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WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) acting chairman, Allison Herren Lee, to provide updates to Congress on the implementation of the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act.

“Legislation rarely moves through both chambers of Congress in as unanimous and bipartisan a fashion as the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act did. As you move to implement the remainder of the law, I ask that you provide Congress with updates on how the Commission intends to do so and when you plan for the law to be fully implemented. It is time to demand honesty of all companies on U.S. exchanges. That means that foreign companies comply with our laws or be forced off our exchanges,” wrote Kennedy.

The Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act protects American investors and their savings from foreign companies that operate on U.S. stock exchanges but refuse to submit to SEC oversight. The law is tailored to address challenges the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) has regulating Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges because China denies the PCAOB access. 

The Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act also mandates several enhanced disclosure requirements. Companies must report whether a foreign government controls them, whether officials of the Chinese Communist Party serve on their board and whether government entities own any share in the company. The purpose of these and other disclosure requirements is to make relevant information about publicly traded firms explicit and easily accessible to investors.

The letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Empowering Immigration Courts Act, the Terrorist Deportation Act, the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act and the Criminal Alien Removal Clarification Act to empower immigration courts and make dangerous aliens deportable. 

“The Biden administration’s reckless policies are openly inviting gangs and cartels to flock to the border, so it’s more urgent than ever that we ensure dangerous people can’t find cover in American communities. When common sense is anything but common, these bills would make alien terrorists, gang members and other criminals subject to deportation. Families and children deserve to know that their leaders aren’t turning a blind eye to predators and lawbreakers who found their way onto U.S. soil,” Kennedy said.

The Empowering Immigration Courts Act would authorize immigration judges to impose a fine for contempt of court that is the same amount, $1,000, as the fine written in the criminal code. 

The Terrorist Deportation Act would make any immigrant identified in the terrorist screening database, with the exception of permanent residents, deportable. 

The Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act would make any immigrant who is a member of a criminal gang or has participated in gang activities deportable.

The Criminal Alien Removal Clarification Act would make any immigrant who has committed a felony or two misdemeanors deportable. Current law only includes certain felonies, such as aggravated felonies, and other specific crimes. 

Text of the Empowering Immigration Courts Act is available here

Text of the Terrorist Deportation Act is available here

Text of the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act is available here

Text of the Criminal Alien Removal Clarification Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced a resolution honoring the career and contributions of retired New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

“Drew Brees is forever a Saint and a Louisiana hero. His refusal to be beaten on and off the field has inspired a city and state through tough times. On the 20th anniversary of Brees’s success as an NFL quarterback, I join countless Louisianians in honoring this Super Bowl champion,” said Kennedy.

Brees’s two-decade career with the National Football League (NFL) includes 15 years as a New Orleans Saint. Brees holds the record for most career passing yards of any NFL quarterback and the most career completions in the league. He led the Saints to victory in Super Bowl XLIV in 2010. Brees earned the title of Super Bowl XLIV’s Most Valuable Player then, and he remains an MVP in the heart of every Saints fan.

The resolution text is available here.

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Supreme Court Transparency Act, which would increase public access to Supreme Court justices’ financial and ethics disclosures. It would provide the public with a level of transparency similar to that of the legislative branch. 

“The legislative branch makes a great deal of information publicly available to those who elect them. Supreme Court justices serve lifetime appointments and should provide a similar level of transparency to Americans as the lawmakers who serve at the Capitol. The Supreme Court Transparency Act would make it easier for Americans to access the Supreme Court justices’ disclosure reports. The public deserves to have great confidence in all its public servants, and my bill would strengthen that confidence by expanding transparency to every justice on the bench,” said Kennedy.  

It can take years for the public to gain access to requested public information from the Supreme Court, including the disclosure of various financial and ethics records.

This legislation would require the establishment of an internet database enabling public access to any ethics, personal finance or disclosure reports for Supreme Court justices required by federal law. It would also add the Supreme Court justices to the list of government officials who must comply with section 103(l) of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, which requires the prompt disclosure of certain real estate and securities transactions.

The bill text is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Association Health Plans Act, which would codify a Trump administration rule allowing small businesses, the self-employed and freelance workers to have expanded access to association health plans (AHP). 

 “AHPs lower health care costs and expand access to the larger insurance market for Americans who work for small businesses or are self-employed. Making AHPs more inclusive will give smaller employers the chance to access health benefits that were otherwise out of their reach. Ultimately, this bill would ensure more Louisiana workers and families have easier access to quality, affordable health care,” said Kennedy. 

AHPs allow smaller companies, the self-employed or freelance workers to group together to access the large-group insurance market, which covers approximately 180 million Americans. 

Associations are groups of employers that collaborate as a formal organization in order to access the large-group health insurance market. To qualify as an association, a group of employers must satisfy several conditions, including demonstrating that members share a commonality of interest and that members control the association.

Easing restrictions on AHPs will allow small employers to offer additional benefits to their employees, who may otherwise need to buy after-tax insurance coverage through the Obamacare marketplaces, rely on government programs or go without coverage entirely.

The bill text is available here

WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and other Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee today sent a letter urging Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to schedule a second hearing with Biden administration nominee Vanita Gupta, citing her misleading statements and incomplete answers to senators’ written questions. Gupta is nominated to become associate attorney general, the number three position at the Justice Department.

