Sunday, June 30, 2013

Elbert Guillory: "Why I Am a Republican"

by Elbert Guillory:
Louisiana State Senator Elbert Guillory (R-Opelousas) explains why he recently switched from the Democrat Party (The Party of Disappointment) to the Republican Party (party of Frederick Douglas,  Martin Luther King, Jr, and Abraham Lincoln). He discusses the history of the Republican Party, founded as an Abolitionist Movement in 1854. Guillory talks about how the welfare state is only a mechanism for politicians to control the black community.

Tags: republican, Louisiana, State Senator, Elbert Guillory, welfare state, former democrat,

Friday, June 28, 2013

Former Prosecutor Rutledge to Announce Run for Arkansas Attorney General

Seventh Generation Arkansan Seeks Office to Serve The Natural State
Little Rock, AR - Former Prosecutor and State and National Legal Counsel Leslie Rutledge plans to formally announce her campaign to seek the Republican nomination for Arkansas Attorney General on Monday, July 1, 2013.
Rutledge will begin her five-city announcement tour in Northwest Arkansas, with stops in her hometown of Batesville, as well as Little Rock, Springdale, Jonesboro, and Texarkana.
Details of the announcement tour include:
9:00 a.m. CT - Springdale
Springdale Municipal Airport
Summit Aviation Lobby
802 Airport Road
10:30 a.m. CT - Batesville
Batesville Regional Airport
1126 Batesville Boulevard
12:00 p.m. CT - Jonesboro
Jonesboro Municipal Airport
Arkansas Air Center Lobby          
3901 Lindburg Drive
2:30 p.m. CT - Texarkana
Texarkana Regional Airport
TAC Air Executive Terminal
501 Airport Drive
5:00 p.m. CT - Little Rock
Lafayette Building Lobby
523 South Louisiana Street
On-site media contact: Jennifer Sheehan 501-227-0917
Rutledge is a seventh-generation Arkansan. She graduated from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and received her law degree from the William H. Bowen School of Law in Little Rock.  Rutledge began her legal career as Clerk for Arkansas Court of Appeals Judge Josephine Hart, now Associate Justice on the Supreme Court. She served as Deputy Counsel for Governor Mike Huckabee and Legal Counsel on the Mike Huckabee for President Campaign.  Rutledge also worked as  Legal Counsel for the Republican National Committee.  She is currently practicing law at The Rutledge Firm, PLLC, in Little Rock. 
Editor's Note: This is an announcement by the candidate not an endorsement. We now have two Republican candidate running  WILL support the elected Republican candidate. We look forward to "Arkansas’ first Republican Attorney General."

Tags: Leslie Rutlege, candidate, Arkansas, Attorney General, Republican

Washington Post Gives “4 Pinocchios” To Anti-Cotton TV Ad

Little Rock. Ark. – Yesterday a Democrat Super-PAC affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid began attacking Congressman Tom Cotton on Arkansas airwaves.  It took less than 24 hours for the Washington Post to give the ad “4 Pinnochios” and rate it as “shameful.” Below is the Washington Post summary of the false attack ad, which Senator Mark Pryor has thus far refused to condemn:

4 Pinocchios for the latest ‘Mediscare’ ad

By Glenn Kessler
It’s been a while since we delved into the Medicare wars. But when we saw this new attack ad against Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), from Patriot Majority USA and Senate Majority PAC, it brought back lots of bad memories.

Seriously, The Fact Checker, PolitiFact and FactCheck.Org have all called these claims into question when they were used by the Obama campaign and other Democrats in 2012.

As our colleague Rachel Weiner noted, the ad appeared to be a “preemptive strike” against a rising star who might challenge vulnerable Sen. Mark Pryor (D). But can’t get these guys come up with some new talking points?

Time for a refresher course!

The Facts
The ad, like similar attacks last year, tries to give itself credibility by citing The Wall Street Journal, which has a conservative-leaning editorial page. But it is quoting from a 2011 news article about a House Republican plan for Medicare — and badly truncates the quote. This is the complete sentence:
“The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills.”

Note that the full sentence is referring to Medicare “directly” paying the bills, not to the end of the entire program. Under the plan advanced in 2011 by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, the bills would have been paid indirectly, as Medicare beneficiaries would instead receive help in buying private insurance, known as “premium support.”  (For a neutral description of the concept, read this Health Affairs article.)

But there’s an important reason why the Democrats have to reach back to a 2011 news article to trash a Republican who was not even in Congress at the time: Ryan’s plan was substantially changed in 2012. For instance, he decided to allow an option for seniors to keep the traditional fee-for-service Medicare plan if they preferred, though critics have suggested that over time only the least healthy individuals would remain in it.

