Watch Kennedy’s full speech here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today spoke on the Senate floor to condemn the Chinese Communist Party’s recent aggression toward the United States and our allies. He warned China that it would be a mistake to close lines of communication with the United States and called on Chinese leaders to start acting like responsible members of the global community.

Key excerpts of Kennedy’s speech are below:

“The United States and China should talk. The United States wants to, but the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party—the CCP—does not.”

. . .

“Talking does not show weakness. It shows strength. It shows confidence. America is confident. In refusing to talk, the Chinese Communist Party and its insecurities are loud.”

. . .

“All we want and all the world wants is for China to stop poisoning our children with fentanyl. Stop it.

“All we want and all the world wants is for China to end its debt-trap diplomacy through its Belt and Road Initiative and other loan schemes.

“All we want and all the world wants is for China to cease using its economic power to bully other sovereign countries—like Australia, like Lithuania—when those countries offer an opinion the Communist Party of China doesn't like.

“All we want and all the world wants, Madam President, is for China to tell us the truth—the truth about how the COVID virus started—or at least work with us and other countries so we can find out.”

. . .

“The advantages are and ought to be obvious. Why should we talk? To avoid military conflict? It's a pretty good start. To avoid miscalculation: The more silencer is between us, the more Beijing underestimates American strength.

“Why should we talk? To limit the risk of accidental confrontation. To pursue bilateral détente. Because our economies are interwoven. Because our economies are stronger together if everyone plays by the rules.”

 . . .

“If China cares about the world and if the people of China care about how the world sees China—and both do—China will reengage with the world, including the United States of America, not shirk from it.”

. . .

“Frankly, Madam President, China has the most to gain given the deterioration of its reputation, but it's entirely up to China.

“America, we've done our part, Madam President. And the United States will continue to do its part. We want to talk. We are confident. But lately, China's insecurities are loud.”

Kennedy’s full speech is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) has written to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John F. Sopko, to request insight from Afghanistan reconstruction efforts that may be applicable to U.S. assistance efforts in Ukraine. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) joined the letter to the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

In addition to its hundreds of audits and investigations, SIGAR has issued several informative lessons learned reports on topics such as security assistance, economic development, monitoring and evaluation of aid programs, and anti-corruption efforts, among many others,” began the senators.

Accordingly, we desire to learn more about how those lessons from Afghanistan could be applicable to the current situation in Ukraine, as the U.S. Congress has already appropriated more than $113 billion for Ukraine assistance since last March,” they explained.

“It is our firm belief that robust oversight of current and future U.S. assistance efforts in Ukraine is imperative for their success. A critical part of that oversight is ensuring the U.S. acts on key lessons from previous conflicts, including Afghanistan. Doing so will help us avoid repeating costly mistakes and protect the massive investment in Ukraine by American taxpayers from waste, fraud, abuse, and failure,” concluded the lawmakers.

Kennedy and Sinema have introduced the Independent and Objective Oversight of Ukrainian Assistance Act to establish a Special Inspector General (IG) for Ukraine. The Special IG would oversee the humanitarian, economic and security assistance funding that the U.S. Congress has provided to the country and make sure that the funds are appropriately spent.

Their op-ed on this effort appeared in USA Today this week.

The senators’ letter to SIGAR is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today introduced 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. 

“Louisianians have been hit with all the storms nature has to offer. While our people do the hard work of rebuilding, even a little commonsense help can go a long way, including extensions for filing taxes. This bill would make sure that Louisiana has the freedom to provide disaster victims with the federal tax extensions they need to recover. I’m thankful to partner with Sen. Cortez Masto on this effort,” said Kennedy.

While I’m glad the administration heeded my call and issued a federal disaster declaration for Nevada counties impacted by severe flooding, too many communities harmed by natural disasters each year miss out on the critical tax relief that comes with federal recognition. My bipartisan bill will fix this problem and support more Nevada taxpayers experiencing extreme weather and wildfires,” said Cortez Masto.

Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) also cosponsored the legislation.

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.

The Filing Relief for Natural Disasters Act would also expand the mandatory federal filing extension from 60 days to 120 days.

Full text of the Filing Relief for Natural Disasters Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $1,345,787 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Louisiana disaster aid.

“Louisianians are still dealing with the devastating effects of Hurricane Laura. I’m grateful to see that this $1.3 million will go toward repairs for McNeese University,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $1,345,787 to the Office of Risk Management to repair damages to the McNeese University football facility as a result of Hurricane Laura.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $25,119,195 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Louisiana disaster aid.

“I am grateful to see Calcasieu, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa Parishes, along with the city of New Orleans and other parts of our state, receive this $25.1 million for flood protection and Hurricane Laura recovery,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  1. $11,690,079 to the Office of Risk Management to repair damages to 42 water control structures as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  2. $7,355,145 for the elevation of 30 properties in St. Tammany Parish to mitigate flood risk.
  3. $2,455,921 for the elevation of 10 structures in the city of New Orleans to mitigate flood risk.
  4. $2,390,687 for the elevation of 13 properties in Tangipahoa Parish to mitigate flood risk.
  5. $1,227,363 to the Calcasieu Parish School Board to repair damages to Dolby Elementary School as a result of Hurricane Laura.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) released the following statement upon voting against continuing Washington’s pattern of extreme spending and debt accumulation: 

“Speaker McCarthy and House Republicans did an extraordinary job of getting President Biden to the table, and I thank them for their hard work. However, I voted against this bill because it would normalize and institutionalize the emergency spending that Congress had to provide during the pandemic. 

