Dr. Boozman's Check-up

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

Since being fully implemented in 2014, Obamacare continues over-promising and under-delivering. Further evidence of this trend includes announcements from many health insurers that they will significantly draw back or pull out completely from offering coverage in the various state exchanges created under the law.

Aetna is the most recent insurer to announce that it will only be participating in a limited number of public exchanges next year, with CEO Mark Bertolini noting that it will now only offer coverage on the exchanges in four states – down from 15 previously. This move by Aetna follows similar announcements from other large insurance companies including Humana, UnitedHealth Group and Anthem.

Citing problems with the unbalanced risk pool, Aetna’s decision only confirms what I and many others have been saying since before the legislation was passed into law: Obamacare creates more problems than it solves–and things are only getting worse.

As today's  Arkansas Democrat Gazette editorial [subscription required] points out “in practice Obamacare has never measured up to its inflated promise.” 

Obamacare is already estimated to cost over $1 trillion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). With more and more insurance companies and consumers recognizing that Obamacare is driving premiums and deductibles up, and that quality of care is going down, the viability of the law is now increasingly coming into question.

What is clear is that premiums continue to skyrocket, deductibles are rising and the average hardworking American is finding it more and more difficult to find and pay for adequate health insurance.

In December 2015, Congress passed a budget bill that included a provision repealing Obamacare, but the president predictably vetoed it. Despite the mounting evidence, President Obama and the Department of Health and Human Services are continuing efforts to prop up this disastrous program instead of acknowledging its failures and working with Congress to create a sustainable solution to the health insurance crisis for consumers, providers and insurers.

Arkansans, and Americans all across the country, have seen firsthand what a failure Obamacare has been. Until this administration recognizes that the law is hurting families and preventing real, market-based reforms to our healthcare system, we can expect more announcements like Aetna’s.

Obamacare is not affordable, nor is it fixing the problems within the healthcare industry.  It is failing. And the President should work with the Republican-led Congress to repeal and replace it.

I'm hosting a telephone town hall on Tuesday, September 6 at 7 p.m. to connect with Arkansans and discuss topics under debate in Washington.

This statewide event gives Arkansans the opportunity to ask me questions over the phone or listen to the conversation about the issues impacting our state and nation.

Arkansans interested in participating in the phone conversation should call toll free 888-400-1986 to connect to the discussion and ask questions.

I look forward to talking with Arkansans about issues important to families, businesses and the future of our country. I find that telephone town halls are a great way to engage with Arkansans while at work in Washington. I look forward to the conversation.  

 Telephone Town Hall
Tuesday, September 6 at 7 p.m.
Call 888-400-1986

My annual agriculture tour highlighted the importance of this industry and allows me to hear the concerns of rural America. The answers to issues impacting the agriculture industry need to come from the ground up. Nobody is more suited to explain the problems and offer solutions better than the people who work in the industry. These stories from the road highlight of some those problems and, more importantly, solutions that were offered up during the tour.

Delta Farm Press - Passing 2018 farm bill may take different tack, Sen. Boozman says 

NE Arkansas Town Crier - Wildy Farms included in U.S. Senator's Agriculture on Tour

KASU - Boozman visits KASU studio for monthly talk

The Evening Times - Boozman Agri Tour Includes Stop in West Memphis

UA Monticello – U.S. Senator John Boozman Visits Campus

Almost nine months after signing legislation that required the Obama administration to release a report to Congress concerning the identities and backgrounds of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) detention facility in Cuba, the Pentagon has finally produced a declassified report on over 100 detainees who are currently being held or have been recently released from Gitmo.

The Department of Defense has been reluctant to disclose much information about those being held at the detention center, but we already know from recent reporting, and the congressional testimony from a Pentagon official, that some former detainees who were transferred out of the facility had returned to the battlefield and are responsible for the deaths of Americans.

President Obama made an irresponsible campaign promise to close Gitmo before the end of his presidency. This report, along with comments from Administration officials about continued efforts to transfer Gitmo detainees, should be a wake-up call that President Obama intends to empty Gitmo since Congress has continually denied his demands to close it. 

I’ve supported repeated attempts to block the Administration from shuttering the facility or transferring detainees to US soil, including introducing resolutions calling for fighters involved with the Islamic State (ISIS) to be detained at Gitmo if they are captured by the United States and formally rejecting President Obama’s plan to transfer prisoners from Gitmo to locations on American soil, as well as supporting legislation that would require the Secretary of Defense to notify Congress of any intended transfers of detainees and certify that they no longer pose a threat to national security.

Despite evidence of former Gitmo detainees recidivating into terrorist activity, the Obama administration has said that it will continue to work with countries willing to receive them. 

This report sheds much-needed light on who these prisoners are and why it is important to continue holding them at the state-of-the-art Gitmo facility rather than releasing them to the care of other nations where some will undoubtedly return to the battlefield.

I will urge the president to reconsider his approach of transferring these dangerous prisoners and I will continue to use Congress’ oversight authority to keep the president from fulfilling an ill-thought campaign pledge that jeopardizes national security.

"Something Tangible"

Aug 05 2016

The Obama Administration has some questions to answer about the $400 million cash payment to Iran on the same day it released four American prisoners and formally implemented the nuclear deal.

How the President justifies this apparent violation of our long-standing policy not to pay ransom to secure the release of hostages is at the top of the list. The Obama Administration contends that this is not a ransom payment, but the Iranians do not view this the same way our President does.

To Iran, this is clearly a quid pro quo. As the Wall Street Journal reported, Iranian defense officials publically called the cash “a ransom payment.” And despite the vehement denials from U.S. officials that same Wall Street Journal report says, “U.S. officials also acknowledge that Iranian negotiators on the prisoner exchange said they wanted the cash to show they had gained something tangible.”

That “something tangible” will likely end up in the hands of Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations funded by Iran. It will almost certainly be used to fund Iran’s efforts to support the Assad regime’s desperate attempts to maintain power in Syria prolonging, and likely escalating, an already bloody conflict that has allowed the Islamic State to flourish in the region.

Iran’s “tangible” prize will also be used to develop and acquire ballistic missiles and other weapon systems that it is now free to pursue as a result of the Obama Administration’s poorly negotiated Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The regime in Tehran has been eagerly showing the world how it is quickly rebuilding its weapon arsenal now that it is free of nuclear-related sanctions. This payout will only intensify the regime’s stockpiling of weapons that it previously had been banned from acquiring.

This is why you never give the world’s leading sponsor of terror, and a regime that routinely threatens us and our allies, a ransom payment. Just as the nuclear agreement has emboldened Iran to rebuild its arsenal, this ransom payment will simply embolden the regime to hold more Americans hostage. It has clearly proven to be a profitable scheme for the Iranians.

I’ve had a number of constituents call and write to ask how Congress could allow this to happen. The truth is we were once again cut out by this Administration, which time and time again has gone around Congress to enact its agenda, especially when it comes to the President’s deal with Iran. The Obama Administration carried this out on its own. Now it must be accountable for those actions.