Dr. Boozman's Check-up

Highlights from this week in Washington include being named Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, cosponsoring legislation to curb unnecessary regulations and promoting the aviation industry. Read about these and addition work in this “Week in Review.”

  • State of the Union: The President delivered this annual address to Congress on Tuesday. This is the first time President Obama addressed a Republican controlled Congress. Unfortunately, instead of indicating his intention to work together for the change the American people voted for, he repeated his own agenda which we've heard from him before.
  • Senate VA Committee:  The committee unanimously approved The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act.  This legislation would improve mental health care and suicide prevention resources for veterans by increasing access to mental health programs, providing incentives to recruit and retain psychiatrists to treat veterans and enhancing resources for members of the military transitioning to civilian life. The House approved this bill last week and I’m confident the Senate will follow its lead. 
  • Walnut Ridge Airport: The military reconsidered its decision and renewed the fuel contract with the Walnut Ridge Airport. This facility has an important role as a disaster relief staging area and this enables it to have the resources it needs to maintain disaster relief operations in the region. Read more here
  • General Aviation Caucus Co-chair: This Congress I will serve as a co-chair of the Senate General Aviation Caucus. I look forward to working with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to promote the aviation industry and its contributions to our economy and transportation system. 
  • REINS Act: I cosponsored the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act. This would require Congressional approval by joint resolution of any federal rule that would cost the economy $100 million or more. This is an effort to curb the alarming amount of unnecessary regulations from this administration.

The Senate debates the Keystone pipeline, a Conway native joins my staff, tell me why school choice is important to you and we’re looking for interns. Read about these and more in this “Week in Review.” 

  • Keystone Pipeline Floor Speech: The Senate is debating the Keystone pipeline. I delivered a floor speech describing the economic impact it will have in Arkansas and encouraged my colleagues to approve construction of this project. 
  • Army Responds to Purple Heart Provision - In December I joined members of the delegation writing a letter to the Secretary of the Army urging him to award the Purple Heart to Privates William Long and Quinton Ezeagwula, victims of the June 2009 shooting at the Little Rock recruiting center, based on the criteria approved by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act. This week I received a response. Read the story here
  • Protecting Arkansas’s Forestry Industry – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is considering adding the northern long-eared bat to the endangered species list. This new classification could eliminate forest harvesting in Arkansas from April through September in order to protect the bat’s habitat. That’s why I urged the FWS Director to minimize the economic impacts of this decision in a letter with my colleagues. 
  • KASU radio interview – On Wednesday I talked with Jonesboro’s KASU about the Senate debate on Keystone, relations with Cuba and the upcoming State of the Union address. Listen to the interview
  • Why is school choice important to you? – I’m an original cosponsor of a resolution supporting National School Choice Week and I want you to share why school choice is important to you and your family. The National School Choice Week resolution designates the week of January 25 through January 31, 2015, as “National School Choice Week.” During this week, I will feature stories and pictures submitted by Arkansans about the importance of school choice. Click here to learn how to submit your story. 
  • Welcome to the team: Blake Rollins, a Conway native and 2004 graduate of St. Joseph High School joined my staff this week. He will advise me on agriculture and tax issues. His connection to Arkansas and his unique understanding of agriculture and the policies that shape our state’s number one industry will benefit agribusinesses and producers.  
  • Veterans Suicide Prevention: As a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee I’m committed to improving veteran services. I cosponsored The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act to improve mental health care and suicide prevention resources for veterans. 
  • Merchant Marine Academy: As a member of the US Merchant Marine Academy Board of Visitors I cosponsored S.143, a bill to allow for improvements to the academy.

In case you missed our interview with Jonesboro’s KASU radio, you can listen to the interview here. We covered a wide range of issues including the current debate in the Senate on the Keystone pipeline, relations with Cuba, the upcoming State of the Union address and more.  

The 114th Congress is underway. I want to share some of the bills I cosponsored and congratulate two Arkansas high school students for being selected as delegates to the U.S. Senate Youth Program. Read more in this “Week in Review.” 

