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WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $4,281,920 in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant for Louisiana disaster aid.

“When waterways overflow, Louisianians’ homes and businesses are at risk of serious damage. I’m grateful to see that this $4.3 million will reduce the risk of flooding in Concordia Parish,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $4,281,920 for the second phase of the Lake St. John and Lake Concordia Drainage Project, which will help alleviate flooding in the northern portion of Concordia Parish. 

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced the Patients Choice Act of 2024 to prevent the Biden administration from restricting short-term, limited duration insurance plans (STLDI) for consumers. 

In July 2023, the Biden administration announced a proposed rule to roll back a Trump-administration era policy that allows consumers to buy short-term, affordable health care insurance policies that last for up to 12 months. Trump’s policy allows consumers to renew such plans so that they can access coverage for up to three years. The Biden administration’s rule would limit STLDI contract periods to just four months.

President Biden’s rule would limit Americans’ freedom to get affordable, short-term health insurance plans that fit their needs. The Patients Choice Act would make sure bureaucrats can’t force Louisianians to pay more for insurance through Obamacare,” said Kennedy. 

Rep. Keith Self (R-Texas) is leading companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“These insurance plans are designed to provide Americans with temporary, limited, and affordable health coverage while they search for more permanent solutions. This bill stops the Department of Health & Human Services, Labor, and Treasury from imposing burdensome regulations on Americans,” said Self.  

STLDI plans allow Americans to access short-term, affordable coverage while they transition from one form of health insurance to another. Currently, STLDI plans provide coverage to more than 1 million Americans.  

The Patients Choice Act of 2024 would:

  • Stop the Biden administration’s Department of Health and Human Services, Department of the Treasury and Department of Labor from implementing or enforcing its proposed rule. 
  • Codify the Trump-administration era regulations, which allow STLDI plans to last for 12 months and give consumers the option of renewing or extending coverage for up to 36 months. 

Full text of the Patients Choice Act of 2024 is available here.

WASHINGTON – The Senate today passed a bill package including Sen. John Kennedy’s (R-La.) amendment to protect veterans’ Second Amendment rights from bureaucrats at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). 

“Unelected bureaucrats shouldn’t be able to strip veterans of their Second Amendment rights unilaterally. The Senate did the right thing for veterans and all freedom-loving Americans by passing my amendment today,” said Kennedy.

Current law requires the VA to send a veteran’s name to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) whenever a fiduciary is appointed to help that veteran manage his or her VA benefits. Placement on NICS blocks veterans from purchasing or owning firearms.

Because unelected bureaucrats at the VA ultimately decide—without a court ruling—whether veterans receive help from a fiduciary and therefore end up in NICS, current law denies veterans due process and infringes on veterans’ right to bear arms.

Kennedy’s amendment included in today’s package changes current law to prohibit the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from sending a veteran’s personal information to NICS unless a judge rules that the veteran is a danger to himself or others.

Background

  • In the 116th Congress, Kennedy introduced the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act. 
  • In the 118th Congress, Kennedy and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) re-introduced the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act with six co-sponsors. 
  • In Oct. 2023, the Senate passed an amendment based on the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act. The same language passed into law as part of a package in March 2024.

WASHINGTON — Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) released the following statement on the funding bill that makes important cuts to federal programs and makes investments in Louisiana’s economy. 

“Government shutdowns are catastrophic, and this bill keeps the government up and running. It turns Louisiana’s priorities into realities. Our jobs, our communities and our freedom are a focus of this bill,” said Kennedy.

The bill also includes Kennedy’s language protecting veterans’ Second Amendment rights. Kennedy successfully amended the bill to include a provision based on his veterans Second Amendment Protection Act. This provision would prevent veterans from losing their right to purchase or own firearms when they receive help managing their Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits.

“Veterans who sacrificed to defend our Constitution shouldn’t see their own rights rest on the judgment of unelected bureaucrats—but right now, they do. The Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act would stop government workers from stripping veterans of their Second Amendment rights just because they get a helping hand to manage their hard-earned VA benefits,” Kennedy explained.

Current law infringes on veterans’ right to bear arms because the VA is required to send a veteran’s name to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) whenever a fiduciary is appointed to help that veteran manage his or her VA benefits. Placement on NICS blocks veterans from purchasing or owning firearms.

Because unelected bureaucrats at the VA ultimately decide—without a court ruling—whether veterans receive help from a fiduciary and therefore end up in NICS, current law denies veterans due process.

Because today’s package includes Kennedy’s legislation, it would prohibit the VA Secretary from transmitting a veteran’s personal information to NICS unless a judge has ruled that the person is a danger to himself or others.

