Media

Kennedy outlines the storms that have devastated Louisiana and the nearly $150 billion in damages they caused in just 13 months.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today spoke on the Senate floor in support of a short-term funding bill that would send disaster aid to Louisiana without raising the debt limit. Senate Republicans attempted to pass the bill this afternoon, but Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) blocked the move. 

The resolution Kennedy supported today would provide disaster relief funding to Louisiana and extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to December 3, 2021.

Kennedy explained the need for disaster aid and criticized the political gamesmanship that has led Democrats to tether that aid to lifting the debt limit.

“If you add up all of the damages [from the last year of storms to hit Louisiana], it's about $150 billion in 13 months. Now, other states were impacted by these storms, but Louisiana took it full in the face. This was as brutal a blow as nature has inflicted on an American state in modern history. We will be coughing up bones for years, and this legislation is going to help us recover,” said Kennedy.

This legislation does every single thing that my colleagues Sen. Cassidy and Sen. McConnell talked about, that my Democratic friends want to do—everything: keeps the government open, maintains flood insurance, gives disaster relief, not just to Louisiana, but to my friends in the northeast part of our country, to my friends on the west coast. It does help my state—southwest, southeast, north Louisiana—but we're not the only ones. Sen. McConnell's legislation does everything except one thing—one thing: increasing the debt ceiling that Sen. Schumer can do in a matter of days, on his own. Why are we fighting over this? You know, nature abhors a moron. It is moronic for us to be having this fight when it can be so easily solved. Everything in Sen. McConnell’s legislation can easily pass this body with 70 votes, and we know it. And then Sen. Schumer can come right behind by simply amending the budget resolution, and our problems are solved. Nature abhors a moron. Let’s don’t be moronic,” Kennedy concluded.

Video of Kennedy’s comments is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Unclaimed Savings Bond Act of 2021 to help Americans claim more than $26 billion in unredeemed savings bonds, including $337 million that belong to the people of Louisiana.

Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and James Risch (R-Idaho) cosponsored the legislation.

“The Treasury is sitting on billions of dollars that should be in Americans’ pockets—including more than $300 million that belong to Louisianians. Louisianians pay their taxes faithfully, and Washington needs to pay out these savings bonds. The Unclaimed Savings Bond Act would make sure states have what they need to get this money to its rightful owners—so they can invest it in what matters most to their families,” said Kennedy.

“Americans are owed billions of dollars by the federal government for unclaimed, matured savings bonds,” said Moran. “This sensible legislation requires the U.S. Treasury to provide states, including Kansas, with the necessary records to locate the rightful owners and heirs of these matured bonds.”

“Treasury currently holds billions of dollars in unclaimed savings bonds that have been forgotten or lost. This money belongs to the people. Our Unclaimed Savings Bond Act would help Americans identify and access their unclaimed savings bonds,” said Young. “I appreciate Indiana Treasurer of State Kelly Mitchell’s support as we work to help Americans get funds that are rightfully theirs.”

“Washington needs to do its job and returns these bonds to their rightful owners,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This bill ensures Louisianians will have access to the $337 million in unredeemed savings they have earned over the years.”

“Over $470 million is owed to Hoosiers in unredeemed U.S. savings bonds, and I’m proud to join Senator Kennedy to help get this money to its rightful owners,” said Braun.

“The federal government is sitting on billions of dollars in unredeemed savings bonds, including at least $1.4 billion belonging to Floridians,” Rubio said. “This legislation would help the State of Florida to identify bond owners, so that these funds can be returned to their rightful owners.” 

The Treasury Department is currently holding more than $26 billion in matured, unredeemed U.S. savings bonds, most of which the Treasury deems lost, stolen, destroyed or “unclaimed.” Many of these bonds were issued more than 70 years ago and have matured—meaning they no longer earn interest for bondholders. 

In cases in which bonds are not physically possessed by their rightful holders, only the Treasury has the names and addresses of the original bond owners. The Treasury also has the serial numbers needed to claim the bond proceeds.  

