A headline such as the one that appeared on the Aljazeera website in late 2018 is a bit unnerving to most readers. It said the following: “Senators who tried to kill Yemen bill have been paid by lobbyists.” Whether or not you understand what killing the Yemen bill meant or involved, the idea that lobbyists were seeking to shape U.S. foreign policy with contributions is a bit horrifying.
Among those named in the list of senators influenced by lobbyists was John Boozman, the senior senator from Arkansas. According to the article, several senators “received financial contributions from firms representing Saudi interests between 2016 and 2017, according to a recent investigation by the Centre for International Policy (CIP),” and also that all five had voted “against advancing the resolution, which, if passed, would force the US to limit its support for the Saudi-UAE war in Yemen.”
In 2018, Saudi Arabia spent more than $20 million to seek to influence U.S. public opinion and policy; this made the country one of the top ten spenders on lobbying in the U.S. Those donations were unable to block the resolution since many Republicans were also in favor of withdrawing support to Saudi Arabia. It was due to the way that the Saudi government handled the murder of American journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Some expressed a sense of betrayal and “many of whom have historically backed the US-Saudi relationship, have vented their anger over the killing and have pulled their support for the war in Yemen in an attempt to communicate their displeasure.”
The U.S. had been supporting a Saudi-UAE alliance, including offering logistical support, weaponry, and plane refueling services. With the passage of the Resolution, however, Congress supplied itself with the ability to “overrule the president and withdraw troops if the former believes the conflict is not authorised.”
And even as he accepted support from pro-Saudi lobbyists and voted against withdrawing American backing from the war on Yemen, Senator Boozman was also interacting with and offering aid to MEK.
Also known as Mujahedeen Khalq, MEK is an opposition group to the current Iranian government, and the National Council of Resistance is its political arm. The council, according to one article, “continues to build a powerful influence network in Washington and beyond… has been hosting opulent events at the National Press Club and elsewhere, publicizing itself through national and international media, and meeting with dozens of current and former government officials, all with the end goal of toppling the current Iranian government and rising to power in its place.”
In 2018, the organization “received the backing of two sitting senators, John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).” While at an event, Senator Boozman was even photographed speaking between two Iranian flags with the MEK insignia, and is quoted as saying “We are committed to helping you in any way that we can.”
And this shows even further support of Saudi initiatives, however, as Saudi Arabia is a long-standing foe of the Iranian regime.
What does this mean for a seated Senator? It makes many worry about influence. Consider Senator Chuck Grassley’s essay about foreign influence made such worries plain. In it, he said that activities like the recent Mueller investigation created a “political noise,” that “risks drowning out sirens warning of the real threat: surreptitious foreign influence in our political discourse.”
He goes on to explain himself, saying: “Mr. Mueller’s team indicted dozens of Russians for a scheme to sow discord in American politics through social media and the release of hacked Democratic National Committee emails. But not enough attention has been paid to foreign interests secretly enlisting American cutouts to influence our laws and policies directly. This is a serious problem that should unnerve anyone in government being lobbied on policy matters.
If lobbyists or public-relations firms are peddling policy preferences at the behest of foreign powers, we ought to know about it… Congress must keep an eye on this threat, strengthen our defenses against hidden foreign influence, and preserve the voice of the American people.”
This type of influence appears in the marked increase of “dark money” contributions, or worries about them. Several recent changes in U.S. campaign finance laws have made it relatively easy for outside sources to wield influence in almost any election.
Most of us understand that influence-peddling is not a new issue in American politics. It is not altogether common, but it does happen. It is also becoming quite tricky to identify because of the Supreme Court ruling known as Citizens United. It occurred in 2010, and the Court held that “the free speech clause of the first amendment prohibits the government from restricting corporations from making political expenditures,” opening the door to corporate money having an easy way to influence an election.
So, vast sums canhead to PACs and SuperPACs (Political Action Committees). They take such acronyms when they exceed the $2600 spending cap in a federal election. And while a PAC can contribute to parties or candidates, SuperPACs can only spend (unlimited sums) on marketing and ads. They are unlimited in the amounts they can accept, as well.
