Dr. Boozman's Check-up

Now that the election is behind us, and Congress remains divided, the need for bipartisanship on veterans’ issues is vital. The core functions of government, including providing for our veterans and their families, should not be subjected to political gamesmanship.

This is the message of an opinion piece I authored for The Hill that ran this weekend as part of a package of lawmaker’s tributes to veterans.  You can read the piece in its entirety here.  

It is important that lawmakers recognize that Americans are sick and tired of procedural tricks and legislative slight-of-hand to cast one party in opposition to principles that we all support.  We’ve seen this too often lately from the Majority and unfortunately that trend has even found its way into veterans’ issues, which is an area where we have traditionally come together.  It is my hope that we can move beyond the divisive tactics and work to help our veterans in constructive bipartisan manner.

**UPDATED on 12/12/12: Arkansans interested in attending the 2013 Inauguration can can get information on how to obtain tickets for the Presidential ball and parade by visiting the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s website at 2013pic.org. At this time, our requests have exceeded our ticket availability.** 

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) has launched the official website and the first ever Facebook page for the upcoming presidential inauguration ceremony.

These two sites provide a vast amount of historical information and as we get closer to the Inauguration will include information specific to the 2013 Inauguration and logistical information for those that will be attending the event.  

Arkansans interested in attending the 2013 Inauguration can contact my office to request tickets.  Please include the following information: first and last name, address, email, phone number, passes requested, and any additional information.  Due to the highly anticipated volume of requests, this email does not guarantee you tickets, but will place your name on the list.  Due to limited quantities, we can only accept requests from residents of Arkansas. 

Please email my assistant, Teah Franklin (teah_franklin@boozman.senate.gov), to place your request or for more information.

If you are interested in tours while in Washington, DC, please visit this page for information and to make a tour request.

Guest on KASU Radio

Oct 23 2012

We joined KASU’s Mark Smith this morning to discuss some important topics facing our nation such as sequestration and potential military cuts, tax rates and the need to reform the tax code, veterans’ health care benefits and the farm bill. Listen to the discussion here.

In this edition of “From the Mailbag” Senator Boozman discusses the importance of the Farm Bill and what must be included in the legislation to get his support. The uncertainty for Arkansas farmers and ranchers “really does impact the economy,” Boozman says. The senator also discusses drought relief and the need to eliminate the renewable fuel standard. Boozman is committed to working to get an equitable farm bill passed in the lame duck session that begins in November. Watch this edition here.

Earlier this month, Senator Boozman sat down with Roby Brock of Talk Business for an Internet-televised interview based on questions he solicited from Arkansans via email and social media.

The thirty-minute segment featured questions on the farm bill, ethanol subsidies, the Veterans Jobs Corp Act, the fiscal cliff, postal reform, deepening the Arkansas River and the state highway funding ballot initiative. 

Read the Talk Business write-up here and watch the entire thirty-minute interview here. 

Among the highlights: 

  • On the farm bill, Boozman believes a compromise can be reached after the election. “At the end of the day, we are going to get it done this year.  It is vital to the state of Arkansas.  It is vital to our farmers.  This is one of the things putting a wet blanket on the economy. I was with a young farmer the other day and he wants to buy a tractor. He can’t do that because he doesn’t know what the rules are going to be for the next five years.  As a result, he is not going to take out a loan, he is not going to buy a tractor and an implement dealer will not be able to make a profit in a small community in Arkansas.” 

  • On the misinformation surrounding the “Veterans Jobs Corp Bill,” Boozman said liberal talk show host Rachel Maddow was responsible for the claims that he helped write it when in fact it was a Democrat-led effort to push through a flawed bill without offering Republicans any opportunities to amend it. “I in no way authored the bill. I had never seen the bill until it came [to the Senate floor]. It had some good stuff in there and it had some bad stuff in there.  I felt that we could have cleaned it up, but Senator Reid chose not to amend the bill,” Boozman said noting the bill did not move forward because the non-partisan Senate Parliamentarian ruled that it violated budget guidelines.  “Again, it didn’t kill the bill it just sent it back to the committee to get the pay-for figured out,” he added. 

  • On the bigger issue of veterans’ unemployment, Boozman said the Republicans idea which Senator Reid did not allow a vote on would be a better solution. “We’ve got to help veteran gets back to work. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. But [with this bill] when the money went away, the job went away. So we said, let’s do the job training, but let’s put a provision in there that with attrition, veterans would have first preference [at available government positions] so they would have a real job that would last forever. Those are the commonsense things that you need to do rather than some short-sighted deal just to boost employment so you could brag about it for a year,” he said.   
  • On the state highway funding ballot initiative, Boozman stressed that this is a state issue, but said he intends to vote for it as a citizen. “I really believe for Arkansas to move forward you have to have the infrastructure.  We talk about Jobs, jobs, jobs. The nice thing [about infrastructure development] is you create some jobs when you do it but by far the most important thing is the economic activity that comes about as a result of it,” he said.

