Dr. Boozman's Check-up

Debt Ceiling Memo

Oct 14 2013

The debt ceiling is a cap set by Congress on the amount of debt the federal government can legally borrow. According to the Treasury Department, Congress is facing an October 17 deadline to raise the debt ceiling or face a default on the bills our country owes. 

Irresponsible spending hurts the future of our country. Over the past four years, the out-of-control spending has increased our deficit spending and forced us to increase the debt ceiling seven times. This means Washington has added $43,000 in debt for every American household. We need to cut spending and balance the budget so we can regain control of our finances. 

Cut Spending 

Hardworking Arkansas families are forced to spend within their means and Washington needs to do same. We need a long-term plan to put our country on the road to fiscal responsibility and that begins by reining in spending. 

61 percent of Americans believe that it’s “right to require spending cuts when the debt ceiling is raised.” 

Balance the Budget 

The government has a responsibility to pay its financial obligations, but continuing to raise the debt limit is not an approach that puts our country on the path to fiscal responsibility. We need a mechanism that prevents us from overspending and forces the government to budget within its means. The only way to get a handle on the out-of-control spending is to reform how we allocate federal dollars. That’s why I’m supportive of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.

Just think how differently our financial outlook would be had Congress passed the Balanced Budget Amendment in 1995. The House approved the amendment but it failed in the Senate by one vote. 

Washington needs to follow in the footsteps of Arkansas where state leaders are required to balance the budget. If Arkansas can do it, Washington can too. 

I am a cosponsor of S.J. Res. 6, a balanced budget resolution introduced by Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) as well as S.J. Res. 7, a balanced budget resolution introduced by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX). Both of these measures would propose a Constitutional amendment that stipulates that the United States cannot spend more than its total revenue for any given fiscal year. 

While Washington has taken steps to rein in spending we need to continue efforts. In 2011 Congress passed the Budget Control Act to simultaneously address federal spending and the debt ceiling. In an effort to cut Washington spending by a trillion dollars, President Obama proposed and agreed to across-the-board cuts known as sequestration. To avoid these automatic cuts, members of the joint deficit reduction committee, commonly referred to as the supercommittee were tasked with cutting more than $1 trillion in deficit spending. As you may remember, the committee failed to make the necessary cuts which triggered sequestration. 

We have to make difficult spending decisions. That begins with passing a budget and approving the 12 appropriations bills. Following proper procedure allows for proper oversight to help eliminate waste, fraud and abuse with taxpayer dollars. 

Learn more:

Congressional Research Service (CRS): The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases

The electronic employment verification system, commonly referred to as E-Verify, that allows employers to confirm the immigration status of their workforce is not running because of the government shutdown.

This means we are unable to:

  • Enroll any company in E-Verify
  • Verify employment eligibility on new cases
  • View or take action on any pending cases

E-Verify is an internet-based system that employers and companies rely on to ensure new hires have the legal right to work in the U.S. E-Verify has a successful track record of combating the hiring of illegal immigrants and is currently used by more nearly 410,000 employers nationwide. The Department of Homeland Security estimates more than 1,000 new businesses sign up each week. Unfortunately, because of the government shutdown, these employers are unable to determine if new hires are legally able to work in the U.S. 

E-Verify is a great tool to combat illegal immigration. That’s why I’m working to strengthen the program and make it a requirement in every workplace. Earlier this year I cosponsored the Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act of 2013 which permanently reauthorizes the E-Verify program and makes its use mandatory for all employers within one year of date of enactment. 

This is a practical approach to holding employers accountable and also helps cut down on identity theft by ensuring that the government catches multiple uses of Social Security numbers.

Illegal immigration isn’t just an issue for border states. It’s an issue that impacts all 50 states. A government shutdown compromises our ability to combat illegal immigration and secure our border and it puts a hold on our economy and the hiring by companies that are nervous to proceed without the ability to check the legal status. We are urging our colleagues to find common ground to end this stalemate and get this program up and running.

Over the weekend, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced that almost all of its 350,000 furloughed civilian employees, including those in the National Guard and Reserve components, would return to work in the coming days.

This includes over 700 members of the Arkansas National Guard that were furloughed last week.

I am pleased that Secretary Hagel has cleared the way for these men and women to return to work, but they should’ve never been furloughed in the first place. Prior to the government shutdown, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Pay Our Military Act to make sure both active duty service members and DOD civilian employees receive pay during the government shutdown.

The language of the Pay Our Military Act was specifically written to avoid the “exempted” and “essential” tags. The law is explicitly clear: all members of the Armed Forces, including Reserve component personnel serving in an active status, will be paid in the event of a government shutdown. Further, the bill requires that civilian Department of Defense personnel “providing support to members of the Armed Forces” continue to receive their pay and allowances.

Late last week, I joined forty-nine of my Senate colleagues to ask Secretary Hagel to make sure that all members of the military are compensated for their service during the shutdown.  We clearly stated that all service members, and the civilians that support them, should receive equitable and fair treatment under this law. We urged him to use the authority granted by Congress to maintain our military readiness without interruption.