Additionally, a change in IRS rules “no longer requires some 501(c) tax-exempt nonprofits — including politically active 501(c)(4) ‘dark money’ groups — to disclose donor names and addresses in tax returns submitted to the IRS,” according to a report from the Center for Responsive Politics. And it means that it can be nearly impossible to determine where tens of millions of dollars originate.
It is the advent of such rules fueling the rise of “dark money,” and campaign finance experts say “spending of this kind (in which groups did not reveal their donors) climbed rapidly from five million dollars in the year 2006 to more than three hundred million dollars in 2012.”
And these sums are not typical donations, nor are they even standard sums for the wealthier contributors. Instead, they are seen as funds from the mega-rich, who are “effectively in control of American politics, writing six- and seven-figure checks to super PAC’s to support ad campaigns that confuse viewers and distort the views and records of candidates,” as one source said. They may not make bold moves, such as lobbying directly to interfere with foreign policy, but as another expert pointed out, they might use influence for “subtle things that are less top of mind, less likely to be in the news — some amendment tucked into a larger bill…[and] greater access for friendly lobbyists.”
It is difficult to spot all forms of influence easily, but it is necessary to scrutinize even the most trusted senators for any indications. To do so means exploring a list of different facts about them. For example, who supports them the most, what types of legislation does thatsenator sponsor or supports? By comparing such points, it becomes easier to find signs of influence.
And influences over Senator Boozman is whatwe’ll try to identify in this article, and we will use a few additional sets of information in our evaluation. They are:
- The Senator’s publicly stated priorities and issues
- Senator Boozman’s committee and caucus activities
- The Senator’s key sources of campaign funding
- Senator Boozman’s most recent legislative items sponsored or co-sponsored
We are also going to examine other data, including bipartisanship ratings, conservative rankings, and more, to reach conclusions.
For example, Senator Boozmanrates favorably in the Lugar Center Bipartisanship Index, holding the 24th place. What this means is simple: legislation he creates typically attracts the support of Democrats, and he often supports their efforts. His“Trump Score” from FiveThirtyEight for the 116th Congress is down from the previous Congress, and hovers at 88%, meaning that he typically supports President Trump’s policies, but not always. The Conservative Review, however, strongly disapproves of the Senator, giving him a numeric Liberty Score of 50% and a letter grade of “F.” His approval ratings in the Senate are mid-range, with a rank of 40th out of 100 senators and a net approval of 61.
About Senator John Boozman
Born in 1950 in Louisiana, he was a military “brat” and graduated high school in Arkansas before enrolling at the University of Arkansas, where he studied optometry. He graduated from the Southern College of Optometry and entered into private practice. He grew his business and created vision programs for the School of the Blind as well as volunteering in low-income family clinics. He served on the local school board, but in 2002 was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives during a special election. Two years later, he won the regular election and continued to do so for two more terms. He ran for the Senate in 2010 and was re-elected in 2016.
At his official website, he explains that his decades “of experience as a successful healthcare provider and a small business owner guide John’s approach to governing. He is committed to advocating for economic policies that help Arkansas’s small businesses continue to grow and add jobs to our state’s economy. And since agriculture accounts for nearly one-quarter of Arkansas’s economic activity, John has been a consistent champion for our state’s farmers, ranchers and loggers and was instrumental in the fight for an equitable farm bill.”
He also expresses a sincere dedication to military families, veterans and active duty Armed Forces personnel, saying he is “committed to enhancing the quality of life for both our veterans and their families. John has authored provisions to extend successful federal homeless veteran programs, expand treatments for our wounded warriors, and modernize educational benefits under the GI Bill.”
The issues he has identified as most significant to his constituents include:
- Federal Spending
- Foreign Policy
- Health Care Reform
- Homeland Security
- Immigration Reform and Border Security
- Jobs and the Economy
- National Security
- Regulatory Reform
- Tax Reform
- Veterans Affairs
The journalist group ProPublica regularly evaluates politicians and monitors how they vote, the most common subjects of bills they sponsor and even what issues are the most common in their press releases. They have identified that Senator Boozmanfocuses on the following items in his legislation:
- Armed Forces and National Security
- International Affairs
- Public Lands and Natural Resources
- Transportation and Public Works
The press releases around his policy priorities overlap somewhat, and in ranking order emphasize:
- Armed Forces and National Security
- Agriculture and Food
- Science, Technology and Communications
- Government Operations and Politics
- International Affairs
So, he is clear about his priorities while in the Senate, and we need to start delving into the other areas of his work and what he does with the authority it brings him to determine any influence.
