John Nichols Boozman (/ˈboʊzmən/; born December 10, 1950) is the senior United States Senator for Arkansas, and a member of the Republican Party. He served as the United States Representative for Arkansas's 3rd congressional district from 2001 to 2011.
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, he is the brother of the late state Senator Fay Boozman. He attended the University of Arkansas, where he played football for the Arkansas Razorbacks, and graduated from the Southern College of Optometry. He co-founded a private optometry clinic in 1977 and worked as a volunteer optometrist for low-income families. He won a special election in 2002 to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served as assistant majority whip and sat on the Republican Policy Committee. He was an advocate for drug policy issues and chaired the Veteran Affairs Economic Opportunity Subcommittee, where he led the passage of bills expanding services for unemployed veterans.
Boozman was elected to the United States Senate in 2010, defeating Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln by a 21-point margin and becoming the first Republican to be elected to the seat since Reconstruction. He took office in January 2011 and is the ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry and Natural Resources, the Commerce Subcommittee on Science and Space and the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Green Jobs and the New Economy. Boozman became the senior Senator in 2015 when Mark Pryor left the Senate after his defeat.
Early life, education and career
Boozman was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, the son of Marie E. (née Nichols) and Fay Winford Boozman, Jr. (1923–1991). Boozman's father, whose last address was in Rogers, Arkansas, was a Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force. His elder brother, Fay Boozman (1946–2005), was also a politician. After graduating from Northside High School in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Boozman played football for the Arkansas Razorbacks at the University of Arkansas, which he attended between 1969 and 1973, while completing his pre-optometry requirements. He did not graduate from the University of Arkansas. He graduated from the Southern College of Optometry in 1977 and entered private practice that same year as co-founder of Boozman-Hof Regional Eye Clinic in Rogers, which has become a major provider of eye care to Northwest Arkansas. He established the low vision program at the Arkansas School for the Blind in Little Rock and worked as a volunteer optometrist at an area clinic that provides medical services to low-income families.
Prior to his election to Congress, Boozman served two terms on the Rogers Public School Board, which governs one of the largest school districts in Arkansas.
U.S. House of Representatives
Boozman was elected to Congress in a special election after his predecessor, Asa Hutchinson, resigned to become the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Boozman was unopposed in 2002, defeated Democratic State Representative Jan Judy by a margin of 59 percent to 38 percent in 2004, and again won re-election in 2006, defeating [ Democrat Woodrow Anderson III. He was unopposed for reelection in 2008.
Starting during the 108th Congress, Boozman served as an Assistant Whip, making him responsible for helping House Republican Whips Roy Blunt and Eric Cantor secure the votes for or against major legislation.
Boozman was also named to the Speaker's Task Force for a Drug-Free America in 2003. The task force advised House Speaker Dennis Hastert on major drug policy issues and helped author legislation regarding recreational drugs, including anti-methamphetamine legislation. Boozman was the lead author of the Stop Marketing Illegal Drugs to Minors Act, a bill that would increase penalties on criminals who design and market drugs, such as candy-flavored meth, that are targeted to kids. Boozman was praised by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, earning the organization's Congressional Leadership Award in 2009. In 2006, Congress passed a Boozman-authored provision promoting an expanded role for drug courts in efforts to reduce drug abuse and recidivism.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Boozman endorsed former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee for President.
In the 109th Congress, Boozman served as Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Economic Opportunity Subcommittee, which focuses on ensuring veterans have a smooth transition to civilian life. He has since served continuously as the Ranking Member on this Subcommittee. Boozman has used his seat on the Veterans Affairs Committee to pass legislation honoring the service and sacrifice of United States Military Veterans and increasing benefits to them and their families. In the 111th Congress, Boozman has introduced and the House of Representatives has passed the Veterans Retraining Act of 2009, which provides resources and training opportunities for unemployed veterans. The House of Representatives also passed several other Boozman-authored bills, including a bill that creates grants to help disabled veterans adapt their homes and vehicles to meet their unique needs.
In May 2004, Boozman was appointed to the House Policy Committee, a committee of Republicans who vet issues and formulate legislation to address them.
Boozman was also a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA), which is an inter-parliamentary organization of legislators from the 19 member countries of NATO and 20 associate countries. He was also appointed vice-chairman of the British American Parliamentary Group, a group of American and British lawmakers who meet to discuss issues of concern and fortify the already strong alliance between the two nations.
