHS hoping to ensure hospitals who saw late surges in hospitalizations can qualify to receive assistance.

“We strongly urge you to take into account states that saw surges in patients in late June and July when determining distribution of payments for high-impact areas,” the members wrote. “Congress and the Administration acted swiftly to allocate resources as quickly as possible, and as this pandemic continues to change and impact different parts of this country, it is imperative that our policies remain flexible and the vast resources provided continue to make the most impact.”

Today Senator Boozman took a trip to the Veterans Healthcare System of the Ozarks (VHSO) Friday (Aug. 7).

Boozman says he wanted to make sure VHSO staff knows they are appreciated, and he wanted to ensure they have the materials and resources needed to keep themselves safe and to treat our veterans.

Senator Boozman says it is important to listen to those on the front-lines and to learn from them during this pandemic.

“We need to be talking to the people on the ground who are actually doing it. The solution to our problem needs to come from the ground up,” Boozman said.

Kelvin Parks with the Veterans Affairs says they have always had the senator's support but today was extra-special to all who were involved.

“It was a really uplifting day for all of our staff. For him to come by and say something encouraging and to motivate and inspire us, made for a very exciting day,” Parks said.

After the senator individually thanked frontline workers, he took a tour around the hospital to see those efforts first-hand.

Some of Fayetteville’s frontline fighters get a special visit from Sen. John Boozman.

The Senator stopped by the Veterans Healthcare Center of the Ozarks to recognize its healthcare workers for their work during the coronavirus pandemic.

He said it’s important to thank them and ensure they are getting the assistance they need to take care of Arkansas’ Veterans.

“We can be so very proud of the network that we have in Arkansas. Nobody’s working any harder,” Boozman said.

Boozman has been a constant advocate for Veterans and their health care.

Last month, he introduced legislation that would cut down on VA Backlog for those applying for disability.

U.S. Senator John Boozman was in Rogers to discuss the upcoming school year.

Boozman met with the Superintendent and board members for Rogers Public Schools to see how schools are preparing to safely reopen for teachers and students.

He says he was impressed with what he saw today.

“I’m very much encouraged by the, seeing the various ways that we’re going to keep our children safe, keep our teachers safe, and really importantly if it’s humanly possible to keep our children in school,” he said.

Boozman said he thinks lawmakers will send additional funding to schools in the future as needed during the pandemic.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding $8.2 million in CARES Act Recovery Assistance grants to capitalize and administer Revolving Loan Funds (RLFs) that will provide critical gap financing to small businesses and entrepreneurs that have been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic across Arkansas...      

...“Our small businesses have shown remarkable resilience during this challenging time,” said Senator John Boozman (R-AR). “In navigating this crisis, it’s important to ensure they have the ability to revitalize operations, restore or create jobs and continue vital activity that underpins regional economies. I applaud the EDA and the Trump administration for providing Arkansas small businesses and entrepreneurs with needed capital to spur economic recovery and growth.”

Arkansas Sen. John Boozman, who is in line to become the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee next year, said Perdue needs the flexibility the GOP proposal would provide him because the needs in agriculture could change in coming months. But Boozman said the highest priority is getting the additional $20 billion to USDA.

“Right now we’re working to get everybody on board in the dollars that we’ve got,” he said. 

Boozman said one issue is how long a benefit increase would last — he suggested a year might be long enough. Another issue is whether Democrats would insist on blocking SNAP work requirements from ever being tightened. Still, he said that many Republicans are open to increasing nutrition assistance. “We don’t want people going hungry,” he said.

Boozman, in line to be Senate Ag’s top Republican in the next Congress, says he will hold USDA accountable for how it spends future COVID-19 payments to producers. 
 
“Certainly, we’re going to hold their feet to the fire and make sure that these dollars are going to be spent in the way that was broadly outlined with the language we finally come up with,” Boozman told Agri-Pulse. 
 
Boozman did commend USDA for being able to roll out programs in a matter of weeks compared, noting some farm bill programs can take years to implement.

A key senator involved in developing the Republican coronavirus relief package for farmers defended the broad authority it gives to USDA to spend $20 billion in farm aid, but he said the Trump administration likely will need to provide assurances about how the money will be spent.

U.S. Senator John Boozman backs a proposal to fund child care centers across the state.

Some child care centers, like Kiddie Campus in Fayetteville, never closed when the pandemic hit.

So, owner Robin Slaton tells KNWA/Fox 24 any sort of financial help right now would make a huge difference.

Slaton said by not closing, the business took huge financial hits that it’s still trying to recover from.

The Back to Work Child Care Grants Act of 2020 would provide nine months of financial assistance to providers like her, and childcare centers that need help reopening.

The U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced today the Department’s Economic Development Administration is awarding $3.2 million in CARES Act Recovery Assistance grants to eight EDA Economic Development District organizations across Arkansas to update the economic development plans and fortify programs to assist communities in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic....

...“The economic harm COVID-19 has brought to communities across Arkansas has been readily apparent,” said Senator John Boozman. “Investing in development organizations and strategies to help our communities recover and prepare for future growth opportunities makes perfect sense, and I applaud the administration for announcing these grants and prioritizing economic resiliency,” Boozman said.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is continuing his work to support economic recovery by ensuring Arkansas families have access to child care services.

Boozman joined U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) and other colleagues to introduce the Back to Work Child Care Grants Act of 2020, legislation to assist child care providers in continuing to offer critical, affordable services for working families during the COVID-19 emergency. 

“We need to take steps to ensure caregivers can continue to provide this vital service Arkansas parents rely on. As parents seek to return to work, they need an available and safe environment to bring their children. This legislation is critical to meeting the needs of hardworking families and helping providers continue operations,” Boozman said.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) continued his efforts to make the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) more flexible by joining a bipartisan effort to streamline forgiveness of the program’s smaller loans.

