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Watch the senator’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today announced $1,737,906,000 in disaster aid for Louisiana. The relief funds come through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant program.

“Louisiana families had so many needs after Hurricanes Laura, Delta, Ida and other storms hit. One of the biggest needs for Lake Charles and south Louisiana continues to be housing. For more than a year, disaster victims have been enduring and rebuilding largely on their own. Last September, Congress passed a supplemental disaster relief bill with money to address housing needs in Louisiana, but—as of a few days ago—HUD still hadn’t sent our state officials the money. Earlier this month, I asked President Biden to hurry up and cut that check. I’m glad to tell you that it looks like he listened, and the aid is coming. Now—after months of delay—HUD is finally writing the check for that $1.7 billion, and the resilient people of our great state will finally receive that relief,” said Kennedy.

As the only member of the Louisiana delegation to sit on the Appropriations Committee, Kennedy has repeatedly worked with HUD to secure more disaster relief to help Louisiana communities recover from the damage done by Hurricanes Laura, Delta and Ida and the floods of May 2021.

Kennedy spoke personally with HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge in the wake of Hurricanes Laura and Delta and worked successfully to get billions of dollars in additional disaster aid for Community Development Block Grants included in the funding bill that became law last fall. This $1.7 billion in grants comes from that allocation.

Previously, southwest Louisiana received $595 million from HUD for disaster recovery from Hurricanes Laura and Delta through the government funding bill, the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Act, that was recently signed into law.  While this $1.7 billion comes from the same law that sent the $595 million to Lake Charles and surrounding areas in February 2022, HUD had not yet allocated this $1.7 billion to Louisiana state officials. Earlier this month, Kennedy urged President Joe Biden to expedite this aid to the state. Days later, HUD announced that the $1.7 billion was on its way to Louisiana.

The funds include:

  • $1,272,346,000 to the state of Louisiana to help recovery efforts related to Hurricane Ida and the severe weather and flooding that hit Louisiana in May 2021. Lake Charles will receive $10,776,000, and Baton Rouge will receive $4,648,000 to address these disasters. 
  • $450,136,000 to the state of Louisiana to help recovery efforts related to Hurricanes Laura and Delta.

Video of Kennedy’s statement is here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) in introducing the No Government Contracts for Known Leakers Act to stop government employees and agencies from knowingly entering into contracts with people or entities guilty of leaking nonpublic government information to unauthorized persons or entities.

“Americans don’t do business with people who refuse to protect their private information, and their government should apply the same standard to leakers. There’s no reason to pour tax dollars into people or companies that lack integrity or to give them access to sensitive information,” said Kennedy.

“The recent revelations from court filings in the Durham probe underscore the importance of ensuring that the government is not contracting with individuals who have improperly disclosed nonpublic information. It is common sense that we should protect taxpayer dollars and information from people who have previously violated the public trust and used government information for ulterior purposes,” said Hagerty.

A recent court filing by Special Counsel John Durham stated that a technology executive—whose company was hired by the White House to provide internet-related services—was exploiting this “sensitive arrangement” and his access to White House internet domain name information to work with Clinton Campaign operatives in 2016 to create a false narrative that rival candidate Donald J. Trump was colluding with Russia. Then, they pitched the narrative concocted with this information to the FBI, which initiated a federal investigation into the Trump Campaign and later President Trump.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) also cosponsored the bill.

Text of the No Government Contracts for Known Leakers Act is available here.

Watch Kennedy’s comments here

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today delivered opening remarks at Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination hearing to become an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. The remarks include: 

“I hope we will be able to use this hearing today to talk about . . . two subjects. The first is the legitimacy of the United States Supreme Court. Where does the court get its legitimacy? What can we do to enhance it? Judicial legitimacy is important. I don’t have to tell you that. I’m rather fond of the Constitution. I know you are, too. When members of the United States Supreme Court interpret it, I want the American people to believe it. I want the American people to say, ‘Well, I may not agree, but the men and women who made that decision are intellectually honest and people of good faith.’

“One of the primary roles of the United States Supreme Court is to uphold the rule of law. And, sometimes, justices have to uphold the rule of law when it’s not popular. Sometimes justices have to uphold the rule of law when it’s not popular with the majority of Americans. Boy, that’s tough. It’s also important. Sometime—not generally, but sometimes—the majority can mean that all the fools are on the same side. And that’s what the Court’s there for.

“And I’m rather fond of the Bill of Rights, and I know you are as well. I’ve never believed that the Bill of Rights is there for the high school quarterback or the prom queen. They’re covered by it, but the Bill of Rights is there to protect the rights of people who don’t see the world exactly like everybody else or who don’t look exactly like everybody else.

