WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today released the statement below after the Senate failed to pass legislation imposing sanctions on the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline. This pipeline would make America’s European allies more dependent on Russian energy, particularly liquefied natural gas (LNG).

“America was the top supplier of Europe’s LNG imports for months in 2021—and Louisiana produces most of the LNG that the U.S. exports. But instead of playing to America’s strengths or promoting security for our freedom-loving allies, President Biden is tightening the Kremlin’s stranglehold on Europe’s energy. The Senate vote today makes America’s friends more dependent on Russian gas precisely while President Putin is salivating over Ukraine like he’s the lord of eastern Europe,” said Kennedy.

The Biden administration has previously waived sanctions on Nord Stream 2 and has opposed legislation that would sanction the Russian pipeline.

WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) today introduced the Expanding Access to Capital for Rural Job Creators Act to examine problems small businesses in rural areas face when they attempt to access capital.

“Louisiana’s small business owners create jobs and strengthen rural economies. This bill takes a key step in overcoming the hurdles small businesses face in getting the capital they need to pay their bills, make payroll and meet needs in their communities,” said Kennedy.

“Access to capital is essential to the economic health and growth of rural communities in Minnesota and across the country. Rural small businesses often face disproportionate obstacles when trying to secure capital to develop and grow their businesses. This legislation would help rural small businesses overcome these hurdles and strengthen our rural economies,” said Smith.

The Expanding Access to Capital for Rural Job Creators Act would require the Securities and Exchange Commission Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation to submit an annual report on the unique challenges small businesses in rural areas face when trying to secure capital. Sufficient capital is key for starting or expanding many businesses, which expands the job market throughout rural America.

Text of the Expanding Access to Capital for Rural Job Creators Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) today introduced the Bear Poaching Elimination Act, which would help protect bears from poaching by ending the trade of their internal organs.

“Poaching bears to harvest their organs is cruel, and it’s destroying bear populations. The Bear Poaching Elimination Act would help keep these animals safe by making it harder for animal abusers to profit from their brutality,” said Kennedy.

“The gruesome bear viscera commercial trade leads to unacceptable abuse of these bears, and I’m proud to join Senator Kennedy to introduce this bipartisan bill that would help put an end to this inhumane practice in the United States and help slow bear poaching and the decline of bear populations,” said Duckworth.

In Asia, thousands of bears suffer in small cages so abusers can extract their bile for use in cosmetics and medicine. In the U.S., poachers kill American bears to harvest their viscera. The trade in bear gallbladders has contributed to drastically reducing Asian bear populations, and now American bears are increasingly in danger.

The Bear Poaching Elimination Act would prevent the import, export, possession, transportation and trading of bear viscera.

Text of the Bear Poaching Elimination Act is available here.

Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today spoke on the Senate floor warning that Democrats’ attempt to change the Senate rules would ignore America’s diversity and silence American voices. 

Key excerpts from Kennedy’s speech include:

“My friend Sen. Schumer, and some of my Democratic friends, would like to change one of the enduring institutions of this institution. They want to get rid of the filibuster, and I call it the 60-vote threshold. And a reasonable person might ask, well, why not? Institutions change all the time. Change is the law of life.

“I’ll tell you why not, Mr. President. I want you to hear these words of wisdom: ‘We’re on the precipice of a crisis, a constitutional crisis’—getting rid of the filibuster. ‘The checks and balances which have been at the core of this republic are about to be evaporated by the nuclear option’—getting rid of the filibuster. ‘The checks and balances which say if you get 51 percent of the vote you do not get your way 100 percent of the time.’ If you get 51 percent of the vote, you do not get your way 100 percent of the time in the United States Senate. ‘That is what we call abuse of power. There is, unfortunately, a whiff of extremism in the air.’

