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WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $3,014,539 in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant for Louisiana disaster aid.   

“Hurricane Laura hit Louisianians in Alexandria hard, with a lot of damage being done to their electrical power system. I’m grateful to see this $3 million help cover these necessary repairs,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $3,014,539 for the city of Alexandria to repair damages to the city’s electrical power system caused by Hurricane Laura.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $2,085,653 in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant for Louisiana disaster aid.  

“Hurricane Ida struck a blow to Louisiana, leaving debris throughout our state. I’m grateful to see that this $2.1 million will help dredging efforts in Lafourche,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following: 

  • $2,085,653 to the Greater Lafourche Port Commission for channel dredging as a result of damages from Hurricane Ida.

Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) called for Congress to support his effort to install a Special Inspector General (IG) to monitor American aid to Ukraine during a speech on the Senate floor.

Kennedy explained that the United States does not currently have a dedicated IG focused exclusively on accountability for Ukraine and argued that the American people deserve the highest level of oversight and accountability on their aid to the country as it fights Russian aggression.

Key comments from Kennedy’s remarks include:

“One thing—regardless of what you think about Ukraine—I think we can all agree on is that we have to watch that money like a hawk. We cannot allow it to be stolen. We cannot allow it to be wasted. . . . Nothing in this world makes it easier to resist temptation than a proper upbringing, a strong set of values and witnesses. We need more witnesses.” 

. . .

“Just like we did in Afghanistan, we need one Inspector General—one woman or man—that we can hold responsible. Appointed by the president. Confirmed by the United States Senate. The Inspector General at the Department of Defense and the Inspector General of the State Department and the Inspector General of USAID can work under the people's Inspector General, under Sen. [Kyrsten] Sinema and I’s bill.

“We need one person to hold accountable, just like we did in Afghanistan. The American people—regardless of how they feel about funding in Ukraine—and members of the United States Senate—regardless of how they feel about the war in Ukraine—surely, we can agree that we will all rest easily, or at least easier, if we follow the money.”

Background:

  • On Sept. 21, 2023, the Chair of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency announced the selection of Robert Storch to be the Lead IG for Ukraine. Storch already serves as the IG for the Department of Defense, a role he must continue while trying to provide oversight in Ukraine. 
  • Kennedy’s bill would establish a Special IG for Ukraine with its own resources and staff that are independent of the Department of Defense or any other agency, unlike the current Lead IG.
  • Kennedy noted that Congress previously established a Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction which proved to be an effective means of identifying corruption in Afghanistan. The Special IG for Afghanistan Reconstruction said installing a Special IG in Ukraine “would send a clear message—to Ukrainians, to bad contractors, to the U.S. government itself, to all the U.S. agencies—that we really take oversight seriously.”

Kennedy’s full remarks are available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $5,148,857 in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant for Louisiana disaster aid.  

“I’m grateful to see this $5.1 million help Louisianians in Calcasieu Parish and all over our state recover from flooding and prepare for future disasters,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $3,362,076 to Calcasieu Parish for the elevation of 14 residential properties and the demolition of two structures.
  • $186,782 to Calcasieu Parish for management costs associated with the mitigation of 16 flood-prone structures.
  • $1,599,999 to the state of Louisiana to update the State of Louisiana Hazard Mitigation Plan.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $53,476,849 in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant for Louisiana disaster aid.