Louisiana priorities secured in the bill:

  • $36.5 million to provide the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway the resources it needs to maintain the 200-mile commercial artery. The funding will prevent a dam-safety emergency or navigation loss at the Boggs Lock and Dam, which would cut off all access between the waterway and the Mississippi River.
  • $15 million to move planning, environmental and engineering work for the St. Bernard Transportation Corridor forward. The corridor is an elevated roadway along the 40 Arpent Canal that will connect Lower St. Bernard to the interstate system.
  • $13.4 million to build an athletic track and field at Fort Polk in Vernon Parish, La. to support troop readiness.
  • $7 million to construct an addition to Barksdale Air Force Base’s medical facility to relieve overcrowding and reduce wait times. The medical facility is currently 52% over its capacity.
  • $6.7 million to plan and design a dormitory for Security Forces Airmen to support more personnel at the new weapons generation facility at Barksdale Air Force Base.
  • $6 million to provide Ruston, La. with initial construction planning for the first phase of a new service road that will connect Ruston to Grambling, La.
  • $4 million to give vehicles access to the 8th District U.S. Coast Guard Station in Venice, La. Currently, this vital roadway needs serious improvements because it regularly floods, which prevents access to the Coast Guard station. 
  • $3 million to upgrade and modernize to the original National World War II Museum’s 23-year-old D-Day Invasion of Normandy building and its exhibitions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WASHINGTON — Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today announced that Ariel Clarke will accompany him to this year’s State of the Union address.

Clarke is a second generation American whose parents came to the U.S. from Jamaica. She has lived in Washington for 19 years, and she works in the Senate as part of the AbilityOne Program. 

“It’s my honor to bring Ariel as my guest to the State of the Union. She has a positive attitude and brings joy to Russell’s fourth floor, where we both work. A great deal of what lawmakers do in the Capitol isn’t possible without the work of the AbilityOne team, and I am always grateful to them,” said Kennedy.

“I’m excited to go to the State of the Union to bring light to what Goodwill actually is and what we stand for,” said Clarke.

Clarke has more than four years of experience working for Goodwill of Greater Washington. She began her role in the Russell Senate Office Building three years ago, supporting senators, staff and constituents as a custodian. 

The AbilityOne Program is an independent federal initiative that helps people with disabilities attain meaningful employment. The AbilityOne Program employs roughly 40,000 individuals—including more than 2,500 veterans—who are blind or otherwise disabled.

This year marks the fifth time Kennedy has invited a Senate custodian as his guest for the president’s State of the Union address.

Watch Kennedy’s full remarks here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) released the following statement in response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address. 

I'm an eternal optimist, but I am also a committed realist, and the fact is that the Biden administration has been breathtakingly awful. President Biden has mismanaged Congress. He’s mismanaged COVID. He’s mismanaged the economy. He’s mismanaged inflation. He’s mismanaged the national debt, the border, crime. He’s mismanaged Afghanistan. He’s mismanaged the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East.

“He’s mismanaged China. He’s embraced cancel culture. He’s treated parents like domestic terrorists, and his administration has foolishly, foolishly sacrificed America’s energy independence.

“Tonight, the president voiced some pretty words in his State of the Union speech, and he tried to tell us that the state of the union is good and that he has done a good job, and any fair-minded American knows that that is not true.

“Any fair-minded American knows that the guiding principle of this administration has been, ‘Let's do the dumbest thing possible that won't work.’ That is the unvarnished truth, and the American people deserve better.

Watch Kennedy’s full remarks here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today rebuked the Biden administration for its decision to reduce active-duty forces by more than 1,200 soldiers at Fort Johnson in Vernon Parish, La.

“President Biden’s Defense Department cares more about pronoun preferences than it does about military readiness. As a result, the Army is seeing the lowest force numbers on record since before World War II. The Biden administration’s solution to this problem is to cut Fort Johnson’s forces by more than 1,200 soldiers. This move will not only deal a $175 million blow to Louisiana’s economy, but it will also hurt America’s military readiness,” said Kennedy.

Background: 

  • The U.S. Army announced its decision to reduce active-duty personnel at the Fort Johnson base as part of its “Force Structure Transformation” plan. Currently, the Army’s force structure is designed to accommodate 494,000 solders. Due to recruitment shortfalls across the Defense Department, troop levels must be reduced to 470,000 by FY 2029.
  • The plan is the Army’s response to record-low recruitment. Under the plan, Fort Johnson is expected to lose 1,211 military soldiers.
  • The plan is expected to cost the region $175 million in gross domestic product.
  • In 2017, Fort Johnson had a force of 7,792 regular soldiers. By 2029, that number is expected to fall to approximately 6,805 as a result of the Army’s plan to account for low recruitment numbers.

 Watch Kennedy’s full remarks here.