  • Arkansas Delegates to U.S. Senate Youth Program: Congratulations to Katherine Sanders of Cave City and Ashton Yarbrough of Bentonville on being selected as delegates for the 53rd annual United States Senate Youth Program. While in Washington from March 7-14, Sanders and Yarbrough will join 102 other delegates in meetings with Senators, Congressional staff, the President, a Justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an Ambassador to the United States and senior members of the national media. I’m excited to welcome them to our nation’s capital. 
  • Keystone Pipeline: I cosponsored legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project. The Senate will begin debate on this legislation Monday. I recently toured Welspun Tubular, the Little Rock based company hired to produce hundreds of miles of pipe for the project. Company leaders estimate that 150 jobs will be created just to load pipe onto rail cars for shipment when the project gets the green light. The House passed this legislation today and I’m hopeful the Senate will follow its lead. 
  • Supporting School Choice: I cosponsored a resolution supporting National School Choice Week and designating the week of January 25 through January 31, 2015, as "National School Choice Week.’’ As a former school board member I understand that state and local governments are best equipped to make education decisions for their communities – not Washington. I’m proud to support this resolution and the outstanding educational choices that Arkansas offers. 
  • Hire More Heroes Act: I joined efforts to promote employment for our veterans while providing relief from the burdensome Obamacare employer mandate by cosponsoring the Hire More Heroes Act. Similar legislation passed the House this week. I cosponsored the same legislation last Congress
  • Forty Hours is Full Time Act: Obamacare’s employer mandate has caused some employee hours to be reduced and pay cut because the law defines a ‘full-time employee’ as someone who works on average 30 hours per week. With the costs of health care skyrocketing, businesses that may want to hire more employees will instead spend more money meeting the requirements of Obamacare. This is why I am a cosponsor of the Forty Hours is Full Time Act. This legislation would change the Obamacare definition of full-time to someone who works an average of 40 hours per week. 
  • Protecting the Separation of Powers in the Constitution – I cosponsored S.11legislation that will rein in the executive overreach and restore the separation of powers by eliminating procedural hurdles to legal challenges when the president fails to faithfully execute the laws. Learn why this is necessary.

The Associated Press reports that  agriculture “stands to be one of the biggest beneficiaries” in a Cuba trade policy announced by the administration earlier this week. Arkansas’s agriculture industry groups say this opens the doors for increased trade. I intend to work with my Senate colleagues to build on these policy changes to create new opportunities for Arkansas agriculture producers. Learn more about the impact to the agriculture industry in these Arkansas news stories.

Democrat Gazette
In state, growers see trade potential
Talk Business
Ag Community Upbeat On Cuba Normalization, Political Opinions Vary
Arkansas News Bureau
Arkansas may benefit from Obama’s Cuba policy
KATV
Updated Cuba policy could spell out big money for Ark. rice growers
Arkansas Business
Delta Caucus Happy with Cuba Move
KARK
Arkansas Rice Industry Expects Big Boom
U.S. Senate Republicans announced their committee assignments for the 114th Congress. I'm excited to once again be serving on the Agriculture Committee; Appropriations Committee; Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW); and Veterans Affairs Committee. I will also sit on the Rules Committee for this coming session of Congress. I am eager to begin working toward a more efficient and effective government when we take control of the Senate in January. 

I was honored to recognize the military service of Arkansas Veterans during recent medal presentations in Manila and Harrison. 

Jerry McCain of Manila was awarded medals for his service in the Army during the Vietnam War – one of which was the Purple Heart Medal.

Jack Massengale of Harrison, was awarded the Purple Heart Medal along with other medals at a ceremony held at the Boone County Courthouse. Massengale served in the Army during the Vietnam War. 

Military and Veterans Liaison, Lt. Col. Steve Gray (ret.), works with the Department of Defense to get medals for Veterans who earned them but never received them. Steve presents these medals to veterans or posthumously to their family members at ceremonies across the state. 

Read the story printed in the Town Crier about McCain’s presentation and about Massengale’s award ceremony in the Harrison Daily Times

I joined host David Goins yesterday to discuss the President's immigration executive order, lame duck session of Congress and what to expect from a Republican-led Senate in the coming year on KARK's "Capitol View" program.

Part 1:

Part 2: 

If you visited the President’s website, you might think that Washington’s spending problem is under control.

Lines that suggest President Obama has “led the way on structuring the government to live within its means” and “the Administration has moved to eliminate wasteful spending, streamline what works, and modernize how government operates to save money and improve performance” would give you the impression that everything is rosy and going according to plan.

So, how then, does the White House reconcile that rhetoric with the fact that our national debt has now passed the $18 trillion mark? It appears by ignoring this alarming trend all together, and not commenting on it despite once saying it was “unpatriotic” to add $4 trillion to the debt.

Come January, Republicans will control both chambers of Congress, allowing us to put our commitment to cut Washington’s wasteful spending into action. I believe we can find a mechanism, like a Balanced Budget Amendment, that will stop the government from spending beyond its means. If Arkansas can be required to balance our state’s budget, there is no reason that we shouldn’t be able to require Washington to do the same.

The national debt is a threat to our sovereignty. Foreign holdings account for almost half of these obligations, and much of that is owed to countries that do not always share our values—such as China and Saudi Arabia. We must end the excessive spending and put our nation back on a fiscally responsible path. The road we are on right now certainly isn’t fair to future generations. We can’t keep kicking the can down the road. In fact, it has been kicked so far down the road it is out of view.