The Treasury has not taken any significant actions to proactively reunite bonds with their rightful owners despite its relaunch of Treasury Hunt, an online search tool that allows bond owners to locate bond information, at Kennedy’s request. Individual states, however, conduct programs that reconnect their citizens with unclaimed property. 

Kennedy’s bill would require the Treasury to provide states information about matured and unclaimed bonds so these states can use unclaimed property programs to help find the original owners (or heirs of those original owners) of these bonds. This provision would only apply to unredeemed bonds that matured before 2018.

Text of the Unclaimed Savings Bond Act of 2021 is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy today introduced the Seniors Saving on Insulin Act and the Vital Medication Affordability Act to help make insulin and epinephrine more affordable for Louisianians.

“Hundreds of thousands of Louisianians rely on lifesaving medications like insulin and epinephrine, and 12 percent of adults in our state have diabetes. Our people need access to affordable medications, especially when our state is recovering from historic storms. My bills would make insulin more affordable for seniors on Medicare and ensure that key health centers pass along discounts on insulin and epinephrine to patients,” said Kennedy. 

The Seniors Saving on Insulin Act would codify as law the Part D Senior Savings Model, which provides Medicare patients with plans that offer affordable insulin. The bill would ensure that Medicare patients could buy a month’s supply of insulin at no more than $35. One-third of Medicare users have diabetes, and more than 3 million Medicare patients rely on insulin. Research has shown that affordable medications make patients more able to care for their health consistently, which improves health outcomes and lowers health care costs in the long term.  

The Vital Medication Affordability Act would require federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), which serve poor, uninsured and rural residents, to pass along their savings on insulin and epinephrine to their patients. FQHCs can purchase prescription drugs at a discount through the 340B Drug Pricing Program. Kennedy’s legislation would make FQHCs offer these discounts on insulin and epinephrine to many patients who otherwise could not afford these medications.

Text of the Seniors Saving on Insulin Act is available here.

Text of the Vital Medication Affordability Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $2 million in funding from the Department of Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to support wetland conservation efforts and bird populations in southeast Louisiana and Vermilion Parish.

“I am pleased to see these resources flow into southeast Louisiana and Vermilion Parish to support bird habitats. Louisiana is an outdoorsman’s paradise, so it is important we prioritize conservation practices in our wetlands for the sake of our land, resources and economy,” said Kennedy. 

FWS awarded $1 million to aid conservation education and practice, outdoor recreation and bird population in 4,885 acres in southeast Louisiana. The fowl species benefiting from this practice include black rail, brown pelican and bald eagle. 

FWS also awarded $1 million for marsh enhancement in Vermilion Parish. This award will cover 5,211 acres for conservation and supporting the bird population.

These grants are congruent with the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. This program is the only program of its kind supported by federal funds. Awards will be matched by partners of the program. 

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) in introducing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Accountability Act of 2021 to bring fiscal accountability to the CFPB. The legislation comes as Senate Democrats advanced the nomination of Rohit Chopra to be CFPB Director for final confirmation.

“The bureaucratic state is always trying to increase its power and decrease its accountability to the Americans it’s supposed to serve. CFPB bureaucrats don’t rely on elected officials in Congress for funding—which means the bureau isn’t accountable to American taxpayers in key ways. That needs to change,” said Kennedy.

“Should Democrats choose to confirm President Biden’s radical nominee, who has dodged questions throughout the confirmation process and is likely to continue the anti-job-creation, unaccountable CFPB conduct of the Obama Administration, the CFPB must be required to go through the regular congressional appropriations process to ensure public accountability. As a lifelong businessman, protecting consumers in the financial marketplace is important, but handing vast government regulatory power to an agency that is not accountable to the American people’s elected representatives is improper. Americans deserve to have far greater input in this agency,” said Hagerty.

