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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced amendments today to the public lands package that will help preserve Louisiana’s natural beauty by conserving wetlands through the reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

“It’s no secret that we’re struggling to save our wetlands,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, we’ve been able to conserve 793,701 acres of wildlife habitats across Louisiana.  Our wetlands are an important storm buffer, and they support generations of fishermen and shrimpers.  My amendment will reauthorize this program for another five years, allowing us to continue this conservation work.”

Sen. Kennedy’s other amendments include:

  • A request for expedited action against the emerald ash borer.  This is an invasive bug that destroys ash trees.  It’s been found in more than 30 states, including Louisiana.

 

  • An adjustment of the rules to make it more financially feasible for private companies to contract with wildlife refuges.  Currently, wildlife refuges are having trouble finding contractors to offer canoe rentals and guided nature hikes that increase visits.

 

  • A study of the causes behind Louisiana’s lackluster duck season.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined his colleagues in cosponsoring the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples Act (CREATES) to combat the rising cost of prescription drugs.

The CREATES Act would deter the practice of discouraging lower-cost generic drugs from entering the market.  Brand-name pharmaceutical and biologic companies block cheaper generic drugs from entering the market to keep the cost of their own products high.

This legislation would create more competition among pharmaceutical drug companies, lowering prescription drug costs.

“Families across Louisiana are struggling to pay for costly prescription drugs.  Consumers should have the freedom to buy name-brand pharmaceutical drugs or generic ones,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “This legislation is a good first step in lowering pharmaceutical drug prices.  Families shouldn’t have to ration their medicines or go without other necessities because prescription drug prices are too high.”

“I hear from Vermonters every day that rising prescription drug prices are a larger strain each year on their tight budgets,” said Sen. Leahy.  “For too long, a few predatory name brand companies have used anticompetitive strategies to delay entry of lower cost generic drugs.  When these companies use unfair practices to keep drug prices artificially high, patients suffer.  Patients, families and government programs shouldn’t have to cope with increased drug costs to help name brand companies’ bottom lines.  Our bipartisan bill continues to gain momentum.  It is precisely targeted to stop these abuses, and I’m committed to working on behalf of Vermonters in Congress to see that CREATES and other vital efforts to lower prescription drug prices are signed into law.”

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the bill would result in a $3.9 billion net decrease in the federal deficit.

This legislation is supported by the AARP, American College of Physicians, Freedom Works and many more.  The bill was introduced by Senators Leahy (D-Vt.), Grassley (R-Iowa), Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Lee (R-Utah).

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) thanked Senate custodian Justina Pettway today for being his guest to the State of the Union address. This is the second year that Sen. Kennedy has invited a member of the Senate custodial staff to be his guest to the State of the Union.  Pettway serves as a custodian through Goodwill of Greater Washington’s AbilityOne program.  The AbilityOne program is a federal initiative to help people who have significant disabilities find employment through a national network of nonprofit agencies that contract with the federal government.

Before President Donald J. Trump’s address, Sen. Kennedy and Pettway attended the Secretary of the Senate’s State of the Union Supper.  Following the supper, Sen. Kennedy gave Pettway a tour of the U.S. Capitol, including a visit to the Senate floor.  It was Pettway’s first visit to the Senate chamber despite working in the Capitol complex.

“It was such a joy to have Justina as my guest at the State of the Union,” said Sen. Kennedy. “I had a great time showing her around the Capitol, and getting a chance to express my gratitude for all of the good work she does in the Russell Senate building.  She is such a hard worker, so I hope she enjoyed watching history unfold.” 

“I loved it. It was nice,” said Pettway. “I mean I really enjoyed myself last night with Mr. Kennedy.  I really did.  He’s a good person… If they’d have me, I would love to go again.  I had a good time.  I had a good time listening to the president’s speech.” 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) invited Justina Pettway to attend President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.  Pettway serves as a custodian in the Russell Senate Office Building through Goodwill of Greater Washington’s AbilityOne program.  Pettway was born and raised in Washington, D.C., and she is very dedicated to her job.

