Weekly Columns

There’s nothing like being out of Washington, D.C. and on the ground in Natural State communities for a week or two. I’m grateful to have had time recently to do just that since the Senate calendar called for another in-state work period.

This time is intended to allow senators to visit with constituents back home and without the interferences that occur when Congress is in session. And while it is always a pleasure to host Arkansans who travel to the nation’s capital, that isn’t feasible for every individual or group who might want to express their concerns or provide me with an update.

That’s why I’m proud to travel around and talk with local leaders.

My agenda this month included many productive meetings throughout Northwest Arkansas as well as the central and southern parts of the state. 

First up were Ozark and Clarksville where I visited with officials from Franklin and Johnson counties. It was a valuable opportunity to share how much we appreciate all their hard work to move the communities they represent forward. 

I also paid special thanks to our Arkansas 2023 State Law Enforcement Officers of the Year, Special Agent Foster and Sr. Corporal Smothers, presenting them with copies of the Congressional Record that recognized their life-saving actions in a human trafficking case. 

Then I stopped by Russellville for a meeting at the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Ozark-St Francis National Forests Office. Because this land serves significant recreation, conservation and commercial purposes, my staff and I regularly communicate with USFS officials about maintaining a balanced approach to managing them while ensuring they stay strong and healthy.

The next destination, Little Rock, allowed me to join the Arkansas Lithium Summit to discuss how we can foster innovative industry and economic growth around this critical resource and confront the challenges posed by foreign suppliers and federal regulators. Following that exciting event, I headed over to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) to learn more about the efforts to strengthen cancer treatment and research in Arkansas, including our collaborative pursuit of a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation.

I also dropped in on the Arkansas Rural Health Association’s annual conference to talk about the policies we’re championing to improve care in all corners of the state. Additionally, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Congressman French Hill and I convened a roundtable on maternal health and the need to improve outcomes for moms and babies. We heard directly from providers in Arkansas about what they’re seeing and how a comprehensive approach can help us make significant progress that ultimately saves lives. 

South Arkansas was the final stop of this trip and there was good news to celebrate in Camden. We broke ground on a new missile production operation that will support the U.S. Marine Corps and our allies, including Israel with the Iron Dome Weapons System, and then sat down with community leaders to discuss the importance of building on the ongoing momentum to bring even more defense industry jobs to the area and ensure the workforce is prepared. 

I couldn’t be more pleased with how helpful these meetings were. There is simply no substitute for sitting down across from fellow Arkansans to talk about their priorities and concerns, and I look forward to returning to Washington to advocate for them in the weeks and months ahead.