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WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) released the following statement after the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) finalized the Federal Register Notice for Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds in response to Hurricanes Laura and Delta.

“Lake Charles and south Louisiana are still recovering from the devastating hurricanes of 2020. I hope that HUD moves quickly to approve our state’s plan and get this $600 million to the communities that need it to rebuild and that have been waiting too long already,” said Kennedy.

 Kennedy, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was instrumental in securing $600 million in CDBG-DR relief for Louisiana in Sept. 2021 through a government funding bill.

These funds will support Louisiana communities, including Lake Charles, as they recover from Hurricanes Laura and Delta. Louisiana state officials must submit the state’s action plan before HUD releases the aid.

The state was unable to submit its plan until HUD finalized the federal register notice, which the department did on Jan. 31. 

 

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today released the following statement upon the passing of William Clifford Smith: 

“Clifford Smith was—and is—smart, charming, wise and visionary. He spent his life serving Louisiana and was an extraordinarily effective advocate, among other things, for protecting Louisiana’s coast and wetlands. I will miss him, and so will our state, but he has a wonderful family that will continue to spread Clifford’s truths. Becky and I are sending prayers for Jo-Anne and the entire Smith family.”

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) in pushing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan to reconsider two proposed actions that would hurt small refineries in Louisiana and raise gas prices for Louisiana consumers.

The EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program requires petroleum-based transportation fuel, heating oil and jet fuel to contain a specific amount of renewable fuel. The EPA annually determines this Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO). Small refineries can receive temporary exemptions from the RVO if they can show that compliance with the RVO would cause them disproportionate economic hardship.

The EPA proposed to increase the 2022 RVO to unprecedented high levels and to deny all 65 pending small refinery exemptions without providing a cause.

“We are puzzled by the action EPA took in these proposals, including the unprecedented and drastic step to propose a blanket denial of all 65 outstanding small refinery hardship petitions at a time of increasing gasoline prices and several small refinery closures around the nation. The current proposal neglects not only its own economic impacts, but negates the intent of Congress in deliberately amending the Clean Air Act to allow for exemptions for small refiners that suffer disproportionate economic hardship from compliance with the RFS,” the senators wrote.

“With that in mind, we urge EPA to reconsider this effort to deny all 65 outstanding small refinery petitions and the proposal to set the RVO at unprecedented levels for 2022. Reconsidering these actions will provide much-needed relief and certainty for companies, employees, and communities across the country; bolster access to affordable, domestically-produced fuels for American consumers; and remove obstacles for an economy already facing significant challenges from inflation and other supply chain challenges,” the senators concluded.

Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) also signed the letter.

The letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans in asking Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray for answers regarding Malik Faisal Akram.

A British national, Akram held four people hostage at the Beth Israel Congregation in Colleyville, Texas, for hours on Jan. 15 and reportedly “was the subject of a short, low-level investigation by the U.K.’s MI5 domestic intelligence agency in the second half of 2020.” The investigation was “based on information that he may have been involved in Islamist terrorism.”  

“In light of the numerous red flags in Akram’s record, we are extremely concerned about the adequacy of our visa adjudication and admission screening protocols. As Akram’s own brother told reporters: ‘How had he gotten into America? . . . Why was he granted a visa? How did he land at J.F.K. airport and not get stopped for one second?’” the senators wrote to Mayorkas and Blinken.

The senators asked Mayorkas and Blinken to list all U.S. nonimmigrant or immigrant visas that Akram possessed and to provide the most recent date that Akram was admitted to the U.S.

The lawmakers requested a number of records including a copy of Akram’s “A-File,” and raised questions regarding issues such as the security information sharing agreement between the U.S. and U.K. under the Visa Waiver Program. They further asked detailed questions about the process through which Akram apparently entered the U.S. without significant scrutiny, especially in light of previous concerns about terrorists utilizing the Visa Waiver Program.

The senators also wrote to Wray asking whether the FBI considers Akram to have been an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist, what kinds of communications the FBI had with the U.K. regarding Akram prior to the synagogue attack and whether the FBI placed Akram under surveillance upon his arrival in the U.S. They also raised questions about what information relating to Akram was contained in available databases, including his criminal history and data shared by international partners.

The letter to Mayorkas and Blinken is available here.

The letter to Wray is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) in asking Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General Joseph Cuffari to investigate the Biden administration policies that have produced the worst border crisis in U.S. history. 

“Multiple sources have confirmed to Congress that the Biden Administration was warned by career professionals that the rapid implementation of several border and immigration policies would lead to a predictable surge at the border. Our concern is that the Biden Administration proceeded to implement these policies despite the harm they would cause to our border and immigration system. Moreover, the Biden Administration did not take adequate steps to prepare for the resulting surge and as a result, a humanitarian crisis has developed,” the senators wrote.