“Those are words of wisdom by Sen. Chuck Schumer, May 18, 2005. Mr. President, if we change the 60-vote threshold, if we change this institution, which is part of the institution of the United States Senate, it will gut this body like a fish. Like a fish. And everybody in this body knows that if that is accomplished, our institution will look like a scene out of Mad Max.

“America is a—God, what a wonderful place. It’s a big, wide open, diverse, sometimes dysfunctional, oftentimes imperfect, but good country, with good people in it. And I want to emphasize the diversity part, Mr. President. You know, what constitutes the good life in my state may not constitute the good life in Connecticut, or in California, or in Florida, or in Maine.

“And that’s one of the reasons that we have and have had the institution of the 60-vote threshold. If you’re going to make a law that’s going to impact the entirety of this big, wide open, diverse country, then you ought to have 60 votes. Because if you only have 51 votes, ‘51 percent of the vote does not get your way 100 percent of the time.’ And it’s worked for a long time.”

. . .

“I remember when President Trump—now like President Biden—said, ‘Change the filibuster. Get rid of it. I can’t get my bills passed.’ We said ‘no.’ And by we, I mean Republicans and Democrats.

“Here’s the letter, right here. It was led by Sen. Collins, a Republican, and Sen. Chris Coons. I signed it. We said ‘no.’ Now President Biden wants to do the same thing. That’s what presidents do—they try to pass their bills. So, I get it. And to my Democratic colleagues, and any Republican colleagues that are thinking about voting for Sen. Schumer’s change of heart, I want to tell them I get it, too. I get it. I know the frustration. I have felt it.” 

. . .

“But you don’t satisfy those aims by not following these words of wisdom by Sen. Schumer.”

Video of Kennedy’s comments is available here.

Watch Kennedy’s questioning here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today questioned Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell during a Senate Banking Committee hearing about the rising U.S. debt and urged him not to politicize the U.S. dollar.

Key excerpts include:

Kennedy: “I have some questions, but first, I have a plea. Above all else—above everything else on your plate—I ask that you please preserve the independence of the Federal Reserve. The last thing that America needs right now is to have the Federal Reserve politicized. It’s the last thing the world needs right now. And believe me, the whole world is watching, including our enemies. . . . Political fads come and go, but the dollar doesn’t—I hope not. The dollar underpins the entire world economy. Politicize it at your own risk.

. . .

Kennedy: “Behind me is a chart of our public debt going all the way back to, I think, 1990. You don’t have to be Euclid to see that the direction is up. . . . So, here’s my question to you: At what point—how much is too much? At what point, in your judgment, are we going to hit the point where you have to say: ‘No, that’s it. We can’t do anymore. It’s hurting the world. It’s hurting our country’?

Powell: “ . . . We’re on an unsustainable path. Debt is not at an unsustainable level, but the path is unsustainable—meaning it’s growing faster than the economy, meaningfully faster than the economy. We have to address that over time. We will address it over time. And the better way to do it is soon.”

Kennedy asked Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen a similar question last November.

Watch the video of Kennedy’s questioning here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to introduce the Coronavirus Origin Validation, Investigation, and Determination (COVID) Act of 2022 to hold China accountable for obstructing honest investigations into the origins of the COVID pandemic.

“Two years into this pandemic, China is still gaslighting the world about the origin of the coronavirus and the Communist Party’s role in covering it up. We must pursue the truth with strength. That’s what Beijing understands, that’s the clear-eyed leadership America needs, and that’s what this bill does,” said Kennedy.

“For two years, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has stonewalled all efforts to uncover the true origins of COVID-19. We know the virus originated in China, however, the CCP’s attempts to obfuscate the truth has led to countless deaths and needless suffering worldwide. It is clear that Beijing will only respond to concerted pressure from the United States and the international community. My bill will force the CCP to the table,” said Rubio.

The COVID Act would authorize sanctions if, 90 days after enactment, the Chinese Communist Party fails to allow for a comprehensive international investigation into the origins of the pandemic at laboratories in Wuhan that engaged in risky research involving bat coronaviruses.

