WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) today introduced the Crucial Communism Teaching Act to help educate students about the history and dangers of communism.
“Communism is a cancer, and it always produces the same results: oppression, suffering and death. We must teach the next generation of Americans the threat communism poses to liberty and justice for innocent people around the world,” said Kennedy.
“America is the beacon of freedom and democracy around the world—principles our nation was founded on. As the far left abandons those principles and pushes the failed policies of socialist and communist nations, our Crucial Communism Teaching Act will make educational materials available to schools that shine a light on the dangers of communism in our society. For many families, especially in my state of Florida, the United States has been a stark contrast to the communist rule that once stripped them of their freedom, liberty and basic human rights and dignity. We can’t let that happen in America,” said Scott.
Communism has led to the deaths of more than 100,000,000 victims worldwide, while more than 1,500,000,000 people currently suffer under communist rule. Still, a 2020 poll by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation showed that more than one in four Millennials and nearly one in three members of Generation Z view communism favorably.
The Crucial Communism Teaching Act would make educational materials available through the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation to help teach high school students about the dangers of communism and totalitarianism. The bill would also require high schools to teach students the history of communism and how this ideology undermines America’s founding principles of freedom and democracy.
The bill text is available here.
Kennedy introduces bills to protect Louisiana homeowners from skyrocketing flood insurance costs
Mar 02 2023
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, introduced two bills to lower flood insurance premiums for Louisianians. The Risk Rating 2.0 Transparency Act would require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to publish an explanation of how the agency is determining flood insurance prices under Risk Rating 2.0. The Flood Insurance Affordability Act would cap annual flood insurance premium increases.
“The Biden administration is refusing to show lawmakers the new algorithm it uses to raise flood insurance premiums. Since millions of Louisianians depend on the NFIP to protect their homes from natural disasters, FEMA must come clean about why premiums are skyrocketing under Risk Rating 2.0. In the meantime, my bills would ensure fairer rates for the people of Louisiana,” said Kennedy.
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) cosponsored the Risk Rating 2.0 Transparency Act.
“At a minimum, policyholders deserve to know exactly why their premiums cost as much as they do, especially when that rate is higher than previous years. From the start, FEMA has not been forthcoming with the public or Congress on how it developed the new flood insurance rate structure. This bill would ensure FEMA transparency surrounding Risk Rating 2.0, so homeowners aren’t left in the dark,” said Hyde-Smith.
Under FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0, Louisiana homeowners expect to see an estimated 122% increase in their flood insurance premiums.
The Risk Rating 2.0 Transparency Act would make FEMA responsible for creating an online data base for policyholders under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The database would provide information on premium rates and how FEMA sets those rates.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) cosponsored the Flood Insurance Affordability Act.
“Flood insurance is vitally important to Floridians and Americans living in coastal communities. People shouldn’t have to pay an arm and a leg to make sure they are protected. This legislation is common sense,” said Rubio.
The Flood Insurance Affordability Act would lower the statutory limit on annual premium increases on primary resident homeowners under Risk Rating 2.0 from the current limit of 18 percent to nine percent.
- In July 2022, following Kennedy’s questioning of experts, the senator and colleagues urged David Maurstad, the Senior Executive of the NFIP at FEMA, to explain the Risk Rating 2.0 pricing methodology for setting NFIP premiums and to publish that information online.
- In March 2022, Kennedy cosponsored the Flood Insurance Pricing Transparency Act to help policyholders in Louisiana understand how FEMA calculates flood insurance costs.
- In Feb. 2022, Kennedy urged President Joe Biden to stop the implementation of Risk Rating 2.0.
- In Sept. 2021, Kennedy pressed FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell to delay the implementation of Risk Rating 2.0.
- In June 2021, Kennedy questioned FEMA official David Maurstad about Risk Rating 2.0 at a Senate Banking Committee hearing and introduced the Flood Insurance Fairness Act to stop the Biden administration from unilaterally making changes to NFIP, including Risk Rating 2.0.