The same “since-expired” problem holds true for the claim that seniors would have pay $6,000 for their health insurance. That claim is based on a 2011 analysis by the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, using data from the Congressional Budget Office, regarding Ryan’s original plan. The report said that in 2022, when the premium support system then was expected to go into effect, a beneficiary’s out-of-pocket expenses would double, from $6,000 to $12,000.

But when Ryan’s plan changed, so did the numbers, in part because Ryan allowed Medicare spending to grow slightly faster than the nation’s economy (+0.5 percent), the same growth rate as Obama’s budget. (The first version had capped growth at the rate of inflation.)

The premium support payment would be based on the cost of the second least-expensive private plan or traditional Medicare, whichever is lower. Any difference in costs would need to be made up by the beneficiary. But Medicare benefits of at least one plan supposedly would be covered by the premium-support payment.

The CBO did not do the same sort of extensive analysis of the revised Ryan plan, and CBPP in its most recent look at the Ryan plan reiterates that over time “the vouchers would purchase less coverage with each passing year, pushing more costs on to beneficiaries.” But there are no numbers as definitive as the original estimate of a $6,000 gap.

Indeed, the Journal of the American Medical Association last year calculated that the gap would be much less than $6,000. It suggested that if the revised Ryan plan had been in effect in 2009, the additional payment would have added up to less than $800 a year.
In any case, all of these estimates are highly speculative, especially because the current version of the Ryan plan would not even go in effect until 2024. But it is telling the Democrats are citing an estimate that is no longer even relevant.

Finally, the ad claims that Cotton “voted” to give Congress “taxpayer-funded health care for life.” This only means that he voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, which will force lawmakers and congressional aides out of the health-care program for federal employees and into the exchanges created by the law. But this is only a small part of the health-care law — and repeal efforts have repeatedly failed.

In response to our analysis, Ty Matsdorf of Senate Majority PAC  said: “Here are the facts: Tom Cotton supported the Ryan Plan. Fact. The Ryan Plan would essentially end Medicare and raise prescription drug costs. Fact. Tom Cotton also voted to give Congress health care for life. Fact. These are important issues and the people of Arkansas deserve to know where he stands.”

The Pinocchio Test
It’s pretty shameful that Democrats are still attacking Republicans for a Medicare proposal that has been substantially revised, especially in an ad that concerns a lawmaker who was not even in Congress when the initial version was unveiled.

Certainly questions could be raised about the Republican Medicare plan. But that’s no excuse for flogging such an old horse, especially when these errors of fact have been repeatedly called out by fact checkers.
Such recidivism adds to the Pinocchio count. Our advice from 2011 remains: If you ever see a political ad that mentions Medicare, from either party, just mute the sound. It’s not worth paying attention.

Four Pinocchios

The original Washington Post story can be viewed here.

Tags: Washington Post, 4 Pinocchios, Harry Reid, anti-Cotton ad, Tom Cotton

Griffin Introduces Bill to Prevent Fugitive Felons from Receiving Government Benefits

Says, ‘It’s outrageous that fugitive felons can avoid prosecution
but still collect their Social Security disability or retirement checks’

WASHINGTON – Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02) issued the following statement after introduction of the Control Unlawful Fugitive Felons Act (CUFF – H.R. 2418):

“Recent court cases have had the effect of expanding the eligibility of fugitive felony suspects to receive government benefits.  It’s outrageous that fugitive felons can avoid prosecution but still collect their Social Security disability or retirement checks.  The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Inspector General, Patrick O’Carroll, brought the issue to my attention, and I worked with my colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee to draft legislation that will end this injustice by revoking the eligibility of people who are ‘the subject of an arrest warrant’ for serious crimes.” 

Joining Congressman Griffin in introducing the CUFF Act are two Committee on Ways & Means Subcommittee Chairman, Congressman Sam Johnson (TX-03) of the Social Security Subcommittee and Dave Reichert (WA-08) of the Human Resources Subcommittee, who share jurisdiction over this issue.

“I am proud to join my colleagues to introduce this commonsense bill to stop Social Security benefits from going to criminals on the run.  Those who break the law shouldn’t be rewarded.  I look forward to getting this bill passed in order to protect American taxpayers,” said Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson.

“As a former Sheriff, I know that felons don’t have to be actively fleeing from law enforcement to be breaking the law.  This legislation restores language in the Social Security Act to its original intent and I am very pleased to be working with Rep. Griffin and Chairman Johnson on this.  Americans deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing their tax dollars are not supporting criminal activity through continued benefits to those breaking the law,” said Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Dave Reichert. 

In August 1996, President Clinton signed the welfare reform law, Public Law 104-193, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which restricted the eligibility of fugitive felons, and probation and parole violators for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments.  Later, the policy was expanded to Social Security Retirement and Disability benefits, and Special World War II benefits. 