Boozman was a member of numerous House caucuses including the Congressional Caucus to Fight and Control Methamphetamine, the National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus, the Congressional Rural Caucus and the Congressional Sportsman's Caucus. Boozman was also one of the founding members of the Congressional I-49 Caucus to promote completion of Interstate 49, and he was the chairman of the Congressional Caucus on the Ivory Coast and West Africa Caucuses.
Congress.org's power rankings rate Boozman's power rating at 7.31, making him the 386th most powerful member out of 435
According to the April 28, 2007 Washington Post, Boozman was told by officials in the White House about its intention to fire Bud Cummins, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and replace him with Tim Griffin, an aide to Karl Rove. According to the Post, none of the Democrats in Arkansas' congressional delegation were told that Cummins was to be one of eight U.S. Attorneys to be fired. Although Boozman did not represent any counties in the Eastern District, he was informed because he was the only Republican in the state's congressional delegation.
Boozman told the Post and the Associated Press that White House officials had promised him that Griffin would be subject to Senate confirmation. Instead, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appointed Griffin as interim U.S. Attorney, using a provision of the Patriot Act that has since been repealed due to the controversy. Boozman also said that he did not think Cummins should have been fired because he was "very well respected and has served the president well."
In 2010, Boozman decided to give up his House seat to run for the election for the seat held by incumbent two-term Democrat Blanche Lincoln. He won the May 2010 Republican primary and then defeated Lincoln in the general election while winning nearly 58% of the vote. Not only was it one of the largest margins of victory for a Republican running statewide in Arkansas since Reconstruction, but it was the first time that a sitting Democratic Senator from the state had been unseated.
Boozman won a second term in 2016, defeating former U. S. Attorney Conner Eldridge with 59.2 percent of the vote. He is the first Republican to be popularly elected to a second term in the Senate from Arkansas.
Boozman began his term in the Senate in January 2011.
Source: United States Senate
- International Conservation Caucus
- National Guard Caucus
- National Hunger Caucus (Co-Chair)
- Republican Doctors Caucus
- Sportsmen's Caucus
- Nancy Erickson, ed. (2011). Committee and Subcommittee Assignments for the One Hundred Twelfth Congress (PDF). United States Government Printing Office.
Political positions and votes
Boozman voted for legislation requiring the Food and Drug Administration to improve safety by regulating non-corrective colored contact lenses as medical devices. This legislation was signed into law by President Bush in 2005.
In the 111th Congress, Boozman introduced legislation (H.R. 2230) to provide tax credits for teachers and principals who work in challenging, low-income schools. Boozman has also introduced legislation to reform the No Child Left Behind Act. One bill (H.R. 2229) would give states latitude to adopt alternate and modified standards for children with disabilities. Boozman stated that this legislation "preserves accountability and helps to ensure our good schools stop ending up on the 'Needs-Improvement List'."
Other Boozman bills include legislation to provide a tax credit for volunteer firefighters, a bill to provide for parental notification and intervention when a minor seeks an abortion, and a bill to create alternatives to traditional foreign aid to poor countries in sub-saharan Africa.
The Zionist Organization of America has praised Boozman for his call to stop federal aid toward Hamas.
On December 11, 2014, at 9:34 pm, Senator Boozman voted 'yea' on Senator Ted Cruz's point of order declaring the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (popularly referred to as the "cromnibus" bill) to be unconstitutional because it funded President Barack Obama's executive order regarding children who are undocumented immigrants. However, at 9:50 pm Senator Boozman voted for the "cromnibus" bill, thus voting for a bill he had deemed unconstitutional 16 minutes earlier.
Boozman has worked to honor and preserve the historical record of the role Arkansas played in the westward expansion and development of the United States. Boozman introduced legislation in the 110th Congress calling for a study of the historic Butterfield Overland Mail Trail for the potential addition to the National Trails System. This legislation passed as part of an omnibus bill (P.L. 111-11), and was signed by President Obama on March 30, 2009.
In addition to preserving the historical significance of the Butterfield Trail, Boozman assisted the effort to secure the home of the U.S. Marshals Museum in Fort Smith. Boozman worked with the Fort Smith Marshals Museum Steering Committee, the Western District U.S. Marshals Office to “Bring It Home.” In January 2007 it was announced that Fort Smith would be the permanent home of the U.S. Marshals Museum. In the 111th Congress, Boozman introduced legislation to recognize the 225th Anniversary of the U.S. Marshals Service with a commemorative coin to be minted in 2014.
