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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai urging him to reject a privately-managed spectrum sale that could deny faster 5G service to rural communities.  The letter is copied below.

“Luxembourg shouldn’t reap huge profits at the expense of Louisianans. A multi-billion dollar, closed-door spectrum deal would mostly benefit foreign-owned satellite companies. The C-Band needs to be put up for public auction,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Our rural families stand to lose the most when only one or two giant corporations control all of the spectrum access.  Competition is what makes America the great nation that it is today.”

 

The Honorable Ajit Pai

Chairman

Federal Communications Commission

445 12th Street, SW

Washington, DC 20554

 

Dear Chairman Pai,

I am pleased to see the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) explore additional opportunities for spectrum to help accelerate the deployment of 5G to communities across the country, including in rural America.  These efforts will help ensure that America wins the race to 5G.  Mid-band spectrum, specifically the C-band, is well-suited for 5G services.  I believe it is critical that the process for allocating C-band spectrum for 5G must be fair, open, and transparent.  I remain concerned that the proposal made by a consortium of foreign-owned satellite providers known as the C-Band Alliance (CBA) meets none of these requirements.

The CBA has proposed an unprecedented private reorganization and spectrum sale with little FCC oversight and public input.  The CBA has every incentive to propose a plan that serves its own interests.  For instance, the CBA could limit the amount of spectrum it would make available in order to raise the price it could charge 5G providers.  A privately-managed spectrum sale conducted behind closed doors will favor certain parties, exclude others, and most importantly, lead to the inefficient deployment of valuable 5G spectrum.  However, a public auction put on by the FCC would allow for the most competitive allocation of licenses to best enable 5G deployment.  It will also permit a fair, open, and transparent process.  

While the CBA has tried to cloak its proposal as a conventional secondary sale of spectrum, it is actually a fundamental reorganization of the C-Band out of public view.  The stakes are too high for the FCC to outsource this critical function to unaccountable, foreign-owned private parties.  Because the airwaves are a public resource, the FCC must oversee the transition of the C-Band.  Unlike this consortium of self-interested foreign-owned satellite companies, the FCC is best suited to make transparent and fair decisions that prioritize the public interest and maximize the public good. 

A privately-managed spectrum sale would give the CBA the means to sell nationwide licenses to the largest wireless carriers, with little concern for competitive carriers and new entrants.  This outcome would be particularly harmful for rural America as large wireless carriers may never deploy 5G service in these communities.  The CBA’s members would also have the incentive to raise prices for their remaining satellite services. This would have a disproportionate impact on rural cable operators and their customers.

I urge you and the FCC to reject the CBA proposal and to instead exercise the responsibility given by Congress to determine the appropriate allocation of C-Band spectrum for 5G use.  I believe it is necessary for the FCC to utilize an open and public auction process. 

Thank you for considering these views and for your service to America.

Sincerely,

                                                                                        

John Kennedy

United States Senator

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today announced the appointment of Wesley P. Launey, of Ville Platte, to the U.S. Air Force Academy.  Wesley is Sen. Kennedy’s fifth service academy nominee this year to be offered an appointment.

Wesley attends Sacred Heart High School, where he has a nearly perfect grade point average.  He is active in football, baseball, track and field and power lifting.  Wesley is the son of Jacob Launey and Britney Fontenot.

“Students like Wesley are among Louisiana’s best and brightest.  I’m so thankful that Wesley wants to serve our country,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “At Sacred Heart, Wesley has pursued academics and athletics.  He is motivated to succeed.”

Academies review nominations before narrowing the list and offering appointments.  To learn more about the academy nomination process, visit https://www.kennedy.senate.gov/public/academy-nominations

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced the Own Your Own Data Act today, which will prohibit the collection of private data by social media companies and grant users the property rights to all of the data that they generate on the internet.

“The information that you share on social media is your own data, whether it’s a photo of your children or private messages you share with your friends.  You create that content.  You should own it.” said Sen. Kennedy. “This legislation allows users to access the personal data that social media companies have compiled, and it transfers data property rights back into the hands of the users.  These social media companies should not own the data that you create.  This legislation will give control and ownership back to the users.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), members of the Senate Banking Committee, introduced the Securities Fraud Enforcement and Investor Compensation Act that would give the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) the ability to seek restitution for investors harmed by securities fraud.

