Dr. Boozman's Check-up

On Friday, I had the opportunity to meet with members of the 188th Fighter Wing and talk with members of the steering committee on the campaign to maintain the A-10 mission in Fort Smith. As part of the community’s efforts, citizens are encouraged to write Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta that the Arkansas Congressional delegation will deliver to the Secretary. Letters are pouring in from all walks of life and all ages. Watch how one school is doing its part in this story from KFSM.

The 188th Fighter Wing is the model of efficiency and cost effectiveness for A-10 units. We have joined the other members of the Arkansas Congressional delegation meeting with high level Air Force officials and are working closely with the Arkansas National Guard and the Fort Smith 188th Fighter Wing Steering Committee to protect the mission of the Fort Smith base Air Guard.

You can learn more about our visit in this story published in the Times Record and this story on 40/29.

As I have previously stated, President Obama’s “accommodation” of religious liberty in his revised health care mandate covering contraceptives, sterilizations and abortifacients raises more questions than it answers. Perhaps, the most egregious part is that the President refuses to acknowledge that the Constitution guarantees conscience protections and instead tries to run around them.

You don’t “accommodate” religious liberties, you respect them. That’s why they are enshrined in the Constitution. Those Constitutional protections should prevent the President from trampling the conscience rights of Americans and religious institutions who hold a strong belief that contraceptives, sterilizations and abortifacients are wrong. Clearly, however, they are not enough. President Obama’s “accommodation” shows that he considers conscience rights to be an inconvenience in his effort to remake America in his vision. That is why we need to pass the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act.”

The “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act”—introduced by my colleague from neighboring Missouri, Senator Roy Blunt—seeks to restore conscience protections that existed before President Obama’s flawed health care law. These are the same protections that have existed for more than 220 years since the First Amendment was ratified. It will likely be taken up in the near future as an amendment to the Highway Bill.

Many longstanding federal health care conscience laws protect conscientious objections to certain types of medical services. President Obama could have just as easily followed that course when he issued a mandate requiring almost all private health insurance policies—including those issued by religious institutions such as hospitals, schools and non-profits—to cover sterilizations and contraceptives, including emergency contraceptives, at no cost to policyholders…. ....but he did not. Now Congress must step-up and protect the religious liberties of all Americans.

Interview on Fox 16

Feb 23 2012

You may have seen this last night at 5 p.m. Senator Boozman talked with Fox 16's Donna Terrell about issues such as the Administration's contraception mandate, the payroll tax and social security and corporate tax reform. If you missed it you can watch the interview here.

In case you missed it: Senator Boozman was on KHOZ in Harrison Wednesday morning discussing the budget, gas prices, HHS contraceptive mandate and Second Amendment Rights. Listen to the conversation at the link below.

Pain at the Pump

Feb 22 2012

The average price of regular gasoline in Arkansas is up 20 cents from a month ago and the Associated Press reports the cost is the highest ever for this time of year. The reality of rising gas prices is a costly reminder of how dependent our country is on foreign oil. This story in today’s Arkansas Democrat Gazette (subscription required) shows why we need to stop relying on oil from countries that don’t like us. We need a reliable, dependable source of energy and that starts here at home. We need to use American energy resources and develop alternative fuel options to reverse the climbing prices at the pump.

Projects like the Keystone XL pipeline are necessary to increase our energy supply and security and put Americans back to work.

I have long supported legislation that puts billions of dollars of research into wind, solar, hydrogen and other technologies that will ease our dependence on foreign oil and gas, but we need relief now and American oil and gas are necessary and available.

Stimulus Strikes Out

Feb 17 2012

Three years ago today President Obama signed his ‘stimulus’ bill into law promising to keep unemployment below 8 percent and create 3.5 billion jobs.

In its “Understanding and Responding to Persistently High Unemployment” report released yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) describes how well the ‘stimulus’ worked.

