FORT SMITH — Locked in a heated U.S. Senate race, both U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton and U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor never mentioned the other by name in separate stops Friday in Fort Smith.
Cotton, R-Dardanelle, spoke briefly at the 56th Annual Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association State Convention at the Fort Smith Convention Center, 700 Rogers Ave., as part of his Arkansas First bus tour, in support of his campaign to defeat Pryor in November.
Pryor, D-Ark., spoke at Gerber Products, 4301 Harriett Lane, in support of America-Made Strong legislation he unveiled July 25 in Little Rock, which includes several bills meant to create jobs in Arkansas and across the country.
Cotton stuck with red-meat topics for his remarks that lasted about four minutes before he started working the room with a campaign camera crew following him and his wife, Anna, and then going to speak to the Cattlemen’s executive board in a closed session.
He discussed growing up on a cattle farm in Yell County, learning important lessons about living below his means instead of just within his means and learning to care about something more than himself.
Cotton said those are lessons that many Arkansans learn growing up, but too often people in Washington don’t bring those experiences to the capital because they didn’t have them growing up.
The congressmen then spoke of burdensome regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency, or “employment prevention agency,” and Endangered Species Act and “country of origin labeling” that requires retailers to inform customers of source country for certain foods.
Cotton said a complaint regarding country of origin labeling brought against the United States at the World Trade Organization by Mexico and Canada could result in harm to U.S. farmers through retaliatory tariffs.
“The Obama administration doesn’t understand rural America. They probably think food comes from a grocery store. That’s one reason I ran for Congress two years ago … that’s the reason I’m running for U.S. Senate this year. We need a senator from Arkansas who’ll stand up to the Obama administration not stand for the Obama administration,” Cotton said.
Pryor described his America-Made Strong proposals as a group of bills in three categories: bring it (keeping jobs in America), build it (in part, requiring companies to use U.S.-made materials in completing infrastructure contracts awarded by the federal government) and buy it (making it easier to distinguish American-made products from imports).
“This is a package of eight or 10 bills we’re working on in Washington. We’re going to be rolling them out over the course of the next several weeks or next few months. We’re trying to make this very bi-partisan, because that’s how you get things done in Washington,” Pryor said.
However, the first of Pryor’s bills was blocked by Senate Republicans in a vote falling along party lines, with the exception of one Republican voting in favor of it and one Democrat voting against it.
The bill would have ended corporate tax deductions for overseas moving expenses that are projected to save them $143 million over the next decade. It also included tax incentives for companies moving jobs to the United States that would be worth an estimated $357 million over the decade.
The bill failed to advance in the Senate on a procedural motion requiring a 60-vote majority, 54-42 on July 30.
Pryor said he hopes to have an equal number of Democrat and Republican sponsors for the bills in his jobs package.