Boozman cosponsored the Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Act, introduced by Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ). The bill would make it easier for small businesses to get PPP loans of $150,000 or less forgiven through a simple, one-page form.

“The PPP has been a critical lifeline for small businesses and has helped millions of Americans continue to receive their paychecks during the COVID-19 crisis. However, the bureaucratic hurdles small business owners need to clear to prove their eligibility for loan forgiveness are overly burdensome for the 85 percent of recipients who received loans of $150,000 or less. Simplifying the loan forgiveness process for the smallest borrowers will minimize the burden of extensive paperwork and allow small businesses to focus on retaining jobs and growing our economy,” said Boozman.

As super markets around the state emptied during the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers continued to provide for the community...

...Although U.S. Senator John Boozman believes this won’t be enough. He is in the process of getting another aid package to help these farmers.

“They create the safest, cheapest food supply of any country in the world, we can be really proud of that,” Senator Boozman said. “But it has been a difficult time for them.”

As of now it’s unclear when more federal money will come and that could hurt the state.

“It’s 25% of Arkansas’ economy, and because of that it’s really important to our state and it’s really important to rural Americans which many times gets left out,” Senator Boozman said.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for awarding $42.7 million to the Arkansas Department of Transportation in support of the state’s public transit systems.

The grant—totaling $42,742,893—comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which became law in March with the support of the Arkansas delegation. The funding will be used by ARDOT for state and project administration, including leave for employees due to the reductions in service or the need to quarantine; operating expenses to maintain transit services; and the purchase of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.

“The CARES Act is continuing to deliver help to Arkansas. The transportation industry is facing economic challenges as a result of the coronavirus. These funds will help support the changing needs of transit agencies and ensure Arkansans can continue to use the vital services they provide,” members said.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) continues his efforts to strengthen access to telehealth services, which have become even more necessary in light of the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Boozman called on the agencies to provide a plan on permanent changes to Medicare telehealth rules.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided HHS with the authority to waive telehealth requirements for the length of the COVID-19 public health crisis, making it possible for patients to continue receiving medical care without exposing themselves or providers to the coronavirus. Additionally, telehealth has provided a source of financial stability as providers had to delay non-emergency procedures.

However, patients have expressed concern that Medicare’s temporary changes to telehealth rules will be rolled back without advance notice.

“We appreciate your recognition that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more patients and providers see the value of telehealth. We believe telehealth is an important tool that enhances patient care and can provide efficiency in health care delivery,” the senators wrote in the letter. “While telehealth may not be able to replace all in-person care, we believe it should continue to be an option to meet individual care needs.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman of Rogers, on the other hand, wears his mask religiously.

"I try to model that. I'm not perfect, but I do a pretty good job of it," he said. "The science clearly tells us that if we [wear masks], it helps stop the spread. It not only protects us, but it protects those around us, which is so, so very important."

Mask orders, if they come, should be issued by governors, not federal officials, he said.

Ideally, people would comply voluntarily, he said.

"Everyone wants to go back to normal, and the fastest path there is for people to cooperate," he said. "I'm really not in favor of mandating things that are difficult to enforce."

Trump has appeared more open to the idea of wearing a mask in recent days, Boozman said, portraying the shift as positive.

"People need to set a good example," he said.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined a bipartisan group of senators to introduce the Flexible Financing for Rural America Act, legislation that would allow electric cooperatives and small, rural telecommunications providers to refinance their Rural Utilities Service (RUS) debt at lower interest rates.

By taking advantage of current lower interest rates, rural cooperatives and businesses would gain flexibility in managing their cash flow, allowing them to invest in rural communities and pass savings on to customers. At the same time, the bill would enable a stronger recovery from the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rural cooperatives and businesses have struggled throughout the pandemic as a result of a decline in electricity consumption from industrial sources and an increase in unpaid bills from customers who have faced financial hardship.

“Connectivity has long been a struggle for Americans who live in rural areas. COVID-19 has only made that challenge even more difficult to overcome. This bill gives rural electricity and broadband providers flexibility to meet customers’ needs in these challenging economic times and ensures that rural America will have these vital services to recover and grow when the pandemic is behind us,” Boozman said.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., has signed a letter urging Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to allow additional flexibility for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

The lawmaker from Rogers joined with his colleagues on the Agriculture Committee in sending the request.

“We appreciate the Department’s actions to utilize administrative authorities as well as to implement temporary, emergency authorities provided by Congress in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to waive certain regulations in order to more effectively feed children during school closures and support social distancing,” the letter stated.

“Extending these existing state-based waivers through September 30, 2020, would provide certainty and availability to WIC participants, providers and vendors navigating variable phased re-opening procedures across public, private, and health sectors,” the lawmakers wrote.

Boozman serves as co-chairman of the Senate Hunger Caucus. With Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., preparing to retire, Boozman will be in line to replace him if Republicans retain control.

Following the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee’s hearing to examine challenges facing the recycling industry, Senate Recycling Caucus Co-chairs John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Carper (D-DE), senior Democrat on the committee, introduced bipartisan legislation that would expand the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to cover waste and recycling collection services.

This legislation would designate waste and recycling collection services allowable expenses under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), making them eligible for loan forgiveness under the CARES Act.

“I appreciate Senator Carper’s leadership to ensure waste and recycling collection services are eligible for PPP loans. Their employees have been on the frontlines to help keep our neighborhoods clean and minimize the spread of infectious diseases. These small businesses are vital industries and allowing them to qualify for participation in the PPP is important to maintaining this public service,” Boozman said.

Senators on Wednesday highlighted holes in recycling infrastructure exposed by the coronavirus pandemic, questioning how Congress can stop a plastic pollution crisis from emerging alongside a public health crisis.