“Hurricanes Laura, Delta and Ida hit Louisiana hard, and many of our people are still dealing with their disastrous impacts. This $53.5 million will help Louisianians as they recover and leave us better prepared for future storms,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $14,371,815 to the Office of Risk Management for repairs to McNeese University resulting from Hurricane Laura.
  • $11,562,368 to the Jefferson Davis Electric Cooperative to repair damages to facilities and transmission lines caused by Hurricane Laura.
  • $7,024,011 to the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux for the stabilization and mold remediation of buildings throughout the Diocese.
  • $4,413,212 to St. Charles Parish for debris removal and monitoring operations related to Hurricane Ida.
  • $4,182,758 to the Calcasieu Parish School Board for repairs to Vinton and Oak Park Elementary schools related to Hurricane Laura.
  • $3,484,229 to the Washington-St. Tammany Electric Cooperative for emergency protective measures related to Hurricane Ida.
  • $2,332,537 to the Office of Risk Management for repairs to McNeese University and SOWELA Community College resulting from Hurricane Laura.
  • $1,525,840 to the Ochsner Clinic Foundation for repairs to St. Anne Hospital resulting from Hurricane Ida.
  • $1,221,599 to the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness for its emergency operations center, sheltering, meals and materials related to Hurricane Delta.
  • $1,193,613 to Terrebonne Parish for emergency response and protective measures provided by the City of Houma Police Department in response to Hurricane Ida.
  • $1,120,036 to Terrebonne Parish to repair damages to Mayfield Bridges 1 and 2 resulting from Hurricane Ida. 
  • $1,044,830 to the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District for emergency protective measures related to Hurricane Laura.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee and the Appropriations subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (FSGG), which oversees the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) today wrote Gene Dodaro, Comptroller General of the U.S., seeking an investigation and report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the potential risks, constitutional issues and privacy concerns presented by the SEC’s Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT).

“Since Rule 613 was adopted, the CAT has gone through several operational delays while market participants, SEC commissioners, and members of Congress have continued to raise concerns over the continually growing costs related to CAT implementation,” the senators wrote.

“However, the top concern related to the CAT remains the collection of personally identifiable information (PII) of every investor that trades a single share of stock on a U.S. exchange. This information will be collected and stored in a vast database that will be subject to cyberattacks and which presents concerns about the privacy and protection of Americans’ sensitive personal information,” they continued.

“Even more concerning, the CAT poses fundamental threats to protections from ‘unreasonable search and seizures’ under the Fourth Amendment. The courts have previously held that the mandated production of certain information can violate the Fourth Amendment. There are many legitimate reasons an individual would not want their financial transactions to be regularly submitted to a government registry. The SEC has failed to appreciate and address these concerns that CAT collection of PII presents,” the lawmakers explained.

Background:

  • Kennedy also raised concerns with SEC Chairman Gary Gensler about the privacy and national security threats that the CAT poses.

The full letter is available here.

Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today addressed the saltwater intrusion into fresh water sources in southeast Louisiana.

Key comments from Kennedy’s remarks include:

“Now, I am an optimist who worries. I am worried about this because about a million of my 4.6 million people in my state depend on this river for drinking water. And, we're in the middle of watching the saltwater come up the river and we don't think it's going to stop coming up the river until sometime around, I don't know, the end of October, maybe. We could be wrong, but I want the Senate and I want my people to understand that their local, their state and their federal governments are dealing with this problem.”

. . .

“First, I want to thank President Biden. President Biden declared a disaster declaration, which allows us to get the assistance of FEMA and I'm very, very grateful for that.

“Number two. Our Corps of Engineers is involved. They're very able people. Our Corps of Engineers, below the city of New Orleans, has built an underwater dam.”

. . .

“Number three. The Corps of Engineers and FEMA are both prepared, if necessary, to deliver us fresh water, if we need it, by barge. And, if you ever wonder about the might of the federal government, and particularly our Corps of Engineers—again, I can't thank them enough—they can deliver up to 36 million gallons of fresh water a day. So, thank you Corps of Engineers, and I want my people back home to know that so they won’t be worried.”

Background:

The Mississippi River is experiencing record low water levels. That allows saltwater from the Gulf to creep upriver into the freshwater areas that provide drinking water to parts of southeast Louisiana. 

While the only long-term solution is for the upper Mississippi River Valley to receive ample rain, which would raise the level of the Mississippi River and push the saltwater back into the Gulf.

Until then, Louisiana, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) are investing in mitigation efforts. The Corps estimates these efforts will last at least three months. 