In December 2005, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision in Fowlkes v. Adamec, which held that the existence of an outstanding arrest warrant does not make a beneficiary a fugitive felon and that the term “fleeing” means “the conscious evasion of arrest or prosecution.”

In December 2006, Clark v. Astrue was filed, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the government’s policy of suspending Social Security and SSI benefits whenever someone has an outstanding warrant for an alleged violation of probation or parole was unlawful.  As part of the court decision in April 2012, as many as 140,000 beneficiaries had their Social Security or SSI benefits restored back to October 2006, at a total cost of nearly $1 billion.

In October 2008, in Martinez v. Astrue, plaintiffs argued that SSA policy requiring only an outstanding felony warrant for an individual to be considered a fugitive felon is not consistent with the statute or regulations, which require a finding of flight.  Martinez was settled in September 2009, which resulted in the restoration of over 200,000 Social Security and SSI benefit recipients and the repayment of $700 million in benefits deemed unlawfully withheld from 80,000 people.

Griffin’s bill revises current law to discontinue benefits for individuals who are “the subject of an arrest warrant …” compared to the previous language of “fleeing to avoid” arrest, which was the main legal challenge, in order to restore the policy to its original intent.

The existing process will remain a joint effort between SSA and Social Security Inspector General.  SSA will also continue to send notification letters to beneficiaries before any benefits are discontinued, with the opportunity to grant good cause exceptions, if necessary. 

Tags: Tim Griffin, new bill, fugitive felons, stopping, government benefits

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Arkansas GOP Slams Harry Reid’s Ad For Mark Pryor

Little Rock, Ark. – The Arkansas GOP is hitting back against a Harry Reid-affiliated Super PAC that is launching ads against Congressman Tom Cotton in an attempt to prop up Senator Mark Pryor, who has been named by both National Journal and The Hill as “the most vulnerable Senator in Washington.”

Arkansas GOP Chairman Doyle Webb said: “For Harry Reid’s Super PAC to attack a Congressman that hasn’t even announced a candidacy for Senate just underscores how desperate Washington Democrats are to keep Mark Pryor in Washington so he can continue to be a reliable vote for Harry Reid and Barack Obama.”

State Party Spokesman David Ray added: “Only Washington Democrats would attack a Congressman that fought for his nation for discussing the 10 th anniversary of the Iraq war on television. Not only is this attack false, it’s shameful. While Mark Pryor was raising taxes on Arkansans and helping Washington Democrats pass Obamacare, Congressman Cotton was fighting for our country in Iraq and Afghanistan. But you won’t see that in their misleading ads.”

Tags: Arkansas, GOP, Harry Reid, ad, Mark Pryor

Boozman Statement on Immigration Reform Vote

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) issued the following statement after voting against the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill.
“There is no disputing that we need to address our nation’s porous borders, backlogged immigration system and lax enforcement of hiring practices. Unfortunately, the Senate’s legalize now, enforce later approach is the wrong way to reform our broken system.

This legislation fails to address the core problem of border security and does not provide the resources necessary for enforcement. This needs to be the cornerstone for reform. Instead of listening to the demands of the American people by focusing on securing the border, Majority Leader Reid offered immediate amnesty with a ‘promise’ of future security enhancements that will likely never happen.

Congress approved amnesty in the mid-1980s. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.

I appreciate the efforts of my colleagues to fix our immigration system, but the American people deserve a solution that upholds the rule of law. They also deserve a more vigorous debate than we were allowed to have by Majority Leader Reid. There were a number of amendments that were offered that would have strengthened this bill, but Leader Reid shut down debate and did not allow us to consider them.

Immigration reform is a serious subject. It deserves a serious debate. Instead, we are left with another instance of Washington’s rush to do something, instead of doing the right thing.”

Tags: John Boozman, statement, Immigration bill, vote

Griffin: New IRS Report Offers Political Cover, Few Facts

IRS Chief admits he personally briefed President Obama on politically charged conclusion
(Click here to watch video from today’s hearing)

WASHINGTON – Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02) issued the following statement after questioning Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Principal Deputy Commissioner Daniel Werfel on the status of the IRS’ review of taxpayer-targeting practices:

“It is abundantly clear from Commissioner Werfel’s testimony that his 30-day review was more about offering political cover than providing the American people with facts on why folks were targeted because of their political beliefs.  Despite the fact that Mr. Werfel failed to interview key IRS officials at the center of the scandal – one of whom has already pleaded the fifth because of her involvement – his report boldly concludes that there was ‘no evidence of intentional wrongdoing’.  Even more telling: out of all of the points made in his 83-page report, Mr. Werfel felt it important enough to highlight this erroneous conclusion when he personally briefed President Obama on the report before its release.  Mr. Werfel’s including this conclusion in the report is irresponsible and it underscores the need for further investigation and, ultimately, fundamental tax reform that will reduce the power of the IRS.”Excerpt from the hearing

Griffin: Did anyone at the White House review this statement?
Werfel: No.
Griffin: No one?
Werfel: Not that I’m aware of.
Griffin: Okay.  Anyone at Treasury?
Werfel: Yes… And let me just say, I did brief the President a few hours before the report went out – on the morning the report was issued – on Monday – and I did mention this conclusion.  I just wanted to make sure that was clear.