Many municipalities paused recycling pickup programs as part of stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, causing recyclables to either end up in landfills or pile up outside...

...After the hearing, Carper and Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) announced they had introduced legislation that would allow for waste and recycling collection services to be allowable expenses under the Paycheck Protection Program and eligible for loan forgiveness under the CARES Act.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) signed a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Jovita Carranza urging the administration to ease paperwork requirements for small businesses seeking loan forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The letter, signed by 44 senators, specifically requests the loan forgiveness application for loans under $250,000 be no longer than one page in length.

“While the Small Business Administrator was also given the ability to require additional documentation necessary to verify proper use of PPP funds, we believe it is beyond the program’s intent to require the information solicited in the 11-page forgiveness application that the SBA recently released,” senators wrote in the letter.

The interview program hosted by Timeless 106.1 KFFB’s General Manager Bob Connell featured US Senator John Boozman talking about COVID-19 testing, VA's preparedness and more

Defunding the Police, Update on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing to examine the VA’s preparedness for the Pandemic, The Great American Outdoors bipartisan bill, legislation to improve mental health services in rural communities, more COVID-19 testing in Arkansas and more.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding nearly $170 million to Arkansas Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) providers diagnosing, testing or caring for individuals with possible or confirmed cases of COVID-19.

HHS distributed a total of $169,908,060 to eligible Medicaid and CHIP providers on the front lines of Arkansas’s coronavirus response. The award was made available through the Provider Relief Fund created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Congress passed—with the Arkansas delegation’s support—to address the coronavirus crisis.

“The providers receiving funding through this award treat the most vulnerable in Arkansas. These vital resources will ensure our medical community can continue to provide high-quality treatment and services to every Arkansan as the state enters phase two of reopening,” members said.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined a bipartisan group of senators to introduce legislation to expand telemental health services in rural areas. The Home-Based Telemental Health Care Act of 2020 would establish a grant program for health providers to expand telemental health services for those specifically in rural populations working in farming, forestry and fishing industries.

“Telehealth provides an opportunity for Arkansans to get help while protecting themselves and medical professionals from potential exposure to COVID-19. Providing resources to support the mental health needs of rural populations is necessary as we continue to address the ongoing pandemic and the challenges facing rural America,” Boozman said.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, questioned Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) officials on the department’s COVID-19 preparedness and urged implementation of measures to enhance efficiency of its supply chain.

“The demand of supplies continues to be a huge problem,” Boozman said of personal protective equipment (PPE). “It does make me think of the importance of having a stockpile like we used to have.”

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined a bipartisan group of senators in requesting the Trump administration act swiftly to distribute emergency funding allocated in federal COVID-19 packages to hospitals that overwhelmingly serve Medicaid and low-income patients. Without adequate federal funding, these hospitals will be unable to effectively treat Arkansas’s most vulnerable communities.

“To date, the distribution methodology used by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has not sufficiently addressed the needs of hospitals and health providers who disproportionately serve Medicaid and low-income patients,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma.

U.S. Senator John Boozman joins Bob Connell to discuss the protests, Senate passage of legislation to add flexibility to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and make it more accessible for Arkansas small businesses in need of assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, the VA’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee infrastructure and its importance in helping economic recovery.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding $2.5 million to Arkansas to expand its testing capacity for COVID-19.

In this latest round of funding, HHS distributed a total of $2,553,240 to hospitals and other health care entities in the state to train workforces, procure supplies and equipment, and expand telemedicine in response to COVID-19. It comes from legislation Congress passed, with the Arkansas delegation’s support, to address the coronavirus crisis.

“The risk for additional coronavirus outbreaks in Arkansas continues to be a high concern. These funds will help increase provider preparedness, safeguard those on the front line and ensure our medical community can continue to provide high-quality care during this public health emergency,” members said.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) supported adding flexibility to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to make it more accessible for Arkansas small businesses in need of assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senate-passed Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act updates the PPP, a program that provides low-interest loans to small businesses to use for payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utilities, with a portion of the loan eligible for forgiveness.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) administers the PPP. According to the SBA, it has approved more 40,591 loans worth more than $3.2 billion to Arkansas small businesses.

“The Paycheck Protection Program has been critical to helping Arkansas small businesses weather this pandemic. This legislation builds on its success and strengthens the PPP, so we can support the changing needs of small businesses as they continue to face challenges through the phases of reopening. Providing flexibility is a commonsense step to ensuring small businesses can utilize these loans to stay afloat and keep their workers employed,” Boozman said.

Few events in history have been as challenging as the COVID-19 pandemic. Agriculture makes up one-fourth of Arkansas’ GDP and has hit the state’s rural economy especially hard. As a member of both the Agriculture and Appropriations Committees in the Senate, Boozman approves of additional funds to support the industry but is keeping an eye on the additional financial burden. He supports the Agriculture Department and Secretary Sonny Perdue’s guidelines for dispersing CFAP funds, is in favor of increased annual limits for the Commodity Credit Corporation, and believes the silver lining of the pandemic may be heightened efforts to improve rural broadband service.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined a bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce the Health Care Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act that would bolster funding for health care providers in rural areas for the expansion of broadband and telehealth services.

“Telehealth provides a critical avenue for Arkansans to access medical providers without an unnecessary trip to the doctor’s office. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need for this connection to health services. This legislation will ensure more health care facilities are equipped with reliable, high-speed internet to better serve their patients,” Boozman said.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding over $72 million in additional relief funds to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) in Arkansas to help them combat the devastating effects of COVID-19.

The investment—totaling $72,410,000—will be distributed directly to SNFs in Arkansas. It is part of the nearly $4.9 billion allocated by HHS to impacted SNFs across the country and may be used to address critical needs such as labor, testing capacity, personal protective equipment and a range of other expenses directly linked to COVID-19.