- In April 2021, Kennedy called on Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to hold a hearing to examine Risk Rating 2.0.
Full text of the Risk Rating 2.0 Transparency Act is available here.
Full text of the Flood Insurance Affordability Act is here.
Kennedy presses Garland about targeting parents: “Don’t you think parents had a right to be upset?”
Mar 01 2023
Watch video here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today questioned Attorney General Merrick Garland during a committee hearing about the FBI’s targeting parents who were dissatisfied with local school boards.
Kennedy’s key questions to Garland include:
“Didn't you understand the chilling effect that it would have to parents when you issued your directive—when you directed your criminal divisions, and your counter-terrorism divisions—to investigate parents who were angry at school boards and administrators during COVID?” "So, you get this letter from the National School Board Association, asking you to investigate parents—that your employees helped write and the White House helped write—and you issue a directive to your criminal division and to your . . . counterterrorism division, to start investigating parents who are angry. What did you think was going to happen?” “As a result of some of our school board policies, we only experienced the largest learning loss for our kids in modern history. Don't you think parents had a right to be upset?”
Watch the full exchange here.
Kennedy, Barrasso introduce bill to help NATO allies escape dependence on Russian energy
Mar 01 2023
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) in introducing the Energy Security Cooperation with Allied Partners in Europe (ESCAPE) Act to support NATO and end NATO countries’ dependence on Russia for energy. The ESCAPE Act supports NATO allies by providing them American energy and mandating sanctions on Russian energy export pipelines.
“I’m proud to say that Louisiana is the biggest exporter of LNG from America to Europe—but the U.S. must continue to do more to help our allies end their dependence on Russian energy for the sake of our national security and theirs. The ESCAPE Act would help weaken Russia by providing clean American energy to our friends who need it,” said Kennedy.
“In light of Russia’s year-long invasion of Ukraine, it is more important than ever to provide energy security to our allies in Europe. Putin continues to use Europe’s dependence on Russian energy as a geopolitical weapon to coerce and pressure our allies. The ESCAPE Act takes away Putin’s leverage through expanding American natural gas exports. The United States can help our allies obtain reliable American energy and loosen Putin’s political grip on the region,” said Barrasso.
Rep. Carol Miller (R-W.Va.) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
The ESCAPE Act:
- Directs the U.S. permanent representative to NATO to encourage NATO member states to work together to achieve energy security for the organization’s members and partners in Europe and Eurasia.
- Calls for a comprehensive U.S. government transatlantic energy strategy that focuses on increasing the energy security of NATO allies and partners and increasing American energy exports to those countries.
- Requires the Secretary of Energy to expedite approvals of natural gas exports to NATO allies, Japan and any other foreign country where exports of natural gas would promote the national security interests of the United States.
- Authorizes mandatory U.S. sanctions on the development of Russian energy pipeline projects.
- Russia continues to use energy as a geopolitical weapon, especially as the country’s ownership of energy infrastructure in Europe poses a security and economic risk to America’s NATO allies.
- It is important to U.S. national security to expedite American energy to allies in order to reduce their dependency on Russian energy resources.
Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), 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.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) also cosponsored the legislation.
Full text of the legislation can be found here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today joined Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in introducing the Protecting Americans from Fentanyl Trafficking Act.
The legislation makes permanent the Drug Enforcement Agency’s emergency scheduling of fentanyl, which classifies it as a highly addictive drug with no medical value. It would also allow the DEA to permanently control the substance and automatically schedule new analogues.
“Fentanyl is stealing the lives of unsuspecting Louisianians and devastating our families. President Biden needs to secure the open border that’s allowing this poison to flow in America, and his Justice Department needs to permanently classify this drug as one of the biggest threats to American lives today,” said Kennedy.
“Illicit fentanyl is made with the intent to create addicts and to kill. Granting the DEA permanent control of this deadly drug and its analogues will provide law enforcement the tools needed take these dangerous drugs off the streets,” said Cotton.
