Dr. Boozman's Check-up

On the Radio

Apr 09 2013

We talked with Mark Smith on Jonesboro’s KASU about a variety of topics facing our country including threats to our Second Amendment rights and the upcoming debate on gun control in the Senate. If you missed our interview you can listen to it here.

An uprising in the Central African Republic (CAR) has put a wrinkle in the search for elusive war criminal Joseph Kony. The rebels who seized power in the CAR last month have not been recognized by the African Union (AU) and have exhibited hostility toward foreign troops, so Uganda, the AU and the U.S. special forces helping with intelligence and logistical support have halted their search for Kony.

Kony and his rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have caused untold pain to children and families in Central Africa over the past 25 years. It is currently believed that the weakened group is hiding in jungles straddling the borders of CAR, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.

The LRA is responsible for a litany of human rights violations including abduction, rape, torture and murder all committed under direct orders from Kony, a demented messianic guerilla leader who uses abducted child soldiers to carry out his heinous crimes.

In light of the news that Ugandan and AU troops have suspended their search, human intelligence becomes all the more important in the effort to capture Kony. This is why I am pleased to see the State Department announce a bounty for Kony and two of his top lieutenants. The bounty on Kony increases the chances locals would be willing to provide information that will help lead to his arrest.

The ability to offer a bounty didn’t exist until then-Senator, now Secretary of State John Kerry and a bipartisan group of our Senate colleagues passed a measure to expand the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program making it applicable to anyone who offers information that leads to the arrest or conviction of Joseph Kony. I was the lead Republican sponsor of this effort.

Prior to our successful effort to expand the program, it only applied to information leading to the arrest and conviction of criminals wanted for terrorism, narcotics trafficking and anyone indicted in the three international criminal tribunals—Sierra Leone, the former Yugoslavia, and Rwanda. Our expansion of the program will provide incentives for offering information for individuals wanted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide; giving us one more instrument to help track this elusive war criminal down.

The key to capturing Kony is not superior firepower. Nor is it more troops. What we have seen time and time again in these manhunts is human intelligence wins out. Somewhere, someone knows his whereabouts and will come forward with information that will lead to his capture. Today’s announcement should help and I welcome it.

Earlier this week, the United Nations agreed to the Arms Trade Treaty. Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, the Obama Administration voted in support of the misguided treaty.

Fortunately, in order for any treaty to take effect, it must be ratified by two-thirds of the U.S. Senate. Based on previous statements and the fact that 53 Senators went on record a few weeks ago supporting an amendment to stop the State Department from negotiating this treaty, I do not believe the votes are there for ratification.

The administration is well aware of where the Senate stands on the issue.  Last year, I joined 57 other Senators in sending a letter to President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reminding them that the Senate has final say on treaties, and stated our unequivocal opposition to any treaty that would affect civilian ownership of firearms, challenge the authority of Congress to regulate firearms within the United States, or call for an international gun registry. 

Now that the Obama Administration helped pass the treaty, it is important to reiterate that we will fight ratification. It is the reason why I support a concurrent resolution that was introduced in the Senate stating the treaty should not be ratified. This treaty puts us on the same level as global bad actors, those countries that abuse human rights and arm terrorists, and a backdoor way to chip away at every law abiding citizen’s right to keep and bear arms.  The Obama Administration should have recognized that to begin with, but clearly protecting the Second Amendment rights of every law abiding American is not on its priority list.  It remains on mine. I will work to ensure that this treaty never gets ratified.  

Here’s a recap of some of this week’s posts in case you missed them.

  • Senate Passes Two Boozman Amendments:  While the Senate Majority’s budget was deeply flawed, I did get my colleagues to agree to two of my amendments to the resolution. The first on would ease regulatory burdens imposed on community banks caused by the Dodd-Frank bill. The second one aims to protect private property rights. Read about them both here.

  • Advice & Consent:  Senator Boozman recently met with President Obama’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Gina McCarthy. Hear what I have to say about the role of the Senate in confirming presidential nominees in the latest edition of “From the Mailbag.” 
  • Upcoming Opportunity to Improve Arkansas’s Waterways: In the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, we are working on a new “Water Resources Development Act.”  This bipartisan legislation would improve our nation’s water resources policy to expand opportunity, promote commerce, and reduce flood risks. I am working to includes reforms that speed up project delivery and provide new ways to finance water projects. My goal is to protect taxpayers and improve our water resources. Read how here
  • Talking Budget & Sequestration with KASU: For the first time in four years the Senate debated a budget resolution. I talked about the importance of this basic responsibility of governing as well as ways Washington is working to cut the budget and give flexibility to our federal agencies so they can eliminate the waste and abuse with KASU morning show host Mark Smith. You can listen to the interview here.

