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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today two FEMA grants for flood mitigation projects in Jefferson Parish and East Baton Rouge Parish.

Jefferson Parish will receive a $6.9 million grant for drainage improvements in the Jefferson Park subdivision. East Baton Rouge Parish will receive an $11.3 million grant to develop a master plan for drainage improvements in the parish.

“In a state where flooding is common, drainage projects and flood mitigation are key to protecting businesses, streets, homes and even lives,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “These grants for Jefferson and East Baton Rouge parishes are important for protecting families and businesses from destructive flooding.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today issued the following statement on reports that special counsel Robert Mueller wants to make a public opening statement to the House Judiciary Committee but deliver the rest of his testimony behind closed doors:

“I understand that Mr. Mueller doesn’t want it to become a media circus if he decides to testify, but the American public has a right to hear directly from him.  His investigation cost the American taxpayers more than $25 million.  They don’t want a filtered version of his testimony spun by members of Congress with partisan agendas,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “I have great confidence in the American people.  They may not read Aristotle every day because they’re busy earning a living and raising their children, but they have good judgment.  Let them hear his full testimony and draw their own conclusions.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the flood stage of the Mississippi River breaking nearly century-old records, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to call members in Thursday for a vote on renewing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  Without action, the program will expire Friday.

“River levels are breaking records set during the Great Flood of 1927.  This is not a time to let the National Flood Insurance Program lapse.  Millions of families depend on the NFIP to protect their homes and businesses.  We’re under unprecedented threat from flooding, and hurricane season is upon us,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “If House members cannot pass a simple NFIP extension, then they need to get back to Washington.  The American people need Congress to do its job.”

In addition to the four-month extension in the disaster supplemental bill, Sen. Kennedy offered a two-week program extension.  The Senate passed both measures, but they are stalled in the House because of a House member’s objection.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) filed a package of bills Thursday that will address many of the loopholes in the U.S. immigration system.

As part of the package, Sen. Kennedy re-introduced a bill to end the State Department’s diversity visa lottery program.  This program currently distributes 50,000 visas every year at random with no consideration of employment, family relation or need. According to reports, at least six terror-linked foreigners have entered the U.S. through this program.

Sen. Kennedy also introduced legislation that will make the penalty for overstaying a visa the same as the penalty for illegally entering the country. The penalty would be a criminal misdemeanor subject to a fine of up to $3,000, imprisonment up to one year or both. Nearly 50% of illegal immigration stems from visa overstays, and there is currently no criminal penalty addressing this violation

Finally, Sen. Kennedy joined Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.) in introducing the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act.  This legislation will ban sanctuary city policies that forbid local law enforcement officials from complying with federal immigration laws.  The legislation will also deny sanctuary cities taxpayer-backed federal grant money until they make changes to their dangerous policies.

“We need effective immigration laws that look like they were designed on purpose,” said Sen. Kennedy. “This package of bills contains simple solutions to ongoing issues with our immigration system in the United States.  Our immigration system is at a breaking point, and it’s about time we take action.” 

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today voted in favor of extending the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) until Sept. 30.  The extension was included as part of the disaster relief bill, H.R. 2157. This extension comes as bipartisan efforts are underway to reform the program for Louisiana’s homeowners.

Absent Congressional action, the National Flood Insurance Program was set to expire on May 31.  More than five million NFIP policies are in force across the U.S.  In Louisiana, the number of policies totals about 500,000.

“It was important to me that we address the National Flood Insurance Program before we adjourned for the Memorial Day recess.  Flood insurance is too important to families across Louisiana for us to allow it to lapse,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “The next step is to tackle much-needed reforms that will make the program more sustainable while keeping it affordable.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today the Senate’s passage of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED Act). Sen. Kennedy is a cosponsor of the legislation.

Last year Americans received approximately 26 billion robocalls, a quarter of which were illegal.  The TRACED Act gives the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) more to time to catch scammers who ignore telemarketing restrictions and increases the penalties for those who are caught.

The legislation also pushes carriers to use call authentication technology to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers’ phones.

