Dr. Boozman's Check-up
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.
Jul 24 2015
It was a busy week in Washington that included committee passage of my legislation to rein in federal spending, urging the Secretary of Defense to revise a policy to better protect our service members and honoring a fallen soldier. Read more in this Week in Review.
- In Honor of SSgt David Wyatt: SSgt David Wyatt, a Russellville native, was killed by a gunman last week in an attack at a military facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I spoke about his service and sacrifice on the Senate floor. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.
- Investigate Planned Parenthood: I joined my Senate colleagues in requesting an investigation into Planned Parenthood following the release of videos showing senior executives discussing in horrific detail the organization’s role in harvesting organs of unborn babies. You can read the letters I sent to the Attorney General and Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
- Protecting Service Members at DoD Military Installations: I called on the Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to revise the Department of Defense policy to allow service members to carry firearms at military bases and reserve centers. Read the bicameral letter my colleagues and I sent to the secretary here.
- Five Years of Dodd-Frank: There was no celebrating the fifth anniversary of Dodd-Frank. This law hurts community banks. We need a regulatory system that allows small banks to succeed instead of penalizing them. I was happy to approve provisions in the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill that reduces these overly burdensome regulations and eases the restrictions on our community banks.
- Working to Normalize Relations with Cuba: 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.
- Reining in Spending: The Senate Committee on Appropriations approved the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations bill. As chairman of the FSGG subcommittee, I worked to write a bill that puts us on the path to fiscal responsibility. The bill is $1.3 billion below the spending levels of the current budget year. This is a great step in promoting financial security.
- Funding for Arkansas Higher Education: 23 Arkansas colleges, universities and other postsecondary institutions will share nearly $7 million to provide opportunities for academic development and assistance to students in the Natural State. Read what schools received funds from the U.S. Department of Education funding for Student Support Services.
- Talking with KASU: In case you missed our interview with Jonesboro’s KASU radio, you can listen to the interview here. We talked about foreign affairs issues including Iran and the next steps for Congress to take on the nuclear deal, efforts to defeat ISIS and the need to support to our allies in the region.
- Honoring the Northwest Arkansas Council: The Northwest Arkansas Council celebrated its 25th anniversary this week. The Council has transformed the region into an economic powerhouse. I recognized these achievements in the Congressional Record.
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.
Jul 23 2015
When President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act into law five years ago, he said he it was a victory for American people. The President lambasted “powerful interest groups” who he claimed were working against this bill and said the law would “bring the shadowy deals that caused this crisis to the light of day.”
For all of President Obama’s populist rhetoric that day, the heavy-handed regulations generated from this law have done more to hurt the average American than it has any of the “big banks” or “investment houses” the President criticized that day.
The law does not end “too big to fail.” Instead, it creates the potential for permanent bailouts for major financial institutions. At the same time, it puts the squeeze on small community banks that are vital to rural America’s economy.
This one-size-fits-all approach to regulating our banks is not the answer. Community banks didn’t cause the 2008 financial crisis and they simply can’t afford the burdens of complying with the increased regulation. Dodd-Frank is pushing them out of business.
In small communities all over Arkansas, these banks are the only choice in town. Without community banks, it would be much more difficult for farmers and small businesses in rural America to get the credit they need to survive and thrive. Small business is the backbone of our economy, but community banks are the backbone of small business.
We need a regulatory system where small, medium and large banks can succeed. With Dodd-Frank, we created a system where some banks are too big to fail and others are too small to succeed.
Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed my Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill which includes a number of provisions that provide much needed regulatory relief for community banks and credit unions. Our bill includes common sense reforms to ease certain regulatory burdens rather than apply a one-size-fits-all approach to small financial institutions.
As we mark the five year anniversary of the passage of the flawed Dodd-Frank law, it’s about time Congress stepped in to provide commonsense regulatory relief for the engines of economic growth and community development.
Jul 21 2015
In case you missed our interview with Jonesboro’s KASU radio, you can listen to the interview here. We talked about foreign affairs issues including Iran and the next steps for Congress to take on the nuclear deal, efforts to defeat ISIS and the need to support to our allies in the region. We also discussed the normalizing of relations with Cuba, the benefits it would have for Arkansas agriculture in addition to the upcoming Veterans History Project workshops my office is hosting.