This September, saltwater started seeping over the Mississippi River’s man-made sill, the equivalent of an underwater levee, in Plaquemines Parish.

On Sept. 27, 2023, FEMA declared this a federal emergency. Accordingly, FEMA is authorized to provide assistance for emergency measures for Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes. 

Saltwater is expected to reach New Orleans later in October. Currently, the Corps is raising the underwater sill in Plaquemines Parish by 25 feet in order to slow the progress of saltwater creeping up the Mississippi River.

Fresh water is also being barged into water treatment plants in affected areas. 

Kennedy’s full remarks are available here.

 

 

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in introducing an amendment to add the Secure the Border Act to the continuing resolution the Senate is considering. 

“By allowing deadly fentanyl and dangerous criminals to flow into America, Pres. Biden is failing to uphold his primary duty to protect Americans and enforce the law. The Biden Border Crisis has made it more crucial now than ever before that funding for our government includes a border security plan that looks like someone designed it on purpose—and that is what this amendment provides,” said Kennedy. 

“It is imperative that any government funding bill include real border security measures. The Secure the Border Act would stop the Biden Border Crisis dead in its tracks and halt the invasion at our southern border. I am proud to be the Senate lead of the most comprehensive border security bill in decades, and it should be added to the continuing resolution to ensure that our government is enforcing the law,” said Cruz.  

The Secure the Border Act is the Senate companion bill to H.R. 2, which the House of Representatives has passed. The bill would resume construction on the southern border wall, tighten asylum standards, criminalize visa overstays, increase the number of Border Patrol agents, prohibit DHS from using its app to assist illegal aliens and more. 

The Secure the Border Act would:

  • Require DHS to resume border wall construction.
  • Tighten asylum standards.
  • Narrow DHS’s parole power.
  • Criminalize visa overstays.
  • Require the return of all unaccompanied migrant children who do not express credible fear or are not trafficking victims.
  • Increase the number of Border Patrol agents.
  • Prevent Border Patrol agents from processing apprehended aliens.
  • Stop non-governmental organizations from receiving federal funds to facilitate illegal immigration.
  • Limit DHS’s use of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) One App to cargo.
  • Require all employers to electronically verify worker immigration status.
  • Require CBP to certify that it has access to criminal history databases of all countries of origin and transit for aliens encountered.

Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) Mike Lee (R-Utah), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) are also co-sponsoring the amendment.

Full text of the Secure the Border Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and several other Republican colleagues in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin calling on him to suspend the security clearance of a senior Defense Department official who allegedly participated in an information operation on behalf of the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

“We are concerned that an individual who previously served as part of an Iranian Foreign Ministry information operation is currently serving in a senior Department of Defense position. We urge you to take immediate action to ensure that the Department has not been compromised,” the senators wrote.

The senators cited a recent report from Semafor that revealed that Ariane Tabatabai, a senior adviser in the Office of the Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security at the Department of Defense, participated in an Iranian government-linked initiative to improve Iran’s image on global security issues, including its nuclear program, in 2014. The senators questioned why the Biden administration dismissed concerns about Tabatabai’s ties to Iran as “smears and slander” when appointing her to work within the Defense Department.

“The fact that the Department initially responded to these latest allegations by rushing a full-throated defense of Ms. Tabatabai, rather than taking the time to ensure that our national security has not been compromised, suggests that you are protecting hiring missteps rather than prioritizing national security,” said the senators. 

Kennedy and his colleagues requested more information on the Defense Department’s process of vetting Tabatabai, including whether she disclosed her ties to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and other prominent Iranian officials in her security clearance disclosures.

In addition to Kennedy and Wicker, Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.) and Katie Britt (R-Ala.) signed the letter.

Read the letter here.

WASHINGTON –Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) released the following statement on the loss of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Kennedy and Feinstein led the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development together in addition to serving on the Judiciary Committee.

“Sen. Feinstein cared about her country and her state. We didn’t agree politically, but she was a delight to serve with. I so valued our friendship and am praying for all of her loved ones,” said Kennedy.