Senator Boozman’s Committee Work
For the 116th Congress, Senator Boozmanis assigned to the following committees and subcommittees:
- Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
- Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
- Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade (Chairman)
- Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry, and Natural Resources
- Subcommittee on Nutrition, Agricultural Research, and Specialty Crops
- Committee on Appropriations
- Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
- Subcommittee on Department of Defense
- Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government
- Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (Chairman)
- Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
- Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
- Committee on Environment and Public Works
- Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety
- Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife
- Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
- Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
These also overlap and align with his established priorities, but it pays to compare any areas of overlap where his campaign funding is concerned, too.
The Top Industries Funding Senator BoozmanCampaign Efforts
In 2016, Senator Boozman’scampaign raised $4,888,821.00 and spent $4,466,196.00, leaving the with almost half a million on hand. This support came from an array of industries, and we’ll look at those contributors in three distinct groupings:
- The industries in which the Senator was a “favorite,” or top recipient in the last campaign cycle (2016)
- The industries that contributed the most substantial amount of financial support
- Individual organizations that donated the most
According to the Open Secrets Website, Senator Boozmanwas an industry favorite in several key industries in 2016, and the numerals signify his rank within them. They included:
- Forest Products (#2)
- Poultry & Eggs (#3)
Many other industries supported his re-election, and the 20 sectors that gave the most, overall, in 2016 were (in ranking order):
- Health Professionals
- Leadership PACs
- Securities & Investment
- Commercial Banks
- Real Estate
- Oil & Gas
- Crop Production & Basic Processing
- Retail Sales
- Lawyers/Law Firms
- Forestry & Forest Products
- Food Processing & Sales
- Miscellaneous Finance
- Agricultural Services/Products
- Electric Utilities
- Food & Beverage
There were also the top companies and other groups that gave, individually, the most rather than by industry. None of donated directly to the campaign, instead, they worked with PACs or had direct employee contributions for the 2016 election, and were:
- Walmart Inc – “An American multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of hypermarkets, discount department stores, and grocery stores, headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas.”
- Stephens Inc – “a privately held, independent financial services firm headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas. As one of the largest privately owned investment banks in the country, Stephens has 28 offices worldwide and employs more than 1,200 people.”
- US Senate
- Tyson Foods – “An American multinational corporation based in Springdale, Arkansas, that operates in the food industry. The company is the world’s second largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork.”
- NorPAC – “A bipartisan, multi-candidate political action committee (PAC) working to strengthen United States support for Israel.”
- NextEra Energy – “A Fortune 200 energy company with about 45,900 megawatts of generating capacity, revenues of over $17 billion in 2017, and about 14,000 employees throughout the United States and Canada. It is the largest electric utility holding company by market capitalization. Its subsidiaries include Florida Power & Light (FPL), NextEra Energy Resources (NEER), NextEra Energy Partners (NEP), Gulf Power Company, and NextEra Energy Services.”
- Murphy Oil – “A petroleum and natural gas exploration company headquartered in El Dorado, Arkansas.”
- Blessey Marine Service – “Predominantly a “Unit Tow” company, Blessey Marine’s mission is to transport our customers’ liquid bulk cargoes safely and efficiently throughout the navigable inland waterways. Our primary cargoes include residual fuels, asphalt, lubricating oils, petroleum feedstocks, refined petroleum products, petrochemicals and alcohols.”
- MCNA Dental Plans–“A premier dental benefits administrator that provides exceptional service to state agencies and managed care organizations for Medicaid, CHIP, and Medicare members.”
- Cooper Communities – “Provides residential development, home building, and commercial realty services. The Company acquires, develops, leases, and manages golf courses, custom build homes, vacation resorts. Cooper Communities conducts its business in the United States,” and is based in Rogers, AK.
Senator Boozman’s supporters are a healthy mix of in and out of state entities. He even has large-scale contributions from the U.S. Senate. It can easily be interpreted as a lack of sources of influence, but to be certain, we must look at the legislation he’s sponsored during the current Congress.