The SEC has relied on history and precedent for guidance on how to seek restitution for investors harmed by Ponzi schemes and investment scams. This legislation gives the SEC clear statutory guidance and power to seek restitution for harmed investors.

Many Ponzi schemes and investment scams go on for years before they are uncovered.  This legislation increases the window of time when the SEC can seek restitution on an investor’s behalf from five years to 10 years.

“Investors who are scammed by con artists like Bernie Madoff and Allen Stanford lose their life savings. All too often, the victims of financial fraud aren’t wealthy people,” said Sen. Kennedy. “They’re middle class Americans who lose every penny they set aside for their retirements. Because of a narrow window of time for recouping stolen investment dollars, fraudsters are actually incentivized to keep the shell game going for decades. This bill addresses that problem.”

“As Bernie Madoff demonstrated, financial fraudsters can sometimes go on for years, even decades, before they finally get caught. They shouldn’t be able to rip off investors just because some arbitrary five-year window has expired,” said Sen. Warner. “This bill will give the Securities and Exchange Commission more time and additional tools to seek restitution for everyday Americans who fall victim to investment scams.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) voted today to uphold President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border. 

“Declaring a national emergency was never my first choice for addressing the crisis at the border, but I don’t share the same hysteria of some of my colleagues about the president’s use of the National Emergencies Act.  It doesn’t scare me,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Unfortunately, my Democratic colleagues refuse to face the reality and urgency of the crisis at the southern border.  Today’s vote was an easy decision.  I voted for border security and a much-needed border wall because we need to enforce our immigration laws.” 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, today demanded answers from officials on reports that federal agencies are going on spending sprees in the final month of the fiscal year to avoid future appropriation cuts.  

A report by OpenTheBooks shows that federal agencies spent $9,241 for a leather chair, $2.3 million for crab, $2.3 million for lobster tails, $308,994 for alcohol, $293,245 for steak and $11,816 for a foosball table in the final month of fiscal year 2018.  In the past three years, the federal government increased how much it spends in the last month of the fiscal year by nearly 40%.

It’s like we gave Paul Manafort the government’s credit card and told him to spend like crazy.  This is absolutely ridiculous.  No one should buy a $9,000 leather chair with taxpayer money,” said Sen. Kennedy. “The watchdog who uncovered this nonsense is absolutely correct.  This is a spend-it-or-lose-it mentality.  Agencies purposely spend whatever they have left at the end of the year so their budgets don’t get cut.  It’s reckless, runaway spending.

The report revealed:

  • Federal agencies spent $293,245 on ribeye, top sirloin and flank steak.
  • One agency spent $9,241 for a Wexford leather club chair.
  • $11,816 was spent on a foosball table.
  • $4.6 million of government funding was spent on lobster tail and crab.
  • An agency spent $53,004 on China tableware.
  • Federal agencies spent another $308,994 on alcohol.
  • The federal government spent $97 billion on contracts in the last month of fiscal year 2018.  The total for contract spending for the entire fiscal year was $544.1 billion.
  • 85.6% of the final month contracts can be traced to the Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Veteran Affairs, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State.
  • Purchases included games, toys, tableware and artist’s brushes.
  • Furniture accounted for $490.6 million.  In the last month of fiscal year 2018, the federal government spent $643,833 on sofas and $40,379 on clocks.

Click here or the photo below to watch Sen. Kennedy’s questioning:

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) questioned Google’s senior privacy counsel Will DeVries in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today on data privacy concerns and user data protection.

 “I think we can all agree that the digital promised land has a few mines in it,” said Sen. Kennedy. “I think we can agree that social media can now influence what we believe, how we vote, what we buy, even how we feel.”  

Click here or the photo below to watch the full questioning.