“Ms. Rebecca Kiessling testified before Congress yesterday that when it comes to fentanyl we’re at war and we need to act like we’re at war. She tragically lost both her sons to fentanyl overdoses from a single pill laced with enough fentanyl to kill an individual four times over. Her sons bought what they thought to be Percocet, and it turned out to be pure fentanyl. They both died from the ingestion. Fentanyl is the leading cause of death among 18-45 year olds in America. More Americans die from fentanyl poisoning than car accidents and gun violence combined! Under President Biden, we’ve lost complete operational control of the border. Fentanyl is flooding into our country. We should be going after Mexican drug cartels and other transnational criminal organizations who deal this deadly drug by designating them as foreign terrorist organizations – giving us even more tools to combat this epidemic. I will be working with my colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee to dramatically increase the punishment for fentanyl distribution, including charging the crime of murder if an overdose death occurs as a result. Bottom line: The Biden Administration response to the fentanyl epidemic has been lacking. I intend to do all I can to make them change course,” said Graham.
Full text of the bill is available here.
Kennedy introduces bipartisan bill to establish Special IG to oversee use of American taxpayer aid to Ukraine
Feb 28 2023
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today reintroduced 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.
“Americans are supporting Ukraine’s brave work to beat back Russia by providing at least $113 billion in aid and military equipment. This is not an act of charity. It’s bolstering our own national security. American taxpayers deserve to know that their money is helping Ukraine defeat Putin effectively, and Congress needs to guarantee that oversight. This investment is too big to relegate to the normal bureaucratic channels. It demands an inspector general with singular focus on America’s return on investment in Ukraine,” said Kennedy.
Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) cosponsored the legislation.
“The United States continues to stand with the people of Ukraine, and by establishing a Special Inspector General for Ukrainian Assistance, we ensure accountability for Americans and Ukrainians as they defend their homes and freedoms from Russia’s illegal and unprovoked war,” said Sinema.
“The United States taxpayer should be confident in knowing Ukraine is using our aid for one thing: defeating Russia. Establishing a Special IG will hold Ukraine accountable to use the aid we give them in the most efficient and effective manner,” said Cramer.
“The American people need and deserve assurances that their taxpayer dollars are being used responsibly in the defense of Ukraine and our allies. A special inspector general would work to account for the billions we are expending in the fight against Russia’s blatantly evil aggression against Ukraine and global security,” said Hyde-Smith.
Kennedy’s bill would equip the Special IG for Ukraine with $20 million from the money that Congress has already provided in Ukraine aid. That $20 million represents less than 0.02% of the $113 billion in supplemental aid that has been set aside for Ukraine.
In order to prevent an indefinite expanse of the federal bureaucracy, the bill also includes a termination clause that would end the Special IG role once U.S. taxpayer spending for Ukraine drops below $250 million per year.
The text of the bill is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $5,053,346 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster aid grants for Louisiana.
“Calcasieu Parish has been inundated with floods from hurricanes and other storms. This $5 million will support the parish’s recovery efforts and help prevent future flooding from devastating these homes,” said Kennedy.
The FEMA aid will fund the following:
- $4,787,380 to Calcasieu Parish to elevate 18 flood-prone residential structures and acquire and demolish two structures.
- $265,966 to Calcasieu Parish for management costs related to the elevation of residential structures.
MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) in introducing the Debbie Smith Act to reauthorize funding for resources that law enforcement programs use to investigate crime scenes and untested rape kits.
“Law enforcement works hard to get violent criminals out of our communities using DNA samples from rape kits. The Debbie Smith Act would provide vital resources to bring justice to innocent victims who have waited too long because of these backlogs,” said Kennedy.
“This landmark legislation has played a critical role in the fight to end backlogs of untested kits in cities across America. By reauthorizing key programs created under the Debbie Smith Act, we can empower law enforcement to continue testing DNA evidence to solve crimes and support survivors,” said Cornyn.
