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2 senators neutral in statues debate

WASHINGTON -- A century after statues of Attorney Uriah M. Rose and former U.S. Sen. James P. Clarke were unveiled in Statuary Hall, U.S. Sen. John Boozman understands why there's talk of removing them.

"The two that we have have been here a long time and times change," the Republican from Rogers said.

Each state can honor two of its favorite sons or daughters. State Sen. David Wallace, R-Leachville, has filed legislation in Little Rock calling for Rose and Clarke to be replaced with statues of singer Johnny Cash and civil-rights activist Daisy Lee Gatson Bates.

Cash and Bates certainly would qualify for the honor, Boozman noted.

In order to be enshrined in Statuary Hall, "you have to be, in the eyes of your state, famous. And dead," he added.

Wallace's legislation was considered Thursday by the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee, but failed to pass. The vote was expunged, clearing the way for Wallace to pursue it later in the session.

Boozman isn't taking sides, but plans to follow the debate.

"This is something that the Legislature and the people of Arkansas need to think about," he said.

Like Boozman, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton hasn't weighed in on whether Rose and Clarke should stay or go.

"That's primarily a question for our state government and I'll defer to our governor and our Legislature," the Republican from Dardanelle said.

The topic is a valid one, he said.

"I think it's appropriate to evaluate the statues that we have in the United States Capitol and whether we as a state think it's time to honor different persons. But I wouldn't go any further until I followed the debates that our elected representatives in Little Rock will have on our behalf," he said.

The list of potential replacements, Boozman said, is long.

"We're blessed," Boozman said. "A lot of people have represented the state well and done tremendous things."

Mayors forum finds common ground

Newly elected Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan attended the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors last week, joining a gathering that attracted hundreds of leaders from across the nation.

The 87th annual gathering started Wednesday and wrapped up Friday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Vice President Joe Biden addressed the crowd. So did Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Topics ranged from education and economic development to free trade and food access.

Scott said the meeting enabled the mayors "to share and exchange ideas on how we could move our cities forward together."

He met fellow mayors from across the country, but prioritized opportunities to interact with Southern mayors.

"One of the key things that I focused in on was listening in and learning about different strategies as it relates to infrastructure, innovation and inclusion, and how we can build our cities for growth," he said.

Some of the mayors in attendance, including Bill de Blasio of New York City and Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, oversee large metropolitan centers.

Others represent small towns or suburban communities; at least 260 mayors were registered to attend.

"We all, no matter the size, have the same issues," Scott said.

Jordan said the meetings enable mayors to share ideas and spot trends.

This year was no exception.

"There was a lot of talk about workforce training and living wage jobs and a lot of talk about zero emission transportation," he said.

Clean air, clean water and other environmental issues were also hot topics, he said.

The mayors have demonstrated a real "determination to work together," he said.

The budget impasse that had hobbled much of Washington hasn't kept cities from doing their jobs, Jordan said.

"We're still cleaning out road ditches and fixing potholes. ... We're still open and we're still moving forward," he added.

Letter advises U.S. to hold ISIS fighters

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton wants the worst Islamic State fighters who are captured in Syria to be shipped to the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

They'd be housed in the military prison there, along with dozens of terrorist suspects who are being detained there.

The prison population there swelled after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon.

Ten years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed an executive order calling for the terrorist detention facility to be closed "as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order."

Congressional opposition ultimately derailed the plan; Obama's order was formally revoked by President Donald Trump last year.

In a letter Tuesday, Cotton and Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said that 700 "battle-hardened terrorists" are being held by U.S. allies in northeast Syria.

With a civil war raging in that country and with Trump seeking to remove U.S. forces there, the detainees' fate is uncertain.

"Given the rapidly shifting dynamics in Syria, it is possible that these terrorists may escape or be released from [Syrian Democratic Forces] custody in the coming weeks and months," the lawmakers wrote. "If given the opportunity, many of them will take up arms against our Syrian and Iraqi partners or attempt to infiltrate the United States and Europe to carry out terror attacks against civilian targets, like they have already done in France and Belgium. We urge you to consider transferring the worst of these Islamic State fighters to the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, where they will face justice."

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

SundayMonday on 01/27/2019

Print Headline: 2 senators neutral in statues debate Mayors forum finds common ground Letter advises U.S. to hold ISIS fighters

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