Arkies in the Beltway | Week of March 24, 2024

This is "Arkies in the Beltway" for the week of March 24, 2024! I'm Alex Thomas — Washington Correspondent for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette — with your look at national politics and the Arkansans influencing the discussions.

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Congress has finally approved all 12 spending bills for the current fiscal year.

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed a $1.2 trillion package to end last week. The legislation funds the Department of Defense as well as agencies related to homeland security, labor, education and health care.

Lawmakers approved a smaller $460 billion package earlier this month covering other matters.

With these two measures, Congress has completed its appropriations work for the current fiscal year, which began last October.

Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., noted the timing of these votes last week during a House subcommittee hearing on President Joe Biden's budget proposal for fiscal year 2025.

STORY: Womack laments Congress’ budgeting delays as deadline nears for $1.2 trillion package

Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., has formally announced his intention to seek the top spot on the House Financial Services Committee.

The body oversees policies involving the U.S. banking system, the Federal Reserve, securities and exchanges, and housing-related issues.

Hill currently serves as the committee's vice chairman under Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., who is retiring from the House at the conclusion of the current Congress.

STORY: Hill notes experience as attribute in pursuit of Financial Services Committee chairman bid

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin wants Congress to address hemp in the next farm bill, specifically language in the 2018 law.

Griffin and 20 other state attorneys general sent a letter to leaders of the Senate and House agriculture committees, in which the officials contend the most recent farm bill encouraged a nationwide proliferation of hemp products.

STORY: Arkansas’ Griffin, Indiana’s attorney general lead officials in calling for federal hemp changes

A record number of Arkansans have enrolled in the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace.

According to recent federal data, more than 156,000 Arkansas residents purchased health insurance through marketplace plans during the most recent enrollment period, topping a record set during the prior term.

Health officials made the announcement in part to celebrate the 14th anniversary of then-President Barack Obama signing the Affordable Care Act into law.

STORY: 396,000 Arkansans enroll in health insurance marketplace, Medicaid expansion coverage

Thanks for supporting "Arkies in the Beltway!" Make sure to keep up with all news involving Arkansas at You can also stay informed about what's happening in the nation's capital by following me online; my social media handle across all platforms is @AlexHouseThomas.

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