Dr. Boozman's Check-up
Jun 23 2015
Today I want to share the story about an organization that was established by Dr. Merlin Augustine in honor and appreciation of his parents, Merlin Sr. and Nora Augustine.
Growing up Dr. Augustine had great role models who were always showing compassion during a time when there were no social programs to assist those in need. M & N Augustine epitomizes the spirit of the way Dr. Augustine’s parents lived when they were raising their family in Louisiana. Merlin Sr. was a janitor who raised sweet potatoes and sugar cane on the family farm. Salary may have been meager for a man with a wife and six children, but he never hesitated to help out a neighbor who was in need -- or offer his son's bedroom when a family needed shelter. Merlin Jr. thought his father was too generous, but eventually he came to understand it wasn't enough to toss a check in the collection plate. He had to do more, and that's what the M&N Foundation aims to do.
The M&N Augustine Foundation is a nonprofit organization helping people who have nowhere else to go and in need of assistance with food, clothing, medicine and shelter. The M&N Augustine Foundation has helped people all the way from Fayetteville to Africa. The Foundation’s outreach to feed the hungry is celebrated with volunteers throughout Northwest Arkansas the Saturday before Easter with its annual Easter Feed. This year was the 22nd year of this event. More than 6,000 people were supported by this effort.
I am proud to highlight the M&N Augustine Foundation for its faith-based outreach. Numerous organizations and individuals throughout our communities and the country are motivated by their faith to help others. People of faith often serve tirelessly behind the scenes to better our communities. Join me today by celebrating those who have generously given back to our community and recognize their faithful acts of service. Let’s #FaithitForward.
Jun 22 2015
I joined Jonesboro’s KASU to discuss the busy week ahead. We talked about Tuesday’s Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee hearing about the recent cybersecurity attack of the Office of Personnel Management. This cost taxpayers nearly $21 million dollars and compromised personal data of millions of federal employees. The hearing, which I will serve as chairman, will focus on precautions that need to be taken to prevent this from happening again. We discussed the impact of the EPA’s WOTUS rule and my efforts to fight against this overreaching rule. On Wednesday in Greene County my staff will host a mobile office event. We talked about the assistance we are able to provide. Listen to the interview here.
Jun 15 2015
During Chester Lee Bean’s 90th birthday celebration, he had a special surprise- a medal presentation in recognition of his service to our country.
Bean served in the U.S. Navy during WWII aboard the USS Raleigh. He continued his service in the Naval Reserve in Fort Smith following the war.
For his service and dedication he earned the Navy Good Conduct medal, WWII Victory medal, American Campaign medal and the Asiatic Pacific Campaign medal.
“(The medals) bring back memories of me – some I like and some I don’t – and make me think back on my time and about my friends,” Bean told the Times Record.
I am proud of the efforts of my staff to honor our veterans and ensure they are recognized with the medals they earned for their service. Col. Anita Deason (Ret) serves as a Military and Veterans Liaison for my office. She works with the Department of Defense to obtain the medals our veterans earned, but never received.
“Mr. Bean, you have the heart of a servant,” Deason said during the presentation that 5News captured on video.
You can watch the medal presentation here.
Jun 12 2015
Week in Review: June 8-12
The Senate is debating the National Defense Authorization Act, we approved legislation to scale back EPA overreach in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and I talked about issues impacting the agriculture industry on Agri-Pulse. These and more in this Week in Review.
- Protecting EPA Overreach on Private Property – My colleagues and I on the Senate Environment and Public Works committee (EPW) approved The Federal Water Quality Protection Act to counter the EPA’s “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule. Our legislation outlines protections for our waters while protecting private property rights. I look forward to supporting this bill on the Senate floor.
- Plains & Eastern Clean Lines Transmission Project Comments – The Department of Energy (DOE) agreed to extend the comment period one month for this project after the Arkansas Congressional Delegation urged for an extension of 60 days in a letter to DOE Secretary. I would have preferred 60 days, but this additional time will allow Arkansans more time to comment about the impact of the project. You can register your comments with DOE here.