“These are particularly trying times for residents in nursing homes, their loved ones and those who work in these facilities. As concerns regarding additional outbreaks remain high, this investment will help protect the most vulnerable among us and help keep those who care for them safe,” members said.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding Arkansas over $5 million in funding to expand access to COVID-19 testing in rural communities.

“Rural America must not be left behind as we work to expand coronavirus testing across the nation. These communities are vital to a successful economic restart, especially in a largely rural state such as Arkansas. These funds will help state officials carry out their plan to reopen Arkansas in a safe manner,” members said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday the state of Arkansas would receive $78 million to expand its capacity for COVID-19.

The funding, according to a news release from U.S. Senator John Boozman’s office, is part of $11 billion from HHS to “support nationwide testing for COVID-19 and the reopening of America.”

“Expanding our testing capability is necessary to combating the spread of COVID-19 and safely getting Arkansans back to work. These funds will be used to respond to this public health emergency and ensure individuals who have been in contact with infected patients are aware of their risk.”

The interview program hosted by Timeless 106.1 KFFB’s General Manager Bob Connell featured U.S. Senator John Boozman talking about National Police Week, the senator’s visit to the White House about flexibility in the use of CARES Act funding designated for states and his service on the Congressional Task Force for Reopening America. 

In this Congressional interview, KASU News Director Johnathan Reaves talks with U.S. Senator John Boozman about the federal disaster delcaration approved after the Jonesboro tornado and the latest with COVID-19 response.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., is backing legislation that would make more newspapers and broadcasters eligible for covid-19 economic assistance, he said Wednesday. The lawmaker from Rogers signed on as an original co-sponsor of the Local News and Emergency Information Act of 2020, authored by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

The goal of the legislation is to save jobs as well as local news outlets, Boozman said.

"This is a program that is not a solution to the problems we're having but it is somewhat of a lifeline to many industries," Boozman said of the Paycheck Protection Program.

Senators from both parties are backing the bill.

"Hopefully we can get this done," Boozman said. "I think there probably will be another round of help, and so we will be working hard to include this in a bigger bill."

Senators are certain a $3 trillion coronavirus bill poised to pass the House on Friday will die, as Republicans identify poison pills and some Democrats admit it’s an opening shot for negotiations.

“The thing I don’t like is the $3 trillion price tag,” said Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.).“Hopefully there are some things where we can find some common ground. This is a time where Republicans and Democrats need to be working together to solve some very real problems the nation is facing.”

U.S. Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) is among a group of lawmakers urging Congressional leaders to include $2 billion in the next coronavirus relief package to help health care providers expand telehealth services by improving their access to broadband.

Telehealth allows health care providers to treat patients safely without putting themselves or their patients at risk of contracting COVID-19 and has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, many providers – especially in rural and hard-to-reach communities – lack the resources to handle this increase in demand for telehealth services.

“The Covid-19 Crisis has greatly accelerated the usage and demand for virtual health care visits,” Dr. David Hunton, Mercy Fort Smith Clinic president, wrote the Times Record in response to Boozman’s announcement. “At one point recently, our providers were “seeing” almost half of their patients virtually. The demand for this type of visit as well as for nontraditional access times and for online scheduling will not dissipate and I believe will continue to increase. The crisis has served as a catalyst for change, and much of this will be to the benefit of patient as well as to our providers.

The Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment will receive $8,206,119 from HHS’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman announced in a release. 

These funds were appropriated by Congress under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provided $900 million in supplemental LIHEAP funding to help “prevent, prepare for, or respond to” home energy needs surrounding the national emergency created by the coronavirus, according to the statement. 

“The CARES Act takes a comprehensive approach to help Arkansans struggling from the economic toll of this crisis. This funding will help keep families safe and healthy by assisting with energy costs during their time of need,” members said.

The interview program hosted by Timeless 106.1 KFFB’s General Manager Bob Connell featured U.S. Senator John Boozman talking about critical funding for hospitals and colleges in Arkansas, what it’s like in D.C. right now and what is on the radar for the Senate.

Earlier this week, a national group called the Small Business Majority released criticism on the equity of the Paycheck Protection Program’s (PPP) response to the coronavirus economic impact.

The Arkansas Delegation offered its response Thursday evening, saying although the PPP had “shortcomings” it has provided more than 36,000 PPP loans totaling over $3.3 billion. The program is also known as the Payroll Protection Program and now commonly known as PPP.

“Despite some shortcomings, PPP has helped small businesses in Arkansas — more than 36,000 PPP loans totaling over $3.3 billion have been administered,” the Arkansas Delegation told the Times Record in a group response. “Congress specifically carved out $60 billion for small lenders — and that does not preclude them from using the regular pot of funding as well. Small lenders have approved nearly 950,000 loans totaling around $58.2 billion. Congress will conduct aggressive oversight to ensure loans are repaid if criteria aren’t met. If small businesses need help with PPP or the other emergency funding programs i.e. EIDL, small business debt relief, they should contact our offices.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding federal funds to Arkansas health centers for expanded coronavirus testing.      

“These health centers play a critical role in keeping Arkansans healthy. Providing additional resources to expand testing is key to identifying patients infected with this disease and preventing its spread in the community. These funds will help achieve the governor’s goal of conducting 60,000 coronavirus tests in the state during May,” members said.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton, along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack, and Bruce Westerman made the announcement on May 7.

“Providing resources to safeguard law enforcement and public safety officers is critical to the health and the wellbeing of Arkansas. This funding will allow law enforcement agencies across the state to better protect frontline workers while continuing to provide valuable services to families in our communities,” members said.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton — along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman – applauded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for awarding $8,190,367 in Community Development Block Grant funding to Arkansas to support the prevention, preparation and response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This funding provides additional relief to the state and local governments as they respond to the increasing needs of communities during this pandemic. These resources will help better serve Arkansans in need,” members said.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues calling on the administration to raise the Paycheck Protection Program’s (PPP) non-payroll forgiveness cap from 25 percent to 50 percent. 

