Boozman Column: 2022 Offers New Opportunities to Make Bipartisan Progress

U.S. Senator John Boozman

Congress ended 2021 by strengthening national security and improving resources to our servicemembers and their families with passage of the bipartisan Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, which will allow us to be better prepared for threats from our adversaries and protect our interests at home and abroad. The bipartisan support for this bill was a big accomplishment considering Congress spent much of the year debating the partisan agenda driven by the president and his allies in Congress. It’s time to leave that agenda behind and instead advance policies where consensus is possible and members of both parties are invited to participate. I’ve introduced and championed legislation that gives us a good starting point.

This year we will begin crafting the reauthorization of the farm bill. This critical legislation is vital to economic growth in Arkansas because agriculture is a major component of The Natural State’s economy. As the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, I’ll always be an advocate for Arkansas producers. Writing a farm bill is a delicate balancing act, as the varying needs of each region and commodity must be met. That is why each one has historically been crafted with bipartisan support. I’m hopeful that trend will continue as the committee engages with stakeholders who grow food and fiber to feed and clothe the world when we begin the process of writing the next farm bill.

I’m looking forward to continuing the momentum we built in the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee last year to improve mammography services at Department of Veterans Affairs facilities. The committee approved the SERVICE Act, legislation I authored to modernize the VA’s policies to require mammograms for all women who served in areas associated with burn pits and other toxic exposures. We know that women who serve in locations with these dangers have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Ensuring access to these medical tests and screenings regardless of age, symptoms or family history is vital.

Another bipartisan initiative I’m helping lead, the MAMMO for Veterans Act, would require the VA to develop a strategic plan to improve breast imaging services and create a telemammography pilot program for veterans in areas where the VA does not offer in-house mammography. With these reforms, we are on the verge of passing major improvements to prevent and treat breast cancer and ultimately save lives of brave Americans. I’m working with my colleagues on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee to advance these bills and get them to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

We’ve also taken action to increase investment in wildlife conservation this Congress. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) recently held a hearing on the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, legislation to empower and support collaborative conservation efforts in all corners of our country. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is championing the bill and I’m also proud to support this measure which is receiving backing from both Republicans and Democrats. The committee hearing is a good step forward as we work to build even more support in order to debate and pass it to the Senate floor.

These are just a few of the policy initiatives we can achieve if we work across the aisle. I will continue to press the administration on the need to work with Republicans to address raging inflation, skyrocketing energy costs and an unchecked border crisis. We have a positive example of what can be accomplished if both parties have a seat at the negotiating table and get to work on behalf of the American people.

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