- The Debbie Smith Act first became law in 2004 and has since helped end a backlog of untested DNA by providing funding to state and local crime laboratories.
- Since the bill originally passed, the funding has supported the processing of over 860,000 DNA cases.
- The funding from this bill also helps process offender DNA samples from unsolved crimes and match them against a database of known offenders, similar to the criminal fingerprint databases.
Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) also cosponsored this bill.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) spoke on the Senate floor refuting Pres. Biden and Democrats’ claims that Republicans wish to cut Medicare and entitlements. Kennedy’s speech comes after Biden’s repeated comments falsely accused congressional Republicans of aiming to cut Medicare.
“The fact that the president is saying this and saying, ‘Well, you Republicans want to hurt Medicare,’ . . . I find to be quite ironic . . . maybe even a tad hypocritical,” Kennedy began.
In December 2022, Kennedy attempted to pass his Protecting Medicare Patients and Physicians Act through the Senate by unanimous consent. The bill would have protected patients and health care providers from a total of 8.5 percent in planned Medicare cuts to physician reimbursements, but Democrats immediately blocked the bill.
“A lot of physicians won't take Medicare anymore. Because they say . . . ‘We can't turn a profit. We're not looking to make,’ say the physicians, ‘obscene profits, but . . . we're in the middle of inflation. . . . We're paying more in rent. We're paying more for our nurses. We’re paying more for supplies, and the Medicare fees that were paid to treat folks on Medicare . . . they're not keeping up,’” continued Kennedy.
“And, so, President Biden, 'the champion of Medicare,' . . . proposed a four-and-a-half percent across the board cut for every physician treating Medicare in America—that's 900,000 people in my state . . . in the middle of raging inflation.”
Kennedy offered a plan to protect the people who rely on Medicare and the doctors who take care of them—without taking another dime from taxpayers. His bill would have put unused Covid money from the Provider Relief Fund to use, requiring no new federal spending.
“I didn't come to my colleagues with just a problem. I came with a solution. . . . I'm not suggesting that we reject President Biden's attempt to cut Medicare and fill the hole by borrowing the money,” Kennedy explained.
Ultimately, no Republicans blocked Kennedy’s bill, but a Democratic senator did.
“I went to every one on my Republican colleagues, and they all said, ‘We're with you.’ I came to this floor to ask for unanimous consent, but Senator Wyden came to the floor and said, ‘I’m going to object to your bill.’ And he said, ‘I don't want you to worry about this. We're putting together a budget bill right now—we call it the omnibus—and that's why I'm objecting to your bill. Your bill, Kennedy, is unnecessary.’”
That omnibus spending package, which Kennedy voted against, included a two percent cut in reimbursements for every physician who treats a Medicare patient in America.
“The president can try and blame the Republicans and say, ‘Well, they don’t want to seriously negotiate about controlling spending, controlling debt. All they want to do is cut Medicare.’ He already did it—he did it in December,” Kennedy concluded.
Each year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services establishes a Physician Fee Schedule, which sets out how much a doctor gets paid for a particular service rendered. Kennedy’s legislation would have protected patients and health care providers from a total of 4.5 percent in planned Medicare cuts to physician reimbursements.
The bill would have required no new federal spending, but, instead, would have employed unused Covid money from the Provider Relief Fund that had been returned to the Department of Health and Human Services. Using those leftover funds to help patients and doctors who are suffering under the Biden administration’s historic levels of inflation would have represented a fiscally responsible solution to help vulnerable Americans.
Video of Kennedy’s comments is available here.
Kennedy announces $4.1 million to Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District in Hurricane Ida recovery
Feb 16 2023
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $4,127,623 in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster aid grant for Louisiana.
“Hurricane Ida’s landfall hammered our state, leaving the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District littered with debris. I’m thankful this $4.1 million will support the parish’s recovery,” said Kennedy.
The FEMA aid will fund the following:
- $4,127,623 to the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District for debris removal operations related to Hurricane Ida.