Specifically, the bill would sanction the leadership of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and its affiliated institutes and laboratories (including the Wuhan Institute of Virology) as well as Chinese officials who were involved in concealing the initial outbreak of COVID in China from the international community, restricting the release of information related to the outbreak, understating the severity of the outbreak and obstructing an international investigation into the origin of the outbreak.

The COVID Act would also suspend federal research funding across all academic fields for studies that involve the CAS and impose a prohibition on gain-of-function virus research cooperation between any individual or institution based in the United States that receives federal funding and any China-based individual or institution. 

Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) also cosponsored the legislation.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) released the following statement on the anniversary of Jan. 6, 2021:

“Without order, there can be no justice. The violence at the U.S. Capitol one year ago is as despicable and shameful now as it was then. Those Washington rioters should continue to answer for their crimes without exception, as should everyone who has committed violence as part of mobs or political riots. 

“Louisianians embrace the democratic process and reject rogue violence because we understand that we are a nation of laws. America must always choose this path.”

Watch Kennedy and Marshall’s exchange here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) made a friendly wager with Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) before tonight’s Texas Bowl matchup between the Louisiana State University Tigers and the Kansas State University Wildcats.

If the Tigers win, Marshall will share Kansas City T-bone steaks with Kennedy. If the Wildcats win, Kennedy offered to serve Marshall alligator sausage, a favorite among senators.

“I’m going to bet, too, even though I know how it’s going to come out. We’re going to hit Kansas State so hard they’re going to cough up bones. But if I lose—if I lose, I will buy you alligator sausage. You’re going to love it, but you’re not going to get to taste it from me. . . . Geaux Tigers!” said Kennedy.

Video of Kennedy and Marshall’s exchange is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy’s (R-La.) support for the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has helped Louisiana begin the new year with Congressional authorization for $219 million in military construction projects.

“The NDAA will help pave the way for substantial military investments in our state, in addition to making America more secure, giving troops a deserved pay raise and modernizing our national defense,” said Kennedy.

The Louisiana military projects in the 2022 NDAA include:

  • $56 million authorization for constructing new barracks at Fort Polk,
  • $55 million authorization for constructing a new joint operations center at Fort Polk,
  • $40 million authorization for a weapons generation facility at Barksdale Air Force Base,
  • $36 million authorization for the road and gate construction project at Barksdale Air Force Base,
  • $18.5 million authorization for constructing the Lake Charles National Guard Readiness Center, and
  • $13.8 million authorization for constructing barracks to serve as a training facility for the Louisiana National Guard at Camp Minden.

The NDAA also authorizes $660 million for upgrades to the Air Force B-52 Program. Barksdale Air Force base is home to much of the B-52 fleet. 

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and more than 180 lawmakers in filing an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in an upcoming case considering the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) vaccine mandate.

“I am happy to support this amicus brief opposing the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate. Vaccines are good, but that doesn’t give the federal government the power to force Americans to violate their own consciences,” said Kennedy.

OSHA issued a rule to officially mandate vaccination requirements for employees at private businesses with more than 100 employees. The rule would affect more than 80 million Americans.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked OSHA’s rule, but on Dec. 17, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the Fifth Court’s decision and reinstated the mandate. The Supreme Court will, on Jan. 7, hear oral arguments regarding the Sixth Court’s decision, three days before OSHA will begin enforcement efforts.

On Oct. 26, Kennedy wrote to Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III regarding the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate and the Navy’s order that U.S. military service members could lose their veterans’ benefits for failing to comply with the mandate. Kennedy advocated for service members’ freedom to make their own choices regarding the vaccine.

On Dec. 8, the Senate passed a bipartisan resolution backed by Kennedy under the Congressional Review Act, which is the official Congressional process for eliminating an executive branch rule, to nullify President Biden’s vaccine mandate.

Text of the amicus brief is available here.