John Boozman
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John Boozman
John Boozman
Senator John Boozman Official Portrait (115th Congress).jpg
Official portrait, 2017
United States Senator
from Arkansas

January 3, 2011
Serving with Tom Cotton
Blanche Lincoln
Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee

February 3, 2021
Debbie Stabenow
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 3rd district

November 20, 2001 - January 3, 2011
Asa Hutchinson
Steve Womack
Personal details
John Nichols Boozman

(1950-12-10) December 10, 1950 (age 70)
Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Cathy Marley
(m. 1972)
EducationUniversity of Arkansas
WebsiteSenate website

John Nichols Boozman ( BOHZ-m?n; born December 10, 1950) is an American politician and former optometrist serving as the senior United States senator from Arkansas, a seat he has held since 2011. A member of the Republican Party, he was the U.S. Representative for Arkansas's 3rd congressional district from 2001 to 2011. He is the dean of Arkansas's congressional delegation.

Boozman was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, where his father was stationed with the U.S. Air Force, but the family eventually returned to Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he was raised. He is the brother of the late State Senator Fay Boozman. He attended the University of Arkansas, where he played football for the Arkansas Razorbacks, and graduated from the Southern College of Optometry. He co-founded a private optometry clinic in 1977 and worked as a volunteer optometrist for low-income families. He won a special election in 2001 to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served as assistant majority whip and sat on the Republican Policy Committee. He was an advocate for drug policy issues and chaired the Veteran Affairs Economic Opportunity Subcommittee, where he led the passage of bills expanding services for unemployed veterans.

Boozman was elected to the United States Senate in 2010, defeating Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln by a 21-point margin and becoming the first Republican to be elected to the seat since Reconstruction. He took office in January 2011 and is the ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management and Trade and the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies. He is also a senior member of the United States Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Boozman became the senior senator from Arkansas in 2015 when Mark Pryor left the Senate after his defeat. Boozman was reelected in 2016.

Early life, education and career

Boozman was born in Shreveport, Louisiana,[1] the son of Marie E. (née Nichols) and Fay Winford Boozman, Jr. (1923-1991).[2] Boozman's father, whose last address was in Rogers, Arkansas, was a Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force.[3] His elder brother, Fay Boozman (1946-2005), was also a politician. After graduating from Northside High School in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Boozman played football for the Arkansas Razorbacks at the University of Arkansas, which he attended from 1969 to 1973,[4] while completing his pre-optometry requirements. He did not graduate from the University of Arkansas.[5] He graduated from the Southern College of Optometry in 1977 and entered private practice that same year as co-founder of Boozman-Hof Regional Eye Clinic in Rogers, which has become a major provider of eye care to Northwest Arkansas. He established the low vision program at the Arkansas School for the Blind in Little Rock and worked as a volunteer optometrist at an area clinic that provides medical services to low-income families.

Before his election to Congress, Boozman served two terms on the Rogers Public School Board, which governs one of Arkansas's largest school districts.[6]

U.S. House of Representatives


Boozman was elected to Congress in a special election after his predecessor, Asa Hutchinson, resigned to become the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Boozman was unopposed in 2002, defeated Democratic State Representative Jan Judy 59%-38% in 2004, and defeated Democratic nominee Woodrow Anderson III in 2006. He was unopposed in 2008.


In October 2002, Boozman voted in favor of the Iraq Resolution that led to the Iraq War.[7] In 2011, after 4,500 Americans and hundreds of thousands of civilians had died, Boozman said the war was "worth it."[8]

Starting during the 108th Congress, Boozman served as an Assistant Whip, making him responsible for helping House Republican Whips Roy Blunt and Eric Cantor secure the votes for or against major legislation.

Boozman was also named to the Speaker's Task Force for a Drug-Free America in 2003. The task force advised House Speaker Dennis Hastert on major drug policy issues and helped author legislation regarding recreational drugs, including anti-methamphetamine legislation. Boozman was the lead author of the Stop Marketing Illegal Drugs to Minors Act, a bill that would increase penalties on criminals who design and market drugs, such as candy-flavored meth, that are targeted to kids.[9] He was praised by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, earning the organization's Congressional Leadership Award in 2009.[10] In 2006, Congress passed a Boozman-authored provision promoting an expanded role for drug courts in efforts to reduce drug abuse and recidivism.[11]

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Boozman endorsed former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee for president.