“The rate of unemployment in the United States has exceeded 8 percent since February 2009, making the past three years the longest stretch of high unemployment in this country since the Great Depression. Moreover, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the unemployment rate will remain above 8 percent until 2014. The official unemployment rate excludes those individuals who would like to work but have not searched for a job in the past four weeks as well as those who are working part-time but would prefer full-time work; if those people were counted among the unemployed, the unemployment rate in January 2012 would have been about 15 percent. Compounding the problem of high unemployment, the share of unemployed people looking for work for more than six months—referred to as the long-term unemployed—topped 40 percent in December 2009 for the first time since 1948, when such data began to be collected; it has remained above that level ever since.”

Since signing this failed legislation, we have experienced 36 straight months of unemployment over 8 percent and zero net jobs. The President’s empty promise cost taxpayers more than $800 billion and has left us with an even deeper hole in our national debt and little in return to show for it.

Answering Arkansans

"From the Mailbag"

Feb 15 2012

Senator Boozman answers questions Arkansans are asking. In this edition of "From the Mailbag" he discusses the federal budget, how the Department of Health and Human Service's contraceptive mandate violates religious liberties and the Department of Labor's proposed rule regulating the work youths can perform on family farms.

During last night’s newscast, KARK, Little Rock’s NBC station, took an in-depth look at how The Local Courthouse Safety Act could help enhance security in Arkansas’s smaller courthouses. 

Watch their story and then learn more about The Local Courthouse Safety Act here.

Yesterday, I joined Minnesota’s Senators Al Franken & Amy Klobuchar to introduce legislation aimed at addressing security concerns, like a lack of screening equipment and training at local courthouses.

This morning, violence struck at yet another courthouse when a gunman in a Middletown, N.Y. shot and wounded a court officer before he was shot several times and killed.

This is a stark reminder that our local courthouses, especially in rural and suburban areas, need to ensure employees and citizens are safe when they are attending to business.  Often, these smaller courthouses lack even basic security measures like metal detectors.

Courthouse violence is an issue that hits home.  Last September, James Ray Palmer entered the Crawford County Courthouse with intentions of shooting the judge.  The court was not in session and the judge was not there, which led Palmer began firing randomly shooting Vickie Jones, secretary of the circuit judge, in the leg.  Palmer was shot and killed by the responding officers.  Those heroic law enforcement officers from the Van Buren Police Department and the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department were honored for their bravery at a ceremony last night.

The goal of our bill is to help prevent these tragedies from taking place.  By providing local courts with access to security training, giving states authority to use existing grant money to improve courthouse security, and cutting through bureaucratic red tape to give local courts access to excess federal security equipment we can dramatically improve courthouse safety and cut down the violent attacks that have recently taken place in courthouses across the country.

The Obama administration is at it again.  With its latest overreaching mandate, the President is now demanding that many religious institutions—including church-run hospitals and universities—provide contraception in employee health plans even if they are opposed by the church.

There is a story in today’s edition of Politico on what led President Obama to this decision.

The key takeaway: 

“The handling of the issue offers a hint of Obama’s approach to governing and campaigning in 2012: When confronted with a position close to his heart — and dear to the base — Obama is increasingly inclined to side with people who will vote for him even if it means enraging those who might, but probably won’t, vote for him.” [Emphasis added]

The problem with governing in this manner is obvious.  Violating the religious liberties and conscience rights of faith-based institutions to appease your base is not leading by the values by which our country was established.  Instead, it’s yet another instance where President Obama has shown that his top concern in an election year is protecting his own job.

In an effort to fight this overreach, I cosponsored the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012, a bill to repeal this violation of religious liberties.  Forcing religious employers to furnish birth control, even when that runs counter to their beliefs, is a blatant infringement on First Amendment rights.  This commonsense bill would protect religious organizations from being forced to compromise their beliefs at the whim of the Obama administration and exempt them from this mandate. 

The seemingly endless number of regulations this administration has handed down on the American people needs to end.  Let’s force the President to govern in a manner that respects the values of the American people, not just his base.  Passing this bill and restoring respect for religious liberties is a good place to start.