PPP loans can be used toward payroll, utilities, mortgage interest and rent payments, and can be forgiven when at least 75 percent of the loan is spent on payroll. In a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza, the senators request that threshold be reduced to 50 percent.

“The 25 percent threshold is problematic for several business sectors, especially those whose mortgage, rent, or utility payments constitute a large portion of fixed monthly expenses. If they are unable to cover these expenses, they will have to decide between keeping their doors open, at personal financial risk, or closing shop and laying off employees,” the senators wrote.“These are businesses that will not recover. Such an outcome would result in mass layoffs that would shift more Americans onto unemployment, presenting significant long-term costs to families, businesses, and states.”

Arkansas’ Congressional Delegation announced that $14.573 million in an additional round of coronavirus relief funding for Arkansas’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and institutions serving low-income students to help ensure learning continues during the coronavirus crisis.

“The Department of Education quickly awarded CARES Act funding to higher education institutions across the state to aid students impacted during this crisis. This additional funding recognizes the unique challenges facing HBCUs and institutions serving low-income students. These institutions play a vital role in transforming lives and make Arkansas’s communities stronger,” the delegation said.

The interview program hosted by Timeless 106.1 KFFB’s General Manager Bob Connell featured US Senator John Boozman talking about how the CARES Act is delivering critical funding to Arkansas, serving on the President’s congressional task force for the reopening of America in the wake of COVID-19, the food supply chain and the Senate's expected return to session.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for awarding Arkansas Public Housing Agencies $4.7 million in funding to support the prevention, preparation and response to the coronavirus pandemic in public housing.

“Providing these resources is necessary to supporting ongoing efforts to combat the coronavirus in Arkansas. These investments will protect the lives of vulnerable individuals in our state,” members said.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding additional federal funds to hospitals and health care providers across Arkansas to help facilitate the coronavirus response in our communities. 

“We are pleased that HHS has continued to quickly provide much-needed aid to medical providers in Arkansas. Every provider has been impacted by this crisis and the effort to ensure that no one misses out on relief is greatly appreciated,” the delegation said.

Arkansas U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton -- along with U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman -- applauded the U.S. Department of Education for awarding emergency relief funds to support continued learning for Arkansas students.

"The closure of all public schools in Arkansas for the remainder of the school year is one of the biggest disruptions to everyday life the coronavirus crisis has brought upon families in our state," the Arkansas lawmakers said in a joint news release. "This funding ... will help the state overcome some of the challenges our educators, students and parents are facing as a result."

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman praise the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for awarding $10.6 million in federal funds to support rural communities and further develop testing and prevention capabilities against the coronavirus crisis in Arkansas, said a press release from the delegates.

“Communities and medical providers across the state will benefit from these resources as we continue to fight the coronavirus and look toward a future of resuming daily activities,” members said.

“The Paycheck Protection Program is an important tool to help Arkansas small businesses remain operational during the coronavirus pandemic and viable in the future. The restoration of funding to this program will support workers and small businesses in the Natural State and all across America. I urge the House of Representatives to quickly approve this funding so we can provide immediate relief to small businesses facing financial hardships,” Boozman said in a news release.

U.S. Senator John Boozman is among a bipartisan group that on Sunday urged Senate leadership to include local news media outlets in future coronavirus relief legislation. 

Boozman, R-Arkansas, along with senators Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, signed a letter asking for local newspapers and television and radio stations to be eligible for small business assistance under the Paycheck Protection Program.

"Local news is essential to keeping us informed during this crisis. Reporters are on the frontlines delivering details the public needs and deserves. At a time when we need this communication more than ever, media outlets are struggling with financial losses as a result of decreased advertising leading to decisions to downsize, furlough workers or close. Ensuring the viability of local news outlets is critical to maintaining access to information," Boozman said via a spokesperson Tuesday.

The interview program hosted by Timeless 106.1 KFFB’s General Manager Bob Connell featured US Senator John Boozman talking about Economic Impact Payments, relief to agriculture, The CALL, broadband, distribution of funds for businesses, workers and families, child care support to health care workers industry, and heroes.

"Those members of Congress are definitely hearing from their constituents that they need to pass this," he said. Members of Arkansas' congressional delegation have also been diligent in staying in touch throughout the emergency.

"There is an immediate need to increase funding to the program because the money has run out, but there are still many small businesses in need of assistance," [Senator John Boozman, R-Rogers] said in a statement. "I am confident Congress will approve additional resources to support its continuation."

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack, and Bruce Westerman applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding federal funds to provide child care support to health care workers, first responders, and other essential personnel playing critical roles during the coronavirus crisis. 

The funding totaling $41,462,912 will be released to the Arkansas Department of Human Services to support efforts to provide assistance to child care providers in order to financially support them during the public health crisis.

“These much-needed funds will help Arkansas airports continue operations, as well as support their employees and the businesses that rely on air transportation. These grants will ensure the viability of our airports once we’ve beaten the coronavirus,” noted a joint statement from Arkansas’ Congressional delegation – U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; and U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, French Hill, R-Little Rock, Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, and Steve Womack, R-Rogers.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton of Arkansas have joined colleagues to encourage the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to help sustain aquaculture producers in the Arkansas.

The senators recommended that USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue use $9.5 billion in the CARES Act and his authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation as well as the authority to purchase excess inventory to support this industry 

The funds, totaling more than $100 million, come from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which became law last month with the support of the Arkansas congressional delegation. The CARES Act provides nearly $14 billion to support postsecondary students and institutes nationwide.