I am pleased that the Administration took steps to ensure that the spirit of the “Pay Our Military Act” is upheld. It would be beneficial if the Administration made more common-sense decisions like this to help Americans impacted by the shutdown, rather than looking for ways to exacerbate the pain.  

There has been a great deal of misinformation surrounding Senator Boozman's vote to invoke cloture during the debate over the first House-passed continuing resolution. In an effort to clear up the confusion Senator Boozman penned a personal letter to his constituents. You can read it by clicking on the attachment below.

Writing Letter on Cloture Vote

I’m disappointed that the partisanship in Congress has resulted in a government shutdown. What is most frustrating is that this directly impacts the services Americans rely on. A government shutdown has real implications for seniors, veterans and hardworking Arkansas families who rely on the services provided by federal agencies. We need to work together to find common ground to keep the government operating so we can eliminate the threat of interruptions in government services. 

In the past week, I voted to continue funding the government while making policy changes to the President’s healthcare law. Each of these votes was in support of House-passed legislation. Unfortunately, these bills did not have the support of the majority of the Senate and triggered a government shutdown for the first time in 17-years. 

While I don’t believe a continuing resolution is the responsible way to fund the government because it is a short-term funding solution, we need to find common ground to provide the services of government. We will continue to encourage long-term planning and that begins with basics of passing a budget. This is the most basic level of governing. We need this framework to rein in spending and eliminate the waste and abuse of government programs. We need to pass appropriations bills. This proper process is necessary so we avoid interruptions in government like we’re experiencing today. 

The shutdown is already impacting many Arkansas families. My staff is here ready to help and hear about how this shutdown impacts you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us so we can better serve you. You can always contact our office by email or reach us by  phone

To stay up-to-date with what is happening I encourage you to monitor upcoming votes in the House and the Senate

Our efforts to avoid a government shutdown 

Floor speech – Boozman calls on Senate to consider House-passed bill that defunds Obamacare 

Press Release – Senate should take up bill to delay Obamacare and keep government operating 

Press Release - Boozman Statement on Votes to Defund Obamacare and Avoid a Government Shutdown

Fact vs. Fiction - The Government Shutdown and Obamacare

Learn more about the impact of a government shutdown   

Congressional Research Service (CRS)- Shutdown of the Federal Government:
Causes, Processes, and Effects 

Office of Personnel Management (OPM)- Guidance for federal agencies and employees in the event of a shutdown furlough



A government shutdown has real implications for seniors, veterans and hardworking Arkansas families who rely on the services provided by federal agencies.

This is exactly what we were trying to prevent, but there has been no willingness to on the part of Majority Leader Reid to compromise. He has refused to even allow the Senate to consider the last three House-passed continuing resolutions. And now he just shot down an effort to form a committee between the two chambers to resolve this.

It’s time to come together and find commonsense solutions to our challenges. America functions best when we work through our differences and come together and address our country's problems.

The Government Shutdown and Obamacare

What Does Senator Boozman Think of the Government Shutdown?

A government shutdown has real implications for seniors, veterans and hardworking Arkansas families who rely on the services provided by federal agencies.

Boozman has tried to prevent a shutdown, but there has been no willingness to on the part of Majority Leader Reid to compromise. He has refused to even allow the Senate to consider the last three House-passed continuing resolutions. And now he just shot down an effort to form a committee between the two chambers to resolve this and has stated he will not entertain the idea of individual spending bills to keep agencies like the

It’s time to come together and find commonsense solutions to our challenges. America functions best when we work through our differences and come together and address our country's problems.

Does Senator Boozman Oppose Obamacare?

YES. Senator Boozman has been fighting against Obamacare for nearly five years. He opposed Obamacare when Nancy Pelosi brought it to the floor of the House of Representatives. He’s voted to repeal Obamacare. He’s voted to defund ObamaCare. He’s voted to chisel away at parts of Obamacare. And he’s fought against Obamacare’s waste, abuse, and fraud.

Does Senator Boozman Support Defunding Obamacare?

YES. Senator Boozman has always supported defunding, delaying, repealing, and replacing Obamacare.

Does Senator Boozman Support the “Defund Obamacare Political Campaign” associated with the current CR?

NO. The current “Defund Obamacare Effort” is a misleading campaign. Some suggest that if Republicans threaten to shut down the government, we can force Harry Reid to defund Obamacare. This is simply not true. 

As Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has said, the defunding claims are “tremendously erroneous” and “not intellectually honest.” The independent Congressional Research Service concluded that even with a government shutdown, Obamacare would remain alive and funded.  The vast majority of Obamacare spending is mandatory spending that Congress does not control.

Case in point: On the same day the government shut down, the Obamacare exchanges still launched, albeit with problems as we predicted. The wheels in motion cannot be stopped by defunding because of the manner in which the program is funded. We need another approach to stop this terrible law.

Does Senator Boozman Support a Government Shutdown to Repeal Obamaare?

NO. Causing a government shutdown does not move us closer to repealing or defunding Obamacare. In fact, shutting down the government is making it harder for us to repeal Obamacare. Instead of focusing on higher healthcare premiums, government rationing, Medicare cuts, and President Obama's false promises, the White House and the Senate Majority are playing political games. This distraction plays into President Obama's hand

Moreover, a shutdown is the wrong way to govern. In this fragile economy, it is simply not fair to hold Americans hostage for political gain. It’s not the right way to run government. It’s the very reason the American people hold Washington in low regard.

