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story.lead_photo.caption U.S. Sens. John Boozman, left, and Tom Cotton are shown in these file photos.

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton say they'll be looking for opportunities to work with their Democratic colleagues this year.

Despite the government shutdown, both men say they're optimistic that they'll be able to find areas of common ground.

Boozman, a Republican from Rogers, plans to help reintroduce legislation aimed at easing trade restrictions with Cuba.

The Agricultural Export Expansion Act of 2017 would have allowed Americans to extend credit to Cubans who buy U.S. agricultural commodities. Then- Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., was the sponsor; Boozman was an original co-sponsor.

Since Heitkamp lost her race for re-election, Boozman predicted Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., will take up the mantle.

Passage of the measure is key to expanding access to the Cuban market, Boozman said in an interview last week.

"What we're going to do is make it where private banks and private entities can provide credit; not the federal government," Boozman said.

There will be plenty of other opportunities to reach across the aisle, Boozman said. He pointed to last year's Farm Bill as an example; the Senate version enjoyed broad bipartisan support in that chamber when it passed in June. The final version was backed by a majority of Republicans as well as Democrats.

Last year's VA Mission Act, which increases access to in-home caregivers and private health care for some veterans, is another example that Boozman cited. It sailed through the House 347-70 and through the Senate 92-5.

Farming and veterans' matters will continue to be areas where consensus can be reached, Boozman said.

"The things I'm going to be focusing on are things ... where really we have a lot of bipartisan cooperation. I think we have the opportunity really to get a lot done," he said.

There may also be room for agreement on infrastructure improvements, he added.

"We can't just think in terms of the three Rs: Road, railways and runways," Boozman said. Internet connectivity must also be a priority, he added.

"If you don't have broadband and things like that, you're not going to be able to grow as a community, grow as an area," he said.

In an interview earlier this month, Cotton said he will also look for opportunities "to work in a bipartisan fashion."

"I know people have measured expectations about [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi's House working with the Republican Senate, but we'll try to find every opportunity we can to make progress for Arkansans and the American people," he said.

The Republican from Dardanelle said he'll look for ways to lower the cost of prescription drugs and to expand health savings accounts, which allow people to set aside pre-tax dollars to spend on medical costs.

He also foresees cooperation on military matters.

"This happens every year on the defense bill. [The] defense bill usually passes with 80 or 90 votes," said Cotton, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"I write about a fifth of that bill as the chairman of the subcommittee overseeing the Army and the Air Force," he said. "Almost every measure I have in the defense bill is something that I worked with to get bipartisan support."

Last year, Cotton worked with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and others to pass legislation tweaking the Real ID Act.

Among other things, the 2005 law required states to place bar codes on driver's licenses that can be read by scanners at airports and other locations. A flaw in the original wording prevented U.S.-based residents of the Marshall Islands, Palau and Micronesia from obtaining multi-year driver's licenses in the 50 states.

Now the issue has been addressed.

"You'd be surprised how many times you can find overlapping areas of interest where you can pass bills that make a real difference," he added.

There will be additional opportunities for bipartisanship as the year progresses, Cotton predicted.

One idea he says he's likely to back: creation of a National Criminal Justice Commission. It would be charged with completing a thorough review of the nation's criminal justice system.

Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., sponsored legislation during the last session of Congress that would have created the commission; it passed the Senate on Dec. 22 but didn't make it through the House.

That type of in-depth official study hasn't been completed in 50 years, Cotton said.

Metro on 01/22/2019

Print Headline: GOP senators seek partners across the aisle; Boozman, Cotton say help from Democrats is needed

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Comments

  • RBear
    January 22, 2019 at 4:32 a.m.

    I applaud these efforts, but let's start with a simple one. We can start with the issue of border security which has shut our government down and placed hundreds of thousands of federal workers in dire straits financially while still serving the public. The offer placed before the Senate is not really an offer. It's status quo for those with TPS since SCOTUS will not be deciding on this until 2021. In return for status quo, Trump is asking for full funding for a) a wall that is ineffective, b) not supported by the majority of Americans, and c) promoted by lies and false rhetoric.
    ...
    It's a shame our government has been held hostage by a bunch of radical conservatives who really don't have a clue about the issues at the border. They care more about promoting a false image to waste money at the border while ignoring the real issue of immigration reform that has been delayed for years. It is time to provide a path to permanent citizenship for DACA recipients NOW, not sometime after the government is opened and Democrats have capitulated to Trump's demands.
    ...
    Trump said he was proud to own this shutdown, yet he refuses to negotiate in good faith on it. Walking out of a room after being told no to an initial demand is NOT negotiating. It proves how much of a con artist he is by selling the idea he can actually negotiate to his base.

  • mozarky2
    January 22, 2019 at 5:58 a.m.

