Senator Boozman Applauds Improved Relations With Cuba, Will Meet With High Court Nominee

Mar 23, 2016

Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Republican U.S. Senator John Boozman is lauding the president’s historic visit to Cuba but says the U.S. shouldn’t be more critical of human rights issues there than it is with other trade partners.

"I'm very much in favor of normalizing relations with Cuba. The other thing you have to do is be consistent," he said. Referring to China, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and others he said, "They have all of the, if not more human rights problems than the people of Cuba."

President Obama gave a speech from the island nation Tuesday that emphasized human rights concerns.

Earlier this week, Arkansas politicians and business leaders met at Petit Jean Mountain to discuss strategy for promoting agricultural trade with Cuba. Arkansas is the nation’s top rice producer.

Boozman also said he plans to join other Senators in meeting with President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee,  Merrick Garland. Yet Boozman said he will tell Garland he believes it is too late in the President’s term for confirmation proceedings, and the move violates "80 years" of historical precedent.  

PolitiFact, a fact-checking journalism site, reports U.S. Supreme Court vacancies late in presidential terms are somewhat rare but have happened in several instances.

Those nominations were by Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Herbert Hoover, whose picks were not sworn in, and President William Taft, whose 1912 nominee was successfully appointed.

KUAR spoke with Boozman during a Veterans program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.