“The CARES Act is continuing to deliver necessary funds to help Americans during this crisis. These emergency funds will aid students impacted during this crisis as their schools have been forced to close and many have lost jobs,” members said.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) has urged Senate leadership to expand eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to public hospitals.

The Small Business Administration administers the PPP loans authorized in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. For-profit and non-profit hospitals are eligible for access to funds, however public-owned or partially public-owned hospitals, including seven in Arkansas, are currently prevented from accessing PPP assistance. 

will support healthcare-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to coronavirus and ensure uninsured Americans can get the testing and treatment they need without receiving a surprise bill from a provider.

This is the first wave of funding awarded to health care providers from the $100 billion appropriated by the CARES Act. It is being distributed immediately proportionate to providers’ share of Medicare fee-for-service reimbursements in 2019. This quick dispersal of funds will provide relief to both providers in coronavirus hotspot areas and those providers who are struggling to keep their doors open due to cancelled elective services.

“Not only are these hospitals and providers on the frontline of the coronavirus fight, but they are struggling like any other business as a result of the pandemic. We are grateful that Secretary Alex Azar recognizes the need to get these funds out swiftly so that these critical facilities can remain operating when our communities need them most,” the delegation said.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues to urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to consider the needs of rural hospitals and those with high percentages of Medicaid and Medicare patients as HHS distributes the $100 billion healthcare fund included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

In a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan, the senators request an equitable distribution of funding from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund for small rural hospitals, critical access hospitals and other rural providers engaged in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR)—a senior member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry—praised the work of the Arkansas agricultural industry as farmers and ranchers continue to provide a safe and abundant supply of food despite challenges facing the industry.

“Americans depend on our nation’s farmers to grow the food, fuel and fiber we depend on daily. That need becomes much more pronounced in times of crisis which creates additional strain on those who provide the goods and supplies necessary for everyday life,” Boozman wrote. The senator also honored the Arkansas agricultural heroes who are “rising to the occasion” in a video message.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) signed onto a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue urging the Trump administration to ensure the continuity of our country’s food supply and support rural areas during the coronavirus pandemic by providing needed relief to farmers.

“Americans always depend on our nation’s farmers to grow the food, fuel, and fiber that we all need, but that reliance becomes much more pronounced in times of crisis,” the senators wrote. “To provide additional support for those whose operations are being affected by the coronavirus, we urge you to consider making emergency measures such as deadline extensions, loan payment deferrals, payment forbearance, and a full suspension of all current and pending foreclosure actions effective for the duration of the pandemic and subsequent economic recovery.”

In a joint news release Friday, most members of Arkansas' congressional delegation urged haste on the part of the U.S. Department of Labor to help Arkansas and other states administer expanded unemployment benefits and other parts of Congress' covid-19 legislative package.

"As many businesses close to adhere to social distancing policies, employees and owners of those companies are experiencing hardship from lost income," U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, French Hill, Bruce Westerman and Steve Womack wrote in a letter joined by U.S. Sen. John Boozman, all Republicans.

While states are working on unemployment claims on their end, the federal department hasn't yet issued guidelines for payments to the self-employed, "gig" workers and other classes of wage earners, they said.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman this week applauded the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program, which authorizes lending institutions to quickly make loans to small businesses to help them remain operational during the coronavirus outbreak.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for awarding federal funds to municipalities across Arkansas, as well as the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), to help facilitate the coronavirus response in our communities. 

The grants, totaling over $23.6 million, come from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which recently became law with the support of the Arkansas delegation.

The majority of the funds come from HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which can be used by Arkansas communities to make improvements to public facilities that are necessary to the COVID-19 response, support businesses to increase economic development and provide increased public services during the outbreak.

The CARES Act allocated $5 billion to the CDBG program to help communities prevent, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus. This is the first round of CDBG grants released and additional funding will be made available on a rolling basis.

“Our communities need help addressing the severe, complex struggles presented by the coronavirus pandemic. We appreciate how quickly Secretary Ben Carson and his team at HUD have acted to award these grants. These funds are critical to overcoming the challenges our communities are facing,” the delegation said.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) is warning Arkansans to be aware of coronavirus-related scams as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports an increase in complaints of fraud and nationwide losses of $4.77 million to consumers.

“Scammers and con artists are preying on fears Arkansans have related to the coronavirus, and are using this crisis to steal our money and personal information. It’s important to remain vigilant and learn how to recognize and identify schemes scammers use to avoid becoming a victim,” Boozman said in a news release.

Boozman has published the following notice to his website, along with other resources and information related to the coronavirus

“Over 99 percent of Arkansas businesses are small businesses, and perhaps no one has been impacted more by the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus. The Paycheck Protection Program provides critical aid that will allow small businesses to stay in operation and keep employees on the payroll as we all weather this storm. There is an urgent need for these funds, and I encourage Arkansas businesses to apply for this assistance,”

The $349 billion dollar program under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act was passed by congress and signed by President Donald Trump last week. It provides low-interest loans to small businesses to use for payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utilities, with a portion of the loan eligible for forgiveness.

Other highlights of the Paycheck Protection Program include being retroactive from Feb. 15, so employers can rehire recently laid-off employees through June 30. Additionally, eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million and loan payments will be deferred for six months.

“The resourcefulness of Arkansans has been incredible to see. Faced with these unprecedented events, Arkansans have responded the only way they know how, with hard work, determination, kindness and compassion. From individual citizens to the private sector, we are seeing everyone chip in and do their part, to ensure our state comes out of the other side of this better than ever. While the state and its citizens are doing everything in their power to address this problem, we still need your help,”

Nineteen students returned to the country with help from the State Department, according to U.S. Sen. John Boozman's office. With a pandemic raging, bringing Arkansans home is sometimes a challenge, the Republican from Rogers said in an interview.

