Dr. Boozman's Check-up

This week, the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee held a hearing on our efforts to protect religious freedom abroad.

Rabbi David Saperstein, the State Department’s Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, was among the witnesses who testified.

It was a good opportunity to ask why the President and members of his administration has refused to identify the real motives behind the gruesome actions of the Islamic State (ISIS) group.

For example, when the Administration publicly responded to the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya, they failed to mention the faith and religious beliefs of the victims was the primary reason they were slaughtered by ISIS.

The Administration refuses to state the underlying reason this massacre happened, namely the ongoing, systematic religious persecution of Christians and Jews by the Islamic State group.

Ambassador Saperstein claimed there have been efforts to call attention to the terror group’s heinous acts of persecution, but I advised him that the average person simply doesn’t see anyone in this Administration forcefully making that case.

The Ambassador’s reply of “If that is the case then we have some work to do” says it all.

One easy place to start would be to clearly speak out against egregious atrocities ISIS continues to commit against those in the Middle East who do not share their warped view of Islam.

If we don’t identify or talk about the problem, we can’t solve it.

We need to encourage the same religious tolerance we embrace at home to be the norm around the globe, even if doing so at times requires us to call out acts of oppression committed by those who have twisted religion to fit their own radical agenda. 

If anyone embodies a twisted view of radical Islam, it is the Islamic State group. 

These terrorists are devoted to establishing a new Caliphate, ruled by Sharia law, where all would be forced to convert or die. There would be no religious freedom under ISIS rule. They are committed to destroying all who stand in their way. The US needs to be clear and resilient in our commitment to destroy ISIS.

In this edition of 'From the Mailbag' Senator Boozman responds to an email from Paul in Fayetteville who said that he is opposed to the proposal by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) to ban a popular bullet used for the AR-15.

The Israeli Prime Minister addresses Congress, the Senate attempts to override the Keystone veto and a new addition to Team Boozman. Read about these and more in this “Week in Review.”   

  • Review the Treasury Department’s Fiscal Year 2016 funding request: I chaired my first hearing of the Financial Services and General Government subcommittee where Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified. Watch my opening statement
  • I Stand With Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress. He delivered a powerful, forceful speech. His message for us to stand together must be the priority for any negotiations to eliminate Iran's nuclear threat. There is no viable containment option. In a floor speech in advance of the Prime Minister’s address, I said nothing short of full elimination of Iran’s nuclear program can honestly be considered a victory. If these talks fail to produce an agreement requiring that of Iran, Congress must have the authority to reject it. 
  • Senate Attempts to Override Keystone Veto: I voted to override President Obama’s veto of bipartisan legislation approving the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Unfortunately the attempt fell five votes short of the number needed to override the veto. 
  • Monticello Twenty for the Future: Monticello's Twenty for the Future representatives shared the economic developments being made in the community and we’re happy to continue that momentum and see how we can help these efforts to develop and attract jobs to the region. Watch the video. 
  • Northern Long-Eared Bat Designation Oversight: I led a letter with my senate colleagues to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director questioning the agency’s consideration of adding the Northern Long-Eared Bat to the endangered species list. These bats can be found across the entire state of Arkansas, and activities throughout most of our state could be impacted by the current proposals from the Service.  Read more about these efforts. 
  • Welcome to the Team: Colonel (ret.) Anita Deason joined my staff as an advisor for military and veterans’ issues. She brings over three decades of military service to the table along with a keen understanding of issues facing our servicemembers, veterans and military families. A resident of Conway, Col. Deason will be based out of my Little Rock office but will travel around the state. 
  • Water Resources Research: I was pleased to join Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) to introduce legislation to reauthorize federal grant funding for water resources research institutes. The Water Resources Research Amendments Act (WRRA) will provide continued support for important research on state and regional water challenges, provide training for hydrologists and other water-related scientists and engineers, and fund public outreach and education on water issues.  This will allow Arkansas and other states to solve serious problems related to our water needs. 

What I Co-Sponsored This Week

Privacy Notice Modernization Act of 2015
Tags: Banking & Finance/Government Reform
S.440—Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act
Tags: Jobs/Education
S.611—A bill to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to reauthorize technical assistance to small public water systems, and for other purposes.
Tags: Government Reform/Infrastructure
S.637 –A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend and modify the railroad track maintenance credit.
Tags: Transportation/Infrastructure
S.653—Water Resources Research Amendments Act of 2015
Tags: Government Reform/Infrastructure
S.Con.Res.7—A  concurrent resolution authorizing the use of Emancipation Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center for a ceremony to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the World War II members of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders.
S.Res.94 –A resolution supporting the goals and ideals of Career and Technical Education Month.
Tags: Jobs/Education

In this edition of 'From the Mailbag' Senator Boozman answers a question from Rebekah in Star City about Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu's address to a joint session of Congress.

