Dr. Boozman's Check-up

Agri-Pulse Open Mic

Jan 09 2017

As a member of the Senate Ag Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee I am in a great position to help the agriculture industry. With a new administration in the 115th Congress we have opportunities to roll back the regulations negatively impacting rural America. I recently had the opportunity to join Agri-Pulse’s Open Mic to discuss efforts for regulatory reform and the future for food policy and trade with Cuba. You can listen to the interview here.

Yesterday CNN reported that President Obama released four Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) prisoners to Saudi Arabia.

With weeks left before the end of his presidency, he continues his irresponsible campaign promise to close Gitmo.

Here’s why this is a problem – former detainees have returned to the battlefield and are responsible for the deaths of Americans. This is a threat to our national security.

I’ve supported continued efforts to block the administration from closing this facility. It’s well-equipped to house these dangerous prisoners and we cannot trust that the countries to which these detainees are transferred will monitor them to ensure they don’t return to the battlefield.

I look forward to working with the next administration to ensure Gitmo continues to be a place where we detainee dangerous people who are intent on endangering our American way of life.

Last week, I visited with first responders across Arkansas on my #EverySecondCounts tour. This was an opportunity for me to hear from firefighters, members of law enforcement, 911 operators and dispatchers and emergency medical technicians and to tell them how much we appreciate their service to our communities. I was eager to listen to these public servants and learn more about the issues they are facing, as well as offer ways I can help. First responders and public safety officials are the backbone of our communities. I appreciate their dedication and commitment and I am proud to see the support many Arkansans showed them during our tour around the state. It takes a special person to put their life on the line every day to protect our communities. You can call them first responders. I call them heroes.

When I ask Arkansans what frustrates them about the direction of our country, the most common response I hear is that “Washington does not listen to us.”

Obamacare is a perfect example of how Congressional Democrats and officials in the White House, who claim they know better than hardworking Americans, refuse to listen to the concerns of the American people.

From the beginning, the President pushed Obamacare down the throats of Americans with no concerns about the negative effects it would have on them.

President Obama promised his approach would lower health care costs. The truth is, there is absolutely nothing in Obamacare that drives down costs. In fact, health care costs continue to rise since his signature initiative became law and Americans are set to see an even more dramatic hike in their premiums in the coming year.

The Obama administration has confirmed this week that health insurance premiums sold through Obamacare will see double-digit increases—an average of a twenty percent-plus surge—in 2017. This is not, as the President has billed it, “affordable care.”

Rather, this massive spike in premium costs is further evidence that Obamacare is failing. It’s collapsing under the weight of its own massive bureaucracy. Nothing in this law will contain healthcare costs, but that has not stopped the President and Senate Democrats from attempting to double down on failure by expanding Obamacare.

Competition is how you lower costs. We need to allow Americans to shop across state lines for their health insurance like they can for their automobile insurance, allow small business owners to pool together to purchase group insurance at a lower rate and introduce portability to the market to ensure that hardworking Americans don’t have disruptions in their coverage when they change jobs.

These free market approaches—along with an expansion of health savings accounts and tort reform to eliminate the practice of defensive medicine—are how you drive down the cost of care.

The President got his way over the vocal objections of millions of Americans. His way has made our health care crisis worse. Let’s turn to the free market to fix the mess Obamacare has created.

It was a special experience to be able to present the Congressional Gold Medal to WWII veteran Ralph Watson, of Fort Smith, for his service in the Civil Air Patrol. He has an incredible story a proud patriarch of three generations of Civil Air Patrol members.
This week, the second-most powerful court in the country delivered a harsh rebuke to the Obama administration when it ruled that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) had been organized and structured in an unconstitutional manner.
Today, President Obama’s so-called “Clean Power Plan” goes before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The lawsuit, brought by 26 states, including Arkansas, argues that the mandate is unconstitutional and should be abandoned.

This week, Senate Democrats once again blocked a bill that would have provided $1.1 billion to combat the Zika virus and they also again filibustered the Defense Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017. This is the third time that Democrats have blocked funding for the Zika crisis and have refused to move forward on critical funding for our nation’s defense.

Both bills are vitally important right now. The Zika funding is urgently needed to provide resources to those who can research and study the virus, and the funds for defense because that is Washington’s first responsibility.

Zika was first discovered in 1947, and until recently was not taken seriously as outbreaks were small and sporadic with little known adverse effects. What was once a disease confined along the equator has quickly become a global health threat that has been determined to cause birth defects including microcephaly, a neurological condition which results in a child being born with an abnormally small head. 

