Syria Update

Sep 03 2013

I've received a number of questions about my position on Syria so I thought I would respond briefly here with my thoughts or better yet my questions for the President. First, I am pleased that President Obama is seeking Congressional approval for the use of force in Syria. With an issue as contentious as this, it is important to seek Congressional approval. It is also required by law.

With that said, I have a number of questions for the President and this administration before I cast my vote on Syria. They include: How will one limited strike be successful in ending Assad’s war against the Syrian people? What is the end game of military intervention? Who are our allies in this effort and which side are we on? And finally is this a prudent use of force?

The President needs to completely answer these questions if he wants to get the support of the American people. Until he does, I cannot support military intervention. I will keep you posted on Facebook and on my website as things develop so please check back frequently.

I wanted to post an update on the bipartisan legislation, The Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act, I reintroduced with Senator Al Franken.

Right now, delivering quality health care to rural areas remains a challenge for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Our veterans need access to quality health care no matter where they live. Congress is investing in outreach to rural areas through community based clinics, but we still have room for improvement.

I believe this legislation is a step in the right direction to improving access for our veterans in Arkansas and across the country.

Over 40 percent of all veterans enrolled in the VA system live in rural areas, yet these areas have a shortage of medical providers and facilities. Often, rural veterans live hundreds of miles from the nearest VA Medical Center. VA has created smaller community-based outpatient clinics, but they are still often too far away or too small to fully meet the needs of our veterans.

My proposed legislation will fix this problem by requiring VA to develop a five-year strategic plan for rural delivery of care that includes goals and objectives for:

- Recruiting and retaining healthcare personnel in rural areas.

- Ensuring quality of care by VA in rural areas through contract and fee-basis providers.

- Implementing, expanding, and enhancing use of telemedicine in rural areas.

- Encouraging full use of VA’s mobile outpatient clinics.

- Modifying funding mechanisms so that the money we appropriate actually go to initiatives and projects that improve access to and quality of care for rural veterans.

It is my hope that this legislation will receive a full vote in the Senate. You can help me ensure that it does by circulating this email among friends and family. Ask them to call their Senator and demand a vote. Thanks for your continued support.

Dear Friend,

I wanted to send you this short update in advance of the Obama administration’s attempts to engage in a new round of negotiations over the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) which I believe is a backdoor effort to chip away at our Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms.

I am vehemently opposed to the United States signing this treaty that will regulate small arms. I believe in upholding our Constitution and I will vote against this treaty should it come to the Senate floor.

I have also co-sponsored a resolution introduced this week by Senator Jerry Moran that will exempt domestic, civilian firearm ownership from the treaty’s scope.

This is not a new issue. Last July, the U.N. Conference on the ATT dissolved without a treaty thanks in part to the efforts of my colleagues and I in the US Senate. You can be certain we will continue to oppose any attempt by this administration to impose this treaty on the American people.

I welcome your feedback on this issue. You can leave me a comment below.

Yesterday, John Brennan was confirmed as CIA Director despite the efforts of many of us to stop his nomination. Senator Rand Paul was among the more vocal, leading a 13 hour filibuster. I commend Senator Paul for holding the President accountable and for his persistence in trying to get a simple question answered from the administration: “Do you believe that you have the legal authority to kill a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil without due process?”

We got an answer to that question, but there were many other troubling aspects of Mr. Brennan's nomination. While Senator Paul was filibustering, I was in the Senate chamber making sure Majority Leader Reid didn't try to end the filibuster, which he could have at any point, and sharing the other concerns I had with Mr. Brennan's nomination with my colleagues. Along with his role in the Obama administration’s controversial drone program, there remain many unanswered questions about Benghazi, which happened on his watch, and his support for closing our facility at Guantanamo Bay (GITMO) and instead trying terrorists in civilian courts. This is why I ultimately voted against confirming him yesterday.

I support the Keystone XL Pipeline project and believe that the President should approve it now. Arkansas will benefit greatly from this project as we already have companies like Nucor in Blytheville which could supply steel, and Welspun Tubular in Little Rock which could provide piping. In fact, Welspun has 500 miles of the pipe needed sitting in storage, ready to be utilized for the project.

The United States Chamber of Commerce has estimated that the Keystone XL Pipeline project would create 250,000 jobs nationwide. Multiple studies have shown the pipeline can be constructed in an environmentally safe manner. Last month, Nebraska's governor, David Heineman, approved a revised route for the pipeline, removing the only remaining obstacle the project faced. There is no remaining reason for President Obama to hold up this project that will help reduce our dependence on hostile nations for our energy needs.

The Keystone XL Pipeline will be the safest and most advanced pipeline operation in North America. It will not only bring essential infrastructure to North American oil producers, but will also provide jobs, long-term energy independence and an economic boost to Americans.

Tell the President to act today! Please leave me a comment below. I read them!

I was proud to help introduce “No Budget, No Pay” legislation in the U.S. Senate. It has been four years since the Democrat controlled Senate passed a budget, despite being required by law to do so. The “No Budget, No Pay” legislation prohibits members of Congress from being paid if they do not pass a long-term budget and all appropriations bills each fiscal year.

We must stop the practice of our nation continuously operating on a three or four month basis with the threat of a looming government shutdown every few months. It is time for Congress to do their job and pass a budget for the entire fiscal year and all appropriations bills. This No Budget, No Pay” legislation simply clarifies that Members of Congress will be treated just like any other American worker – if you don’t do your job, you don’t get a paycheck.

For this reason, I am pleased that a version of this bill passed as part of the debt ceiling agreement recently approved by Congress.

This legislation is necessary to get our fiscal house in order while setting our nation’s budget priorities each fiscal year. The American people are fighting to make ends meet in this tough economy. They have a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent.

Not only is this bill a good thing for America’s fiscal health-it’s the right thing to do for everyone. The Senate is required to pass a binding budget resolution but until now there has been no penalty for their failure to do so. “No Budget, No Pay” will change that.

Please leave me a comment below!

When you account for all local, state and federal laws, there’s little doubt that the number of gun laws already on the books is significant. President Obama and Democrats in Congress are arguing that we need more gun laws. Do you agree or do you believe, like me, that we simply need to enforce the laws already on the books?

The Second Amendment is short and to the point: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

I am a gun owner and a strong protector of this fundamental right and of our Second Amendment.

I’ve discussed the issue with many of my colleagues and fully expect that the President will find support for his mental health directives and the proposals for providing incentives to hire school resource officers. But I cannot support laws that rely on the failed gun control ideas of the past or that are designed to disarm law-abiding citizens.

We can and should take steps to ensure that the law enforcement community has the tools necessary to combat society’s criminal elements. We can and should ensure that disturbed individuals receive proper care. We can and should do all everything possible to protect our children. We need to earnestly enforce the gun laws already have in place and stop this assault on our Second Amendment rights.

Please leave me a comment below!

I am pleased that we were able to come to an agreement to prevent the largest tax hike in American history. This bipartisan solution begins to tackle the financial troubles we are facing while avoiding large tax increases for Arkansas families and small businesses. We must continue to provide certainty for families and job creators. In order to do that, we must focus on Washington’s out-of-control spending. I believe we should start with sound financial planning and passing a budget in the Senate, something that hasn’t been done in more than a thousand days. As we start the new session of Congress, I stand ready to work toward putting our country on a path to fiscal responsibility.