President Obama’s misguided veto, meeting with Arkansas veterans and improving transparency in EPA rulemaking. Read about these and more in the “Week in Review.” 

  • Withholding funds for President Obama’s Executive Amnesty: After Senate Democrats filibustered four separate attempts to begin debate on the House bill that withheld funds for the President’s executive order, the Majority Leader brought forward a bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security without any conditions on Obama’s executive actions. The bill passed the Senate, but I voted against it.     
  • President Vetoes Keystone bill: This project has been studied for more than six years and has been given the green light at every obstacle. Arkansans and all Americans can see that President Obama is the real hurdle to Keystone. I will continue to support this project, and I urge the Senate to quickly vote to override this veto. 
  • Disaster Recovery Grant for Pulaski and Faulkner Counties: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) provided $96,000 to the counties to help with disaster recovery efforts form the 2014 EF4 tornado. The money will be used to remove debris from streams in order to prevent future flooding. 
  • Arkansas Veterans Visit: Veterans Service Organizations shared their priorities with Congress and the needs of their members. I met with Arkansas members of the American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary and the Disabled American Veterans as national commanders testified before the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees. 
  • Updating FAA’s Pilot General Aviation Regulations: Congress is working to reform FAA’s general aviation medical standards to maintain safety while supporting capable pilots and sustaining economic growth in the industry. Read about the legislation I introduced to accomplish this.

Calling it a development “that may be something everyone can support”, the Southwest Times-Record editors offered up their support for the APPROVAL Act, legislation I introduced with Senator Cotton to restore the right of states to approve or disapprove of electric transmission projects before the federal government exercises its power to take private property.

Read the full editorial:

Whatever Decision Is Made, Let’s Make It In Arkansas [Southwest Times-Record, 02/15/15]

Two new bills I introduced, The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act becomes law, my speech on the President’s flawed national and homeland security strategies and more in this “Week in Review.”

  • KASU Radio Show: I joined Jonesboro’s KASU radio to discuss some of the issues we’re working on in Washington. We covered a wide range of topics including fighting in Ukraine and the President Obama’s request to Congress to formally authorize war against Islamic State militants, improvements to veterans mental health services and constituent service. 

The Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program (HVRP) Clarification and Reauthorization Bill: For my first bill of the new session, I joined with Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), in an effort to fight veteran homelessness by reauthorizing current programs and clarifying qualifications for existing housing assistance benefits.

The APPROVAL Act: I joined with Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) to introduce legislation to restore the right of states to approve or disapprove of electric transmission projects before the federal government exercises its power to take private property.

Along with the legislation I introduced this week, I’ve lent my support to a handful of important bills that other Senators introduced this week including:

Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2015: U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2015. This bill would allow individuals with concealed carry privileges in their home state to exercise those rights in any other state that also has concealed carry laws, while abiding by that state’s concealed carry laws.

A Resolution Welcoming Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Visit:  I signed on to Senator Cornyn’s resolution welcoming Israeli Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the United States for his address to a joint session of Congress next month.

A bill to Arm Ukraine: Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) introduced a bill that would authorize the President to arm Ukraine with lethal military aid. S.452 is currently the only bill in Congress that specifically authorizes the United States to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons, which would remove any ambiguity as to whether the U.S. should supply its ally with offensive or defensive military aid. This is the only bill to also require the President to deliver to Congress a comprehensive strategy for our nation’s support of Ukraine.

Stay on top of all the bills I am cosponsoring in the 114th Congress by bookmarking this page where I will keep a running list.

I took to the Senate floor this morning to raise concerns about the President's national and homeland security strategies, particularly whether the Administration is committed to taking action on radical Islamic terrorists like ISIS and the President's instance on requiring Congress to fund his unconstitutional executive order on immigration.


"Given the severity of the threat posed by ISIS, not to mention the continuing efforts of al-Qaeda to strike again, you would think a plan to take on radical Islam would be a focal part of the President’s national security plan. It’s not. In fact, there is no mention of radical Islam in the document at all." 

"They're holding up the entire bill, threatening to shut down DHS to protect the President's priorities. Not because the funding is too low, not because programs need reforms. Their complaint is that the President isn't getting what he wants. I encourage them to relent on their filibuster so we can debate the bill, make changes if the chamber sees fit and send it to the President. If the President truly wants immigration reform, then do it the right way and work with Congress to get it done. Don't go about it on your own unconstitutionally and then threaten to shut down a department charged with protecting Americans. It's out of touch but it's not the first time this Administration's priorities have been at odds with those of the American people."

"Preventing ISIS from achieving its goal takes a clear, forceful security strategy both abroad and at home. What the President has put forward is neither."

Watch my speech in its entirety below.