Dr. Boozman's Check-up
Aug 26 2015
Since my election to the Senate five years ago, I have spent time during each August visiting with Arkansas’s farmers, ranchers and industry leaders during my annual agriculture tour.
This year’s tour was extremely beneficial as there are a lot of important issues facing the agriculture community that Arkansas producers were eager to discuss.
- Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule: Arkansas farmers, ranchers and private landowners are rightfully concerned about this tremendous overreach that threatens their ability to use their property. This rule will raise costs without providing clean water benefits, take control away from states and increase uncertainty all while causing project delays as Arkansans try to figure out where this EPA power-grab applies.
- School Nutrition: Discussions about school lunch programs and nutrition were particularly timely as the Agriculture Committee is set to consider legislation reauthorizing child nutrition programs when the Senate reconvenes in September. Prior to the adjournment of the Senate for the August in-state work period, I introduced the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act, legislation to make federal child nutrition programs more efficient and flexible to reach children in need during the summer months when school meals are not available. I will be working to get his bill included with the larger reauthorization.
- Country of Origin Labeling: I’ve long opposed the COOL mandate because it alienates our trading partners, increases compliance costs, and offers few benefits. The World Trade Organization once again ruled against the U.S. in this dispute. We’ve seen the decisions against this mandate four times now, and if we don’t get it fixed, this could impact the economy in a very negative way.
Thanks again to everyone who took the time to show me their operations and share their concerns about agriculture-related issues during this year’s tour. It is my hope that by the time next year’s tour rolls around, we will have quashed the misguided WOTUS rule, reauthorized the child nutrition law and settled the labeling dispute.
Aug 24 2015
Aug 17 2015
Aug 10 2015
Aug 07 2015
The last week before the August in-state work period begins was a busy one with a vote to defund Planned Parenthood, another harmful EPA mandate announced and my introduction of a bill to provide flexibility to federal child nutrition summer meals programs. Read about these and more in the Week in Review.
- Defund Planned Parenthood Vote: I voted in favor of moving legislation forward that would defund Planned Parenthood and redirect money for the organization to other women’s health care services. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats filibustered this bill. We will continue to look for options to achieve this goal. Watch my visit with Neil Cavuto on Fox Business about why this action is necessary.
- EPA Announces Flawed Carbon Mandate: We intend to vigorously fight the EPA’s carbon mandate that makes Arkansas families vulnerable to high energy costs, electricity blackouts and job cuts. That pain falls hardest on low-income families and seniors living on a fixed-income who will be forced to pay more for electricity and many other essential needs. These news rules will drive industry overseas, hurting American workers and creating foreign factories that emit far more than we would.
- New Bill to Provide Flexibility to Federal Child Nutrition Summer Meals Programs: I introduced the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act to make federal child nutrition programs more efficient and flexible to reach children in need during the summer months when school meals are not available.
- Senate Approves New Name for Helena-West Helena Federal Building: On Wednesday, I took to the Senate floor to call up and pass S.1707 which renames the Helena-West Helena Federal building in honor of Judge Jacob Trieber, the nation’s first Jewish Federal Judge, and a long-time resident and community leader of Phillips County. The Senate unanimously approved the bill, which I introduced with Senator Cotton.
- 125th Anniversary of the Law Creating UAPB Commemorated: A resolution I introduced to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Second Morrill Act, the law that established educational opportunities for African-Americans with the creation of 19 land-grant universities passed the Senate by unanimous consent. The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff was created by the Second Morrill Act and is an accomplished leader in agriculture innovation. I am proud to recognize UAPB and all 1890 Land-Grant Universities.
- Effort to Halt ITAR Changes: I joined with twenty-seven of my colleagues to urge Secretary of State John Kerry and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Anthony Dearth to modify or delay proposed changes to definitions in the International traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) which has the potential to limit Americans’ constitutionally-protected freedoms.
- Korean War Wall of Remembrance Called for: I joined with U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) to introduce legislation that would authorize a Wall of Remembrance to be added to the Korean War Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
- Veterans History Project in the News: Last Saturday, my office hosted a Veterans History Project workshop in Springdale to teach Arkansans how they can help capture the experiences of our veterans and have them included in the collection at the Library of Congress. I am proud to see so many people are interested in participating in the project and sharing the stories of our veterans. Watch KNWA’s report from the workshop
Aug 05 2015
On Saturday my office hosted a Veterans History Project workshop in Springdale to teach Arkansans how they can help capture the experiences of our veterans and have them included in the collection at the Library of Congress. I am proud to see so many people are interested in participating in the project and sharing the stories of our veterans. Thanks to KNWA for this story on the workshop.
Jul 31 2015
Another busy week in Washington comes to a close with passage of a long-term highway bill and the announcement of an upcoming vote to defund Planned Parenthood. Read about these and more in the Week in Review.
