Nov 24 2021
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) penned this op-ed for The Jena Times. It outlines a new way for Louisianians to get dangerous opioids off the streets and make their communities safer.
Louisiana has had a tough couple of years. Hurricanes, floods, freezes, and the coronavirus slammed our state, but another crisis also continued to harm our communities. In the middle of lockdowns and lost jobs, the opioid epidemic got worse.
Though the pandemic may have intensified Louisiana’s drug problem, it didn’t create it. Drug abuse has tormented Louisiana for years—and opioids have played a large role.
The numbers are astounding. Drug overdoses claimed the lives of 1,140 Louisianians in 2018, and opioid overdoses accounted for 40 percent of those deaths—that’s 444 lives lost in a single year. The opioid blight has struck central Louisiana especially hard: From March to July of this year, Rapides Parish saw nearly 160 opioid overdoses. That’s more than an overdose a day.
How are these deadly drugs seeping into our communities? Very often, opioid victims aren’t getting their supplies from gang members but from the medicine cabinets of families and friends. In fact, half of all opioid abusers get their pills from prescriptions that belong to their loved ones.
Opioid abuse has ravaged our state in part because the drugs are easy to access. For every 100 Louisianians, medical providers wrote an incredible 79.4 opioid prescriptions in 2018. The national average was only 51.4, landing Louisiana among the top five states for prescriptions per capita.
The crisis isn’t limited to any one state, though. Between 1999 and 2017, more than 200,000 Americans died from prescription opioid-related overdoses. That’s roughly twice the number of Americans who died in World War I.
The good news is that Louisianians finally have another tool to get prescription opioids safely off their streets. The Dispose Unused Medications and Prescription (DUMP) Opioids Act will make it easier for Americans to get rid of prescription medicines they no longer need without putting other people in harm’s way.
It seemed clear to me that we can reduce access to addictive substances by allowing people to take pain medicines they don’t need to special drop boxes that are coming to Veterans’ Administration (VA) medical centers across the country. I introduced the bill to open those drop boxes to the general public earlier this year, where it made its way through Congress and onto the president’s desk this July.
With the DUMP Opioids Act now law, entire communities will be able to clear out their medicine cabinets and dispose of unused pills at secure VA drop boxes near them, so others can’t get to and abuse the drugs. The law also requires the VA Secretary to educate the general public about the opportunity to use these disposal sites so everyone can make the most of the new resource.
Louisianians work hard and put family first, so it’s been heartbreaking to watch opioid addiction tighten its grip here. One of the most effective ways we can combat the epidemic is by shrinking the supply of prescription opioids through secure drop sites. The DUMP Opioids Act makes it easier for Louisiana to do that by increasing our access to secure disposal sites, making our loved ones safer by putting more dangerous drugs out of reach forever.
The op-ed is available here.
ICYMI: Small-cap stock exchanges would be a boon to small business, workers, and main street investors
Nov 22 2021
MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) authored this op-ed for Fox Business. Below are key excerpts from the piece, which outlines the advantages that creating dedicated stock exchanges for smaller companies would bring for workers, main street investors and small businesses themselves.
“Small companies today face a problem almost as unknown as some of the firms themselves—the exchanges designed to take them public often keep them in the shadows. Currently, these more modest firms—known as small-caps—have to list on the same stock exchanges as the Fortune 500 when they go public, so bigger competitors often eclipse them when they vie for investor attention.
“The Main Street Growth Act would make stock exchanges better at doing what they do best by creating venture exchanges specifically for smaller companies and the people looking to invest in them. The option of hosting smaller firms on their own exchanges would not just help small businesses succeed alongside their giant counterparts, it would be a boon to main street investors, America’s economy, and workers as well.”
. . .
“Small-cap stocks on the NYSE simply don’t get as much exposure to investors in existing exchanges because companies with the highest market capitalization—the total value of all of a company’s stocks—have greater name ID. A young business like the shoe and clothing company Allbirds isn’t a household name like Disney, Netflix, or Nike are. Investors aren’t just less likely to buy and sell small-cap stocks—they’re less likely to even know the smaller folks, and the big growth opportunities they might offer, exist at all.
“Because the current arrangement makes going public unattractive for many small-caps, those companies either wait longer to offer their stocks or never open themselves to public investment at all. Too often, firms forgo the significant growth opportunities that come from raising capital on stock exchanges. Not long ago, Blockbuster was still the king of video rentals. In 2002, Netflix’s initial public offering on Nasdaq raised $82.5 million. Now, no one starts their weekend with a DVD rental from their local Blockbuster, but people around the globe are more likely to stream Netflix than take a daily vitamin.
