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Washington news in brief

by Frank E. Lockwood | December 8, 2019 at 3:47 a.m. | Updated December 8, 2019 at 3:47 a.m.

Senator to House: OK deal on trade

WASHINGTON -- Sen. John Boozman called on the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday to approve the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

In a speech on the Senate floor, the Republican from Rogers emphasized the importance of trade to Arkansas' economy, noting that Canada and Mexico are the state's top two export markets.

The neighboring nations and the Natural State have a "symbiotic and successful relationship," Boozman said, quoting the words of Melvin Torres, director of Western Hemisphere Trade, World Trade Center Arkansas.

Sometimes referred to as NAFTA 2.0, the trade deal needs approval from both chambers of Congress.

"It is ready for ratification, and the Senate is eager to get that done. Unfortunately, we're at the mercy of the House, which must act first," he said.

President Donald Trump is eager to move forward with the agreement.

This is no time for inaction, Boozman said. "House leadership needs to get on the stick. USMCA is too important to our nation's economic future to be sitting in limbo," he said.

Womack visits vet on 100th birthday

When Arkansas veteran John "Ray" Lemons celebrated his centennial early last month, 3rd District U.S. Rep. Steve Womack stopped by Primrose Retirement Community in Rogers to wish him a happy 100th birthday. Before leaving, the Republican from Rogers also presented the former prisoner of war with a commemorative medallion featuring the U.S. House seal and the congressman's signature.

As a flight engineer and gunner with the U.S. Army Air Forces, Lemons was stationed in England during World War II.

On Sept. 27, 1944, while flying a mission over Nazi-occupied Europe, his plane, the King Kong, was shot down. Captured by the Germans, he was held prisoner until U.S. forces liberated his camp in April 1945.

Womack, a retired colonel who served 30 years in the Arkansas Army National Guard, returned later in the month to drop off a letter from President Donald Trump congratulating Lemons on reaching the century mark.

It thanked Lemons for his "dedicated service to our country during World War II."

"Your American century is a proud part of our country's remarkable story. We send our best wishes as you celebrate this tremendous milestone," the letter stated.

After KFSM-TV news featured the story, the White House Facebook page posted a link to it.

As of Friday, it had received more than 5,200 likes.

Westerman honors college president

Fourth District U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman paid tribute to one of his constituents, South Arkansas Community College President Barbara Jones, during a speech Wednesday on the House floor.

Jones, who has led the El Dorado school since 2009, is retiring next month.

The educator and scientist "has always been dedicated to promoting higher education," Westerman, a Republican from Hot Springs said.

"Working in higher education can often be a thankless job, but Dr. Jones was a tireless force for over a decade," Westerman said. "Young people in Arkansas are becoming leaders in their schools and communities, and Dr. Jones played a huge role in many of their lives."

Before her time in southern Arkansas, she served as dean of instruction at Louisiana Delta Community College in Monroe. She was also a laboratory scientist for 22 years. In addition to a number of civic commitments, she's part of her church's praise band, her biography notes.

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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Print Headline: Senator to House: OK deal on trade Womack visits vet on 100th birthday Westerman honors college president


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