- Agri-Pulse Open Mic - This week I joined Agri-Pulse to talk about Arkansas’ top economic industry. In the interview, we discussed the threat developing with the EPA and WOTUS, opening up trade with Cuba, and our work to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act.
- National Defense Authoritzation Act (NDAA) Debate – During the Senate debate of the NDAA I delivered this floor speech about the importance of passing this national security legislation. I also introduced three amendments to support the needs of Arkansans.
- Water Research - I am pleased that the Senate supported legislation I introduced with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) that reauthorizes the Water Resources Research Amendments Act. This legislation provides continued federal support for important research on state and regional water challenges.
- Flag Day – In recognition of honoring this symbol of our country I want to share this flag presentation my staff hosted in Stuttgart. My staff presents a program to Arkansas students about the importance of the American and Arkansas flags. Last school year year my staff was in more than 50 classrooms around the state.
Jun 08 2015
Agriculture is Arkansas’s top economic industry. As a member of the Senate Ag Committee I serve as a voice for this industry and work to champion federal policies that meet the needs of our farmers, ranchers and agriculture producers. This week I joined Agri-Pulse’s Open Mic to discuss issues influencing the industry and impacting the ability of our producers to continue growing the world’s safest supply of food. We talked about the threat that EPA’s Waters of the United States rule has on the ability of landowners to use their property, the Senate Ag Committee’s work to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act and my efforts to open up trade with Cuba. You can listen to the interview here.
Jun 05 2015
Week in Review: June 1-5
It was a busy week in Washington. Read more about what we worked on in this Week in Review.
- Supporting Legislation to Increase Veterans Disability Compensation – I am proud to cosponsor The Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2015, which seeks to increase veterans’ disability benefits. This legislation would allow us to stay ahead of the rising cost of living and provide the best service possible for our heroes and their families.
- Irresponsible IRS Spending – The IRS needs to change the way it prioritizes what programs to fund. This won’t happen by providing the agency with more money. A change in culture at the agency is necessary to improve taxpayer service. Read my editorial in USA Today.
- Cutting Red Tape – I’m working to eliminate duplicative and costly permitting requirements for pesticide application users like Arkansas farmers and ranchers. I joined a bipartisan group of senators to introduce the Sensible Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) to improve government efficiency and roll back this regulation.
- Arkansas Airports Receive FAA Grants - The FAA awarded more than $6.5 million to 11 Arkansas airports for improvements to airport runways, taxiways and aprons. These infrastructure upgrades will help accommodate future growth and development throughout the state.
- Families Urge Action to Bring Home Iran Hostages – Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee heard from American families who have relatives held hostage in Iran. These families called for a more central focus on the fate of the hostages in negotiations of the Iran nuclear deal. The Iran nuclear deal is the president’s most pressing foreign affairs issue and there is frustration over the lack of insistence to bring these Americans home. The Senate has taken action and we’re waiting for the President to do the same.
- GAO Report Confirms Need for Science Advisory Board Reforms – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report this week that shows the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hindering the ability of the Science Advisory Board (SAB) to comply with the law. This is all the more reason for the Senate to take up legislation Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and I introduced to reform the SAB.
- Making my Way Across Arkansas – I spent the week of Memorial Day traveling across Arkansas and meeting with people in Little Rock, Vilonia, Mayflower, Hot Springs, Pine Bluff, Mena and Waldron. Read more about my busy week in Arkansas.
Agency is making irresponsible decisions with taxpayer dollars
Jun 03 2015
Senator John Boozman authored this piece published here in USA Today, June 3, 2015.
Americans expect a tax agency to protect their personal information, provide good customer service and be accountable and fair. The priorities of the IRS do not reflect the demands of hardworking taxpayers.