In the 109th Congress, Boozman chaired the Veterans Affairs Economic Opportunity Subcommittee, which focuses on ensuring veterans have a smooth transition to civilian life. He has used his seat on the Veterans Affairs Committee to pass legislation honoring the service and sacrifice of United States military veterans and increasing benefits to them and their families. In the 111th Congress, Boozman introduced and the House of Representatives passed the Veterans Retraining Act of 2009, which provides resources and training opportunities for unemployed veterans.[12] The House also passed several other Boozman-authored bills, including one that creates grants to help disabled veterans adapt their homes and vehicles to meet their needs.[13]

In May 2004, Boozman was appointed to the House Policy Committee, a committee of Republicans who vet issues and formulate legislation to address them.[14]

Boozman was also a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA), an inter-parliamentary organization of legislators from the 19 member countries of NATO and 20 associate countries. He was also appointed vice-chairman of the British American Parliamentary Group, a group of American and British lawmakers who meet to discuss issues of concern and fortify the already strong alliance between the two nations.

Boozman was a member of numerous House caucuses, including the Congressional Caucus to Fight and Control Methamphetamine, the National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus, the Congressional Rural Caucus and the Congressional Sportsman's Caucus. He was also one of the founding members of the Congressional I-49 Caucus to promote completion of Interstate 49, and chaired the Congressional Caucus on the Ivory Coast and West Africa Caucus.'s power rankings rated Boozman's power rating at 7.31, making him the 386th most powerful member out of 435.[15]

According to the April 28, 2007, Washington Post, Boozman was told by officials in the White House about its intention to fire Bud Cummins, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and replace him with Tim Griffin, an aide to Karl Rove. According to the Post, none of the Democrats in Arkansas' congressional delegation were told that Cummins was to be one of eight U.S. Attorneys to be fired. Although Boozman did not represent any counties in the Eastern District, he was informed because he was the only Republican in the state's congressional delegation.

Boozman told the Post and the Associated Press that White House officials had promised him that Griffin would be subject to Senate confirmation. Instead, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appointed Griffin as interim U.S. Attorney, using a provision of the Patriot Act that has since been repealed due to the controversy. Boozman also said that he did not think Cummins should have been fired because he was "very well respected and has served the president well."[16]

U.S. Senate



In 2010, Boozman resigned his House seat to run for the Senate seat held by incumbent two-term Democrat Blanche Lincoln. He won the May 2010 Republican primary and defeated Lincoln in the general election with nearly 58% of the vote.[17]


Boozman won a second term in 2016, defeating former U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge with 59.8% of the vote.[18] He became the first Republican to be popularly elected to a second term in the Senate from Arkansas.[]


On March 6, 2021, Boozman announced he would seek a third term as Senator.[19]


Boozman began his term in the Senate in January 2011.

Boozman agreed, alongside Tom Cotton and other Republican senators, to object to the certification of the 2021 United States Electoral College vote count. But in the wake of the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol, both Boozman and Cotton voted in support of the certification. Boozman called the attack on the Capitol "shocking and unlawful" and "a dark moment in our country's history that we must reckon with today and in the days to come."[20]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Political positions and votes

Boozman voted for legislation requiring the Food and Drug Administration to improve safety by regulating non-corrective colored contact lenses as medical devices.[24] President Bush signed this legislation into law in 2005.[25]

In the 111th Congress, Boozman introduced legislation (H.R. 2230) to provide tax credits for teachers and principals who work in challenging, low-income schools.[13] He has also introduced legislation to reform the No Child Left Behind Act. One bill (H.R. 2229) would give states latitude to adopt alternate and modified standards for children with disabilities.[26] Boozman said that this legislation "preserves accountability and helps to ensure our good schools stop ending up on the 'Needs-Improvement List'."