9 Items Senator BoozmanHas Sponsored During the 116th Congress – To Date
For the 116th Congress, to date, Senator Boozmanhas190 pieces of legislation; he sponsored 24 thus far and co-sponsored the remaining 166. The Senator’s official Congressional page indicates that his emphasis in this Congress has been primarily on Armed Forces and National Security, international affairs, agriculture and food, health, and public lands and natural resources.
S.815 —Access Technology Affordability Act of 2019
Reintroduced on March 14, this bill aims at creating “a refundable tax credit to offset the cost of access technology for blind Americans,” according to a press release about the legislation.
Having been an optometrist for many years, Senator Boozman is an ideal sponsor and spoke of the need for the bill when first introducing it in 2017. He said, “As an optometrist, I know firsthand how important access technology is for blind Americans trying to engage in their communities. With almost 60 percent of blind Americans unemployed, I am pleased to introduce this commonsense legislation to increase the availability and reduce the financial burden associated with these items to ensure the visually impaired receive the tools they need to succeed in the classroom, the workplace and within the community.”
The technologies that this bill would help people access include “adapted computers, text-to-speech screen access software and electronic Braille displays used to access computers, tablets, smart phones, as well as digital content.” It is a bipartisan and bicameral bill with endorsements from many groups, including the National Federation of the Blind. It was read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.
S.Res.112 —A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the United States condemns all forms of violence against children globally and recognizes the harmful impacts of violence against children
This bipartisan legislation was introduced on Marcy 14, and calls “for a comprehensive and coordinated strategy to end violence against children globally,” according to a press release about it from Senator Boozman’s office.
He explains that the, according to World Health Organization data, “more than one billion children worldwide are exposed to physical, sexual and mental violence in their communities, which includes being subjected to abuse, maltreatment, exploitation and more.” Exposure to such treatment “negatively impacts a young person’s cognitive and emotional development. Additionally, the global economic impact of physical, psychological and sexual violence against children can be as high as $7 trillion, or eight percent of the world’s gross domestic product.”
Senator Boozman explained the goal of the Resolution, saying “The outcomes the United States hopes to achieve with our global economic development initiatives will struggle to fully take hold in countries where violence against children goes unaddressed. Horrific acts like human trafficking and child labor have tragic lifelong consequences for individual children and devastate entire communities. This bipartisan resolution sends a strong message that a plan to end violence against children must be a priority in our global development strategy.”
The Resolution specifically:
- “Condemns all forms of violence against children and youth globally, including physical, mental and sexual violence as well as neglect, abuse, maltreatment and exploitation;
- Recognizes the harmful impact violence against children and youth has on the healthy development of children;
- Should develop and implement a comprehensive and coordinated strategy built upon evidence-based practices, including the INSPIRE package of interventions, and adopt common metrics and indicators to monitor progress across U.S. government agencies to prevent, address and end violence against children and youth globally.”
It was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations with cosponsorship from eight senators.
S.Res.121 — A resolution congratulating Israel and Egypt on the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty
Senator Boozman introduced this Resolution on March 25th in honor of the 40t anniversary of the signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.
According to the Senator’s press release on the legislation, “The Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty was signed on March 26, 1979, ending 31 years of war between the two nations. It was the culmination of months of negotiations that began when Muhammad Anwar al-Sadat, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and Menachem Begin, Prime Minister of Israel, met with President Jimmy Carter at Camp David, Maryland from September 5 to September 17, 1978. The ‘Camp David Accords’—which were signed at the conclusion of that twelve-day meeting—served as the framework for the treaty. Forty years later, Egypt and Israel continue to enjoy a strong and peaceful bilateral relationship.”
The Resolution specifically:
- “Congratulates the governments and people of Egypt and Israel for 40 years of peace based on the Camp David Accords;
- Encourages the governments of Egypt and Israel to serve as examples of honest statesmanship and peace building;
- Commends the example set for the world in seeking peaceful and long-lasting resolutions to conflict; and
- Requests the President to issue a proclamation to observe the anniversary with appropriate ceremonies and programs.”
