Thursday, May 28, 2015

Improving the Economy

Sen. John Boozman Bulletin: The Senate passed two crucial bills to grow our economy and create jobs in Arkansas and across the country before adjourning for the Memorial Day work period.
  • Trade Promotion Authority (TPA): TPA strengthens the voice of Congress in trade deals and allows a more collaborative effort with the executive branch in trade negotiations. Seeking opportunities for new agreements in a quick and fair manner is important because the vast majority of the world’s population lives outside of our borders. When we trade our goods and services with other nations, our economy grows, creating more jobs at home. Since agriculture is an integral part of Arkansas’s economy, TPA will also help promote trade of goods produced in the state. International trade already supports one in five jobs in Arkansas. That number will continue to grow with more free and fair trade agreements.
  • Highway Funding Bill: One of the keys to job creation and economic growth is maintaining safe, secure and reliable infrastructure across the nation. Congress passed this legislation to ensure that funding for the highway projects currently underway in Arkansas, and throughout the country, would not lapse. While a long-term solution to this ongoing problem is ideal and remains a priority for me, this short-term fix is crucial to Arkansas and other states that rely on this money to improve roads and bridges. 
I carried that message of economic security around Arkansas this week. Getting our economy on track is an issue that unites Arkansas. I was pleased to join other members of our state’s Congressional delegation throughout the week to show Arkansans that we are committed to improving our economy.

Lockheed Martin brought its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle to Little Rock to showcase the vehicle it hopes to produce in East Camden. Alongside Governor Asa Hutchinson, Senator Tom Cotton and Congressman Bruce Westerman, I urged our state legislators to help make East Camden the future home for this project, which will bring with it hundreds of highly skilled, quality jobs. Securing a contract of this magnitude is important for providing a solid economic foundation for the future of our state, South Arkansas and the people who call this region home.

As Congress returns to Washington, the focus must remain on creating jobs at home. We must continue to direct our energy toward creating policies that preserve and promote an environment that is business friendly, encourages productivity and innovation, supports educational opportunities, and affords all Americans the opportunity to achieve economic freedom.

Quick Takes:
  • Fighting the President’s Unconstitutional Immigration Action: This week a federal appeals court rejected the President’s appeal on immigration and continued to block the administration from implementing its unconstitutional immigration policy. Whilenews reports indicate that the President won’t ask the Supreme Court to review this, my colleagues and I are joining efforts against the President’s policy. Arkansas and 25 other states have challenged President Obama's moves to ease deportations for immigrants living in the country illegally. I recently joined more than 100 of my colleagues in filing an amicus brief in support of a continued injunction against President Obama’s executive overreach.    
  • Reining in EPA Water Overreach: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule this week that puts Washington in our backyards. The “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) is nothing more than government overreach disguised as a policy to protect our nation’s water and eliminate the role of state protection. The Senate needs to pass the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, legislation I cosponsored that would protect our nation’s waters and the rights of landowners against an overly burdensome and costly regulatory power-grab by Washington. This bill directs the EPA to revise its WOTUS rule to exclude waters that have never been controlled by the federal government like isolated ponds, ditches and agriculture water that lack enough flow to carry pollutants to navigable waters.
  • Protecting Reliable and Affordable Energy: Congressman Rick Crawford (AR-01) and I toured the Independence Steam Electric Station in Newark on Wednesday. This coal-fired plant is threatened under EPA’s carbon emissions plan that targets Arkansas for cuts stricter than 44 other states and puts jobs in our state at risk. EPA’s proposal limiting carbon emissions threatens to increase energy prices and reduce reliability. That’s why I recently joined Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton and several of our colleagues to introduce the Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act to fight back against this proposal.
  • VA Inspector General to Review Solar Panel Activation Failure: In my last e-newsletter I detailed an abuse of taxpayer dollars with the failed activation of the Little Rock Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s (VAMC) solar panels. The VA’s Office of Inspector General notified Congressman French Hill (AR-02) and I that it’s adding this location to its national project on VA’s Green Management Program Solar Panel Projects after we asked for a review of the agency’s renewable energy program because of this problem.
  • Broadband Access: Access to affordable and reliable Internet is vital in this modern age. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 84 percent of rural Arkansas lacks access to broadband. This is an important issue in our state. That’s why I asked FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler when the current, antiquated rules would be updated. The Chairman said he intends to implement reforms “by football season.” 
  • Giving Congress a Voice in Iran Negotiations: We have a responsibility to ensure that Iran never achieves its goal of becoming a nuclear power. That’s why the Senate overwhelmingly passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. Without this bill, there will be no review of the Iran deal. There would be nothing stopping President Obama from signing a bad agreement with Iran. There would be no limitation on the President’s ability to waive sanctions and it would be much more difficult for Congress to reinstate sanctions should Iran fail to live up to its end of the bargain. 
  • Critical Habitat Designation – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its final critical habitat designations for the Neosho mucket and rabbitsfoot mussels under the Endangered Species Act  (ESA) of 1973. While the agency trimmed its original designation I still have concerns about the real economic cost/a> and will work with my colleagues to address this overreach.
  • Fort Smith Airport Fire Protection Grant: The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) awarded the Fort Smith Regional Airport nearly $600,000 for firefighting equipment. The funds will be used to buy a new fire truck and four fire protection suits to assist the airport in meeting safety requirements. This grant is important to the operation of the airport and economic development in the community.
  • Supporting Economic Growth Policies: I was honored to receive the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Spirit of Enterprise’ award for voting for pro-jobs, pro-growth policies. I was appreciative of members of the Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce for presenting me with this recognition.
  • Operation Reboot: I had the opportunity to see how Arkansans are supporting our veterans during a visit to Rogers-based Operation Reboot. Watch my video about this great program that helps veterans in their transition to housing. As part of National Military Appreciation Month I encourage you to honor the men and women who wore our nation's uniform.

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