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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced a $3.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to acquire specialized shipping vessels to transport containers to and from the ports in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

As Louisiana’s chemical industry expands, there is an increased demand for inland transportation. These barges are essential for safely and efficiently transporting goods between ports.

“Louisiana’s ports serve as a gateway for goods entering and leaving the country. As Louisiana’s chemical industry expands, our ports need modern equipment to meet that demand,” said Sen. Kennedy. “This grant will give the ports in Baton Rouge and New Orleans the proper vessels to support commerce along the Mississippi River and the Gulf.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) delivered a speech on the Senate floor today about the need for immigration reform, including constructing a border wall, reforming U.S. asylum laws and calling an immigration summit to address the crisis at the southern border.

“Now, we’re a nation of immigrants, and I’m proud of that,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Americans cannot be called anti-immigrant.  Every year we welcome a million people across the world to become Americans (and) to come into our country.  They do it legally.  They follow the law.  They’re properly vetted.  They get in line.  They wait patiently, and we welcome them in.”

Floor speech highlights:

Immigration summit: “I think we should start with a presidential summit.  Not a representative of the presidents, but a presidential summit of the president of the United States, the president of Mexico, President Lopez Obrador, and the presidents of the Northern Triangle countries, and let’s see what we can do to solve this problem.”

Border wall: “We do have a problem at the border.  ‘Problem’ is an understatement. In March, we had 100,000 people come into our country illegally.  One hundred thousand.  That’s the most in 10 years.  If that continues, we’re going to set a record this year for people entering our country illegally.”

“We’ve got to solve this problem ourselves.  The first thing we have to do is build a wall.  I’m not talking about a wall from sea to shining sea.  We have 1,900 miles of border.  I’m talking about barriers strategically placed.  You cannot seal a 1,900-mile piece of real estate without a barrier.  It can’t be done.”

Illegal immigration: “Illegal immigration is illegal.  Even if you think it’s a good idea, and I don’t.  If you care about the rule of law, which is one of the bedrock principles in America, then you would want to stop the illegal immigration.”

Asylum law reform: “The second thing we need to do, Madame President, as you well know, is to pass asylum laws that look like somebody designed the things on purpose.  Because what we have now, doesn’t fit that description.”

 “This United States Senate should be debating America’s asylum laws right this second.  I’m not saying the other things we’re doing - we are in the personnel business - aren’t important, but there’s not a single issue right now that’s more important.  Congress needs to do its job!  The Senate ought to be debating this issue right now.”

Click here or the photo below to watch Sen. Kennedy’s full floor speech.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), met with U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, M.D., and Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought today to discuss a solution to the duplication of benefits issue facing thousands of Louisiana families affected by the 2016 floods.

Today, Sen. Kennedy insisted that Vought and Carson agree on a realistic deadline to address this issue directly.  Vought and Carson agreed to have answer back to the senators by April 16.

I told Secretary Carson and Mr. Vought that they need to come back to us in two weeks with an answer to this duplication of benefits problem,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Congress has done its job and now we’re stuck pressuring the bureaucracy of HUD and the OMB.  We have waited long enough for a solution, and my patience is running thin.  If they come back to us in two weeks with an answer we don’t like, I plan to appeal to their boss, the President of the United States.”

Sens. Kennedy and Cassidy met with Secretary Carson on March 14 to discuss fixing this issue.  On March 1, the senators sent a letter to Secretary Carson urging him to immediately address the duplication of benefits issue.  On Feb. 27, Kennedy and Cassidy placed holds on two U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) nominees in order to put pressure on HUD and to reiterate the importance of the problem.

Carson

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) filed a package of bills today that will protect national security by ending China’s unfettered access to American college campuses. 

The main bill, the Confucius Act, addresses concerns about Confucius Institutes, which receive direct funding from the Chinese government to promote Chinese studies on American college campuses.  The bill reduces China’s influence on U.S. colleges and universities by granting full managerial authority of  Confucius Institutes’ teaching plans, activities, research grants and employees to the universities.  This is a necessary step after the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations warned earlier this year that the institutes pose a serious threat to academic freedom by pushing China’s history of censorship and control.

Confucius Institutes partner with more than 100 campuses across the U.S., including Xavier University in New Orleans.  The FBI has acknowledged that it is warily watching Confucius Institutes, and several universities have severed ties with the institutes. 

Sen. Kennedy also filed the Protecting American Technology Act of 2019 to safeguard the information and technology produced on college campuses by requiring a deemed export license to be in place before foreign nationals can conduct scientific research in university labs.  This will prevent controlled technologies from leaking to America’s competitors.