“Before the pandemic, the federal government was spending $4.3 trillion per year. In 2023, it will spend $6.3 trillion—that’s a 45 percent increase since the pandemic. This bill also allows debt to rise by $4 trillion over the next two years alone. 

“Our economy can’t afford to make that the standard going forward. America has to move forward, not sink deeper into debt and grow more addicted to reckless spending sprees.”

WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) penned this op-ed in USA Today advocating for the installation of a Special Inspector General to help ensure Ukraine uses America’s aid efficiently and effectively.

Sen. Kennedy introduced the Independent and Objective Oversight of Ukrainian Assistance Act earlier this year, a bill that would establish a Special Inspector General in Ukraine to help advise Congress on future aid packages and confirm that Ukraine spends each taxpayer dollar as Congress intended. Sen. Sinema is a cosponsor of the legislation.

Key excerpts of the op-ed are below:

“Our aid to Ukraine isn’t charity. It’s in our national security interest.

“As we determine how to best support Ukrainian sovereignty against Russia’s unprovoked and illegal war, it is important that Americans can understand and track how the resources are used.

“Taxpayers in Arizona and Louisiana help fund this investment. And our constituents deserve to know that each dollar sent to Ukraine is spent with the singular aim of deterring Russian President Vladimir Putin and maintaining peace for the United States and our allies.”

. . .  

“Today, we have a patchwork of watchdogs each following a different trail of money and no one entity to keep an eye on the whole picture. If the American people want to keep track of all the different streams of military, financial and humanitarian aid flowing into Ukraine, we need a dedicated team of regional experts following every penny.

“It is just common sense, and it is what our bill, the Independent and Objective Oversight of Ukrainian Assistance Act, will do.”

. . .                                               

“Polling shows that Americans are split on whether we should continue to directly fund Ukraine. These good-faith debates are important to our democracy—something Putin wouldn’t understand but does fear.

“But today, it is difficult to engage in a meaningful debate over the effect of our aid when Congress doesn’t have a complete picture of how the money is spent. A Special Inspector General in Ukraine will help us make better investments to deter Putin and protect America’s national security interests.”

Read the full op-ed here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today voted to pass a joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), led by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), to stop the Biden administration’s Department of Education from implementing a rule that burdens taxpayers with an estimated $400 billion in student loan debt that they never agreed to incur.

The Senate passed the resolution by a bipartisan vote of 52-46, and it now goes to President Biden’s desk for consideration.

“Today the Senate voted to reverse President Biden’s misguided rule to saddle American taxpayers with hundreds of billions of dollars in student debt that doesn’t belong to them. The White House’s reckless policy is patently unfair to Louisianians who work hard and pay their debts, and it fuels already sky-high inflation,” said Kennedy.

The Department of Education’s plan would transfer up to $20,000 of debt per student loan borrower to taxpayers.

The Biden administration announced this policy, which the Government Accountability Office classified as a rule, before the Supreme Court issued a decision on the cases Biden v. Nebraska and Department of Education v. Brown

Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) introduced the companion CRA resolution in the House of Representatives.

Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) also joined the resolution.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Preserving Lawful Utilization of Services (PLUS) for Veterans Act of 2023 to help veterans access the greatest benefits from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) health care system by preserving their right to work with private groups when filing claims.

The legislation would also protect individuals from fraudsters by ensuring that criminals face penalties for taking advantage of veterans.

“The government should not stand in the way of veterans’ ability to get the most out of their VA benefits. The PLUS for Veterans Act would protect veterans’ access to private organizations that help them file claims and impose criminal penalties on fraudsters,” said Kennedy.

Data shows that private VA claim consulting services are generally more effective in resolving VA claims than public Veteran Service Organizations are. The bill also establishes safeguards to make veterans aware of other options to get help filing claims and to prevent conflicts of interest.

The PLUS for Veterans Act would:

  • Impose criminal penalties or fines on unaccredited individuals or businesses for directly or indirectly soliciting, contracting for, charging or receiving any fee or compensation with respect to the preparation, presentation or prosecution of any claim for VA benefits.
  • Cap legislative fees that private providers can collect.
  • Allow private groups to charge fees only when a claim is successful.
  • Create medical protections to ensure private actors do not benefit inappropriately from relationships with medical providers.

Reps. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) are leading the legislation in the House of Representatives.

Full text of the PLUS for Veterans Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $3,096,913 in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant for Louisiana disaster aid.

“I am looking forward to seeing Lake Charles use this grant to restore its Civic Center facility after Hurricane Laura battered the community,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $3,096,913 to the city of Lake Charles for damages to the Civic Center Marquis Sign as a result of Hurricane Laura.