 "We have people stuck all over the world," Boozman said. "It's been difficult because some of these countries have just shut down, period. The good news is that our State Department is doing a very, very good job in being responsive to us and responsive to our citizens," Boozman said.

We also have to create a path to economic recovery while helping individuals and families through this crisis. Americans can’t go to work. Businesses are unable to operate. Individuals are not getting paychecks. Not only do we have to help our fellow Americans through these challenging times, but we also have to make sure that they have jobs when we begin to return some normalcy to our lives.

That is the aim of the CARES Act. The magnitude of this crisis requires us to think big and act big. The CARES Act puts big ideas into action. We will get through this. We have to look after each other every step of the way until then. 

U.S. Sen. Boozman said officials should listen to medical experts, such as Fauci, before easing the restrictions. "The people that are guiding us, looking at the data, if they say it's OK to do that, then we need to go down that path. If not, then we need to listen to the people that know best that are working very, very hard to keep our families and communities safe," the Republican from Rogers said.

“Hardworking Arkansans need confidence they are going to make it through these challenging financial times. The CARES Act delivers immediate assistance to workers and families, and support for small businesses.”

U.S. Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas expressed optimism Thursday that the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act—historic legislation to help stabilize the economy and provide relief to Americans struggling in the wake of economic challenges due to the coronavirus outbreak—will give Arkansans “confidence they are going to make it through these challenging financial times.”

“Across the country we’ve seen mass layoffs and record numbers of Americans file for unemployment as people have been asked to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Hardworking Arkansans need confidence they are going to make it through these challenging financial times. The CARES Act delivers immediate assistance to workers and families, and support for small businesses. I urge members of the House of Representatives to swiftly pass this legislation,” Boozman said in a news release.

Boozman has talked with Arkansans from across the state who represent industries and hardworking individuals affected by the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus. He brought those concerns to his colleagues as members finalized the Phase 3 relief package. As Chairman of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Subcommittee, Boozman provided increased flexibility to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funding to allow the department to react appropriately to the evolving health crisis. He also advocated and supported additional funding for the Army and Air Force National Guard to ensure Arkansas Guardsmen have all the resources necessary to best support the state’s needs during this difficult time. In addition, he fought for rural communities by pushing for provisions to protect agricultural producers and airports in rural America that were included in the CARES Act.

We tried to address a number of different things. The primary thing that is on all of our minds is defeating the virus. And as a result, we’ve placed a lot more emphasis, a lot more money on hospitals – giving them the resources. They’re become the front line in treating the virus. We’ve also put a number of resources toward finding a vaccine, and then also finding a treatment that’s effective. Telehealth. All of these different things. Really trying to think outside of the box so we can get people seen and treated in an efficient way.

We’re trying to provide relief for families. Part of that program is checks: $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for families, $500 for children. What this is designed to do is give immediate relief. This isn’t designed to stimulate or whatever. This is making it such that families that have lost their jobs or furloughed or whatever – simply don’t have the money to pay the rent, pay their car payments, all those kind of things. So this is trying to provide some immediate help in that regard. We’ve increased unemployment insurance significantly. Again, trying to get people by during this very, very tough time if they find themselves without a job. We delayed student loan interest for six months.

The other aspect of the bill was about our job creators, our businesses. Once we defeat the virus, we want to have a job to go back to. This helps prop up those businesses, support them during this difficult time. Small business loans can use these for payroll, rent, utilities. If they use them for those, these will actually be forgivable.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., urged members of both parties Tuesday to put their differences aside and focus on the needs of their constituents, warning that additional delays in passing a coronavirus relief package could further undermine public confidence and injure the economy.

In a Senate speech, he emphasized the importance of bipartisanship in the face of a national coronavirus crisis…stressed the importance of a swift response. "We simply cannot afford to wait," the lawmaker from Rogers warned his colleagues.

Boozman, who won in a special election to become a state U.S. representative in November 2001, noted that he arrived in Washington shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. "It was a very anxious time in the Capitol," he recalled. With a common threat looming, elected officials joined forces, he said. "Every one of my colleagues sought to find ways to work together to move major pieces of legislation that helped to return a sense of normalcy that Americans so desperately sought in the wake of the attacks," Boozman said. "Given all that is at stake right now, for the life of me, I've not been able to understand why we've been struggling to do the same now."

Boozman made his comments as Senate leaders were working to craft a compromise coronavirus package. In his speech, Boozman acknowledged the latest developments. "Thankfully, the partisanship that has dominated these past few days has subsided," he said. "It appears that we can now move forward after this unnecessarily delay." Arkansans, Boozman said, are suffering.

"Many small businesses in Arkansas, large cities and small towns alike, are being forced to close during this crisis, both to protect public health, to protect their families, and because of a shrinking customer base as customers are urged to stay home to reduce the spread of the disease," he said. "The unexpected closure for small-business owners, through no fault of their own, may prevent many of them from reopening by the time that this is behind us."

Rather than kick-starting the economy, the aid would simply provide a lifeline, Boozman suggested. "This is not a stimulus plan. It's an existence plan. We have to pass this bill," he said. "Americans have lost faith in many of their institutions. This is a defining moment. We have a chance to restore some of the confidence that has been lost by putting the needs of the nation over the wishes of the political class," he said.

"Americans are looking forward to Washington for leadership right now. This is a true test," he said. "Let's pass this bill and show that we can rise up to the massive challenge before our nation."

There are others doing heroic work as well, according to U.S. Sen. John Boozman. "I'm so thankful that we've got men and women that are in the health care professions that have stepped up, in their case literally putting their lives on the line," the Republican from Rogers said. Arkansans who steer the supply trucks, stock the shelves and scan the groceries are also performing essential services, he said.
 