Other Boozman bills include legislation to provide a tax credit for volunteer firefighters, a bill to provide for parental notification and intervention when a minor seeks an abortion, and a bill to create alternatives to traditional foreign aid to poor countries in sub-Saharan Africa.[13][27]

The Zionist Organization of America has praised Boozman for his call to stop federal aid to Hamas.[28]

On December 11, 2014, Boozman voted "yea" on Senator Ted Cruz's point of order declaring the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (popularly called the "cromnibus" bill) unconstitutional because it funded President Barack Obama's executive order regarding children who are undocumented immigrants.[29] But Boozman voted for the "cromnibus" bill.[29] He has received an 85.48% Lifetime Score from the American Conservative Union.[30]

Arkansas history

Boozman has worked to preserve the historical record of the role Arkansas played in the westward expansion and development of the United States. He introduced legislation in the 110th Congress calling for a study of the historic Butterfield Overland Mail Trail for the potential addition to the National Trails System. This legislation passed as part of an omnibus bill (P.L. 111-11), and was signed by Obama on March 30, 2009.[31]

In addition to preserving the historical significance of the Butterfield Trail, Boozman assisted the effort to secure the home of the U.S. Marshals Museum in Fort Smith.[32] He worked with the Fort Smith Marshals Museum Steering Committee, the Western District U.S. Marshals Office to "Bring It Home." In January 2007 it was announced that Fort Smith would be the permanent home of the U.S. Marshals Museum. In the 111th Congress, Boozman introduced legislation to recognize the 225th Anniversary of the U.S. Marshals Service with a commemorative coin to be minted in 2014.[33]

Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson listen to Boozman speak about flood damage in Arkansas in 2017

Among other legislative achievements, Boozman has penned three bills, each enacted into law, to name certain U.S. Post Offices in Arkansas.[34] The Harrison Post Office was named after former Arkansas Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt. In his remarks on the Hammerschmidt Bill (H.R. 4811), Boozman said, "no one understands my congressional district like the kind and thoughtful gentleman who represented much of Arkansas in the Congress from 1967 through 1993. I consider John Paul Hammerschmidt a mentor and a friend. During his 26 years in Congress, John Paul became known for his strong work ethic and attention to individual constituent service. His fellow members came to rely on his legislative expertise in highways, aviation and waterway infrastructure."[35]

Health care reform

Boozman voted against the Affordable Care Act on November 7, 2009. He issued the following statement that day: "I am for health care reform. Unfortunately, this bill does more harm than good. The American people deserve health care reform that gives them access to quality and affordable health care and allows them to make decisions that are best for the care they need. Instead of increasing taxes, entitlement programs and red tape to reform health care we need to let families and businesses buy health insurance across state lines; allow small businesses to pool together to buy health insurance at lower prices and end lawsuits that contribute to escalating costs because of doctors being forced to practice defensive medicine."[36] Throughout the debate, Boozman pointed to Medicare cuts, including cuts to Medicare Advantage, increased taxes on health insurance and innovations, and anti-abortion concerns.[37][38][39]

Donald Trump

Boozman voted with President Donald Trump 91.5% of the time.[40] In Trump's first and second impeachment trials, Boozman voted to acquit.[41] His statement on his Vote to Acquit Former President Donald Trump was: "January 6, 2021 will forever be remembered as one of the darkest days in our nation's history. The attack on the U.S. Capitol by a violent mob was a threat to our democracy. Courageous law enforcement officers defended lives and safeguarded the constitutional duty of Congress to certify the presidential election. While former President Donald Trump bears some responsibility for what happened that day, the perpetrators who planned, coordinated and assaulted the Capitol building must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law and brought to justice. I maintain my belief that the constitutional legitimacy of this impeachment trial was lacking, and therefore the outcome was expected. The Senate's time would have been better spent considering solutions that improve COVID-19 vaccination deployment, advance economic recovery efforts and reopen our nation's schools. We should immediately work together to achieve those critical objectives."[42]

Gun violence and firearm laws

Boozman has an A rating from the National Rifle Association for his support of gun rights.[43] In May 2011, he voted to table an amendment that prohibited usage of the Patriot Act to access firearm records.[44] This vote helped ensure the amendment, which would have made it illegal to use the Patriot Act to firearm records, would not reach a vote or become law.[44] In April 2013, in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Boozman was one of 46 senators to vote against a bill that would have extended background checks to all firearm transfers. He voted with 40 Republicans and five Democrats to stop the bill.[45]

Boozman voted against the proposed Feinstein Amendment, in 2016, that sought to ban the sale of firearms to known and/or suspected terrorists,[46] claiming that it would deprive Americans of due process.

