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WASHINGTON NEWS IN BRIEF: Cotton 9th in poll on 2024 hopefuls | Hill advocates for Coptic Christians | Boozman supports blind-gear tax bill

by Frank E. Lockwood | February 21, 2021 at 2:53 a.m.

Cotton 9th in poll on 2024 hopefuls

WASHINGTON -- The 2024 presidential primaries are roughly three years away, but pollsters are already surveying voters to determine their favorite candidates.

There's an Arkansan on the list.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll last week showed former President Donald Trump far ahead among potential Republican candidates with 53%, ahead of former Vice President Mike Pence with 12%.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (6%), Donald Trump Jr. (6%), U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah (4%), U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas (4%), U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida (2%) and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (2%) trailed.

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas was in ninth place at 1%, along with U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland.

The survey of 645 Republican and Republican-leaning voters was conducted Feb. 14-15.

Cotton, who won reelection in November, made a virtual appearance before the New Hampshire Republican Party last month, telling hundreds of activists that he supports that state's first-in-the-nation primary status.

Cotton told the crowd that he plans to return to their state "very, very soon," according to WMUR, the ABC affiliate in Manchester, N.H.

Hill advocates for Coptic Christians

U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., and U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., introduced a bipartisan resolution Monday urging Egypt's leaders "to enact serious and legitimate reforms in the public sector, athletics, and society to ensure Coptic Christians are given the same rights and opportunities as all other Egyptian citizens."

Officials in Cairo are also urged "to take additional steps to end the culture of impunity for attacks on Christians, to continue to undertake the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of individuals who carry out attacks on Copts and other Christians in Egypt, and to hold accountable Government officials who fail to enforce the law."

The measure has 12 additional co-sponsors, ranging from U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, on the right to U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. on the left.

According to tradition, St. Mark founded the Church of Alexandria nearly 2,000 years ago.

Today, Christians are a minority in the predominantly Muslim nation.

"Despite President [Abdel Fattah] el-Sisi's steps in recent years to promote religious tolerance at the top levels of the Egyptian government, Coptic Christians continue to face persecution and discrimination from their fellow Egyptians throughout Egypt," the lawmaker from Little Rock said in a written statement.

Coptic Christians should be "given the same rights and opportunities as all other Egyptians," he said.

Boozman supports blind-gear tax bill

U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., this month introduced the Access Technology Affordability Act of 2021, which would authorize tax credits for certain purchasers of equipment benefiting the blind.

According to a summary of the bill, the legislation "would allow for more widespread access to adapted computers, text-to-speech screen access software and electronic Braille displays used to access computers, tablets, smart phones and digital content."

Boozman has sponsored versions of the legislation in previous sessions of Congress.

"As an optometrist, I understand how vital access technology is to enable blind Americans to engage in their communities," the lawmaker from Rogers said. "This bill is key to providing low-cost resources to help visually impaired individuals secure employment and realize their full potential."

The measure has the support of the National Federation of the Blind.

Nena Chadwick, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Arkansas, said her organization "greatly appreciates" Boozman's leadership on the issue.

"Because he is working closely with the blind community, blind and low vision Arkansans will have greater opportunities for success in education, employment, and living the lives we want through the passage of the Accessible Technology Affordability Act," she said in a written statement.

The credit would be available to a taxpayer "for qualified access technology for use by a qualified blind individual who is the taxpayer, the taxpayer's spouse, or any dependent."

It would apply to equipment that is not covered by insurance.

The aggregate amount of the credit "shall not exceed $2,000 in any 3-consecutive-taxable-year period."

Planning to visit the nation's capital? Know something happening in Washington, D.C.? Please contact Frank Lockwood at (501) 908-5204 or flockwood@adgnewsroom.com. Want to get the latest from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Washington bureau? It's available on Twitter, @LockwoodFrank.

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