“But how many opportunities like Netflix never make it onto investors’ radar? Venture exchanges offer greater visibility that would encourage more budding businesses to sell their stocks to the public and therein raise more capital. That capital enables at least two things that drive the American economy: It fuels innovation and allows businesses to expand their operations. Broader operations create more jobs.”
. . .
“As a result, allowing small-caps to court investors looking for exactly what they have to offer would be a win-win-win situation for the American economy, for small businesses, for investors, and for workers.”
The op-ed is available here.
Watch Kennedy’s questioning here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today questioned President Biden’s nominee for Comptroller of the Currency Saule Omarova on her membership in a communist organization and her radical views about regulating the economy and banking system.
Key excerpts include:
Kennedy: “There was a group called the Young Communists, and you are a member, is that right?”
Omarova: “I’m not exactly sure which group you’re referring to.”
Kennedy: “Well, the formal name of it is the Leninist Communist Young Union of the Russian Federation, and it’s also known as the Leninist Komsomol of the Russian Federation. And it’s commonly referred to as the Young Communists. Were you a member?”
. . .
Kennedy: “Have you resigned?”
Omarova: “From the—”
Kennedy: “From the Young Communists.”
Omarova: “You grow out of it with age automatically.”
Kennedy: “Did you send them a letter though, resigning?”
Omarova: “Senator, this was many, many years ago. As far as I remember how the Soviet Union worked was at certain age, you automatically stop being—”
Kennedy: “Could you look at your records and see if you can find a copy?”
- In a 2021 video, Omarova said: “We want [the fossil fuel industry] to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change.”
- In October 2020, Omarova wrote a paper titled “The People’s Ledger,” in which she proposes nationalizing the very industry she has been nominated to oversee. In this paper, Omarova proposes a plan to “effectively end banking as we know it.”
- In May 2019, Omarova praised the former Soviet Union, tweeting: “Say what you will about old USSR, there was no gender pay gap there. Market doesn't always ‘know best.’”
- In 2019, Omarova joined a “Marxist Analysis and Policy” Facebook group, which describes itself as a forum for a “diverse range of Socialist and anti-capitalist views.”
Watch the video of Kennedy’s questioning here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Homeland and Cyber Threat Act to give more legal options for Americans who have fallen victim to foreign cyber-attacks to pursue justice.
“Americans who fall prey to our adversaries’ cyber-attacks have no legal recourse under current law. Our citizens are powerless to act against foreign governments that damage their property or reputation. The Homeland and Cyber Threat Act would empower Americans to seek justice from foreign actors who have harmed them,” said Kennedy.
The U.S. has experienced a dramatic increase in the frequency of cyber-attacks over the last decade. Foreign adversaries are developing increasingly sophisticated methods to attack Americans online, and these cyber-attacks have become a significant threat to American citizens and national security.
Under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, Americans can sue foreign governments in U.S. federal courts in certain cases, but not for committing cyber-attacks.
The Homeland and Cyber Threat Act would allow American victims of foreign cyber-attacks to sue foreign governments and seek monetary compensation for personal injury, harm to their reputation or property damage or loss that these attacks cause. Under this legislation, victims could sue officials, employees or agents working on behalf of a foreign government.
The bill allows U.S. citizens to sue foreign countries that engage in the following behavior:
- Accessing U.S. computers or electronics without authorization;
- Damaging a U.S. computer by sending unauthorized information;
- Using or sharing information (without consent) obtained by the conduct described above; and
- Providing material support for any of the above activities.
Text of the Homeland and Cyber Threat Act is available here.
Nov 17 2021
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee, today wrote to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm urging her to address Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) shutting down of American fuel storage facilities in Mexico.
Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. petroleum products, accounting for 12 percent of all exports. The country also represents a growing market for natural gas. Mexico’s excluding private American energy companies from its markets harms American workers and Mexicans who want affordable, reliable and cleaner energy.
“It is vital to America’s economic, environmental, and national security interests that these facilities, which are American-owned assets, are immediately allowed to reopen. As Secretary, you bear responsibility on these issues, and I am looking to you for action,” Kennedy wrote.
“Recent reports indicate that AMLO is using a militarized police force to prevent the operation of U.S. businesses. . . . AMLO’s strategy includes undermining other privately-owned, American renewable energy facilities. These companies could be the next to be seized, and it is unacceptable. It is obvious what is going on here—AMLO’s shutting down all foreign competition for his state-owned company, Pemex, and so far he’s getting zero resistance from U.S. officials in the Biden Administration,” continued Kennedy.