“Now, unfortunately, through history, we have had people—some well-intentioned—who tried to delegitimize the Supreme Court. We have a president way back when who tried to impeach a Supreme Court Justice. . . . And most of the people who want to delegitimize the Supreme Court believe—unlike our founders, in my judgment—believe that the members of the Supreme Court ought to be and are politicians in robes. They believe that the United States Supreme Court ought to be a mini-Congress. They believe that the law is not the law—the law is supposed to just be politics practiced in a different way—and they believe in court packing. And they’re wrong.

“Number two, I hope today that we can use this as an opportunity to talk about if not explicitly, at least implicitly—that’s what I'm going to try to do—the appropriate balance between representative government and declarative government. 

“Now, in representative government, as you well know, people, through their elected representatives, make policy. In declarative government, policy is made by the unelected: the administrative state and the federal judiciary. Now, both are important. Both are important. I’m not saying this is a zero sum game, or either/or. But what’s just as important is that we have the appropriate balance between representative government and what I’ll call declarative government. 

“I mean, we have an administrative state. Did any of us ever think it would get this big? Is that healthy? We need to ask ourselves, ‘Is it really healthy to arrive at a circumstance where the administrative state passes 35 laws a year to our one? Is it really healthy to have an administrative state that makes its own laws, interprets its own laws, and enforces its own laws before courts, with respect to which the administrative state appoints the judges? I think that’s a fair question to ask. 

“With respect to declarative government, and the Supreme Court, and the federal judiciary—federal judges have enourmous power. They have to, but they do, they have enormous power. You’re appointed for life. You can’t be unelected. Your salary can’t even be reduced. And you have to have that power. Judicial power is important. So is judicial restraint.

“I believe that the appropriate role of the federal judiciary is the following: Federal judges don’t make law. They don’t tell us what the law ought to be. They tell us what the law is.”  

. . .

“I’ll leave you with these last thoughts . . . ‘The American people love democracy, and the American people are not fools. The people know their value judgments are quite as good as those taught in any law school—maybe better.  Value judgments, after all, should be voted on, not dictated.’

“I look forward, Judge, to getting to know you better.”

Video of Kennedy’s comments is available here.

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today led a bipartisan group of senators in urging Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to provide resources for private and public institutions to defend against cyberattacks by Russia or its proxies.

“The realm of cyber escalation remains largely unexplored.  Presently, Russia is justly cornered by extreme sanctions measures and there are concerns it will lash out against the United States through non-kinetic attacks,” the Senators wrote.

“Even beyond the current Russian-induced conflict, cyber threats are growing faster than our private, state, and local institutions can adapt to them.  From banks, hospitals, liquified natural gas terminals, bridges and roads, our institutions need to be informed and supported by the federal government in order to be prepared to absorb and rebuff offensive cyber operations by foreign adversaries,” they continued. 

The senators asked for answers regarding, among other things, what measures the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security have taken to reduce Americans’ cyber vulnerabilities and the state of American institutions’ preparedness for a major Russian cyber offensive.

The senators also urged Austin and Mayorkas to provide a written assessment of all recent significant malicious cumulative cyber activities against the U.S. or reported activities against U.S.-based private institutions by Russia or a suspected proxy. 

We must act now, with increased haste, before we find ourselves under a major retaliatory cyber offensive that causes extreme disruption in the lives of everyday Americans,” they concluded.

Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) also signed the letter.

The letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $7,738,685 in a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to Vernon Parish to cover debris removal costs related to Hurricane Laura.

“This $7.7 million will help Louisianians in Vernon Parish continue recovering from the costs of Hurricane Laura,” said Kennedy.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and more than 30 other senators in introducing a joint resolution under the Congressional Review Act to overturn the Biden administration’s 2021 Final Rule on the Title X Family Planning Program, which reversed the Trump administration’s 2019 ban on federal funding to entities that provide abortion referrals to pregnant mothers.

The 2019 rule did not reduce Title X funding but redirected it to providers that do not perform or promote abortions as part of their “family planning” practices.

“The Trump administration made the right choice in banning Title X dollars from funding abortion. Unfortunately, President Biden decided to reverse that ban and send taxpayer money to support snuffing out innocent lives in the womb. I’m proud to join Sen. Rubio in working to nullify President Biden’s unilateral move so that we can protect unborn life and Americans’ consciences,” said Kennedy.

“The Biden Administration’s rule is an assault on the most sacred and fundamental human right, the right to life. I will continue to protect the sanctity of life and do everything I can to make sure taxpayer dollars are not used for or promote abortions,” said Rubio.