This is the second year in a row that Sen. Kennedy has invited someone from the AbilityOne Program to accompany him to the State of the Union.  Many local Goodwill® organizations participate in the AbilityOne program, a federal initiative to help people who are blind or have other significant disabilities find employment through a national network of nonprofit agencies that contract with the federal government.

“Justina is such a joy to see in the hallways around Russell.  Her smile can light up a room and light up your day.  She also works very hard and is good at her job,” said Sen. Kennedy. “I am excited to have her accompany me to the State of Union address.  She helps daily to maintain a friendly and welcoming work environment on the Hill for the senators, our staff and the public.  She deserves to enjoy this historic event.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies subcommittee, announced today that the Department of Health and Human Services is awarding $8.4 million to five Louisiana health centers.

“Our Louisiana health centers provide first-rate care to the vulnerable folks in our community,” said Sen. Kennedy. “These grants help our health centers continue to provide quality, primary health care.”

  • MQVC Community Development Corporation in New Orleans received a $1,161,250 grant.
  • Morehouse Community Medical Centers, Inc. in Bastrop received a $2,136,881 grant.
  • Casse Dental Health Institute in Mansfield received a $2,278,332 grant.
  • Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority in Metairie received a $1,235,565 grant.
  • New Orleans AIDs Task Force in New Orleans received a $1,660,374 grant.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the 30th anniversary of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.) joined bipartisan legislation to reauthorize NAWCA through 2024. The legislation would also increase authorized annual funding for the program to $60 million. 

NAWCA was originally enacted in 1989 to provide federal cost-share funding—in partnership with funding from state and local governments, private industry, and non-profit organizations like Ducks Unlimited—to projects that conserve North America’s waterfowl, fish, and wildlife resources.

Sens. Kennedy and Cassidy joined U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and a member of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and other colleagues in introducing the legislation.

“In less than a century, Louisiana’s lost 1.2 million acres of wetlands,” said Senator Kennedy. “That’s the equivalent of the state of Delaware. I am proud to support the North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act to rescue our wetlands. These habitats aren’t just a part of Louisiana’s landscape. They protect us from storms and bolster our economy. Preserving and restoring them is paramount to the Louisiana families who depend on our seafood and energy industries.”

“Wetlands are the heart and soul of Louisiana’s environment. They give recreation, jobs and protection from storms. The North American Wetlands Conservation Act must be renewed. So much in Louisiana and our country depends upon it,” said Senator Cassidy.

“For more than 30 years, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act has been a proven, cost-effective program for conserving our nation’s vital wetland and waterfowl habitat,” said President of Ducks Unlimited Rogers Hoyt. “The introduction of this bill is a noteworthy first step to ensure the next generation of Americans, especially waterfowl hunters, have access to the same natural resources we enjoy today. We thank Senators Heinrich, Kennedy, Cassidy, Carper and their colleagues for this strong act of bipartisan support of the NAWCA program and look forward to working with Congress to pass this bill.”

Wetlands secure freshwater supplies, recharge aquifers, and mitigate soil erosion and flooding disasters. In addition, waterfowl, migratory birds, fish, and mammals that depend on wetlands support multi-billion dollar outdoor recreation activities such as hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, and photography. NAWCA funding has been critical to acquiring, restoring, and enhancing this habitat in all 50 states, Canada, and Mexico. In total, nearly 3,000 NAWCA projects have contributed to the conservation and restoration of nearly 30 million acres of habitat all across North America.

NAWCA has provided a great return on investment, generating, on average, three additional dollars for every federal dollar. Over the program’s history, federal grants totaling more than $1.6 billion have spurred $4.68 billion for NAWCA projects through matching and nonmatching funds. NAWCA funds have also supported an average of 7,500 jobs each year and more than $5 billion in annual economic activity.