Employment discrimination

In November 2013, Boozman was one of 32 senators (all Republican) to vote against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill prohibiting discrimination in organizations of 15 or more employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.[47]

In April 2014, Boozman voted against a cloture motion for the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that establishes additional penalties for violations of equal pay requirements in the Fair Labor Standards Act, including a prohibition on an employer from paying a wage rate to employees of a particular sex that is lower than the rate paid to employees of the opposite sex for equal work unless such payment is made due to certain factors including, but not limited to, "a bona fide factor other than sex."[48] Some groups characterized the legislation as redundant, citing the 1963 Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act as existing protections against wage discrimination based on gender or race. The Senate Republican Conference called the bill and vote "a transparent attempt by Democrats to distract from President Obama's" record on the economy and health care and "the latest ploy in the Democrats' election-year playbook."[49]

Civil rights

In September 2004, Boozman voted for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.[50] The amendment did not pass.[50]

In July 2006, Boozman co-introduced and voted for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.[51] The amendment did not pass.[51]

In April 2009, Boozman voted against the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which sought to define crimes committed against a person because of their sexual orientation or gender identity as hate crimes. He said he "opposed this legislation because it creates a new federal offense for so-called hate crimes, and adds a special class crimes potentially motivated by the victims sexual orientation, 'gender identity,' or the perceived thoughts of the alleged criminal."[52] The act passed the House.[52]

In December 2010, Boozman voted against repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, claiming that the "current policy has worked well" and that "we haven't had any significant problems with it."[53][54] The vote passed by a margin of 250-175, and Don't Ask, Don't Tell was repealed.[53]

In December 2012, Boozman voted against ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, an international human rights treaty of the United Nations intended to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.[55] The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities sought to "promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity," but the convention only reached 61 of the 66 votes required for passage.[55][56]

In February 2013, Boozman voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.[57][58] The bill passed by a 78-22 margin.[57] He cited concerns "about the constitutionality of allowing tribal courts jurisdiction over non-Native Americans who are accused of committing an act of domestic violence on tribal lands or against Native Americans" as part of his opposition to the measure.[59]

Veterans Job Corps

In September 2012, Boozman voted to block advancement of the Veterans Job Corps Act of 2012, even though he partially authored the bill.[60] The bill, which would have established a $1 billion Veterans Jobs Corps at a time when the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans was 10.9%, fell two votes shy (58-40) of the 60 needed for passage.[60] The legislation underwent changes related to how it would offset spending, which led Boozman to vote against it. "He had hoped to support the legislation but in the end could not support it because it increased spending beyond the limits imposed by [the previous year's] deficit reduction agreement." Boozman also disputed the claim that he'd agreed to back the bill after GOP initiatives were added to it, saying he "was never consulted on the addition and [was] not part of the negotiation process for this legislation."[61] He added, "Half-truths are whole lies. I had a bill I had helped write with Senator [Mark] Begich of Alaska, a Democrat friend who is also on the Veterans' Affairs Committee. We introduced it. They [the Senate Democratic leadership] took part of our bill, changed the wording, stuck it into bill and then said we had co-authored that [new] bill when the reality was neither he nor I had ever seen the [new] bill until it was actually introduced."[62]


In 2017, Boozman was one of 22 senators to sign a letter[63] to President Donald Trump urging him to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Boozman has received nearly $150,000 from oil, gas and coal interests since 2012.[64] He also argued that the EPA regulations are actually creating a dirtier climate abroad and providing no gain to the United States.[65]

Boozman cited the Obama administration's failure to bring the accord before the U.S. Senate for a vote as a treaty. He also reiterated his position that the United States should continue to "pursue an 'all-of-the-above' approach to meeting our energy needs free of the significant litigation risk created by the agreement" and emphasized his view that the withdrawal would "not take away the United States' seat at the table in future discussions, nor will it detract from our efforts to pursue renewable energy solutions...including emissions-free nuclear energy."[66]

Foreign policy

In March 2017, Boozman co-sponsored the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (s. 720), which made it a federal crime for Americans to encourage or participate in boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories if protesting actions by the Israeli government.[67][68]