- Long-term Highway Bill Passes Senate: The DRIVE Act revamps the funding mechanism to the Highway Trust Fund to provide our state and local officials with certainty for six years. It would save money in the long-term, create immediate jobs and produce decades of economic opportunity for communities. The House has pledged to take up a long-term bill when members return and I am committed to working with them to ensure the core of the DRIVE Act is included in the final product. In the meantime, we passed another extension to make sure Arkansas taxpayer dollars are returned to the state. I am confident that we can come to an agreement to pass a long-term solution in the coming months.
- Working to Defund Planned Parenthood: Following the release of videos documenting Planned Parenthood’s role in the harvesting of organs from unborn babies, I joined Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) and twenty-two of my colleagues to introduce legislation to defund the organization. The Senate is set to take up the bill on Monday.
- Learning How to Help Summer Meal Programs in Little Rock: I joined Arkansas anti-hunger leaders at the Little Rock Children’s Library and Arkansas Children’s Hospital Summer Food Service Program sites to learn how summer meal services can be improved for students.
- Commemorating 125th Anniversary of Second Morrill Act: I introduced a resolution marking the 125th anniversary of the Second Morrill Act, legislation that established educational opportunities for African-Americans with the creation of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) and 18 other historically black colleges and universities.
- Keeping the Pressure on Kony: I joined Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) to introduce a resolution that condemns Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) for the ongoing perpetration of crimes against humanity and urges continued support for the efforts of the U.S., African Union and regional governments to bring Kony and his associates to justice.
- Protecting Whistleblowers: Wednesday was National Whistleblower Appreciation Day. As a member of the Whistleblower Protection Caucus, I believe that whistleblowers play a critical role in exposing wrongdoing. Unfortunately, these brave Americans often face retaliation for doing what is right. As a member of the Veterans Affairs Appropriations subcommittee, I heard testimony from VA officials as we reviewed whistleblower claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). You can watch my questions and the witnesses’ responses here.
- Hero of Main Street Award: Retail supports more than 350,000 Arkansas jobs. This is an important industry to our state’s economy. I am honored to receive the National Retail Federation’s Hero of Main Street award and I am committed to promoting policies that create an environment that allows these businesses to grow.
- Thank You Summer Interns: Our second session of summer interns have wrapped up their time in DC and are headed home. I appreciate the enthusiasm, commitment and dedication of these interns for the hard work they’ve done this summer alongside my staff and myself to address issues that affect Arkansas. This internship in Washington has presented them with excellent opportunities to gain insight into the legislative process, constituent service and other work being done in the nation’s capital on behalf of Arkansans.
Jul 30 2015
Today is recognized as National Whistleblower Appreciation Day. As a member of the Whistleblower Protection Caucus, I believe that whistleblowers play a critical role in exposing wrongdoing. Unfortunately, these brave Americans often face retaliation for doing what is right. As a member of the Veterans Affairs Appropriations subcommittee, I heard testimony today from VA officials as we reviewed whistleblower claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
We need to encourage VA employees to report misconduct because our veterans earned the best care we can offer.
When the Senate Appropriations Committee considered the Financial Services and General Government bill yesterday, my colleagues and I took the opportunity to add language that would move forward efforts to change U.S. policy toward Cuba.
The committee agreed to add three Cuba-related amendments, including one I sponsored, to the bill. The bill itself was approved by the Appropriations Committee and now awaits consideration by the Senate.
My amendment—cosponsored by Senators John Tester (D-MT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)—would help support and improve the export of American agricultural commodities to Cuba. It mirrored a bill I introduced with Senator Heitkamp (D-ND) earlier this year.
The number one barrier that farmers and agricultural exporters in Arkansas and across the country have faced when trying to export to Cuba is a prohibition against providing lines of credit. Current law prohibits any kind of financing of exports to Cuba and requires cash payment up front, essentially preventing farmers and ranchers from being able to ship their products to Cuba.
My amendment would lift the ban on private banks and companies from offering credit for agricultural exports to Cuba and help level the playing field for U.S. farmers and exporters. The private lenders themselves would assume all the risk.
As I told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, we need to look for every available path to normalize relations with Cuba, so the appropriations bills are good vehicles to move changes forward.
My colleagues who support normalizing relations are of equal mindset. That is why Senators Moran and Tester offered additional amendments to help ease travel and trade restrictions with Cuba. Senator Moran’s amendment was identical to a bill that I cosponsored with him and several other senators from both sides of the aisle. It would end restrictions on travel to Cuba unfairly imposed on American citizens and legal residents. Senator Tester’s amendment would eliminate a law that prevents any ship that has docked in Cuba from loading or unloading any freight in the United States for 180 days.
These are steps in the right direction. We have been following the same policy of isolation for over fifty years and nothing has changed in Cuba. It is far more effective to have an open line of communication and a working relationship with governments in need of democratic assistance, rather than shut them out. In normalizing relations, you not only trade goods, but ideas. The two go hand-in-hand. Normalizing relations will allow us to remain competitive and create jobs at home, while pushing for human rights and democratic change in Cuba.