Tags: Tim Griffin, IRS Report, political cover

Crawford: Obama Administration’s Proposed “War on Coal”

Washington, Jun 27, 2013 - Congressman Rick Crawford (R-AR-01) issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s proposed environmental regulations affecting the Arkansas coal energy industry:
“Yesterday, President Obama announced a new push for a package of environmental regulations that will constitute what his top climate advisor calls a ‘war on coal.’ Increasing regulations to punish this industry, causing massive price increases for consumers and killing jobs, is a wrongheaded and destructive approach for Arkansas families. Currently, half of Arkansas homes rely on coal to power their homes. Estimates by industry experts show that rate payers stand to see rates rise 11% by 2020 due to emission control costs alone. This isn’t a war on coal – it is an attack on hard-working Arkansas families.

“This President has consistently shown his willingness to advance an ideological agenda absent any sort of Congressional input. Sadly, he has indicated that the only way to see this through is by Executive Order. I am disappointed that the President has no desire to enact an all-of-the-above energy strategy that would balance our need for energy independence while not unduly burdening rural America and rural Arkansas. I stand ready to work with the President to achieve an energy policy that will lower rates for Arkansas families and create jobs.”

Tags: Rick Crawford, AR-01, Obama, War on Coal, attacking, hard working, Arkansans

New Poll Spells Trouble for Mark Pryor

Matt Hoskins Senate Conservatives Fund: Today, the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) released the results of a new poll, which show how difficult it will be for Mark Pryor (D-AR) to win re-election to a third term in the United States Senate.

"Mark Pryor’s liberal voting record and his close association with President Obama have all but ruined his re-election chances," said SCF Executive Director Matt Hoskins. "Arkansas voters know Mark Pryor is a liberal and they are ready to replace him with a conservative."

SCF's super PAC, Senate Conservatives Action (SCA), spent $400,000 this year educating voters about Senator Pryor's liberal record before he could attempt to reinvent himself.

"Our media campaign has driven Mark Pryor's numbers into the ground and forced ultra-liberal groups to come to his rescue," added Hoskins. "He's in a very desperate position now so there's no telling what he and his liberal friends in Washington will do next."

The Senate Conservatives Fund is an independent, grassroots organization that works to elect true conservative leaders to the U.S. Senate. SCF does not support incumbent Senators and is not affiliated with the Republican Party or any of its campaign committees.
MethodologyOn June 22-23, 2013, Basswood Research conducted a statewide survey of likely general election voters in Arkansas. The survey was conducted by live professional interviewers by telephone. The sample size was 600, with a margin of error of +/- 4%, at a 95% confidence interval. Interviews were geographically distributed to reflect actual voting patterns in Arkansas general elections.

Key Findings
Three-term incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Pryor is in deep trouble.  Pryor is in a dead heat with potential Republican candidate, first-year Arkansas Congressman Tom Cotton. Pryor receives support from 41% of likely voters, while Cotton wins 40%. However, the 19% of remaining voters who say they are undecided have negative views of Pryor and are disproportionately Republicans and Independents. As is true in many cases, a longtime incumbent such as Pryor who barely gets 40% of the vote in polling has a hard time getting re-elected.

Arkansans want to elect a conservative to the Senate.  Arkansas likely voters oppose Obamacare 56%-36%. Mark Pryor cast the deciding vote in favor of Obamacare. Arkansas likely voters are 62% pro-life. Mark Pryor has voted for taxpayer funding of abortions. By a margin of 50%-37%, Arkansas likely voters say they would prefer “a Republican Senator who would mostly provide a check and balance against President Obama’s agenda,” over “a Democratic Senator who would mostly support President Obama’s agenda.” Mark Pryor sided with Obama in 95% of his votes.

Pryor’s close association with President Obama, and his liberal voting record are hurting his re-election chances.  By 40%-38%, voters believe that Pryor “sides too much with Obama and the liberals in Congress.” When asked to identify Pryor’s political views, 41% of Arkansas voters call Pryor “liberal,” whereas 30% call him “moderate,” and just 8% consider Pryor “conservative.” Among the plurality who view Pryor as liberal, Cotton leads Pryor on the ballot test 62%-24%.

