Dr. Boozman's Check-up

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.

This story today from CNN Money should not come as a surprise.   A survey shows that the CEOs of major U.S. companies expect to hire fewer people and invest less in the next six months.  Why?  It’s because Washington has failed to address what is known as “the fiscal cliff,” the combination of automatic spending cuts from sequestration and the expiring lower tax rates that will hit together on December 31st.  It is another huge wet blanket on an already struggling economy.  And it didn’t have to be this way.  

The Increasing American Jobs Through Greater Exports to Africa Act of 2012, a bill I am sponsoring with Senators Christopher Coons (D-DE) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week. This bill seeks to increase America’s competiveness throughout the continent by forcing better coordination between U.S. government agencies and departments, establishing comprehensive strategic goals, and marshaling private investments to improve U.S.-Africa business activities. This bill is a win-win for us at home and abroad. By increasing trade with African nations, we can create more jobs here at home. Hopefully we can get this bill passed in the inevitable lame duck session of Congress. 

Learn more about how The Increasing American Jobs Through Greater Exports to Africa Act of 2012 will create jobs in the U.S.

The Senate Republicans took the floor this morning to demand leadership and action from the Majority on the economy and other issues. You can watch my remarks on job creation, how the administration and the Senate Majority are taking the wrong approach to economic issues and our solutions to put Americans back to work.

I recently sat down with Arkansas Business to discuss the issues we are dealing with in Washington and the videos of the interview on their website.  In the first segment, we discuss what ideas the Republicans would base our health care reform on once it we repeal the President’s law.  In the second segment, the discussion moves to how disastrous the fiscal cliff is to our national security.  

Stolen Valor

Sep 14 2012

The House of Representatives passed the continuing resolution yesterday.  This is an important step to avoiding a government shutdown which would harm Arkansans and all Americans who count on services provided by government.  The continuing resolution will allow us to carry on with our work without the interruption of vital services for Arkansans.  I predict it will sail through this chamber as well.

The continuing resolution was not the only key action taken by the House yesterday that can easily be replicated by the Senate.  House members also passed a bill that would make it a crime to profit from false claims about military service. 

Back in June, the Supreme Court struck down a 2006 law that made it a crime to lie about receiving the Medal of Honor and other prized military awards.  While the Court called the false claims "contemptible," the Justices said that it was nonetheless protected speech under the First Amendment. 

The bill passed by the House yesterday should stand the Constitutional test because it narrows the scope by focusing on the profiting of these false claims.  

There is clearly overwhelming support in both chambers for this effort to protect our decorated veterans.  I am one of 33 Senators who are cosponsoring a companion bill here in the Senate.  While the President has not publically endorsed the bill, his administration argued in favor of the broader law before the Supreme Court.  Should we pass the bill, I believe President Obama would sign this commonsense solution to the problem.    

Our veterans sacrificed dearly to earn their decorations.  We need to protect the integrity of their service by preventing others from falsely profiting off these honors by fraudulently claiming they too received them.

Today the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs marked up several bills to improve veterans mental health and suicide prevention programs, protect veterans’ rights while deployed, improve access to VA programs for women veterans, increase veterans’ service connected disability compensation, and protect the Second Amendment Rights of our veterans.

Included in the Omnibus Healthcare package (S.3340) were two bipartisan provision I have been working on with my Senate Colleagues.  The text of S. 3049, of which I am the lead Republican Cosponsor with Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), was included as Sec. 307, and will ensure that women veterans fleeing domestic violence or abusive relationships, including those that threaten the safety of their children, will have access to VA Homeless assistance programs before their situation worsens.  The text of S. 1849, the “Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act,” of which I am the lead Republican Cosponsor with Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) was included in Sec. 407, and will improve the access and quality of care for our veterans living in rural areas. 

Also passed by the committee was S. 1707, the “Veterans’ Second Amendment Protection Act,” legislation introduced by Sen Richard Burr (R-NC), of which I am an original cosponsor. 

The following are my opening remarks. 

Madame Chair - Ranking Member Burr, 

Thank you for holding this mark-up today so that we may discuss ways in which this body can further improve many of the benefits that serve our veterans, particularly regarding mental health care and homeless veterans. 

I very much appreciate you including several provisions that I have been working on with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. 

Included in the Chair’s omnibus bill, or the “ACCESS Act,” are a couple of important proposals we have been working on, and I appreciate the committee leadership for including them in that package.  Sec. 307 of this bill includes an important provision that reflects the work of Senator Begich and me.  This provision would ensure that women veterans who are fleeing domestic violence, and find themselves with no place to go, do not have to wait for an even greater crisis before they and their families have access to VA homeless services.  This is a common sense provision and I thank the Chair and Ranking member for including it. 

Sec. 407 includes a provision that Senator Franken and I have been working on to ensure that we are getting a good return on the investments we have been making in the VA’s Office of Rural Health.  With so many of our veterans living in rural areas, our nation has seen fit to invest a significant amount of money to improve the accessibility and quality of the health care they receive.  I think it is so important for us to have a clear path forward to improve health care for our rural veterans.  This provision will ensure that this occurs and I appreciate Senator Franken’s work and leadership on this issue and am pleased that it is included in the bill. 

I would also like to express my strong support for Senator Burr’s legislation, S. 1707, of which I am an original cosponsor. I have been strongly advocating for this legislation for the past few Congresses and it is high time we got this thing done.  This bill would protect the 2nd Amendment rights of our veterans who have served in uniform.  I would also express my support for the additional amendments that Senator Burr has offered in response to recent developments that would further protect our veterans’ second amendment rights. 

Finally, I would like to express my concerns about some of the provisions included in “GI Bill Consumer Awareness Act” that will be discussed here today. We all want to see veterans use their benefits wisely, and all consumers should be protected from fraud.  However, I believe there are better ways to accomplish this with tools already at our disposal and do not require the creation of myriads of bureaucratic reports and hoops to jump through that could place an undue burden on the VA and educational institutions.  We want to protect veterans and we can do so by empowering them, but we should be careful not to burden them with bureaucracy and limit their choices.  We must remember that this benefit belongs to the veteran, or their beneficiary, because they have earned it through their service and sacrifice and we should be careful not to limit their ability to use it as they wish or further limit their educational options. 

Again, Madame Chair and Ranking Member, thank you for holding this Mark-up today and for your continued commitment to our servicemembers and their families.


How to help agriculture producers in this record drought

Shares thoughts on CNBC blog

Aug 15 2012

The drought is taking a tremendous toll on Arkansas agriculture producers. As KARK reported it will take several years for the agriculture industry to rebound from this record breaking drought which economists predict could have a billion dollar impact on our state’s economy.  

Today Governor Beebe announced he would make available $2 million to help Arkansas ranchers. The bottom line is that Congress also needs to step up to assist our agriculture producers during this difficult time. That begins with passing a five-year Farm Bill that offers protections to agriculture producers against potential disasters like the drought we’re currently facing. In the meantime, we need to provide immediate drought relief to our farmers and ranchers. The House passed an extension of the livestock disaster provisions prior to leaving for August recess so that our livestock producers would know help is on the way. Unfortunately, instead of bringing this non-controversial bill up for a vote in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid opted to use this opportunity to try and force the House to act on a five-year extension of the Farm Bill. 

I contributed to the CNBC blog, explaining how the federal government can help this important industry.