Washington news in brief

Published 4 December 2017

Cotton gets look at military’s new guns

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Airland Subcommittee, got a look at the military’s newest handguns last week.

The Republican from Dardanelle, who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, traveled to Fort Campbell for the fielding of the new M17 Modular Handgun System.

Manufactured by Sig Sauer, the firearm is replacing the M9 Beretta, which had been in use for decades.

About 2,000 of the new M17 pistols have been shipped to Fort Campbell, which lies on the state line south of Hopkinsville, Ky., and north of Clarksville, Tenn.

Another pistol with a slightly shorter barrel, known as the M18, has also been released.

The new weapon provides “better accuracy, tighter dispersion, and better ergonomics, which combined result in a far more lethal pistol,” Lt. Col. Steven Power stated on the Army’s website.

While visiting Fort Campbell, the home of the 101st Airborne Division and the “Screaming Eagles” parachute team, Cotton also met with several Arkansans who are stationed there.

They included Sgt. Wesley M. Campbell from Little Rock, Pvt. Christopher H. Matchett from Jacksonville and Staff Sgt. Drew A. Harvey from Greenbrier.

Religious leaders

object to tax bill

More than 2,400 religious leaders signed a letter last week opposing Senate Republicans’ tax overhaul legislation.

Dated Wednesday, the letter said the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as approved by the Senate Finance Committee, “violates our moral principles of equality, justice, and fairness.”

Containing the names of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Sikh faith leaders, among others, it labeled the bill “fiscally irresponsible” and said it “disproportionately benefits the wealthy at the expense of vulnerable people and low-income families.”

At least two Arkansans were signatories: the Rev. Stephen Copley of Little Rock and the Rev. Jerome Kodell of Subiaco.

Copley, a United Methodist minister, is chairman of Faith Voices Arkansas.

Kodell, a Roman Catholic, is the former abbot of Subiaco Abbey in Logan County.

Leadership institute enrolls 8 Arkansans

Eight Arkansans are participating in the Delta Regional Authority’s Delta Leadership Institute.

The 10-month program features leaders from Arkansas, Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.

According to the Delta authority’s website, the program was created to “empower a corps of leaders with the tools, experiences, and networks to address … local and regional challenges.”

Participants come from “diverse backgrounds, sectors, and industries” and work to “improve the economic competitiveness and social viability of the Mississippi River Delta and Alabama Black Belt.”

The Arkansas participants include Len Blaylock of Warren; Gregory Dale of Wynne; Ben Gilmore of Crossett; Mark O’Mell of Marianna; Erica Tait of Jonesboro; and three Little Rock residents: Denver Peacock, Carla Sparks and Ateca Williams.

Created in 2000 with the support of then-President Bill Clinton, the Delta authority covers parts of seven states along the Mississippi River plus Alabama, and encompasses 252 counties and parishes, many of them with high rates of poverty.

It has offices in Clarksdale, Miss., and Washington, D.C.

Hill, Cotton honor

late judge Eisele

Lawmakers paused last week to pay tribute to U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Eisele, who died Nov. 26 at age 94.

U.S. Rep. French Hill gave a speech on the House floor, calling Eisele “one of our nation’s great lawyers and judges.”

The Republican from Little Rock said Eisele had been “a mentor and great family friend,” an Army private, an adviser to former Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller and a respected federal judge for more than four decades.

“During his career, Judge Eisele was named best district court judge for the 8th Circuit by The American Lawyer [magazine] and outstanding federal trial court judge by the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. He was a role model and a friend to many across the state of Arkansas and our nation,” Hill said.

In a written statement, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton noted Eisele’s contributions to the Eastern District of Arkansas and elsewhere.

“He served his country with distinction, both in the Army during World War II and on the bench for 41 years. In that time, he earned a reputation for being a judge’s judge: courteous, knowledgeable, patient, wise — and, most importantly, fair. That was no small contribution to our legal system, nor were the many opinions he wrote or the 50 law clerks he mentored,” Cotton wrote, adding, “The Arkansas bar will be poorer without his presence, but his influence will be felt for generations to come.”

Planning to visit the nation’s capital? Know something happening in Washington, D.C.? Please contact Frank Lockwood at (202) 662-7690 or flockwood@ arkansasonline.com . Want the latest from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Washington bureau? It’s available on Twitter, @LockwoodFrank.