“Robocalls are a nuisance and an intrusion into family dinners, jobs, weddings, graduations and ballet recitals,” said Sen. Kennedy. “The TRACED Act equips the FCC to take action against robocallers who repeatedly flout the law and disrupt our daily lives.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today filed the Medical Billing Fairness Act to discourage health care facilities from using out-of-network providers and saddling patients with unaffordable medical bills in nonemergency situations.

The bill builds on efforts by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), and others to address a frustrating problem for patients across the U.S.  A study by the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Missouri-Kansas City found that one in 10 new mothers received an out-of-network bill for childbirth expenses not covered by insurance. This problem most often occurs when a hospital uses contract medical providers such as anesthesiologists.

Sen. Kennedy’s bill requires hospitals to give patients the opportunity to opt for in-network care only when scheduling appointments, such as childbirth.  

“The last thing on your mind when you’re welcoming a new baby into the world is whether everyone in the delivery room will be covered by your insurance.  One mother got a $1,600 bill because the anesthesiologist on call the day she delivered wasn’t on the hospital’s staff.  Now, he didn’t just wander into the delivery room.  Hospitals save money by putting specialists on contract rather than on payroll.  The savings to the hospital show up in the patient’s mailbox as an out-of-network expense not covered by insurance,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Patients don’t deserve to be hit with surprise medical bills, especially when they schedule a procedure in advance.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.), chairman and ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, asked 20 agencies under the subcommittee’s jurisdiction to disclose in writing how often they’re booking first class air travel.

“Ensuring that taxpayers’ hard-earned money is well-spent is one of our most important responsibilities as members of the Appropriations Committee,” write Sens. Kennedy and Coons.  “Accordingly, we are deeply concerned by frivolous and wasteful spending on premium-class airline tickets for government employees.”

Under the Federal Travel Regulation, most federal employees are prohibited from purchasing first class and business class tickets for work travel.  The letters requested information and records on business air travel from the last two quarters of fiscal year 2019 to ensure federal employees aren’t using taxpayer money to purchase luxury flights.

An example of the senators’ full letter is below.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced two bills to prevent the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) from expiring at the end of May.  One bill, the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2019, is a short-term extension until Sept. 30, 2019.  The other bill, the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act, is an 18-month extension until Dec. 1, 2020.

“Hurricane season is just around the corner.  Obviously, my preference is to extend the NFIP for 18 months to give families peace of mind.  I’m going to give the Senate two options just to make sure the program doesn’t expire,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Too many people rely on the NFIP to protect their homes for it to lapse.  We need to renew it, and then we need to get serious about reforms that will make the program more sustainable for the future.”

The National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2019 is similar to legislation that passed the U.S. House this week authorizing an extension until Sept. 30.

More than five million NFIP policies are in force across the U.S.  In Louisiana, the number of policies totals about 500,000.

Since his election to the U.S. Senate, Sen. Kennedy has fought for much-needed reforms to the NFIP that will keep the program affordable while making it more cost-effective.   His proposals have included limiting premium increases while addressing abuse among Write Your Own companies.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), chairman of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, today questioned Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Department of the Treasury, on releasing tax returns to Congress.

Click here or the photo below to watch the hearing.

Here is a transcript of their conversation:

Sen. Kennedy: “Do you think we should have a precedent, to put it in real-world terms, and I’ll put it in personal terms?  Let’s say I’m interested in the IRS, and I’m interested in what kind of job it’s doing. So I think I’d like to see, as a United States Senator, some tax returns.  Let me think.  How about you send me all the tax returns from every candidate among my Democratic friends running for president of the United States.  Now, I’m not interested in it for political reasons.  I just want to study the IRS, and I think I’ll start with these returns.  How much confidence do you think the American people will have in the Internal Revenue Service and the privacy concerns if we start doing that in this country?”

Secretary Mnuchin: “Well, Mr. Chairman, I think it would be very dangerous to provide you with those returns.  I think it would also be very dangerous to provide you with returns of large Democrats or Republicans who make political gifts or leaders of industry or leaders of the labor union.  Our concern is, and the Nixon Administration did try to weaponize the IRS, so as I’ve said, this is an unprecedented issue.  It’s a very complicated issue.  I take very seriously my obligation to follow the law, and that is why I consulted with the Department of Justice, and we will proceed on what is a very important issue to the American taxpayers.”

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