Wranglings over Iran and Cuba were at the forefront of the debate this week among the state’s Congressional delegation. Meanwhile, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., introduced a bill dealing with illegal immigration in the aftermath of a brutal murder in San Francisco earlier this month.
BOOZMAN, COTTON APPEAR ON TALK BUSINESS & POLITICS
In a pair of interviews airing Sunday on KATV, Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark. and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., spoke to Talk Business and Politics Editor in Chief Roby Brock about issues in the nation’s capital.
Boozman told Brock that he was in support of a plan to approve a U.S. embassy in Cuba, while Cotton said he believes Congress will face a “Congressional rebellion” if the Obama administration approves an agreement involving nuclear weapons and Iran.
On Cuba, Boozman said the embassy idea would help build relations between the two countries.
“We’ve been doing the same thing for the last 50 years – it simply hasn’t worked. What we want is a free and open Cuba. I believe that the way that you get there is through trade in the sense that you’re not only trading goods and services, but you’re also trading ideas,” Boozman said.
Meanwhile, opponents to the idea have said it would empower the totalitarian regime of Raul and Fidel Castro.
On Iran, Cotton, who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that the idea of an agreement with a nuclear Iran could create a debate in Congress that could lead to “rebellion.”
““I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an open Congressional rebellion to include Congressional Democrats,” Cotton said. “I think that many Congressional Democrats are very worried about the path the President has taken, especially in these last two or three weeks and that you’re apt to see an open Congressional rebellion and perhaps a veto-proof majority to stop the deal from going forward.”
Also, on Wednesday, Cotton introduced a bill to block so-called sanctuary cities from receiving federal law enforcement grants.
Under the bill, cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration policies would be ineligible to receive federal immigration and law enforcement grants, Cotton said.
The bill was in response to the murder of Kate Steinle. Francisco Sanchez-Lopez was arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with Steinle’s death.
According to published reports, Sanchez-Lopez, who was in the country illegally, had been deported at least five times and was released from jail by San Francisco police after an arrest on a misdemeanor drug charge before the murder.
Cotton said the young woman’s murder puts the issue at the forefront.
“The senseless murder of a young woman in San Francisco last week tragically illustrates that the politicization of the immigration debate has now swamped even common-sense efforts to protect public safety. It is unacceptable that cities would issue ordinances that explicitly aim to frustrate federal immigration laws that are supposed to keep illegal immigrant felons off the streets. U.S. taxpayers shouldn’t be expected to support such misguided local policies that put their safety in jeopardy. No matter their political affiliation, local officials should support the rule of law and protect the safety of all Americans,” Cotton said.
Steinle’s funeral was Friday.
RESILIENT FEDERAL FORESTS ACT PASSES HOUSE
A bill that would seek to deal with forest management was approved Thursday by an overwhelming majority in the U.S. House.
The House voted 262-167 in favor of the Resilient Federal Forests Act, sponsored by Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs. The measure would expedite under the National Environmental Policy Act and improve forest management activities in units of the National Forest System derived from the public domain, on public lands under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management, and on tribal lands to return resilience to overgrown, fire-prone forested lands.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, Westerman said the bill will help deal with a pressing issue.
“This week, the Resilient Federal Forests Act passed the House of Representatives. This bill strengthens forest management standards while reducing the overreach of the federal government and extreme environmental groups. My bill came with bi-partisan support in the House and the support of over 100 groups from California to Mississippi,” Westerman said. “But the work does not stop now, as the forestry bill heads to the Senate. I urge you to call your Senators and the Senate Majority Leader and urge them to pass the Resilient Federal Forests Act. It is good for the national forests, the local economy, and it is solid policy that limits federal overreach.”
21ST CENTURY CURES ACT APPROVED IN HOUSE
A 344-77 vote on Friday helped approve a bill that supporters say will create medical breakthroughs.
The House approved H.R. 6, or the 21st Century Cures Act. Under the bill, an Innovation Fund would be created for the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.
Reps. French Hill, R-Little Rock and Steve Womack, R-Rogers, voted yes while Reps. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro and Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs voted no. Read more on the reasons why each member voted for and against the measure at this link.
BILL INTRODUCED TO HONOR FEDERAL JUDGE
The state’s congressional delegation this week sponsored a resolution to rename the Helena-West Helena Federal Building in honor of Judge Jacob Trieber.
Trieber, who was the first Jewish federal judge, served as a federal judge from 1900 to 1927 after being appointed by President William McKinley. Trieber also worked to restore the Old State House in Little Rock and served on the Helena City Council as well as Phillips County treasurer.
“Judge Trieber paved the way for diversity on the federal bench as the first Jewish federal judge. His work on the bench helped fight injustice and laid the foundation for equality with a lasting civic legacy that continues to impact our country. I’m proud to honor Judge Trieber for his contributions to Arkansas and the United States,” Sen. John Boozman said.
“Jacob Trieber’s tenure as a federal judge was marked by consistent hard work and national prominence as a jurist and constitutional scholar. Given his leadership in the community of Helena and beyond, it is deeply fitting for his name to be enshrined over the court he served with honor and distinction,” Rep. Rick Crawford said.