“Congress and the American people deserve to know if the border crisis was preventable or even worse, intentional,” they continued.

The senators asked Cuffari to provide a comprehensive review and report of the crisis and related records. The request includes “[a]ll information provided to the Biden transition team regarding the border, specifically what information was conveyed either in briefings, documents, or communications regarding the consequences of undoing the former Trump Administration’s immigration and border security measures.”

The senators also requested the total number of illegal aliens that the government has processed and released into the interior of the U.S. as well as a breakdown of all vetting procedures used before the administration releases illegal aliens into the interior of the country.

Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) also signed the letter.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and more than 80 other members of the House of Representatives signed the letter as well.

Background

In March 2021, Kennedy visited the U.S.-Mexico border to witness the effects that the Biden administration’s reckless immigration policies are having on America and on vulnerable women and children at the hands of cartels and human traffickers.

That March, Kennedy also introduced the Empowering Immigration Courts Act, the Terrorist Deportation Act, the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act and the Criminal Alien Removal Clarification Act to empower immigration courts and make dangerous aliens deportable.

In November 2021, Kennedy questioned DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on the Biden administration’s mishandling of the immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The letter is available here.

 

Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today released the following message addressing this year’s March for Life in Washington, DC:

“When I was a kid growing up in Zachary, I’ll always remember that my dad would say, ‘Son, you will never know love until you have a child. It’s not like the love for a parent, or the love for a spouse, or the love for a brother or sister. It’s special.’ 

“And of course, I was a kid, and I always used to say, ‘Oh, sure, Dad.’ Boy, Dad was right. And I found out when God smiled on Becky and me and we got our son Preston when he was just a few days old.

“It gives me great hope to know that so many Americans are united on the issue of defending innocent, unborn life. And I want to thank everyone—every single one of you—who is coming to our nation's capital today for playing such an important role in this historic, this noble struggle. You—we—are all fighting to give a voice to the voiceless. What’s more American than that? And to defend the defenseless. What’s more American than that?

“Now, advocates for abortion claim that they’re fighting for the right to choose—but babies don’t choose to die, and human life is precious. It is so precious. It has value whether it’s 82 years-old or 82 seconds-old. 

“My prayers are for all life, and my prayers are with every American marching today for life. God bless you, and thank you, God, for life.”

Video of Kennedy’s comments is available here

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and other Judiciary Committee senators in asking Attorney General Merrick Garland and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona for answers regarding the National School Boards Association (NSBA) letter sent to President Joe Biden in September 2021. That letter prompted a Justice Department (DOJ) memo that directed the FBI to investigate parents protesting at local school board meetings.

“We now have reason to believe personnel at the NSBA coordinated its September 29 letter with, or acted at the behest of, the sitting Secretary of Education, as well as White House personnel—in a letter that asks for the PATRIOT Act to be used against American parents,” the senators wrote to Garland.

The lawmakers cited a recently uncovered email thread between two NSBA officials that links “writing a letter to provide information to the White House” to “a request by Secretary Cardona.”

“We are concerned about the prospect of the Secretary of Education requesting that a trade association write a letter to the President of the United States so that you, the Attorney General, might have the requisite cover to deploy federal law enforcement in such a questionable manner,” the senators continued.

The senators asked Garland several questions, including when the attorney general first learned of Cardona’s request and why the Counterterrorism Division of the FBI is administering a threat tag entitled “EDUOFFICIALS.”

“By involving the National Security Division and the Counterterrorism Division of the FBI in local matters, you have created widespread fear that the national security apparatus of the United States is keeping tabs on them,” the senators concluded.

Kennedy and the other Republican members of the Judiciary Committee also sent a letter to Cardona questioning him about his involvement with the NSBA.

“It appears that you, the Secretary of Education, instructed a trade association to write a letter to the President of the United States so that the Attorney General might have the requisite cover to deploy federal law enforcement in a manner so as to scare American parents out of speaking freely at school-board meetings and petitioning their local governments,” the senators wrote to Cardona.

The senators previously wrote letters to Garland on Dec. 6 and Oct. 7, 2021 criticizing the DOJ crackdown on parents’ freedom of speech and asking Garland to withdraw the memo targeting parents. 

The letter to Garland is available here.

To letter to Cardona is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $5,748,068 in grant funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for debris removal from Hurricane Laura in Westlake, La.

“Hurricane Laura hit Westlake hard, and many are still rebuilding. I am grateful for resources that will help southwest Louisiana continue to recover,” said Kennedy.

FEMA awarded the city of Westlake two grants to cover the cost of debris removal. The first totals $4,161,248 and covers 90 percent of the project. The second $1,586,820 grant funds 100 percent of the project. These funds will cover the cost of contract labor and tools needed to complete debris removal projects.

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 – 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.