  • On deepening the Arkansas River, Boozman said, “Our inland waterways are so important. If we deepened the channel to 12-foot, the barrages would be able to hold 40% more product with very little, if any cost, of pushing it down stream. So your price goes down dramatically in terms of delivering the goods.” 

  • Boozman said he supports a waiver for the renewable fuel standard and that he requested that from the Administration because of the negative impact ethanol subsidies have on the cost of living for Arkansans. “In the past we’ve had about 40% of our corn crop going into ethanol. Now with the drought, I think it will be closer to 50%. That makes no sense at all,” he said. “What that does is drives up the cost of corn. That drives up the cost of commodities in general and really does translate to higher prices in the grocery stores.”
  • When asked how the partisan divide on tax cuts will be overcome to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” Boozman said, “The avenue I’ve been looking at is let’s go for a year [on a tax extension] and put in place some hard and fast steps as to real tax reform.”

  • On the question of how to bring down the national debt, Boozman said, “These are basic economic rules. You can’t have over a trillion dollar deficit year after year.  We’ve got to get our debt under control in a logical reasonable way.”

  • Boozman was also asked his position on postal reform to which he responded, “We’ve got areas in the country where lots of seniors live. They rely on the Post Office for their medicine and their Social Security check so you need to have a presence there.” Boozman, citing a reform bill he supported in the Senate, said the end game is getting the U.S. Postal Service in a position where it is economically viable again. “We’ve got to help the Post Office reinvent itself. The Post Office is going to have to find their place and we are going to have to help them find it,” he said.

On Friday we celebrated the homecoming of airmen and women from the 188th Fighter Wing who returned home after a three month long deployment to Afghanistan. It was great to show my appreciation and gratitude for their hard work and sacrifice and see families being reunited. We are extremely proud of the work all of our members of our Armed Forces and grateful for their patriotism and effort to promote American ideals worldwide. NWA Media captured images of this heartwarming homecoming in this video.

The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce gave me a tour of three of Faulkner County's biggest employers yesterday and KTHV was on-hand to see how the area is aggressively going after new markets and more job opportunities.  Conway rightfully has been in the spotlight lately because area employers are adding more workers than many other communities are across the country.  However they agree that if the wet blanket of regulations, tax increases and Washington gridlock were lifted, they could be adding even more.  You can read the KTHV report and watch the video here.

Catching Up With KTHV

Oct 03 2012

Yesterday, I stopped by the KTHV studio in Little Rock to visit with anchor Matt Turner.  We had a broad discussion on veterans’ issues, the farm bill, debris in the Little Maumelle River and the struggles the Razorbacks have faced in the early weeks of football season.

Among the highlights:

On the misinformation about his role in authoring the Veterans Jobs Corps Bill: “Half-truths are whole lies. I had a bill I had helped write with Senator [Mark] Begich of Alaska, a Democrat friend who is also on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.  We introduced it.  They [The Senate Democratic leadership] took part of our bill, changed the wording, stuck it into bill and then said we had co-authored that [new] bill when the reality was neither he nor I had ever seen the [new] bill until it was actually introduced.”

On the need to put our veterans back to work: “We can’t do enough for our veterans. Veterans unemployment is very, very high now… …we are committed to bringing it down.  I think that we will eventually get this bill [the Veterans Jobs Corps Bill] passed… …and we have actually passed two other bills in this area in this Congress.”

On the farm bill reauthorization: “We’ve got to get this right. It’s about regional agriculture. It’s not about Democrats and Republicans… …in southern agriculture we irrigate a lot. We are concerned about getting safety nets in that protect that. Some of the other states… …they don’t irrigate as much. They are concerned about another form of crop insurance… …with planning you have to be able to go to the bank and the bank has to know what the rules are going to be in the future or you are not going to get a loan, so it is a huge deal, something we’ve got to get settled.”

Watch the interview in its entirety here

In January, President Obama made an unprecedented decision to install Richard Cordray as the director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Board and three members to the National Labor Relations Board without Senate confirmation. 

At the time, the Senate was in regular proceedings called pro forma sessions. However, the President claimed the Senate was in recess. By altering the definition of recess, the President violated hundreds of years of Senate precedent. Appointing these federal officers without Senate approval violates the Constitution. To fight this executive overreach, I joined my colleagues in filing a court brief challenging these recess appointments. Our friend-of-the-court brief argues that the President’s appointments are unconstitutional overreach of presidential power.  

Our Founding Fathers established a system of checks-and-balances to preserve our democracy. The President systematically overturned this balance with his recent power grab. When I took the oath of office to represent the State of Arkansas, I also swore that I would protect the Constitution. Joining my fellow Senators in challenging the President’s actions is part of my continued commitment to uphold the Constitution.

Earlier this week, I joined Mark Smith on Morning Edition on KASU 91.9 to discuss the
situation in the Middle East, the economy, the farm bill, drought relief and
veterans’ legislation.

At about the 9:40 mark, we begin a lengthy discussion on the misleading reports surrounding the Senate debate over the Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012.

Listen to the interview in its entirety via KASU’s website.