As the consequences of automatic federal spending cuts begin to seep into daily life, Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas says his office is already fielding calls from concerned citizens. Pryor says the sequester will have long-term implications.
“We’ve had a lot of constituents call in and many of those are people who may be relying on some sort of federal funding for something they do and it could be something like a food bank, or we got some calls the other day about some farmer’s insurance that may be impacted,” Pryor said. “the sequester is here and Congress is to blame for this.”
Pryor says sequestration is the result of gridlock in Washington and the inability of Congress to reach a budget deal last year. However, Republican Senator John Boozman says he’s been getting surprisingly positive feedback.
“I’m really not hearing a lot of calls with concerns, but I am hearing a lot of call with people saying that we’re glad you’re holding the line and that we need to do something about spending,” said Boozman. “As far as what will happen in the future, it’s going to take awhile for deals to develop.”
Boozman says in the next few weeks Congress should be able to give federal agencies the discretion to move items around so they can make necessary cuts without inflicting too much pain on Americans.
In a separate legislative initiative, Senator Pryor and several colleagues in the U.S. Senate, introduced a measure Wednesday that would explain the circumstances under which a person loses the right to receive or possess firearms based on mental illness.
Pryor says the legislation would make clear who cannot purchase new guns due to their names being in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System database.
“We’re going to clarify why someone goes into the database and then we’ll also clarify the rules about the process on someone getting their name removed from the database,” said Pryor. “A lot of this has to do with mental illness and we just want to make sure the states are being consistent, people are being treated fairly, and we want to make sure the NICS system works.”
As different proposals concerning gun rights circulate on Capitol Hill, Senator John Boozman says there is still real concern among Arkansans about the creation of a federal gun registry.
“I’m all for beefing up current law and making sure people aren’t buying guns fraudulently… but, if measures are moving in the direction of a gun registry I would be very much opposed to that,” said Boozman.
However, Senator Pryor maintains his measure is a step in the right direction, because it's supported by the National Rifle Association. Pryor’s bill contains provisions to ensure Second Amendment rights are returned to individuals after they have recovered from their mental illness.