WASHINGTON — Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today explained on the Senate floor that it would be unprecedented for the Senate to dismiss the impeachment charges the House has leveled against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas without holding a full, fair trial.

Key excerpts from Kennedy’s speech are below:

“In its first article of impeachment, the House alleges that Secretary Mayorkas has, quote, ‘willfully and systematically refused to comply with federal immigration law.’ The House says that Secretary Mayorkas has refused to detain some illegal Immigrants, as the law requires him to do, and has instead embraced his own catch-and-release scheme in which he has released huge numbers—I think any fair-minded American would call 8.6 million people huge—huge numbers of illegal immigrants into the United States.

“The House says that Secretary Mayorkas has refused to follow unambiguous and clear federal laws that require him to detain illegal immigrants who are subject to deportation for engaging in criminal or terrorism-related behavior. The House says that Secretary Mayorkas has failed to make case-by-case parole determinations, which the law clearly requires—clearly—and, instead, he has—on his own—he has paroled millions of people illegally into the United States en masse.

“In its second article of impeachment, the House alleges that Secretary Mayorkas has breached the public’s trust in two respects: by knowingly making false statements to Congress that the border is, quote, ‘secure,’ and that the Department of Homeland Security has, quote, ‘operational control’ of the border, and by failing to comply with subpoenas issued by congressional committees seeking to exercise oversight over DHS activities.”

. . .

“Any fair-minded person can see that these are serious charges, and they demand a full trial.”

 . . .

“The Senate must let the House present its case, and then we must do our job and give that case careful consideration.

“If the Senate dismisses these charges without a trial, as if it’s just a parking ticket being fixed by some politician, it will be the first time—the very first time—in the Senate's long history that it has dismissed impeachment charges against an official it has jurisdiction over without that official first resigning.”

. . .

“The United States Senate cannot and should not turn a deaf ear to the democratically elected members of the United States House of Representatives by dismissing their charges against Secretary Mayorkas without a full and fair trial.

Precedent demands a trial. . . . Respect for the House of Representatives demands a trial. . . . Respect for the law, Mr. President, demands a trial . . . and the American people demand a trial, and they deserve it. The United States Senate should do its job.”

View Kennedy’s full speech here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $1,480,988 in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant for Louisiana disaster aid.

“Hurricane Ida struck southeast Louisiana, leaving damage to our ports. I’m thankful to see that this $1.5 million will go toward restoring Louisianians’ office facility at the Lafourche Parish Port,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $1,480,988 for the Greater Lafourche Port Commission to replace the Fourchon office building as a result of Hurricane Ida damage.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La) today joined Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and 15 other colleagues in urging the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to reconsider hiring former United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Commissioner General Pierre Krähenbühl as its director general. 

During Krähenbühl’s tenure at the UNRWA, the UNRWA included antisemitic material in its textbooks and allowed Hamas to store weapons in its facilities. His term ended in disgrace when he was placed on administrative leave and resigned in the wake of misconduct allegations against him and his staff. 

“In December 2018, UNRWA’s ethics office shared with the UN secretary-general a confidential report describing serious acts of mismanagement and abuse of power,” the senators wrote. 

“[T]hen-Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl . . . was accused of repeatedly engaging in an extra-marital affair with a subordinate while on official travel. On November 6, 2019, it was reported the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services had opened its own investigation, and, as a result of the preliminary report, the secretary-general decided to place Mr. Krähenbühl on administrative leave,” the lawmakers explained.

Krähenbühl effectively ended the inquiry by resigning his position within hours of his suspension.

“Extending beyond the allegations of ethical misconduct leveled against Mr. Krähenbühl, we have serious concerns about the direction UNRWA took under his leadership between 2014 to 2019. Over this period, UNRWA facilities were repeatedly used to store weapons on behalf of the U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization Hamas,” wrote the senators.

“Moreover, under Mr. Krähenbühl’s leadership, UNRWA textbooks included [antisemitic] material that incited anti-Israeli violence. The failure to address these incidents can be seen as a pre-cursor to the October 7th massacre, which we now know included direct participation by UNRWA employees,” they continued.

“As the largest donor to the ICRC, we cannot stand idly by as yet another international organization falls prey to [antisemitism] and violence, let alone gross mismanagement and moral corruption. . . . We urge you to find a more suitable candidate to lead the ICRC during this turbulent time,” the lawmakers concluded. 

Background 

  • In Jan. 2024, Kennedy authored a bill to defund the UNRWA permanently and divert its funding to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Also in Jan. 2024, Kennedy introduced a bill that would require the State Department to review the curricula of Palestinian schools and report whether U.S. foreign aid is funding material that encourages antisemitic violence.

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) also signed the letter.

The full letter is available here.