Kennedy called on the Biden administration to bring up the issue with AMLO at the North American Leaders’ Summit tomorrow.
“Absent action by the White House to address this alarming targeting of American energy companies, I fear that several Department of Energy nominees awaiting confirmation before the Senate will be blocked,” Kennedy explained.
“America’s issues with Mexico go far beyond the crisis at the border. I hope the Biden Administration understands that American workers will feel the consequences of inaction. Thank you for your prompt attention regarding this matter of critical importance to America,”Kennedy concluded.
The letter is available here.
Watch Kennedy’s remarks here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today spoke on the Senate floor to ask Democrats to forsake their massive spending agenda ahead of Thanksgiving. President Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar spending bills have already led to historic inflation going into the holiday season.
“A lot of people, Mr. President, as you well know, just can’t afford to pay 50 percent more to fill up their gas tanks. They can’t afford to have to stop and go arrange a bank loan to go to the gas station or to the grocery store. And unfortunately for Americans in my state and your state and across the country, here with winter coming on, the cost of heating homes is also going up, just in time for temperatures to fall,” said Kennedy.
“As our days grow shorter, the economic landscape unfortunately is getting darker. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, it’s a cherished American holiday. But even the holiday that Americans observe in order to count our blessings is coming with new hardships. According to the New York Times, Mr. President, Thanksgiving 2021, and I quote, ‘could be the most expensive meal in the history of the holiday,’” Kennedy continued.
“Are you really surprised that prices are rising when the Biden administration is printing money, when the Biden administration is exploding our debt, when the Biden administration is forfeiting America’s energy independence, when the Biden administration is paying people to watch Netflix instead of to produce the goods we need, when the Biden administration is ignoring gridlock in our supply chain? The American people aren’t surprised,” Kennedy continued.
“This Thanksgiving . . . I hope my Democratic friends will give up on tying millstones around the neck of the American economy. I hope they will give up fueling inflation with another extremist spending . . . bill. And if they would do that—if they would just do that—Americans could sit down to eat next Thursday and give thanks that compassion and common sense have finally prevailed in Washington, D.C.,” Kennedy concluded.
Video of Kennedy’s comments is available here.
Watch Kennedy’s questioning here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today questioned Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on the Biden administration’s mishandling of the ongoing immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Kennedy pressed Mayorkas on DHS’s releasing illegal immigrants who are COVID positive, who have criminal records or who have promptly taken advantage of welfare programs into American communities.
Key excerpts include:
Kennedy: “I don't think you deserve to have to be here today to answer questions about immigration because I don't think you're calling the shots. I think those shots are being called out of the White House. I think they ought to be here. The people determining our border policy—in your opinion—are they just incompetent, or do they believe in open borders?”
Mayorkas: “Senator, I'm intensely and immensely proud to be a member of President Biden's cabinet, and for the policies that are promulgated, I should be held accountable.”
Kennedy: “Right. I looked last night at President Biden's platform when he ran for president. He supported amnesty for the 11.7 million people in our country illegally. He promised he would end the Remain in Mexico program. He promised he would end the Safe Third Country agreements. He promised he would get rid of the border wall. He promised to encourage sanctuary cities, and he said, ‘I'm not going to deport people.’ Can we agree that you don't have to be Mensa-material to understand that's an open border policy?”
. . .
Kennedy: “Vice President Harris, our border czar, what kind of grade would you give her?”
Mayorkas: “Vice President Harris is not the border czar. Vice President Harris has been asked by the president of the United States to focus on root causes.”
Kennedy: “Okay, let me ask this quickly in my last few seconds: When's the last time you talked to her about securing the border?”
Mayorkas: “Several weeks ago.”
- This November, Kennedy helped introduce the Prohibiting Taxpayer Funded Settlements for Illegal Immigrants Act to block President Biden’s reported plan to spend $450,000 per person for legal settlements for illegal immigrants. Kennedy led Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in writing to Biden in November opposing the plan.
- This October, Kennedy and more than 30 other senators wrote to Mayorkas urging him to address reports that thousands of illegal immigrants in Del Rio, Texas were released into the interior of the U.S. instead of facing removal as the Biden administration had previously pledged.
- This March, Kennedy 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.
- This March, Kennedy also introduced the Visa Lottery Repeal Act, the Preventing Visa Overstays Act and the Ending Sanctuary Cities Act to address key flaws in America’s immigration system and enforcement.
Watch the video of Kennedy’s questioning here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced the Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act to address whether Palestinian students are being taught inaccurate or racist content about Israel and the Jewish people.