Others who follow the advice of public health officials are also playing a crucial role, Boozman said. "Social distancing, keeping our hands out of our mouths, washing our hands. If we'll do that we'll keep the curve lower so that everybody's not going to get sick all at the same time and truly overwhelm the system," he said. If Arkansans follow the experts' advice, the system can withstand the challenge and many lives can be saved, he said. If the advice is ignored, "things spiral out of control very, very quickly," Boozman said.
 
While Arkansans take steps to lessen the number of victims, lawmakers must take steps to shore up the economy, he said. "I think the economy is in very very bad shape. I don't know anybody that's really not being affected by this," he said. Boozman said he hopes the Senate can pass legislation Monday to help American businesses and workers and that the House will take it up quickly. "The longer we wait, the more difficult the problem is to solve," he said. "This is truly a national emergency."
Congress is taking steps to ensure resources are available to state and local governments to mitigate the spread of the disease, treat those infected and support research to find a vaccine. In early March, we passed a comprehensive package to help the local, state and federal governments meet the growing challenges. We also recently passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a package specifically designed to provide support for hardworking Americans and families who are facing financial challenges due to this outbreak.
 
We all have a role to play to minimize the challenges this virus poses to us, our loved ones and our fellow Americans. We must follow the guidance and recommendations of our medical experts to reduce the risk of infection, including frequent handwashing, covering our mouths with a flexed elbow when sneezing or coughing and practicing social distancing. In recent days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expanded its recommendations to limit interactions with others by avoiding public gatherings and encouraging staying at home whenever possible. Suppliers are urging Americans to not overbuy during trips to the grocery stores, as the supply chain is strong and the goods consumers need will remain available. These are small but important things we can do to make a big difference in this fight.
Congress has passed over $8 billion in assistance for our public health agencies and also just approved a package that includes free testing, paid sick and family leave, unemployment insurance enhancements and more, while also working on legislation to provide more direct relief to America's families and businesses.
“We are facing an unprecedented public health challenge. We must deliver necessary resources to combat the coronavirus and support hardworking Americans and families who are facing financial challenges due to this outbreak. Preventing the spread of this disease remains a priority and we know there is more that needs to be done. In the coming days the Senate will be taking further action to craft and pass a comprehensive bill to provide additional assistance directly to the American people and stabilize the economy,” Boozman said
Sen. John Boozman (R-Arkansas) said the first package before lawmakers dealt with the medical community, while a second bill would seek to help people impacted economically.
 
Boozman said he supports the Trump administration’s approach on the issue and that the next two weeks are very critical.
 
”We don’t want this spiraling out of control. Did an interview about a week ago there was 500 affect then. We’re at 6,500. The question is a week from now, are we going to have 10 times that, are we going to have 65,000 and then 10 times that. What we’re working really have to do is bend that curve down so we don’t have a real spike that would overwhelm the hospitals,” Boozman said.
Congress will move swiftly to aid American workers, a move aimed at averting coronavirus-related economic calamity, Sen. John Boozman said Tuesday. "The effort is to try and get money into people's hands as quickly as possible," the Republican from Rogers said. The consequences, he said, would be felt around the globe.
 
The strain, already, has been substantial, he said. The "complete business infrastructure of our country" is coping with an unprecedented challenge, he said. "Every segment of society right now is being affected. There are so many people now that are finding themselves either underemployed or unemployed, and as a result of that they have a liquidity problem. They can't pay their bills. They can't pay their rent," he said.
 
The list of economic casualties is already long. Small businesses, nonprofit groups and churches are all suffering, he said. Even hospitals have been hammered, he said. "I think the next two or three weeks are critical," he said.
 
Boozman praised Gov. Asa Hutchinson for his leadership thus far and stressed the importance of preparing for what lies ahead.
 
"I think this is the biggest challenge, the biggest thing that's facing our country since I've been born and a lot's gone on during those years," the 69-year-old senator said. "This a societal thing that I think really requires us to think big and act big."
 
Congress will spend what it takes to address the crisis, Boozman said. "Money's not the object the right now; it's what's the best policy," he said.
Boozman, KASU's News Director Johnathan Reaves discusses the latest response to COVID-19, its financial impacts on the region and the country, and economic relief for Americans.
“I think the only comparison to this is World War II, in the sense of it being not only in our country but just a global situation where everyone is pulling out all the stops to do the best we can to protect individuals, protect families and communities,” said Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.)
Americans must prepare, as quickly as possible, for coronavirus outbreaks in this country, Arkansas' U.S. senators said Monday. They said they hope a widespread epidemic can be averted, but the economic damage from the virus will be unavoidable. Senators, briefed by top health officials Monday, said the threat is real.
 
"The message I took away is that this truly is a national emergency," said U.S. Sen. John Boozman. "We definitely need to step up our efforts to make sure that we're prepared."
 
The nation isn't fully prepared for a widespread outbreak, and it may be hard to quickly obtain sufficient supplies, Boozman said. "When you look at the stockpiles that we have, things like testing kits, masks, ventilators, all of these things that, in many cases, keep the medical personnel safe, we simply don't have enough," Boozman said. "Much of the equipment that we need is sourced from China, and they've basically just said, 'this is ours now.' So it's going to be difficult to procure it."
 
The nation isn't fully prepared for a widespread outbreak, and it may be hard to quickly obtain sufficient supplies, Boozman said.
 
"When you look at the stockpiles that we have, things like testing kits, masks, ventilators, all of these things that, in many cases, keep the medical personnel safe, we simply don't have enough," Boozman said. "Much of the equipment that we need is sourced from China, and they've basically just said, 'this is ours now.' So it's going to be difficult to procure it."
With Chinese factories idle, millions there are unable to work and global supply chains have been disrupted, Boozman said.
 
"This is already starting to have a significant effect on the economy," he said.