Every agency in Washington has been asked to do more with less. The IRS is no different. By making irresponsible decisions with taxpayer dollars, the IRS is failing to adapt to today's fiscal realities.
One of the agency's first actions after receiving its funding for this fiscal year was to announce it would pay out more than $60 million in bonuses to employees.
As an April report by the House Ways and Means Committee shows, the agency paid the same amount in bonuses as the previous fiscal year despite a cut in the agency's budget.
In an email to IRS employees this year, Commissioner John Koskinen touted his ability to prevent a shutdown. But by also handing out hefty bonuses to employees, he misdirected resources meant for taxpayer services while protecting the priorities of the IRS union.
With flexibility in how it allocates its funding, the agency's top priority should be taxpayer services, particularly protecting the personal information of millions of American taxpayers.
Unfortunately, taxpayer service is the agency's most serious failure. The agency's focus clearly is elsewhere. Even before the latest tax season, Commissioner Koskinen estimated that only 50% of taxpayer phone calls would be answered; those still on the line would face wait times of at least 30 minutes.
This disconnect, along with the agency's abusive policing of political speech and its misconduct with deleted and missing emails, gives the IRS a black eye and makes me question its priorities.
The agency suffers from an erosion of taxpayers' trust because its actions undermine their faith in the system.
More money won't help it regain Americans' trust. Only proving that its priorities are in the right place will accomplish that. IRS doesn't need more money to make that happen; it needs a change in culture.
Sen. John Boozman, R-Arkansas, is chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Internal Revenue Service.
The families of Americans currently held by the Iranian government made an impassioned plea to members of the House of Representatives today.
At a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, relatives of U.S. citizens Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, Jason Rezaian and Robert Levinson expressed frustration that the fate of the hostages is not more central to nuclear negotiations nearing the deadline for a deal.
They are increasingly concerned that the clock is ticking for their loved ones and that any leverage the United States has could slip away at the conclusion of the nuclear talks with Iran.
While President Obama has made reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran his top foreign policy priority, there seems to be no sense of urgency on the part of the Administration to use the negotiations to bring our citizens home.
Last month, the Senate passed a resolution that called for the release of all American hostages being held by the Iranian government. The resolution, which I cosponsored, states that the Government of the Iran should immediately release Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, and Jason Rezaian while cooperating with U.S. efforts to locate and return Robert Levinson. It also states that the United States should undertake every effort using every diplomatic tool at its disposal to secure their immediate release.
As the families of these four men made clear today, this decisive action has not happened. With every day that passes, the situation gets worse for these Americans.
In their opening statements, each family member denied the Iranian allegations and described the dismal conditions in which their loved ones are being held. Sarah Hekmati said her brother has been beaten on the feet with cables and has been tasered repeatedly. Jason Rezaian has lost 40 lbs. and is often kept in solitary confinement, Ali Rezaian said. Nagameh Abedini said Saeed is doing “horribly, physically and psychologically” and suffered from internal bleeding from early beatings.
The Obama Administration should have acted long ago to secure their freedom. By ceding the upper hand in the negotiations, President Obama has put the U.S. in a position where we are allowing the Iranians to dictate the terms of their freedom.
The window to act is closing. If President Obama wants to show Americans that he is negotiating from a position of power, he must demand the immediate release of Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, and Jason Rezaian and require the Government of Iran help to find Robert Levinson. We cannot allow Americans to suffer in an effort to appease the regime in Tehran.
Jun 01 2015
U.S. Senator John Boozman had a packed schedule last week, participating in a number of events across Arkansas during the Memorial Day work period.