When introducing the legislation, Senator Boozman said, the “Camp David Accords and resulting peace treaty are an enduring achievement that serve as a reminder that lasting peace in the region can be achieved. It should also remind us the positive impact the U.S. can have when it remains fully engaged in settling conflicts. Our relationship with both nations is stronger now than ever, as a result of the extensive efforts on the part of American diplomats to bring the parties to the table. They set an example for the world in seeking peaceful and long-lasting resolutions to conflicts.”
The Resolution was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
S.902 —VA Hiring Enhancement Act
This bill was introduced on March 27 to attract the best and brightest doctors to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system. According to a press release about the bipartisan legislation, it overcomes the challenges of “recruiting and retaining highly-qualified physicians…by allowing the department to compete for the best and brightest doctors coming out of medical school.”
As Senator Boozman explained, “Under its current hiring processes, the VA loses too many great medical school graduates to private sector employers. The VA Hiring Enhancement Act will fix that by leveling the playing field for the VA and allowing the department to attract the best and brightest doctors. In terms of closing the VA’s recruiting gap with the private sector, this bill is a gamechanger.”
If enacted, it will attain its goals by:
- “Allowing the VA to release physicians from non-compete agreements, provided they commit to VA services for at least one year. This makes it easier to hire local doctors, since non-compete contracts are often designed to prevent doctors from competing with their previous employer in the same local area;
- Granting the VA authority to make binding job offers up to two years prior to completion of residency, which would help the VA become more proactive in its healthcare provider hiring practices and is particularly important to attracting specialists; and
- Setting the minimum education requirement for VA doctors as completion of residency.”
The bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
S.986 —A bill to release to the State of Arkansas a reversionary interest in Camp Joseph T. Robinson
This bicameral bill was introduced on April 2 and seeks to “transfer nearly 140 acres of land at Camp Robinson to the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA). The land conveyance will facilitate expansion of the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock.”
The land being transferred has been inactive and unused by Army Guard trainees for more than two decades. The “and lies in the flight path of the North Little Rock airport runway, which limits the use of training devices such as artillery simulators, flares and smoke. It is also separated from the main areas of Camp Robinson and has limited access.” If enacted, the bill would enable continuation of burials beyond the year 2045 (the point at which the current space will hit capacity).
Speaking about it, Senator Boozman said, “This is a commonsense solution that helps the Army Guard and the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs. The land is costly to maintain and not useful to the guard for training. It will provide a valuable expansion of burial space for veterans – an important step to securing a place of honor for future generations of veterans. This land conveyance will help the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs provide the men and women who served in uniform an appropriate final resting place that acknowledges of their service and sacrifice.”
The bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.
S.Res.135 —A resolution expressing the gratitude and appreciation of the Senate for the acts of heroism and valor by the members of the United States Armed Forces who participated in the June 6, 1944, amphibious landing at Normandy, France, and commending those individuals for leadership and bravery in an operation that helped bring an end to World War II
Introduced by Senator Boozman on April 2, it is a bipartisan resolution that is intended to mark the “75thAnniversary of the D-Day invasion and honor the members of the U.S. Armed Forces who helped bring an end to World War II.”
It was in the pre-dawn hours of June 6, 1944, that more than 57,000 American Armed Forces (along with more than 150,000 allied soldiers), “launched Operation Overlord by storming ashore five landing areas on the beaches of Normandy, France. The first day of the operation, which became known as D-Day, approximately 10,000 Allied soldiers were wounded or killed, including 6,000 Americans. Operation Overlord led to Allied liberation of Western Europe from the control of Nazi Germany and an end to World War II.”
Speaking about the Resolution, the senator said, “Seventy-five years ago, the brave men and women of the Allied Forces embarked on the opening phase of Operation Overlord in an effort to break the Nazi stranglehold on Western Europe. The courageous effort to storm the beaches of Normandy changed the trajectory of history…The courage and sacrifice of the Allied troops who came to the aid of those oppressed by the Nazi and Fascist regimes will always serve to inspire future generations.”
With cosponsorship by 47 other senators, the Resolution was agreed to in Senate without amendment and an amended preamble by Unanimous Consent.