“The FBI has warned us that China is exploiting our open research and development environment.  In other words, China cheats.  Confucius Institutes supposedly promote Chinese studies on U.S. college campuses.  They’re funded by the Chinese government, and they’re controversial for a good reason,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Confucius Institutes are designed to promote China’s Communist agenda.  They threaten our national security and our academic freedom.”

Also in the package is the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, which will address one of the SEC’s most significant issues in overseeing the financial reporting of U.S.-listed, China-based companies.  The bill will require companies to provide proof they are not implicitly state-owned and prohibit them from being on the exchange if they refuse inspection of their records for three consecutive years.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement today on the decision by prosecutors in Chicago, Ill., to drop charges against actor Jussie Smollett.  Smollett is accused of wasting law enforcement time and money by orchestrating a fake hate crime against himself.  A grand jury charged him with 16 counts of disorderly conduct.  He faced more than 64 years in prison.

“The dismissal of all charges against Jussie Smollett is just another example of Hollywood privilege.  There shouldn’t be one set of rules for ordinary people and another set of rules for Hollywood actors with political connections.  What Mr. Smollett is accused of doing is disgusting.  If you or I did what he did, we would be put under the jail.  Ordinary Americans who get up every day, go to work, obey the law, pay their taxes and try to teach their kids morals get cracker crumbs.  Privileged actors who hire someone to fake a hate crime, file a false police report and get indicted on 16 charges get cake.  That’s embarrassing,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Since Chicago prosecutors refuse to do their job, the U.S. attorney should review the case for violations of federal crimes.  I don’t buy that Mr. Smollett should be excused for his crime because it was nonviolent.  That’s not criminal justice reform.  Justice exists when people receive their just desserts.  Committing a crime should have consequences.  This was not justice.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today announced that his bill to help disaster victims rebuild and recover cleared the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.  The legislation now moves to the Senate floor.

The bill, S.862, the Rebuilding Small Businesses After Disasters Act, will allow the Small Business Administration (SBA) to permanently increase the ceiling on loans for disaster victims from $14,000 to $25,000.  The new limit would apply to physical damage loans under a SBA disaster declaration.

Last year, President Trump signed into law legislation by Sen. Kennedy that temporarily raised the loan limit.  S.862 would make that increase permanent.

Sen. Kennedy is the lead sponsor of the bill.  Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are cosponsors. 

“When disaster strikes, Louisianans want to get back into their homes and businesses as soon as possible.  They want to replace the wet sheetrock and get the blue tarps off their roofs,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “We don’t want to impede their road to recovery.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement on the conclusion of the Mueller Report.

“I have read AG Barr’s summary of the Mueller Report very carefully,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Here’s the bottom line:  After 22 months and 2800 subpoenas, Mr. Mueller and his team of 19 lawyers and 40 FBI Agents found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians and declined to prosecute anyone for obstruction of justice.  It’s time to move on.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced a $10.5 million FEMA grant for the Mirabeau Water Garden in New Orleans to help mitigate flooding in New Orleans.

The grant will fund storm water management projects and flood protection systems. The site will have the capacity to store storm water and reduce flooding in the surrounding neighborhoods.  

“The folks in New Orleans are no strangers to flooding and the complications that creates,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “This grant will fund a public works project that will reduce flooding and damage to people’s homes.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) introduced the Freedom Financing Act this week to ban financial institutions from denying service to certain constitutionally protected industries that are fully compliant with all laws and statutes.  This legislation ensures large financial institutions cannot discriminate against law-abiding companies that sell firearms, ammunition or other sporting goods by refusing to provide these companies their financial services.  Financial institutions with less than $10 billion in assets will be exempt from complying with this legislation.

“It’s not a bank’s job to create policy. They need to leave the policymaking to Congress,” said Senator Kennedy. “Banks should not be able to discriminate against lawful customers on the basis of social policy.  The banks should keep in mind that these lawful customers are the same hard-working taxpayers who bailed them out during the recession.  This legislation will ban big banks from refusing to do business with customers that may not share the same political values as the bank.  This kind of power move is an unfair assertion of dominance by the big banks, which is why it should be illegal.” 

“A small number of banks controlling most of the financial sector could effectively illegalize legal commerce by refusing to finance certain industries or process certain transactions,” said Senator Cramer. “Look no further than pro-Second Amendment industries where such discrimination has already occurred. Big banks should not be the arbiters of constitutionality.”

 

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today a $6.1 million grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to combat the opioid crisis in Louisiana.

These grants are part of the second segment of the State Opioid Response Grants aimed at expanding access to treatments for opioid addictions.

“Thousands of Louisiana families are impacted by this devastating widespread crisis,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “This grant will help provide new addiction treatment and prevention options and will enhance state treatment programs.”

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