A copy of the bill is available here

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today warned against the United States Senate abandoning the Kurds in Syria if the Strengthening America’s Security in Middle East Act, S. 1, moves forward without his amendment to include protections for these important allies.  Sen. Kennedy introduced an amendment to protect the Syrian Kurds Monday.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) helped reduce the number of ISIS fighters in Syria from approximately 100,000 in 2014 to less than 5,000 today.  Five years ago, ISIS controlled more than 34,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria, but American military forces with the help of SDF have retaken 99% of ISIS’s territory including its capital in Raqqa.

Without my amendment, we may be leaving the Kurds to be slaughtered after they withstood incomprehensible suffering to fight Islamist tyranny,” said Sen. Kennedy. “It’s that simple.  I support what the bill does to protect Israel and strengthen our bond with Jordan.  But it’s a hollow boast to claim this bill protects our allies in the Middle East when it leaves out protection for the Syrian Kurds.  Even worse, we are breaking a promise to protect our allies.”

Click here or the photo below to watch Sen. Kennedy discuss his amendment on the Senate floor.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced the Authorization for Use of Force to Defend the Kurds in Syria Resolution today as an amendment to the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act, S. 1.  Sen. Kennedy’s amendment will allow the President to authorize the use of armed forces to defend the Kurds in Syria. The Syrian Kurds are potentially vulnerable to an attack by Syrian government forces, rebel forces and other external threats.

“There must always be a moral component to America’s foreign policy, and it’s our moral responsibility to be loyal to our allies,” said Sen. Kennedy. “The Syrian Kurds were indispensable in our fight against ISIS in Syria, and we shouldn’t leave them high and dry. This amendment will ensure the protection of our Kurdish allies and demonstrate our appreciation for their help in the war against ISIS.”

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is a coalition made up of mostly Kurdish militias that has led the fight against ISIS in Syria.  These Syrian Kurdish fighters are largely responsible for retaking more than 95% of ISIS’ claimed territory in Iraq and Syria and forcing ISIS to withdraw from its last major urban stronghold in the region.

In 2014, ISIS controlled more than 34,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria, but today American officials estimate that ISIS retains only 1% of its originally controlled territory. 

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, as of September 2018, 36 high value targets in Syria have been killed and more than 700 foreign terrorist fighters are in SDF custody.  The Kurdish-led SDF helped reduce the number of ISIS fighters in Syria from approximately 100,000 in 2014 to less than 5,000 today.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the following about our Kurdish Syrian allies: “We’ve worked closely with the Syrian Kurds now for my entire time in service in this administration. They have been great partners. We are now driving to make sure that they have a seat at the table. The political process … the reason it hasn’t made progress is because we’ve demanded that every element in Syria gets an opportunity to be part of that future government, and in the absence of that and in the absence of their representation, we won’t participate in what will be a big check that someone’s going to have to write to fix the situation in Syria, and the Syrian Kurds will surely be part of that.”

President Donald Trump commented that the Kurds are “great people” and “good fighters.” President Trump went on to say, “They fought with us. They died with us. They died. We lost tens of thousands of Kurds, died, fighting ISIS. They died for us, and with us. And for themselves. They died, but they are great people. And we don’t forget.”

 

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WASHINGTON – After meeting today with U.S. attorney general nominee William Barr, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) announced that he will vote in favor of him.

“I want someone who has thought about the world and politics, has a brain, understands the law, has integrity, has good judgment and understands he’s representing the American people.  William Barr is eminently qualified,” said Sen. Kennedy.

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement today after he voted in favor of reopening the government and securing the border:

“Nobody wants the government to be shut down, and nobody wants our country to have a vulnerable southern border,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “This legislation represents progress not perfection, but it reopens the government and it secures our border.  The president proposed this bipartisan compromise, and my Democratic colleagues refused to take it.  It’s time we put petty politics aside and put the American people first.”

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