S.1381 —A bill to modify the presumption of service connection for veterans who were exposed to herbicide agents while serving in the Armed Forces in Thailand during the Vietnam era, and for other purposes
Introduced on May 9, this bill has been explicitly designed to “allow veterans who served in Thailand during the Vietnam War-era the opportunity to prove toxic exposure in order to qualify for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits.”
Currently, the VA offers “service-connected benefits for exposure to toxic chemicals to veterans whose duties placed them on or near the perimeters of Thai military bases from February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975. This restriction arbitrarily disqualifies veterans who may otherwise be able to prove their exposure, regardless of their assigned duties during their time stationed in Thailand.”
Many organizations have long pressed to improve coverage for all veterans exposed to such dangerous herbicides. They have inspired this bill, as Senator Boozman explained when introducing it. He said, “We made a commitment to our veterans, and must continue that promise to care and provide assistance for those exposed to Agent Orange regardless of where they served in Thailand. Expanding the VA’s policy to provide service-connected benefits is crucial to that pledge. Arbitrarily limiting consideration of a veteran’s claim is misguided, especially considering the VA determined that herbicides were used on fenced-in perimeters of military bases in Thailand. This bill will eliminate the unreasonable burden on veterans to prove toxic exposure.”
The bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
S.1544 —Medicare Access to Radiology Care Act of 2019
Introduced on May 20, this bill, according to a press release about it, is “working to address the rising demand and clinical need for timely medical imaging services by introducing legislation that enhances the role of radiology assistants (RAs).
High demand for radiology services, and the ever-increasing complexity of studying for the work has strained the Medicare program further than ever before. This issue may be addressed by the bill’s “value-based, efficient solution to address this need and improve patient outcome is to enhance the role of RAs.”
If passed into law, the bill would “enable radiologists to submit claims to Medicare for non-diagnostic services performed by RAs they directly supervise in both the hospital and office setting. It will ensure patients—particularly those in rural areas where health care options are fewer—have timely and quality access to services.”
RAs are only newly recognized within Medicare, and can perform many services under direct supervision. Radiology is not yet one, and they are unable to send claims to Medicare.
Speaking of the bill, Senator Boozman explained, hospitals “around the country are always searching for better ways to deliver medical services to patients in more cost-effective ways. Many health policy experts have identified the use of physician extenders as one way to help achieve that goal.”
The bipartisan bill has four other cosponsors, and was read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.
S.1918 —Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act of 2019
Senator Boozman introduced this crucial legislation on June 20, and it is a bipartisan initiative that aims to “make federal child nutrition programs more efficient, flexible and better equipped to reach Arkansas children in need during the summer months.”
According to a press release about the legislation, currently, kids are forced to “travel to a central location and eat their meals together. It works well in some communities. However, in rural areas, it can be difficult for children to reach a site, if a site even exists. In suburban and urban areas, inclement weather or violence can keep children from these sites and cause them to miss a meal.”
To overcome such intolerable circumstances, the Act has created two solutions that all states may use:
- “The first would allow for meals to be consumed off-site through innovative means like mobile feeding programs and backpack meal programs.
- The other option would authorize the summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program, which would provide eligible families $30 per summer month per child, with a maximum of $100 per child per year, to purchase eligible food items from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) approved retailers.”
There are several USDA pilot programs of this kind in operation, and they have cut child hunger by 30%.
Many advocacy groups have endorsed the legislation, and Senator Boozman said of it, “Summer meals currently reach less than 20 percent of children who participate in similar programs during the school year. The one-size-fits-all approach is not meeting the needs of…children. We need a summer meals program that works for all areas–urban, suburban and rural. Our bill aims to achieve this by giving states the flexibility to choose what makes the most sense in their communities to alleviate summertime hunger for children…My colleagues joining me to introduce this bill come from different regions and hold views from across the political spectrum. What brings us together is that we have seen the need for more options to end hunger in our communities and share a belief that the best solutions to this problem come from the ground up.”
This bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.
Senator Boozman may have a bit of controversy surrounding him concerning his pro-Saudi stance during a tumultuous period in US-Saudi relations. However, it is clear he does not create legislation that is in the best interests of his backers. He looks after the health and well-being of his constituents, seeks to improve conditions for veterans and offers a lot of commonsense legislation.