Senate Conservatives Action’s recent TV ads have had an impact. SCA’s recent TV ads highlighted the facts that Pryor voted for Obamacare and has voted with Obama 95% of the time. Both of those accurate statements are highly correlated with the views of Pryor noted above that are driving his poll numbers down to the dangerous-for-incumbent 41% level.

Tags: Poll, Mark Pryor, Senate Conservatives Fund

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Boozman On Supreme Court’s DOMA Ruling

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement today on the Supreme Court’s decision in the United States v. Windsor case, which challenged the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA):
“As a firm believer that the traditional definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman is the right one, and the most effective framework for raising a family, I am disappointed by today’s Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act. The Majority’s opinion essentially leaves it up to the states to decide, but in doing so you are allowing a state definition to be applied for federal purposes. States should be free to define marriage as they wish for its own tax purposes, but federal tax law in regards to marriage should be based on a definition from Congress. While I disagree with the opinion, the Supreme Court does have the ultimate say in our system of checks and balances. It is now up to the states to protect the traditional definition of marriage as one man and one woman joined in union.”
Tags: John Boozman, SCOTUS, SUpreme Court, DOMA Ruling

Arkansas and Missouri Delegations Seek Answers on Blueway Designation

White River: We Don't Need
The Blueway Designation!
Letter to Secretary Jewell seeks answers and an opt-out mechanism

WASHINGTON D.C. – In a letter sent today, members of the Arkansas and Missouri Congressional delegations asked Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to answer a series of questions concerning the Administration’s designation of the White River as a National Blueway.

The letter was signed by U.S. Senators John Boozman (AR) and Roy Blunt (MO), along with U.S. Representatives Rick Crawford (AR-01), Tim Griffin (AR-02), Steve Womack (AR-03), Tom Cotton (AR-04), Vicky Hartzler (MO-04), Billy Long (MO-07), and Jason Smith (MO-08).

“Our intention is to understand the Department’s plans and activities associated with the [National Blueway System] NBS, and to find out whether there is an opt-out mechanism our states can use should they desire to exit the Blueways program,” the letter states.

Many local elected leaders in affected counties have expressed their opposition to the White River designation, due to concerns that it could lead to increased regulatory activity and threats to private property rights.  Others have emphasized that conservation should be locally led, not driven by “Secretarial Orders” out of Washington.  The White River designation likely increases regulatory attention throughout the watershed, using existing authorities.

The letter asks the Secretary to provide a detailed explanation regarding:  (1) whether states can opt-out-out of the Blueways program, (2) how much the program costs and how the Department is paying for it, (3) the legal authority that the Administration is using to justify the unilateral creation of this program, (4) the alleged benefits of the program, and (5) the insufficient, closed-door review process that was used to justify the White River designation.

Finally, the letter recognizes that Secretary Jewell was recently confirmed as Interior Secretary, so the letter directly provides the Secretary an opportunity to review Department of Interior activities and comments on the Blueways program that occurred prior to her confirmation.

Full text of the letter:
June 26, 2013

The Honorable Sally Jewell
Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240-0001

Dear Secretary Jewell:
We are writing to obtain additional information regarding the National Blueways System (NBS) and, in particular, the Department’s decision to designate the White River in Arkansas and Missouri as a National Blueway on January 9, 2013.

After reviewing the NBS program and the White River designation process, we share many serious concerns regarding the NBS generally and the White River designation specifically.  Secretarial Order 3321 (creating the NBS) was unilaterally enacted, without clear legal authority, and it enables the executive branch to singlehandedly designate Blueways.  The White River was designated without public comment, without adequate notice, without transparency from the federal government, and without clear evidence of broad public support. This is no way to start a program that is, according to the Department, intended to promote “collaboration, communication, and cooperation.”  In addition, despite assurances that the NBS is neither “intended to authorize or affect the use of private property” nor “intended to be the basis for the exercise of any new regulatory power,” the practical consequence (intended or not) of this designation is that increased regulatory attention will likely be focused on the White River watershed using existing authorities.  Also, the focus on “land and water management practices” and a “headwaters to mouth approach to river management,” makes clear that impacts could extend to citizens and property owners throughout the watershed, not just along the River itself.

Due to these issues and a variety of other ambiguities associated with the NBS, we are writing to request additional information.  Our intention is to understand the Department’s plans and activities associated with the NBS, and to find out whether there is an opt-out mechanism our states can use should they desire to exit the Blueways program.

Please provide responses to the following questions and requests for information:
1)      What is the process through which a State, non-federal entity, or individual may request that a Blueway designation be revoked?

2)      If a State Government were to request that the Department revoke a Blueway designation, would the Department grant this request?  Please provide a clear and thorough response.

