WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) applauded Senate passage of the Fiscal Year 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill that includes a provision he authored enabling Arkansas to designate a portion of Highway 67 from North Little Rock to Walnut Ridge as “Future I-57.”

“Congress has a basic responsibility to determine how we spend hard-earned taxpayer dollars. Passing appropriations bills provides accountability and reduces wasteful spending. I’m pleased to support this process that enables all Senators to play an active role in the legislative process and to address concerns that are important to their states. Arkansas has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to make Highway 67 an interstate-quality road, and this brings our state one step closer to calling it what it is, Future Interstate 57,” Boozman, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said.

Boozman highlighted his provision and the support from Arkansans in a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday. 

“Walnut Ridge aldermen voted this week to support this designation. Resolutions of support for the I-57 designation have been passed by the Newport Economic Development Commission as well as Chambers of Commerce in Bald Knob, Cabot, Jacksonville, Lawrence County, Newport, Sherwood and Searcy. Other expressions of support have been received from communities throughout the central Arkansas and northeast Arkansas regions,” Boozman said on the Senate floor.

The provision would also give Arkansas the ability to request that any segment of the road that is built to interstate standards be officially added to the federal interstate system as “I-57.”

The bill fully funds the highway programs authorized under the recently-passed long-term highway bill, provides critical funding for the modernization of air traffic control, provides funding for air traffic control towers in Arkansas, will support aircraft certification that is critical to aircraft manufacturers in Arkansas, and supports locally-controlled programs – such as the Community Development Block Grants - that assist with housing and community development needs in rural states like Arkansas.

The Senate jointly considered the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) Appropriations bill. This bill funds the Department of Veterans Affairs at record levels and invests in priorities such as veterans’ health care, benefit claims processing, the Board of Veterans Appeals, the VA Inspector General, as well as prosthetic research.

In addition to providing VA with the resources it needs, this bill also secures funding and resources for military housing and family support. It also includes funding for projects to ensure military readiness and improve the quality of life for our military families. 

Passage of this legislation is the latest example of the Senate’s return to regular order and its commitment to improve our nation’s fiscal challenges.

Last week the Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2017 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill. The bill’s passage marked the earliest that the Senate approved a stand-alone appropriations measure in more than 40 years.