“The Middle East will never experience peace until Palestinians stop teaching their kids to hate Israel, and American dollars should not fund this anti-Jewish propaganda. The Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act would give us a closer look at what Palestinian schools are teaching and whether or not American money is supporting antisemitism,” said Kennedy.
The Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act would require the Secretary of State to submit annual reports examining the curriculum Palestinian schools are using to teach students. The reports will review whether Palestinian curricula encourage racist violence against the Jewish people and whether U.S. foreign aid is supporting such material.
Currently, America provides significant funding to the Palestinians, and this funding may be supporting antisemitic propaganda in school curricula.
Text of the Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act is available here.
Kennedy introduces NDAA amendment to block Taliban from receiving U.S. tax dollars through IMF allocations
Nov 16 2021
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would require an act of Congress before the Taliban could receive any current or future allocation of special drawing rights through the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These special drawing rights (SDR) burden U.S. taxpayers because the Taliban could exchange the drawing rights for U.S. dollars at any time.
“If the IMF recognizes the Taliban as Afghanistan’s government, those terrorists will automatically have access to hundreds of millions of American tax dollars through the most recent allocation of special drawing rights. It’s Congress’s job to make sure America doesn’t end up bankrolling the Taliban’s violence against women, children and ethnic minorities. I can’t imagine any person who understands the Taliban’s human rights abuses and wouldn’t support this amendment,” said Kennedy.
The IMF created the SDR as an international reserve asset to supplement IMF member countries’ official reserves. The IMF distributes these assets to member countries, including Afghanistan, based on each country’s IMF quota, which depends on its size relative to the global economy.
Member countries receive SDRs and can exchange them for U.S. dollars. The IMF approved $650 billion in SDRs in August, $450 million of which was allocated for Afghanistan.
That distribution to Afghanistan has been blocked since the Taliban took control. That move, however, can be reversed should the majority of the IMF voting shares move to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate government. The U.S. cannot veto that recognition.
This summer, President Biden agreed to a general allocation of IMF SDRs totaling $650 billion without consent from Congress. Large portions of that allocation flowed to dictators and countries that actively oppose American interests and violate human rights.
China, Russia, Venezuela and state sponsors of terrorism like Syria and Iran received a huge portion of this allocation.
While some have claimed that SDRs offer the U.S. a no-cost way to assist poor countries, this is demonstrably false. Large IMF allocations require the U.S. to issue debt in order to cover the loans issued through SDRs. The U.S. has to pay interest on that debt, and that interest would exceed any interest that the U.S. might receive on the loans it issues.
There is no requirement that countries that receive loans from the U.S. through SDRs ever repay the principal. As a result, the financial burden of these loans falls on the U.S. taxpayer.
Kennedy previously introduced the No Dollars for Dictators Act to prohibit allocations of SDRs at the IMF from going to perpetrators of genocide and state sponsors of terrorism unless Congress authorizes the allocation.
Kennedy, Boozman, colleagues denounce misguided USPS program that threatens to make mail delivery worse
Nov 15 2021
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) and colleagues in writing to the postmaster general to condemn a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) pilot program that would introduce banking services into the USPS and undercut the agency’s ability to deliver mail quickly and effectively.
“The Postal Service lost tens of billions of taxpayer dollars when it was focused solely on delivering mail. If you think the USPS is inefficient now, wait until it tries its hand at banking and delivering mail at the same time,” said Kennedy.
Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) also signed the letter.
“We are concerned that the pilot program exceeds the Postal Service’s legal authority and fails to comply with relevant regulations and procedural requirements. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act generally prohibits the Postal Service from providing ‘nonpostal services,’ and requires the Postal Regulatory Commission to review any nonpostal service offered by the Postal Service,” the senators wrote.
“We are also concerned that entering into products and services unrelated to the Postal Service’s mission will divert necessary attention, time, and money away from the core function of mail delivery. Historically, the Postal Service has failed to effectively provide financial services and compete with private sector innovation. From 2007-2019 the Postal Service lost over $75 billion,” they explained.
“Given that these losses occurred during a period of time in which the Postal Service was exclusively focused on mail delivery, it would be imprudent to shift attention and resources toward an area in which the agency lacks expertise. It is essential that the Postal Service address this revenue shortfall by focusing on fixing inefficiencies with its mail delivery system, not pivoting to financial products and offerings with which the agency has no expertise,” the senators continued.
“Given substantial financial shortfalls, a mission-specific focus on mail delivery, and a history of unsuccessfully competing with private sector alternatives, we are highly skeptical that the Postal Service can safely and effectively provide financial services,” the senators concluded.
The letter is available here.