For the first time in four years the Senate debated a budget resolution. We talked about the importance of this basic responsibility of governing as well as ways Washington is working to cut the budget and give flexibility to our federal agencies so they can eliminate the waste and abuse.  You can listen to the interview here.

Senator Boozman supports spending cuts but wants to have targeted cuts instead of the across-the-board cuts imposed by sequestration. In this edition of "From the Mailbag" he discusses efforts in the recently passed continuing resolution to provide flexibility to federal agencies to minimize the impact of the cuts.

President Obama arrived in Israel today for his first official visit as commander in chief. Before he left, 77 of my colleagues and I sent the President a letter urging him to (1) reaffirm his commitment to working closely with the new government of Israel (2) support unconditional direct negotiations between both the Israelis and Palestinians (3) oppose Palestinian efforts to circumvent direct negotiations or efforts to isolate or delegitimize Israel (4) reiterate the United States’ support for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and (5) identify policy solutions to address the other urgent and important threats facing Israel and the United States today. 

The overwhelming support in the Senate for this letter demonstrates that the unshakeable bond with our strongest ally in the volatile Middle East isn’t a partisan issue. Thankfully, in Congress there is unity on this issue.

The letter references a Senate-passed resolution—that 89 of my colleagues and I cosponsored—reaffirming our commitment to a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We agree that a clear pathway for peace is through unconditional direct negotiations between both the Israelis and Palestinians. Efforts by the Palestinians to circumvent direct negotiations must continue to be opposed.

These Palestinian efforts are often coupled with campaigns to isolate or delegitimize Israel. In our letter, we thanked President Obama for actively standing by Israel at the UN to try to block such efforts during his first term and called on him to make clear that our relationship with Palestinians will be jeopardized if they seek action against Israel at the International Criminal Court. These attempts to delegitimize Israel are counterproductive to the peace process.

As the shifting landscape of the Middle East continues to rapidly change, it is more important than ever for President Obama to seize this moment to reaffirm our strong support for Israel and revitalize the stalled peace process.

Read the letter by following the link below.

The Senate will soon begin debate on a budget. In this edition of "From the Mailbag" Senator Boozman discusses the importance of the Senate debating its first budget resolution in four years.

Here’s a recap of what we worked on this week in case you missed it.

  • Answers for Illegal Immigrants Release:  In late February, it was reported that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had released a “few hundred” illegal immigrants from custody.  The administration drastically misrepresented the number to the public and more than 2000 criminal illegal immigrants had been released from custody. We deserve answers about their release. This week we joined a group of U.S. Senators in support of a proposed amendment to the Continuing Resolution currently being debated in the Senate that would require the Department of Homeland Security to provide Congress with information about the illegal immigrants who are being released for what the administration says is budget considerations. 
  • UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) - The Obama Administration has expressed an interest in international small arms control initiatives that were resisted previously by both the Bush Administration and the Clinton Administration. I’m strongly opposed to the U.S. signing any UN Treaty that would regulate small arms. This week we cosponsored a concurrent resolution to prevent that from happening. Read more about it here. 
  • Defund the President’s Health care Law: I voted for an amendment that would prohibit funding for the implementation of President Obama’s health care law. This law does little to contain the cost of health care which is the real root of the problem. The amendment wasn’t approved but I will continue to fight against this overreach. 
  • Coordinated, Robust Energy Review: We need to promote energy policies that put our nation on the path to energy independence. I have long supported an all-of-the above energy plan that uses all our nation’s natural resources. This week we cosponsored the Quadrennial Energy Review Act of 2013 that would authorize a government-wide coordination council to submit a comprehensive review of current domestic capabilities and future energy needs. 
  • Protecting Air Traffic Control Towers: Irresponsible cuts from sequestration will put the flying public at risk, impair access to rural areas, jeopardize national and civil security missions, and cost jobs. I joined a bipartisan effort to stop the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) targeting air traffic control towers in sequestration to share the cost of the cuts to air traffic control evenly. In addition I joined with other members of the Arkansas Congressional Delegation asking for answers on proposed local contract control tower closures from the FAA administrator.