In January 2019, Boozman was one of 11 Republican senators to vote to advance legislation intended to block Trump's intent to lift sanctions against three Russian companies.[69]

National security

On May 28, 2021, Boozman voted against creating an independent commission to investigate the 2021 United States Capitol attack.[70]

Electoral history

U.S. House election, 2002: Arkansas, District 3
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican John Boozman (Incumbent) 141,478 98.90%
Write-In George N. Lyne 1,577 1.10%
Majority 139,901 97.80%
Total votes 143,055 100.00
Republican hold
U.S. House election, 2004: Arkansas, District 3
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican John Boozman (Incumbent) 160,629 59.32%
Democratic Jan Judy 103,158 38.09%
Independent Dale Morfey 7,016 2.59%
Majority 57,471 21.23%
Total votes 270,803 100.00
Republican hold
U.S. House election, 2006: Arkansas, District 3
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican John Boozman (Incumbent) 125,039 62.23%
Democratic Woodrow Anderson 75,885 37.77%
Majority 49,154 24.46%
Total votes 200,924 100.00
Republican hold
U.S. House election, 2008: Arkansas, District 3
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican John Boozman (Incumbent) 215,196 78.53%
Green Abel Noah Tomlinson 58,850 21.47%
Majority 156,346 57.06%
Total votes 274,046 100.00
Republican hold
Republican primary results[71]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Boozman 75,010 52.7%
Republican Jim Holt 24,826 17.5%
Republican Gilbert Baker 16,540 11.6%
Republican Conrad Reynolds 7,128 5.0%
Republican Curtis Coleman 6,928 4.9%
Republican Kim Hendren 5,551 3.9%
Republican Randy Alexander 4,389 3.1%
Republican Fred Ramey 1,888 1.3%
Total votes 142,260 100.0%
United States Senate election in Arkansas, 2010[72]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican John Boozman 451,617 57.90% +13.83%
Democratic Blanche Lincoln (Incumbent) 288,156 36.95% -18.95%
Libertarian Trevor Drown 25,234 3.24% +3.24%
Green John Gray 14,430 1.85% +1.85%
Majority 163,461 20.95%
Total votes 779,437 100.00%
Republican gain from Democratic
Republican primary results[73]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Boozman (Incumbent) 298,039 76.45%
Republican Curtis Coleman 91,795 23.55%
Total votes 389,834 100.00%
United States Senate election in Arkansas, 2016[74]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican John Boozman (Incumbent) 661,984 59.77% +1.87%
Democratic Conner Eldridge 400,602 36.17% -0.78%
Libertarian Frank Gilbert 43,866 3.96% +0.72%
Write-in 1,070 0.10% N/A
Total votes 1,107,522 100.00%
Republican hold

Personal life

Boozman lives in Rogers with his wife, Cathy Marley Boozman.[75][76] They have three daughters. He has raised Polled Hereford cattle that were competitive in the show ring, and in bull testing at Oklahoma State University. The Boozman family is active in the 4-H program.[75]

On April 22, 2014, Boozman underwent emergency heart surgery.[77] In 2017, he underwent a successful followup procedure that was recommended by doctors who had been monitoring his aorta since a tear in it was surgically repaired in 2014.[78]

John's ophthalmologist brother, Fay Winford Boozman III, co-founded the Boozman Regional Eye Clinic (now named BoozmanHof Regional Eye Clinic) with John after receiving his ophthalmology degree. Fay was elected to the Arkansas Senate in 1994 as a Republican and was nominated for the United States Senate in Arkansas in the 1998 election, losing to Democratic Congresswoman Blanche Lincoln 55% to 42%.[79] Despite his defeat, Fay was nominated to be director of the Arkansas Health Department in 1999.[80] He remained close with former Governor Mike Huckabee, and also with his brother Fay until his untimely death due to an accident on his Arkansas farm in 2005 at the age of 59.[80]

As of 2017, according to, Boozman's net worth was more than $2.3 million.[81]


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External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for U.S. senator from Arkansas
(Class 3)

2010, 2016
Most recent
U.S. Senate
Preceded by United States senator (Class 3) from Arkansas
Served alongside: Mark Pryor, Tom Cotton
Preceded by Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by United States senators by seniority
Succeeded by

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