3)      Responding to a question regarding whether there would be “a cost to taxpayers,” the Department stated in a January 4, 2013 e-mail to Congressional stakeholders that: “No.  Instead, through improved communication and cooperation among federal agencies managing natural resources in the watershed, existing federal resources should be deployed more effectively and efficiently.”  However, the attached Department responses state that funds supporting NBS initiatives are derived from “participating DOI bureau and office appropriated funds” and funding for potential watershed would come from “existing base funds.”
Please provide the department, programs, and accounts any funds will be withdrawn from for the following requests:

a.       Which existing funds would be designated for the NBS initiatives on the White River;
b.      Which DOI bureau or office the funds would originate from; and
c.       What is the total amount of funding that will be diverted from other programs into the NBS initiatives on the White River?

4)      We were surprised to see that a group of 79 non-profit organizations (most of them small, localized watershed groups or associations) have written to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging the appropriation of “$3.3 million in the U.S. Fish & Wildlife budget for the National Blueways System.”[1]  Despite the fact that the White River is one of only two currently-designated National Blueways, it appears that none of the organizations signing this support letter are directly and primarily associated with the White River.

a.       Did the Department provide information related to the need for NBS funding or FY2014 appropriations for the NBS to any representative of any of the 79 organizations that signed the letter referenced above?  If so, please provide a copy of any related documents or records, and a description of information provided.
b.      Please provide a copy of any NBS-related correspondence, e-mails, or related documents that have been provided to any of these groups during either FY2012 or FY2013.
c.       Would $3.3 million fulfill all identified NBS objectives for FY14, or would you continue to draw funds from other programs?
d.      If you believe that appropriated funding is needed to carry out the NBS in FY2014, would you support a rider on FY2014 appropriations legislation stipulating that funding to carry out the NBS will be taken from the Secretary’s budget.
e.       Please provide a detailed list of all activities the Department would fund with this appropriation, were the full $3.3 million to be provided.
f.       Please provide an FTE (full-time equivalent) estimate for the anticipated workload associated with the NBS in FY2014.

5)      Please provide a detailed list of all Department costs associated with the NBS to date.  This listshould include, for example, expenses such as the travel of Department personnel to Arkansas, staff resources dedicated to the development of MOUs, and any other salaries and expenses related to development and implementation of Secretarial Order 3321.

6)      To justify the Secretary’s legal authority to issue Secretarial Order No. 3321, the document states that:

This Order is issued in accordance with authority provided under the Take Pride in America Act, Public Law 101-628; the Outdoor Recreation Act, Public Law 87-714; and the Cooperative Watershed Management Program of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, Public Law 111-11. The bureaus within Interior have a broad panoply of legal authority to carry out their respective missions that support enhancing river recreation, undertaking river restoration, and pursuing river protection initiatives to pass on healthy rivers to future generations. These authorities include the Comprehensive Environmental, Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. 9601 et seq.; the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956, 16 U.S.C. 742 et seq.; the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, 16 U.S.C. 661 et seq.; the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965, 16 U.S.C. 4601-4 et seq.; the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, 16 U.S.C. 1271-1287; the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, 43 U.S.C 1702 et seq.; the Reclamation Act, Public Law 57-161; the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, Public Law 111-11; and the National Trails System Act of 1968, 16 U.S.C. 1241 et seq.

a.       Do any of these statutes explicitly authorize the unilateral creation of the National Blueways System?  If so, please specify where and how.
b.      If not, please provide the specific language, if any, from each of these statutes that you believe most clearly authorizes the creation of the NBS.

7)      In a January 4, 2013 e-mail to Congressional stakeholders, the Department wrote that “no new resources are available” as a result of a Blueway designation, yet the Department claims that “designation confers numerous short and long-terms [sic] benefits on a National Blueway watershed.” [2]  Please provide a description of these benefits.

8)      In a January 4, 2013 e-mail to Congressional stakeholders, the Department stated that the White River “nomination was reviewed by an interagency committee with representatives from DOI (FWS, NPS, BLM, BOR, BIA, USGS), USDA, and Army.”  The same e-mail included an attached “list of supporting organizations” who “nominated the White River.”  This document, titled “White River Watershed National Blueway Support Organizations,” listed the Department of the Interior (i.e. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (i.e., Natural Resource Conservation Service and the U.S. Forest Service) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  In other words, most of the federal departments and agencies that were tasked with reviewing the nomination directly participated in the nomination. Please provide the names and positions of the individuals who participated in the interagency committee that reviewed the nomination for White River, as well as the NBS Working Group that worked with the committee.  Please provide a copy of all materials and recommendations that were produced by the interagency committee with regard to the White River nomination (including the committee’s recommendation to the Secretary).

