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Central High site's expansion now law

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump signed legislation Friday expanding the boundaries of the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site.

Sponsored by U.S. Rep. French Hill, it adds seven houses on South Park Street, sitting on roughly 1.5 acres.

HR2611 also empowers the secretary of the Interior Department to reach "cooperative agreements" with the homeowners to help preserve the site.

The property owners supported the move, advocates said.

"It's an exciting, historic day for Arkansas and Little Rock," Hill said in a news release. "I'm pleased that this bill is now law because Arkansas's history is America's history."

The Republican from Little Rock worked with U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton on the measure.

"This is a proud day for our state and for everyone who cares about American history," Cotton, a Republican from Dardanelle, said in a written statement.

"Preserving Little Rock Central High and the surrounding neighborhood will help make sure we never forget what the Little Rock Nine went through to banish 'separate but equal' to the dustbin of history."

The legislation passed the House 390-0 in September and then the Senate shortly before Christmas.

Earlier this month, Hill met with journalism students at Central High School and filled them in on the legislation's passage.

"It was lot of fun. They asked great questions," Hill said last week.

Topics for Cotton: Trump, wall, CIA

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., appeared on ABC's This Week and fielded questions from George Stephanopoulos about President Donald Trump's mental stability, immigration, a border wall, North Korea and the possibility of a government shutdown.

"I don't expect to have one," he said of a possible shutdown. "I certainly don't want to have one. But if the Democrats want to shut down the government because they can't get amnesty for illegal immigrants, then they're going to have to defend those actions to the American people."

Cotton also was asked if he'll be leaving the Senate to take the helm of the CIA. Reports in The Washington Post and elsewhere, citing unnamed sources, say Trump may fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Under one scenario, Cotton would be named to lead the spy agency.

"George, the last time I checked, the CIA has a director, and he's doing a pretty good job. And I'm honored to be serving in the Senate for the people of Arkansas," Cotton replied.

Asked later in the week about Trump's stability, Cotton suggested such questions reveal a partisan bias.

"Comments and questions about the president's mental abilities always seem to be directed at Republican presidents, like Ronald Reagan and George Bush and Donald Trump. Never Democratic presidents," he said.

After meeting with Trump last week, Cotton described the president in positive terms.

"He is an active and engaged and assertive leader," Cotton added.

In week, Boozman a C-SPAN darling

U.S. Sen. John Boozman appeared on C-SPAN and its sister stations repeatedly last week.

On Tuesday, the Republican from Rogers was interviewed about budget priorities.

On Wednesday, the cameras caught him twice -- asking questions in the morning at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on water infrastructure and delivering a speech in the U.S. Senate in the afternoon.

Addressing his colleagues, Boozman emphasized the importance of agriculture to Arkansas' economy and highlighted the effects of tax cuts recently signed into law by President Donald Trump.

"We are the top rice-producing state in the nation; No. 2 in the nation in broiler chickens and the third-largest producer of catfish in the United States. We could also clothe and shelter ourselves from the fiber grown in Arkansas as we are third in the nation in cotton production and the fifth-largest soft wood lumber-producing state," Boozman said.

The lawmaker praised Trump for providing "much-needed tax relief to America's farmers" and predicted the tax changes will have "lasting positive effects for our economy."

Planning to visit the nation's capital? Know something happening in Washington, D.C.? Please contact Frank Lockwood at (202) 662-7690 or Want the latest from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Washington bureau? It's available on Twitter, @LockwoodFrank.

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