Currently, the Federal Reserve is responsible for funding the CFPB. This unusual arrangement allows the CFPB to avoid fiscal accountability to elected officials in Congress. This bill would make the CFPB accountable to taxpayers by requiring Congress, not the Federal Reserve, to fund the bureau’s budget.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and fellow senators in calling on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell to delay a government plan that would hike Louisianians’ flood insurance premiums.

“We write to urgently request that you delay the new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Flood Insurance [Program] (NFIP) rating system known as Risk Rating 2.0, which is scheduled to go into effect for new policies on October 1, 2021. . . . we have serious concerns [about how] the program has thus far been constructed, presented and begun to be implemented and more significantly troubled by reports that nearly 80% of policyholders will see premium increases nationwide,” the senators wrote.

“It is our understanding that internal analysis shows that FEMA estimates roughly 900,000 policyholders, or nearly 20% of all policyholders, will drop out of the program over the next 10 years in large part due to unaffordable premiums under Risk Rating 2.0. In light of this information, we are extremely concerned about the administration’s decision to proceed forward with the implementation of this program without first determining an alternative that avoids the prospect that hundreds of thousands of families will be inclined to forfeit flood insurance on their homes,” the senators explained.

“We are entering the height of hurricane season, and tens of thousands of Americans have already faced destruction of their homes and livelihoods by Hurricane Ida alone. Tragically, this historic storm led to at least 84 deaths and caused tens of billions in unmet needs and property damage,” the senators continued.

The senators expressed several other concerns about Risk Rating 2.0, including the likelihood that NFIP providers would be overburdened with the responsibility of learning a new, untested rating system and the possibility that the NFIP’s reputation could suffer, hurting the integrity and long-term solvency of the program.

“Given these uncertainties, we request that you delay implementation of Risk Rating 2.0 immediately in order to provide time for full Congressional oversight, coordination and correct and transparent implementation,” the senators concluded.

Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) also signed the letter.

Kennedy has consistently opposed Risk Rating 2.0:

  • On August 5, 2021, Kennedy wrote to FEMA asking questions about the transparency, affordability and efficiency of Risk Rating 2.0.
  • On June 17, 2021, Kennedy questioned David Maurstad, Senior Executive of the NFIP at FEMA, about Risk Rating 2.0.
  • On June 7, 2021, Kennedy introduced the Flood Insurance Fairness Act to stop the Biden administration from unilaterally making changes to the National Flood Insurance Program that would raise premiums for Louisianians affected by flooding.
  • On April 16, 2021, Kennedy wrote to Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) of the Senate Banking Committee, requesting a hearing to examine Risk Rating 2.0.

Kennedy has also introduced legislation to extend the National Flood Insurance Program for one year, to Sept. 30, 2022. Without that extension, the NFIP will expire at the end of this month. Kennedy’s efforts to extend the NFIP in 2018 and 2019 both became law.

The letter is available here.

Kennedy and Edwards meet with Collins, ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards today met with Sens. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) to discuss federal disaster aid for Louisiana in order to help the state recover from Hurricanes Ida, Nicholas, Laura, Delta and Zeta. 

“Our people are desperate, and we have to help them. It’s that simple. The fact that Louisiana stands strong in the wreckage of category 4 storms doesn’t mean we should stand alone. Our state sends a lot of tax dollars to Washington, and Louisianians need a little help now. I’m thankful that Sens. Shelby and Collins took the time today for the governor and me to outline Louisiana’s needs for the Senate Appropriations Committee,” said Kennedy. 

Kennedy and Edwards meet with Shelby, ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Shelby is the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Collins is the lead Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Kennedy has noted that one of the greatest needs Louisianians have following Hurricane Ida is long-term housing.

 

 

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today wrote to AT&T Chief Executive Officer John Stankey condemning AT&T’s failure to maintain its network in Louisiana when Hurricane Ida hit.  