In case you missed it, here are some highlights from last week’s local press coverage:
Boozman joined Governor Hutchinson and members of the Arkansas congressional delegation “to discuss the much-talked about JLTV project that the Pentagon will announce in July.” “Governor Praises Lockheed Martin Superproject as Crowd Takes Selfies with Prototype JLTV” Talk Business & Politics, May 26, 2015
“(Boozman) said better relations with Cuba would open an important market for Arkansas and would improve the lives of Cubans.” “Boozman Praises Cuba Deal, Hutchinson Touts Rural Services In Speeches” Talk Business & Politics, May 26, 2015
“U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., speaking at a Delta Grassroots Caucus conference on economic quality for working families, said congressional leaders continued to work hard on a long-term highway funding bill.” “Fund stretch won't restore road projects” Arkansas Democrat Gazette, May 26, 2015
“At a news conference Tuesday morning, U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton, both R-Ark., and U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, joined Hutchinson and state legislative leaders in voicing support for the bond issue.” “Arkansas Legislature convenes for special session” Arkansas News Bureau, May 26, 2015
“U.S. Sen. John Boozman met with University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Chancellor Laurence Alexander on Tuesday at the school’s Aquaculture Fisheries Center. Created in 1988, the Aquaculture Fisheries Center of Excellence is recognized as a nationwide leader in research, education and extension programs and is routinely sought to help provide diagnostic services in order to keep fish healthy.” “Taking Stock” Pine Bluff Commercial, May 26, 2015
“U.S. Sen. John Boozman couldn't help but remember the last time he visited tornado-ravaged sites in Faulkner County. It was in June, several weeks after he had undergone emergency heart surgery….Since then, both Boozman and the devastated towns have grown stronger.” “Tour shows tornado rebound,” Arkansas Democrat Gazette, May 27, 2015
“U.S. Sen. John Boozman and U.S. Rep. French Hill toured some of the hardest-hit areas from the April 27, 2014, tornado in Vilonia and Mayflower on Wednesday to get a firsthand view of the rebuilding progress.” “Officials 'amazed' by tornado recovery efforts,” Log Cabin Democrat, May 27, 2015
“Senator John Boozman making a trip to Vilonia to check on tornado recovery efforts there. Boozman along with Representative French Hill spoke with Faulkner County leaders to find out how they can help.” “Recovery Efforts” KARK, May 27, 2015
“Boozman and Crawford said a clean environment is important but it needs to be approached with common sense and sound science, something they say the EPA ruling is not doing.” “Boozman, Crawford tour Newark plant threatened by the EPA” KAIT, May, 27, 2015
"’We can't create jobs, but we can put ourselves in situations more favorable for economic activity,’ Boozman told a group of Hot Springs businessmen and community leaders Thursday at The Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce.” “Senator urges entering trade relations with Cuba” Hot Springs Sentinel Record, May 29, 2015
May 23 2015
It was a busy week in the Senate. Read more about what we worked on in this Week in Review.
- Creating Opportunities for American Jobs and Economic Growth: The Senate passed, with my support, the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). This legislation ensures that we can negotiate a fair trade deal while maintaining Congress’s role in the process. International trade supports more than 340,000 Arkansas jobs. Opening new markets for Arkansas’s agriculture producers, small businesses and globally-engaged workforce will drive that number up.
- Supporting Highway and Transportation Funds: Arkansas needs reliable federal funding to plan and complete road improvements. We need a long-term solution that allows continued progress on our transportation system. The Senate approved an extension of the highway bill that allows us more time to find an answer while preventing interruptions in ongoing construction projects.
- Improvements Needed at VA: The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the FY2016 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act which included two measures I introduced to strengthen Department of Veterans Affairs services and require the department to be better stewards of taxpayer dollars.
- Improving EPA Science Review Process: The Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight conducted a hearing on the science behind the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision-making. This hearing included a discussion about the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act, legislation I introduced with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Watch the opening statement.
- USDA Grants for Arkansas Communities: McCrory and Cotter received funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for first responder vehicles and equipment. The department approved a loan for the city of Brinkley to make improvements to its existing wastewater treatment plant.
- On the radio: I joined Jonesboro’s KASU radio and we talked about the debate over granting trade promotion authority to the President, the need to get broadband to rural Arkansas and why the budget proposal passed by Congress is good for America. Listen to the interview here.