The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to overturn certain federal agency regulations and actions through a joint resolution of disapproval. If such a joint resolution is approved by both houses of Congress and signed by the president, or if Congress successfully overrides a presidential veto, the rule at issue becomes invalid.

Rep. Tony Gonzalez (R-Texas) introduced the resolution in the House.

Text of the resolution is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Rep. Julia Letlow (R-La.) today urged Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough to explain and reconsider the VA’s decision to close the VA hospital in Alexandria. The VA failed to consult with Kennedy or Letlow before announcing its plan to make changes to VA medical facilities in Louisiana.

“Your report for restructuring includes an estimated $2 trillion infrastructure overhaul and recommends closing 17 medical centers in 12 states without clear guidelines on direct replacements,” said Kennedy and Letlow.

“Most alarmingly, your recommendations include closing the VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Alexandria, Louisiana, and a complete rebuild of the Shreveport VAMC. According to your report, the justification for the closure of the Alexandria VAMC is based on calculations that the enrolled veteran population across Central Louisiana (CenLa) will decrease from 39,600 to 39,312 in 2029, a difference of only 288 enrollees over 10 years,” the lawmakers explained.

“As this report is considered by Congress and others, we urge you to reconsider the closure of the Alexandria VAMC. This facility is critical for veterans across Louisiana and the detrimental effects of its closure would be immeasurable,” Kennedy and Letlow wrote.

Kennedy and Letlow asked McDonough to provide information including the VA’s assessment criteria for closing and rebuilding the facilities in Louisiana.

They also requested a comprehensive explanation of how the VA will maintain care for veterans who depend on the Alexandria VAMC after the medical center’s closure.

Louisiana veterans deserve clear-cut answers explaining how any changes will affect their access to life saving care,” they concluded.

The letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) penned this op-ed for the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association Industry Report. Below are key excerpts from the piece, which outlines how President Biden’s war on oil and gas is hurting Louisianians.

“President Biden promised to ‘end fossil fuel,’ and he spent much of 2021 crusading against an industry that sustains more than 300,000 Louisiana jobs, funds coastal restoration, and ensures Louisianians can keep their cars running and heaters on. Oil and gas are essential for our state and our country, and I’m going to do everything I can to stop President Biden from keeping his promise.”

. . .

“The White House’s assault on reliable energy has helped drive up energy prices for Louisianians who just want to drive to work and heat their homes. In November, the average cost per gallon of regular gas in the U.S. hit a seven-year high. As of December 2021, Louisianians paid $3 per gallon of gas.”

. . .

“Boosting Louisiana’s LNG exports would create jobs here and lessen our European allies’ dependence on Russian energy, all while reducing emissions. In the first three months of 2021, America supplied almost a quarter of Europe’s LNG imports, making the U.S. Europe’s top supplier of LNG at that time. To reap more of these benefits for us and our allies, I helped introduce the Small Scale LNG Access Act to make exporting easier for small LNG producers and the Natural Gas Export Expansion Act to cut unnecessary regulations that limit the LNG trade.”

. . .

“Our state provides America with almost a tenth of its oil and gas. In return, President Biden has targeted Louisiana’s economy. His war on fossil fuels is fatuous and naïve. It has also landed a gut punch to our workers and American consumers. I will never let the White House’s anti-energy agenda go unchallenged.”

The op-ed is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) released the following statement in response to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) proposed plan to close the VA medical facility in Alexandria.

“Louisiana veterans have served our country courageously, and the VA’s plan to shut down Alexandria’s hospital is unacceptable. No one from the VA reached out to me about this proposal, and I’ve already reached out to the VA Secretary to make it clear that our veterans deserve the best care and most consideration—and that doesn’t involve leaving them with fewer care options.”

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $26,512,478 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants in disaster aid for Louisiana.

“Major floods and storms have taken a toll on our state, and Louisiana families are still recovering. This $26.5 million will provide help in Louisiana’s struggle to rebuild,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $8,589,563 to the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness for state management costs related to Hurricane Ida.
  • $7,128,875 to the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury for emergency protective measures related to Hurricane Laura.
  • $6,233,201 to Washington Parish for debris removal related to Hurricane Ida.
  • $1,708,106 to Gonzalez, La., for debris removal and monitoring related to Hurricane Ida.
  • $1,579,980 to Jefferson Parish for debris removal related to Hurricane Ida.
  • $1,272,753 for an improved project at Baker High School, which severe storms and flooding damaged in 2016.