“I write to you today regarding AT&T’s failure to maintain network operations during Hurricane Ida, including the emergency first responder call systems that so many parishes and cities rely on that AT&T exclusively serves. As you know, on Sunday, August 29th, Hurricane Ida made landfall in southeast Louisiana as a Category 4 storm. When Hurricane Ida hit, AT&T’s network—including the First Responder Network (FirstNet)—failed. Countless Louisianans were left without the ability to complete calls or send texts,” wrote Kennedy.

“The failure of AT&T’s network impacted people from all across the state, with at least four parishes reporting 911 systems being down. When Louisianans tried to make calls to 911 the calls couldn’t be completed. When loved ones tried to contact family and friends they couldn’t. Residents even lacked the ability to send and receive life-saving updates. This is unacceptable, especially when contrasted with widespread reports of competitor networks faring better,” Kennedy continued.

“It is my understanding that AT&T is the service provider for all 911 call centers in Louisiana. Further, it is my understanding that AT&T was awarded a 25-year, $6.5 billion contract to build and maintain a nationwide network for public safety—FirstNet. . . . FirstNet promised to absolutely ensure communications services for first responders during the most serious and unprecedented disasters. Unfortunately, emergency calls didn’t make it to first responders and there is widespread acknowledgment from government officials and emergency responders that much of the call routing technology they rely on is antiquated and in need of replacement or upgrade,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy asked AT&T why its network suffered greater outages than its competitors, how much money AT&T invested in deploying and expanding FirstNet coverage in Louisiana over the past five years and what AT&T is doing to improve its network resiliency, among other questions.

“It will be weeks before a full assessment of Hurricane Ida’s damage will be available. However, what we do know is that when Louisiana needed AT&T most, AT&T failed,” Kennedy concluded.

Text of the letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) in introducing the Filing Relief for Natural Disasters Act to provide relief for taxpayers in states that have issued state-level disaster declarations. Currently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has the authority to postpone tax filing deadlines following a presidentially-declared federal disaster, but not following the declaration of a state-level emergency.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) also cosponsored the legislation.

“It seems like Louisianians have been hit with all the storms nature has to offer, and we need all the help we can get to recover, and that includes extensions for filing taxes. Since Louisiana can’t always rely on Washington to get us the relief we need when we need it, this bill would make sure that Louisianians get the tax extensions necessary for rebuilding after our state declares a natural disaster. I’m thankful to partner with Sen. Cortez Masto on this effort,” said Kennedy.

“Nevadans shouldn’t be denied tax relief after experiencing wildfires just because the state doesn’t receive a federally recognized disaster declaration. Nevadans across the state have been affected by major wildfires in the west, and my legislation would ensure that any taxpayer feeling the impact of a natural disaster can access vital tax relief so our communities are able to recover,” said Cortez Masto.

 “When disaster strikes, Marylanders need immediate financial flexibility to rebuild and recover. This legislation will help ensure that—even when a federal disaster has not been declared. I’ll be working with my colleagues to pass this common-sense, bipartisan bill,” said Senator Van Hollen.

The Filing Relief for Natural Disasters Act would allow the governor of a state or territory to extend a federal tax filing deadline following a state-declared emergency or disaster instead of waiting for a federally-declared disaster. This means that states would have the ability to provide tax relief independent of the federal government’s involvement in an emergency or natural disaster.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Extension Act of 2021 to extend the program for one year, to Sept. 30, 2022. Without that extension, the NFIP will expire at the end of this month.

Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) are original cosponsors of the legislation.

“Louisiana families need the NFIP to rebuild their homes and businesses after destructive floods. The wreckage from Hurricane Ida is a powerful reminder of just how much Louisianians, and families throughout the country, desperately depend on flood insurance to protect their greatest investments. It’s vital that we extend this program by another year as Tropical Storm Nicholas is expected to bring significant flooding on the heels of Hurricane Ida,” said Kennedy.

More than 5 million families and businesses depend on the NFIP, including roughly 500,000 in Louisiana.

Text of the NFIP Extension Act of 2021 is available here.