“While under oath, Vanita Gupta misled the Committee on at least four issues: (1) Her support for eliminating qualified immunity; (2) her support for decriminalizing all drugs; (3) her support for defunding the police; and (4) her death penalty record. Unfortunately, in her responses a week later to our written questions, Ms. Gupta was no more forthcoming. In some cases, she doubled down on her misleading statements from the hearing, and in others she refused to answer altogether. In ‘response’ to scores of our questions, she merely copied-and-pasted the same inapplicable, general statements for one question after another,” the senators wrote. 

“We urge you to immediately schedule a second hearing with Ms. Gupta so that she can answer for her misleading statements, and for her refusal to respond to our written questions,” they continued. 

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) also signed the letter. 

The letter is available here

WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) today sent a letter urging Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to withdraw her support for the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) plan to allocate new Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) without congressional approval. SDRs are backed by IMF member countries’ fiat currencies, the largest component being the American dollar.

“The proposed allocation of SDRs would be inappropriate, ineffective, and a wasteful use of taxpayer dollars that would end up benefiting repressive regimes and state-sponsors of terrorism. We strongly urge you to abandon your support for this proposal,” the senators wrote. 

As the members point out, foreign aid is generally appropriated by Congress—not by unilateral executive action. Allocating new SDRs would also be an ineffective method of providing foreign aid to low-income countries, as SDRs disproportionately benefit G20 countries. Moreover, beneficiaries would include America’s adversaries, which could take new SDRs and exchange them for U.S. dollars without conditions.

“In fact, over two-thirds of any allocation would go to G20 countries, which do not need assistance, and less than ten percent would reach poor countries. There is no rational economic justification for such a poorly targeted distribution of aid,” the senators continued. 

“An allocation would also directly benefit repressive regimes around the world, including U.S. adversaries and state-sponsors of terrorism, since all IMF members would receive SDRs. That means billions of dollars’ worth of SDRs would go to China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and Syria,” the senators concluded.  

The letter is available here.

Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today called on President Biden to support Asian-American students in their lawsuit against Harvard University. The lawsuit asserts that Harvard employs subjective admissions standards that discriminate against Asian-American applicants.

“If President Biden is serious about fighting discrimination against Asian-Americans, he should help end the practice at Harvard University. For years, Harvard has been rejecting highly qualified Asian-American applicants after giving them low ‘personal rating’ scores—an unfair, subjective standard. A student advocacy group has sued Harvard for this discrimination and asked the Supreme Court to take up the case. I call on the president to support this lawsuit and the rights of Asian-American students to be evaluated without bias,” said Kennedy. 

When evaluating candidates, Harvard considers not just the applicants’ academic success but also their “personal ratings.” These personal ratings are subjective and, according to Harvard, focus on qualities that are hard to measure, such as “humor,” “grit,” “leadership,” “helpfulness” and “courage.”

Harvard has consistently granted lower personal rating scores to Asian-American applicants compared to applicants from other racial groups. In 2014, Students for Fair Admissions sued Harvard for discriminating against Asian-Americans applying to the undergraduate programs.

The federal district court judge who ruled on the lawsuit wrote that “the data demonstrates a statistically significant and negative relationship between Asian American identity and the personal rating assigned by Harvard admissions officers.”

Despite that conclusion, the district court judge ruled against the plaintiffs in 2019, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld that decision last November. Students for Fair Admissions has petitioned the Supreme Court to consider the case.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) under the Trump Administration supported the Students for Fair Admissions lawsuit. The DOJ filed a statement of interest in the case in 2018 and an amicus brief in 2020. 

The DOJ also sued Yale University last October, claiming the school was discriminating against Asian-American applicants. The department dropped the lawsuit shortly after President Biden took office.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today joined Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Republican committee members in pressing Biden Administration officials for answers about how the government is handling the ongoing border crisis amid the pandemic.

“Regardless of what the Biden Administration wants to call this current set of circumstances it has created, this surge in illegal immigration carries significant risks. It also imposes a heavy burden on public resources. Congress and the American people must have additional clarity about how DHS and HHS are addressing it,” the senators wrote.

In a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, the senators highlighted the serious problems with Biden Administration proposals and actions that have both encouraged more migrants to make the dangerous journey to the southern border and allowed for the quicker release of individuals into the interior of the country as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Each of the last two months has set records for both overall numbers of immigrant apprehensions and numbers of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) crossings. The Biden Administration has lifted the public health restrictions under Title 42 for UAC and has used the surge at the border to justify its reinstatement of “catch-and-release” policies.

“Catch-and-release policies pose additional risks to public health in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Biden Administration has expressed a purported commitment to ending the pandemic; however, news reports suggest that it now plans to keep some who are apprehended by DHS personnel in custody for just 72 hours before releasing them into American communities,” the senators explained.

The letter seeks a wide range of information from both DHS and HHS, including a breakdown of how many individuals have been detained since inauguration day, the numbers of those tested and vaccinated for COVID-19 and the duration of time individuals are in custody before and after testing. The senators also request DHS’s projections for how many migrants will cross the border this year and the medical reasons for exempting UAC from Title 42 entry restrictions.

The letter is available here

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $701,553 in grants from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support health research projects in Monroe, New Orleans and Shreveport.

“Medical research is key to providing good care to Louisianians who face health challenges every day, and this HHS funding will support research initiatives in north and south Louisiana,” said Kennedy.

HHS has awarded the following grants:

  • $329,651 to the University of Louisiana in Monroe for cancer treatment research
  • $304,000 to Tulane University in New Orleans for pharmacology, physiology and biological chemistry research
  • $67,902 to Louisiana State University in Shreveport for heart and vascular diseases research