The following set of questions relates to a staff briefing on the NBS, conducted by DOI Senior Advisor Rebecca Wodder and other Department of Interior personnel, which was organized and hosted by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee staff on January 28, 2013.  Shortly thereafter DOI provided written responses to a number of questions posed at the briefing (See Attachment 1). 

The following questions and requests relate to this attached DOI document:

9)      The attached Department responses state that “the watershed evaluation is based on the presence of a committed, diverse, stakeholder partnership or association that has developed a vision for the river and its watershed and how well that partnership or association has contributed to and promoted conservation, education, recreation, and sustainable economic opportunities.”  It continues, “the diversity of the partnership, having a shared vision, goals and objectives, the condition of the river and watershed, and having a strategy to integrate land and water management actions to achieve shared outcomes are the key elements of the evaluation, rather than the mix of public and private land.”  To further clarify this statement, please provide:

a.       A list of measurable or quantifiable factors, standards, or thresholds that are used to determine whether a “committed, diverse, stakeholder partnership or association” exists.
b.      A description of the “vision for the river and its watershed” that was used to justify the White River designation.
c.       A description of efforts undertaken by the Department to determine the extent to which the “vision for the river and its watershed” is shared by citizens and stakeholders who are not members of the “stakeholder partnership or association.”

10)  Again, each of the following items are described as “key elements of the evaluation.” Please explain each of these elements and provide any criteria used to measure these characteristics:

a.       “The diversity of the partnership.”
b.      “Having a shared vision, goals and objectives.”
c.       “The condition of the river and watershed.”
                                                               i.      In evaluating the “condition of the river and watershed” element, what types of conditions make it more likely that a Blueways designation will occur?
                                                             ii.      Specifically, with regard to the White River, what steps did the Department take to evaluate the “condition of the river and watershed”?
d.      “Having a strategy to integrate land and water management actions to achieve shared outcomes.”

11)  The attached DOI responses state that “the Secretary will not designate National Blueways that lack diverse support from government agencies within the watershed.  Local communities and businesses will be valued members of successful stakeholder partnerships and will determine their own roles and extent of engagement.”  The document further states that “watershed partnerships submitting nominations for National Blueway designation are evaluated for the diversity of stakeholders participating in the partnership and for the extent of support they can demonstrate from civic leaders at the local and state levels.”

a.       According to a Fish and Wildlife Service website, the watershed is “home to 1.2 million people.”[3]  What level of municipal participation should be exhibited in a “stakeholder partnership”  to meet the criteria outlined above, specifically, that the nomination will be “evaluated… for the extent of support they can demonstrate from civic leaders at the local and state level”?
b.      It appears that no municipal governments in Missouri participated in the nomination.  Did this raise concerns as the evaluation was considered?  If not, what steps are being taken to facilitate their inclusion in the management of the Blueway?
c.       On January 7, 2013, the Department provided a document to Congressional stakeholders, titled “White River Watershed National Blueway Support Organizations,” dated October 16, 2012.  This document lists 26 “support organizations.”  Eleven of these entities are listed as “Federal Agencies  & Ventures” (i.e., four USDA entities, two USGS entities, two NPS entities, the USFWS Southeast Region, the USACE Memphis District, and the Lower Mississippi River Valley Joint Venture).  Five of the “support organizations” are “State and Local Government.”  When over 60 percent of the “support organizations” listed are governmental entities and fewer than 10 percent (2 of 26) come from the business community, do you believe this meets the “diversity of stakeholders” criteria outlined in the DOI document referenced above?
d.      Of the 26 “support organizations” listed on the document dated October 16, 2012, please provide a list of the organizations and entities that were initially approached by the Department to encourage participation in the White River nomination.

We recognize that the attached DOI document was prepared and provided to Congress prior to your confirmation as Secretary.  If you would like to update, modify, or elaborate on any of the Department’s responses in this document, we would welcome the opportunity to hear your views. 

Thank you for your prompt attention to these concerns, issues, and questions.  We expect to receive responses to this letter as soon as possible, preferably no later than July 10, 2013.  At a minimum, we request responses to Questions 1 through 4 (including sub-questions) no later than July 10, but sooner if at all possible.  Furthermore, we request that response be provided on a rolling basis, if necessary, as they are prepared – with a final, comprehensive response sent upon completion.  Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns, or if we can be helpful to you.

U.S. Senator John Boozman
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt
U.S. Representative Rick Crawford
U.S. Representative Vicky Hartzler
U.S. Representative Tim Griffin
U.S. Representative Billy Long
U.S. Representative Steve Womack
U.S. Representative Jason Smith
U.S. Representative Tom Cotton  

Copy:   The Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy, Asst. Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), Corps of Engineers
The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Enclosures (2).