Here is an excerpt from Sen. Kennedy’s questioning:

Sen. Kennedy: “You have the ability to put in let’s say ‘John Neely Kennedy’ and find everything you want about me in terms of my data: what websites I go to, what ads I read, what I buy, that sort of thing. Do you do that?”

DeVries: “Yeah, and we try to show that to you Senator. If you have a Google account, we do that, and we provide you that information you can see that and you can…”

Sen. Kennedy: “So you do that repeatedly? I could call you up and say, ‘Give me all of the information you have on Thom Tillis and I’ll give you a quarter of a million dollars.’ You can do that?”

DeVries: “Senator, we never sell our users’ personal information.”

Sen. Kennedy: “Can you do that?”

DeVries: “We would never do that. That violates…”

Sen. Kennedy: “Can you do that?”

DeVries: “Not legally. No.”

Sen. Kennedy: “Could you do it technically?”

DeVries: “Oh, yes sir.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today announced the appointment of Harlan Perez Jerro, of Baton Rouge, to the U.S. Air Force Academy.  Harlan is Sen. Kennedy’s fourth service academy nominee this year to be offered an appointment.

Sen. Kennedy nominated Harlan because of his strong academic record and impressive extracurricular activities.  Harlan is student body president at Central High School, where he also is captain of the football team and a member of JROTC.

“I’m so proud of Harlan. Receiving an appointment to a service academy is a profound honor, but we should also be honored by Harlan’s desire to serve this country,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Harlan is a leader at Central High School.  There is no limit to what he will achieve in life.”

Academies review nominations before narrowing the list and offering appointments.  To learn more about the academy nomination process, visit https://www.kennedy.senate.gov/public/academy-nominations

Harlan is the son of Dwayne and Valerie Jerro.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today applauded Dr. John C. Fleming on his U.S. Senate confirmation to be the assistant secretary of commerce for economic development.  In a show of bipartisan support, the Senate voted 67-30 in favor of the confirmation, with Sen. Kennedy casting a ‘yea’ vote.

“Dr. Fleming is a true public servant,” said Sen. Kennedy. “He’s dedicated his life to public service, both as a military veteran and as a four-term elected member of the U.S. House of Representatives.  And he’s just a great guy.   His qualifications speak for themselves.  He was overwhelmingly confirmed to this position by garnering support from Senators on both sides of the aisle.  I was proud to vote for him, and I’m happy to see such a deserving man be confirmed to such a distinguished position in the administration.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced the Phair Pricing Act of 2019 to lower the costs of pharmaceutical drugs covered under Medicare Part D by ensuring that pharmacy benefit managers and prescription drug plan sponsors pass the savings they negotiate along to their customers 

U.S. Representative Doug Collins (R-Ga.) introduced a version of the same bill in the U.S. House of Representatives last month.

Under the Medicare Part D program, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) act as middlemen between pharmacies and insurers, negotiating price concessions from pharmacies that they are supposed to pass on to patients to lower the cost of drugs. 

However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has noted that these price concessions are rarely used to lower patients’ costs at the point of sale. The savings usually end up in the PBM’s profits.  This legislation directs all price reductions, incentive payments and adjustments between a PBM and a pharmacy be included at the point of sale to decrease the patients’ costs.

Furthermore, this legislation directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a working group of stakeholders to create quality standards based on a pharmacy’s practice.  These standards will help PBMs prioritize patient care.  

“If pharmacy benefit managers are negotiating prices with the intent to provide greater savings for consumers, then those savings better be given to the consumers rather than padding someone else’s pockets,” said Sen Kennedy. “This legislation promotes greater transparency and oversight of taxpayer dollars by ensuring that PBMs disclose all fees, price concessions and programs to CMS.”

“For too long, we have turned a blind eye as pharmacy middlemen have manipulated drug prices to maximize their profit margin” said Rep. Doug Collins.  “The Phair Pricing Act will guarantee patients at the pharmacy counter directly benefit from lower costs allegedly negotiated on their behalf. I’m thankful for Senator Kennedy’s leadership and I look forward to partnering with him to promote transparency in drug pricing and lower the cost of prescription drugs.”

 

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