Among other legislative achievements, Boozman has penned three bills, each enacted into law, to name certain U.S. Post Offices in Arkansas. The Harrison Post Office was named after former Arkansas Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt. In his remarks on the Hammerschmidt Bill (H.R. 4811), Boozman stated that "no one understands my congressional district like the kind and thoughtful gentleman who represented much of Arkansas in the Congress from 1967 through 1993. I consider John Paul Hammerschmidt a mentor and a friend. During his 26 years in Congress, John Paul became known for his strong work ethic and attention to individual constituent service. His fellow Members came to rely on his legislative expertise in highways, aviation and waterway infrastructure."
Health care reform
Boozman voted against the Affordable Care Act on November 7, 2009. Boozman issued the following statement that same day: "I am for health care reform, unfortunately, this bill does more harm than good. The American people deserve health care reform that gives them access to quality and affordable health care and allows them to make decisions that are best for the care they need. Instead of increasing taxes, entitlement programs and red tape to reform health care we need to let families and businesses buy health insurance across state lines; allow small businesses to pool together to buy health insurance at lower prices and end lawsuits that contribute to escalating costs because of doctors being forced to practice defensive medicine.” Throughout the debate, Boozman has pointed to Medicare cuts, including cuts to Medicare Advantage, increased taxes on health insurance and innovations, and anti-abortion concerns. Boozman did not offer any alternative proposals, nor has his rhetoric changed in the years since tens of millions of Americans gainted health insurance.
In May 2011, Boozman voted to table an amendment that prohibited usage of the Patriot Act to access firearm records. This vote helped ensure the amendment, which would have made it illegal to use the Patriot Act to firearm records, would not reach a vote or become law.
In April 2013, Boozman was one of forty-six senators to vote against the passing of a bill which would have expanded background checks for all gun buyers. Boozman voted with 40 Republicans and 5 Democrats to stop the bill.
In November 2013, Boozman was one of thirty-two senators (all Republican) to vote against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill prohibiting discrimination, of individuals in organizations of 15 or more employees, based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
In April 2014, Boozman voted against a cloture motion for the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that establishes additional penalties for violations of equal pay requirements in the Fair Labor Standards Act, including, among other things, a prohibition on an employer from paying a wage rate to employees of a particular sex that is lower than the rate paid to employees of the opposite sex for equal work unless such payment is made due to certain factors including, but not limited to, “a bona fide factor other than sex."
In September 2004, Boozman voted in favor of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The amendment did not pass.
In July 2006, Boozman co-introduced and voted in favor of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. The amendment did not pass.
In April 2009, Boozman voted against the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which sought to define crimes committed against an individual because of that individual's sexual orientation or gender identity as hate crimes. Boozman stated that he "opposed this legislation because it creates a new federal offense for so-called hate crimes, and adds a special class crimes potentially motivated by the victims sexual orientation, 'gender identity,' or the perceived' thoughts of the alleged criminal." The act passed in the House of Representatives.
In December 2010, Boozman voted against repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, claiming that the "current policy has worked well" and that "we haven't had any significant problems with it." The vote passed by a margin of 250 - 175, and Don't Ask, Don't Tell was repealed.
In December 2012, Boozman voted against ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, an international human rights treaty of the United Nations intended to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities sought to "promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity,” but the convention only reached 61 of the 66 votes required for passage.
In February 2013, Boozman voted against re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act, a law that has improved the criminal justice response to violence against women and ensured that victims and their families have access to the services they need to achieve safety and rebuild their lives. The bill passed by a 78 - 22 margin.
Veterans Job Corps
In September 2012, Boozman voted to block advancement of the Veterans Job Corps Act of 2012, even though Boozman partially authored the bill. The bill, which would have established a $1 billion Veterans Jobs Corps at a time when the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans was 10.9%, fell two votes shy (58 - 40) of the 60 needed for passage.
Oklahoma State University
U.S. House of Representatives
|Arkansas's 3rd Congressional District House Special Republican Primary, 2001|
|Arkansas's 3rd Congressional District House Special Republican Primary Runoff, 2001|
|Arkansas's 3rd Congressional District House Special Election, 2001|
|Independent||George "Ozone" Lyne||1,577||1.10%|
|Green||Abel Noah Tomlinson||58,850||21.47%||+21.47%|
|Arkansas's U.S. Senate Republican Primary Election, 2010|
|Arkansas's U.S. Senate Republican Primary Election, 2016|
Boozman lives in Rogers with his wife, the former Cathy Marley, and the couple has three daughters. He has successfully raised Polled Hereford cattle that were competitive in the show ring, and in bull testing at Oklahoma State University. The Boozman family was active in the 4-H program.
On April 22, 2014, Boozman underwent emergency heart surgery.