[1] Letter to the Honorable Jack Reed (Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman) and the Honorable Lisa Murkowski (Subcommittee Ranking Member), May 28, 2013.  See Attachment 2.
[2] Potential Benefits of being designated a National Blueway, Department of Interior Document provided to Congressional Stakeholders, January 2013 (Attached).

Tags: Arkansas, Missouri delegation, Seek answers, Blueway designation

Griffin: Voice of Arkansas Voters on Marriage Still Stands

WASHINGTON – Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02) issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that strikes down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (P.L. 104-199):

“I disagree with today’s ruling, but it should be noted that it addresses eligibility for federal protections and responsibilities and doesn’t affect the decision by the overwhelming majority of Arkansans to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman.  The voice of Arkansas voters on marriage still stands.”
Tags: Tim Griffin, Marriage

Crawford Reacts to Supreme Court Ruling on Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

Washington, Jun 26,2013 - Congressman Rick Crawford (R-AR) issued the following statement in reaction to the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA):

“While the court has made its decision, my convictions remain unchanged – marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman. I have always supported traditional marriage and will continue to do so as Northeast Arkansas’ Representative to Congress.

“Ultimately, states issue marriage licenses, not the federal government. States should be allowed the authority to make this important decision for themselves, without the federal government’s intervention. The Tenth Amendment clearly states that ‘powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.’ The people of Arkansas have already spoken decisively on this issue. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Arkansas delegation to make sure our state’s voice is represented loud and clear on this issue in Washington.”

Tags: Arkansas, Congressman, Rick Crawford, DOMA

Rep. Tom Cotton on the Alice Stewart Radio Show

Video: Rep. Tom Cotton joins the Alice Stewart Radio Show to discuss immigration and the President's energy plan.

Tags: Tom Cotton, interview, Alice Stewart show

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Boozman on President Obama’s Climate Initiative: “Backdoor Attempt to Impose Cap-and-Trade”

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement today on President Obama’s proposed national tax on affordable sources of energy:
“This is nothing more than a backdoor attempt to impose cap-and-trade on the American people. President Obama couldn’t get that through Congress, so now he is turning to his regulators. His proposal will drive up electricity prices, especially in Arkansas, and make it impossible for our manufacturers to compete with companies in China and India.

"If raising the cost of electricity on hardworking Arkansans isn’t enough, the President’s proposal will also hit them at the pump. By insisting on new benchmarks for the Keystone Pipeline, which has already cleared more hurdles than most projects, the President is stalling the project further. This is incomprehensible when American families are struggling. The Keystone Pipeline will create thousands of well-paying jobs and helps reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil, which are two of our top national priorities. There is absolutely no reason to continue to stall it.

"The bottom line is that our economy is fragile. Arkansans are struggling to get by and instead of coming up with solutions, President Obama is coming up with draconian regulations that make matters worse. His proposal would eliminate more than half a million jobs, reduce annual household incomes and raise energy prices by 20 percent. It’s the wrong direction to take our country in right now.”

Tags: John Boozman, President Obama, climate initiative, Backdoor, cap-and-trade

Griffin: Obama Administration’s ‘War on Coal’ Is an ‘Attack on Hardworking Families’

Says, U.S. needs ‘an affordable, all-American energy policy that promotes job growth
here at home and makes us less dependent on energy sources abroad’

WASHINGTON – Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02) issued the following statement in response to the Obama Administration’s anti-coal, anti-job energy initiatives:
“Four years ago today, President Obama tried unsuccessfully to convince a Democratic-controlled Congress to pass his job-killing national energy tax, known as ‘Cap-and-Trade.’  Now the President and his advisers are launching a broadside attack on hardworking families by increasing their costs every time they flip on a light switch, cool their home and cook dinner for their family.  One of his advisers told the New York Times, ‘a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.’  What’s needed, Mr. President, is an affordable, all-American energy policy that promotes job growth here at home and makes us less dependent on energy sources abroad.”In the New York Times today, Daniel Schrag, a Harvard University professor who serves as a scientific adviser to President Obama said: “Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal.  On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.”

Almost half of Arkansas’s electric power was supplied by coal-fired power plants in 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

According to the American Action Forum, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outpaced all other agencies in regulatory costs in 2012 with $172 billion. To date this year, it has racked up $38 billion in new regulations.

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity estimates that seven new EPA regulations alone will cost the electrical sector $16.7 billion per year, cause 887,000 job losses per year and contribute to the shutting down of 69,000 megawatts of coal-fired power.  The cost for the average household could be more than $500 per year.

One fifth of the nation’s coal plants shut down between 2009-2012.

Tags: Rep. Tim Griffin, statement, President Obama, War on Coal,