    AFGE seems to be blaming the dims for the Schumer Schutdown…
    I am President of AFGE Local 2463 representing all the Smithsonian Museums, Research Centers, National Zoo as well as the Kennedy Center. My membership is faced with a government shutdown while the political games continue between the Republicans and the Democrats.
    The Democratic Party has forgotten its roots and which groups actually built the Democratic Party. They have taken for granted the union members, the working poor and the African American Community who have marched to the polls and pulled the lever for the Democrats.
    Construction sites used to be filled with high paying Union members building housing for Americans. Now you would be lucky to find a union member on one of these sites due to illegal immigration....
    I only bring up these facts to demonstrate that the Democrats in DC have forsaken their base for possible votes by illegal immigrants down the political road. How else can they explain their refusal to even put forth some funds for the wall when they know that it will be at the cost of this Union’s employees going forth without a paycheck to pay their landlord or utilities? They have taken us for granted and I say that it is time to remind them who brought them to the dance....

  • RBear
    January 22, 2019 at 6:48 a.m.

    David Hendrick, the author of that letter, is an avowed conservative. From another letter he posted, "My name is David Hendrick and I am president of the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2463, which represents thousands of federal employees working for the Smithsonian Institution in several states and the Kennedy Center. I am also a ‘Conservative,’ former business owner, former vice president/general manager and plant manager for several companies."
    ...
    Hendrick does not speak for all of AFGE which moz seems to miss in the context. Oh well. We never said moz got things right all the time.

  • einnorray
    January 22, 2019 at 8:08 a.m.

    I will give a nod to their stated approach to work on bipartisan solutions to the issues we face as Americans. However, I reporter should have asked them about their bipartisan solutions to the Government shutdown. I did not receive a clear understanding of their position on the Government shutdown and their bipartisan solution.

    The Reporter could have also asked if this is the message they are supporting at the state level? There is a disconnect between the message they are preaching at the Federal Level and the message coming from the Arkansas State Legislature. Lastly, the reporter could have asked them what would Ann Coulter do?

  • JIMGAIL61788GMAILCOM
    January 22, 2019 at 9:21 a.m.

    Well! Well! Well! Now Boozman ,and Cotton are willing to "WORK WITH" the Democrats.The Evil,non-security minded,progressive,and oh my liberal Democrats.You want to practice BI-PARTISANSHIP?Something not practiced by the Republicans since 2008.When Obama was in office.I believe.This to be a Republican act of pure desperation,and shallowness.This shutdown is all on Trump.He boasted with pride the ownership of the shutdown. Hell! The Republican's from 2016=2018 controlled the House,Senate,and the White House. Amongst themselves They still COULD NOT get anything done.One would think with all the control.More would have been to have furthered the Trump,McConnell Wall.A truly sad performance.Has Cotton come out of the closet?

  • mrcharles
    January 22, 2019 at 9:33 a.m.

    Which group of monarchist have worked day and night to destroy unions, give you just one guess?

    Like the danbury baptist , when weak ask for protection and the right to be equal, but when strong the present day baptist [gop] says FU and you have no involvement whatsoever unless being a good puppy and doing what we say. While it is hard to try and represent all americans instead of an elite few overlords, it can be done to a degree if you just try. Does the gop normally try, No their overlords will not let them.. though most dont care, they are many in the gop that would try and reach out, but they will be attacked by the zealots in the primaries and therefore their inner cowardice will come out and they will sound the trumpet of trump [ or as observed daily, the sound of putin through his puppet DT]

    moz , being a follower of GM's rants, yearns for the democratic party that was a dixiecrat ideology... not exactly a band of righteous people [ a poster boy you could say was strom thurmond with GM tendencies , that of hypocritical words and deeds... being of southern heritage he dilly dilly with blacks like the slave masters in the past] .

    chris wallace interview with sarah huckster [ w wallace with pence the preacher] as to using wall to stupidly hurt americans. To hurt americans daily as putin's puppet does to help americans, seems a unique stupid ideology.

  • seitan
    January 22, 2019 at 11:12 a.m.

    It took them this long to realize that they need to learn the meaning of "compromise"? Brilliant.

  • seitan
    January 22, 2019 at 11:14 a.m.

    Also. Dear Uncle Tom Cottonmouth, please step out of the closet.

  • GeneralMac
    January 22, 2019 at 11:48 a.m.

    SEITAN......

    In the widely publicized manual on steps to take to make gay marriage/gay lifestyle accepted in the US........

    #1......label anyone opposed as being "homophobes"
    #2......label any churches opposed as "churches of hate"
    #3......accuse those opposed as being "closet gays"

    YOU are so predictable, SEITAN !

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    January 22, 2019 at 11:53 a.m.

    Booze-man is worried about Cuba...
    well thats the truth "Republicans".
    About as republican as a p*ss pot
    you couldnt make these people focus on Arkansas.
    they hate Arkansas

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