The spread of the Zika virus is a serious problem and now is the time for Congress to act by providing additional funding for health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to study the virus and its transmission. The more we learn about Zika and its transmission the more alarming this public health crisis becomes, which makes the actions by Senate Democrats even more difficult to understand.

Democrats are blocking the bill because they are unhappy that Planned Parenthood is not receiving funding as part of the package to provide resources to health care agencies and providers to prevent the spread of the virus. This is another partisan, ideological obstruction that is not grounded in the facts. My colleague, Senator Thom Tillis from North Carolina, wrote a good piece for Fox News dismantling that nonsensical argument.

CDC Director Tom Friedan has said that the agency is almost out of money to continue to researching the virus. That Senate Democrats have continued to oppose the funding is just another example of the antics they are willing to engage in during an election year.

As is the Senate Democrat’s ongoing filibuster of the Department of Defense Appropriations bill. This is especially troubling because failure to adequately fund our nation’s defense puts us at great risk. At a time when ISIS and other radical terrorist groups are openly waging war against the United States and our allies, we need to be working together to ensure that our national defense is funded and capable of protecting us.

The Senate Democrats' decision to filibuster the defense spending bill is especially troubling considering that Sen. Harry Reid just last week stated that Democrats should curtail use of the filibuster should they win the White House and control of the Senate. Sen. Reid and the Democratic Caucus are engaging in political posturing while Americans are facing tremendous threats to their health and well-being.

It’s time for Democrats to put politics aside and vote to fund the fight against Zika and our national security interests.

Reuters has been busy breaking news on the failures of the Obama administration’s Iran deal this week.

On Monday, the news agency was the first outlet outside of Iran’s state-run propaganda arm to report that the regime has deployed a Russian-supplied S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system around its Fordow underground uranium enrichment facility. This news is shocking given that President Obama said his deal halts enrichment at Fordow. If that is the case, why does Iran need this potent missile defense system to protect a scientific facility?

Then yesterday, Reuters revealed that the Obama administration and its negotiating partners agreed "in secret" to allow Iran to evade some restrictions in the nuclear agreement. This reprieve was granted in order to give Iran more time to meet the deadline for it to start getting relief from economic sanctions. Two exemptions granted allowed Iran to exceed the deal's limits on how much low-enriched uranium (LEU) it can keep in its nuclear facilities. The reason for the limits in the first place is that LEU can be purified into highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium.

What’s the common thread with these two reports? They are the latest in a long line of concessions to Iran.

The S-300 air-defense missile system deployed to further fortify Fordow was part of an $800 million deal Russia signed with Iran in 2007. That deal had been voluntarily put on hold because of a 2010 United Nations Security Council resolution, but that hold was lifted after President Obama’s weak Iran nuclear deal signaled to Russia that it’s acceptable to sell weapons to Iran. And as for the exemptions Iran was secretly granted, they were because the country wanted immediate relief from sanctions so it can continue to acquire weapons systems like the one deployed to Fordow. 

What did the international community get out of this deal? Certainly not peace of mind. Meanwhile, Iran gets concession after concession to build a “peaceful” nuclear program that no one outside of the White House believes will remain that way. But that likely won’t stop the Obama administration from conceding even more to Iran in the President’s quixotic quest. 

This week, Rep. Bruce Westerman (AR-04) and I participated in a 3-day tour of forestry industry sites in Arkansas’ Fourth Congressional District. We visited various forests and businesses including a seedling nursery, working private forests, processing facilities and a U.S. Forest Service research forest. Forestry is an important industry in our state and it is thriving in timber-rich south Arkansas. It was great to see these sites and facilities up close and to discuss issues important to the industry. We are committed to pursuing legislative and policy goals that will keep Arkansas’s forest industry competitive in the global marketplace.

Arkansas Business - Seedlings to Sawmills: Forestry Is Key to Arkansas Economy (Commentary)

CSPAN - Tour of Weyerhaeuser’s Seedling Nursery in Magnolia

KTAL - Sen. Boozman and Rep. Westerman visit south Arkansas

Monticello Live - Senator John Boozman at Maxwell Hardwood Flooring

Magnolia Reporter - Sen. Boozman and Rep. Westerman visit Weyerhaeuser's Columbia County facilities

SW Times Record - Boozman, Westerman saluted for sawmill tour in Arkansas

KNOE - #Seed2Sawmill Tour Visits Del-Tin Fiber Plant in El Dorado

El Dorado NewsSeed2Sawmill Tour Visits Deltic Timber Corp. and Sen. Boozman and Rep. Westerman Make Stop At Del-Tin Fiber on Seed2Sawmill Tour

Pine Bluff Commercial Boozman, Westerman tour Pine Bluff Thursday