We must repeal Obamacare. However, we need to be smart about how we oppose this President and his agenda. President Obama will not sign legislation that destroys his signature initiative and the Democratic Senate majority won’t approve this legislation that accomplishes this. Moving forward, Senator Boozman will continue to fight against this failed law so the American people demand its full repeal.

Why did Senator Boozman support cloture on the Continuing Resolution?

Senator Boozman supported each of the House-passed bills to keep the government operating. The first bill the House sent over would have accomplished our goals of keeping the government operating and defunding Obamacare. Avoiding a government shutdown is a good policy that protects hardworking Americans. Unfortunately, that bill was changed. Majority Leader Harry Reid stripped language to defund this problematic law and Senator Boozman could no longer support it. This is not the end of our fight. We will continue our efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that contain costs.

Senator Boozman voted for cloture on the first House-passed bill because it would defund Obamacare and keep the government operating. It defies logic to vote against a bill that accomplishes our objectives.

Failure to have obtained cloture would have only resulted in a government shutdown, which is eventually where Majority Leader Reid led us. However, failing to move that first bill forward would have put the blame for a shutdown squarely on the Republicans. A government shutdown doesn’t repeal Obamacare. The vast majority of Obamacare spending is mandatory spending that Congress does not control.

If President Obama were to somehow receive a continuing resolution that defunded his landmark law, he would veto it. We would need 67 votes in the Senate to override that veto. Simple math shows you that with a Democrat Majority, the numbers are simply not there.

There was no end game with this strategy, outside of a government shutdown, which is why Senator Boozman could not support it.

If you had been told anything different would result from voting against cloture, you were being misled.

Wasn't this the last chance to end Obamacare?  

Not by a long shot. This program is falling apart faster than it can roll out. We have seen the snags in the programs when it launched and there will continue to be problems. Leaders who helped usher the bill through Congress have called its implementation a ‘trainwreck.’ We have opportunities to capitalize on that by picking it apart piece by piece. 

Agriculture is critical to Arkansas and our rural communities and our state’s economy. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I am committed to supporting both the producers of our food and fiber and the communities in which they live. One out of every six jobs in Arkansas is tied to agriculture and we’re working to craft agriculture policies that ensure our state’s agriculture continues to thrive. The Farm Bill, legislation that directs government policy for major agriculture and nutrition programs, expires today and we need to have the necessary protections in place for our industry. 

Our agriculture producers need certainty to plan for the future. The reauthorization of a five-year Farm Bill is required for our farmers, ranchers, and rural communities to plan for the future and continue to create good jobs for working Arkansas families. 

The Senate and House of Representatives have passed bills that protect our agriculture producers and I am encouraging my colleagues in Congress to work together to pass a five-year Farm Bill into law. This needs to be a top priority for Congress as it discusses spending in the continuing resolution and the upcoming debt ceiling debate.  We cannot allow our agriculture economy and the neediest members of our communities to suffer the uncertainty created by the failed politics of Washington.

With the exchanges opening tomorrow, we see it is clearly not ready to provide the American people what they were promised; affordable health care. We have seen the problems caused with already with implementing this problematic law. The authors and opponents of the law called it a ‘train wreck.’ It costs too much, hurts American job creators and increases premiums for Arkansas families.

Americans overwhelmingly reject this law. They also overwhelmingly want to avoid a government shutdown, which we are hours away from if the Senate fails to act on a bill to keep the government running.

That is why I support the bill the House of Representatives passed over the weekend to delay Obamacare for one year and keep the government open. The President has already granted multiple exemptions from the law to his political allies. Let’s be fair and give the same relief to every American.

Along with that bill, Majority Leader Reid should also bring up the House-passed bill to ensure our troops are paid if the Senate Majority refuses to work with the House Majority to avoid a shutdown.  For our brave men and women in the armed services, receiving their salary to pay their bills as a result of Washington’s inaction is the last thing they need to worry about.

The Administration is failing to protect the Second Amendment by signing the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (U.N. ATT). Secretary of State John Kerry signed the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty today without the support of many Senators including myself. This is a policy reversal from both the Bush Administration and the Clinton Administration. 

This is the ultimate disregard for our Constitution, a challenge to the authority of Congress to regulate firearms within the United States and infringement on our Second Amendment right. I believe this is a backdoor approach to chip away at every law abiding citizen’s right to keep and bear arms. I will vote against this treaty when it comes before the Senate. 

Fortunately, two-thirds of the Senate must approve the treaty for ratification and I don’t believe that support exists. Earlier this year 53 Senators went on record supporting an amendment to prohibit the State Department from negotiating this treaty.

As a cosponsored of S. Con. Res. 7, a bipartisan resolution that makes clear a U.N. ATT that undermines constitutional freedoms of American gun owners will not be ratified by the Senate, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that the Senate does not ratify this unnecessary and unconstitutional treaty.