Sen Kennedy: ‘We can start by cutting off payments to corpses.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) introduced the Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act.  This common sense, bipartisan legislation will remove bureaucratic hurdles that are allowing billions of dollars in improper payments to be made with taxpayer money.  The Social Security Administration alone made $9.8 billion in improper payments in 2015.  Stopping these improper payments will safeguard money for senior citizens.

Joining as cosponsors are Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.).  In the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) and Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) have introduced companion legislation.

“It’s pretty simple: Don’t pay dead people.  Taxpayer dollars are precious.  They’re almost as precious as a newborn baby.  We need to be wise stewards of those dollars, especially when we’re struggling with the federal debt so much that we may have to change the Treasury Department’s name to the Debt Department,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “One simple fix would be to stop paying dead people.  An Algiers woman was just indicted for collecting almost $300,000 in Social Security payments meant for her mother who’s been dead for nearly 10 years.  That money never should have been sent in the first place.  This goes beyond party politics, and it needs to stop.”

“Year after year, we have heard about a fundamental set of problems with how government agencies keep track of deceased individuals,” said Senator Carper.  “This legislation would take a number of common-sense steps to fix those problems and, in return, curb hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, in improper payments to people who are ineligible for federal benefits because they are dead.  Simply put, we need to sharpen our pencils and stop making the kind of expensive, avoidable mistakes that lead to wasteful spending and make our agencies and programs vulnerable to fraud and abuse.  I look forward to working with Senators Kennedy, McCaskill and Peters, and our colleagues in the House and Senate to advance this bill and prevent improper payments to dead people in the future.”

Improper payments continue to increase each year despite previous efforts to reduce them.  Federal agencies spent $132 billion on improper payments in 2015 alone.  The Carper-Kennedy bill would give agencies that provide or administer federally funded benefit programs access to death information maintained by the Social Security Administration, among other improvements.

Key provisions in the bill include: 

  • Allowing Federal Agencies Access to the Complete Death Database. Under current law, only federal agencies that directly manage programs making beneficiary payments have access to complete death data.  The Act allows all appropriate federal agencies to have access to the complete death data for program integrity purposes, as well as other needs such as public safety and health.
  • Requiring Use of Death Data to Curb Improper Payments. The Act would require that federal agencies make appropriate use of the death data in order to curb improper payments.
  • Improving the Death Data. The legislation would establish procedures to ensure more accurate death data.  For example, the bill requires the SSA to screen for “extremely elderly” individuals.  This is in response to a 2015 Inspector General Report that identified 6.5 million individuals currently listed as being older than 112 years of age as still alive.




WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today announced a plan that would generate millions of dollars for stalled road and bridge projects across Louisiana without levying tolls or tax increases.  Most significantly, the plan would finally give the state the funding needed to finish the Comite River Diversion Canal in order to protect Louisiana families from further devastating flooding.

Working with the Louisiana Department of Treasury, Sen. Kennedy has developed a plan that calls for leveraging noncash securities (stocks, exchange-traded funds and mutual funds) held by the state’s Unclaimed Property Division to generate nearly $150 million in construction funding.  The current upswing of the stock market makes it a ripe time to convert the noncash securities into cash.  A similar alternative funding mechanism was used to finance work on Interstate-49 North and Interstate-49 South.  The plan would capitalize on the securities without diminishing anyone’s Unclaimed Property.

Based on the current approved cost estimate, $150 million is needed to complete the Comite River Diversion Canal.  Leveraging the noncash securities would free up money for the state’s portion of the total cost as well as for roads and bridges that are in deplorable condition.   

Click here or click the photo below to watch the video.

“We’re not taking away anyone’s Unclaimed Property.  Your lost money will be there whether you wait two years or 20 years to claim it,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “We would simply leverage this asset in order to help pay for projects across the state, including the Comite River Diversion Canal.  Enough Louisiana families have lost their homes because the diversion canal project has been buried in mothballs and bureaucracy for decades.  It’s past time to get this thing done so homeowners don’t have to worry every time there’s a downpour.”

“At the same time, I’m not trying to direct the Governor or the Treasurer on how to do his job.   This is just an idea I’ve been tossing around, and I think it’s a good one,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “If the Governor is willing to support this plan for Comite, then I and the delegation can work at the federal level to secure any remaining funds needed to finish this project once and for all.  But we need to know that these funds will be used for Comite or another worthy infrastructure project.   This is one-time, nonrecurring revenue, and it shouldn’t be used to fill a budget hole created by the state spending more than it takes in year after year.”

The Comite to Mississippi River Diversion Project would connect the Comite River with the Mississippi River through a set of canals in the northern region of East Baton Rouge Parish between Zachary and Baker.  This project could mitigate flooding in Baton Rouge.

Below is a list of other projects that could be considered:

  • Alexandria
    • Upgrades to MacArthur Drive would better connect I-49N and I-49S across Alexandria.  This project has an estimated cost of $110 million and would close off many of the access points along MacArthur Drive to improve traffic flow.
  • Port Fourchon
    • The LA-1 Bridge connecting Golden Meadow with Fourchon is a $343 million project.  This project would create a more reliable connection between Port Fourchon and the rest of Louisiana to transport commerce.
  • Lafayette
    • The Ambassador Caffery to I-90 South Interchange improvement has a cost of approximately $105 million and would improve traffic flow in southeast Lafayette.
  • Greater New Orleans
    • Widening I-10 between William Blvd and Veterans Blvd could alleviate traffic in and out of the western New Orleans.  This project would widen the number of interstate lanes to eight and has an expected cost of $150 million.
  • Shreveport
    • The Jimmie Davis Bridge between Southeast Shreveport and Bossier City needs to be replaced.  This project would provide a new bridge and cost around $60 million.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today spoke with Chris Cuomo on CNN’s New Day about President Trump’s State of the Union address.

“President Trump’s State of the Union address showed the true strength and fortitude of the American people,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “The American people are better off today than they were a year ago.  We are seeing the economic engine of our nation move forward in ways we wouldn’t have thought possible.  Last night, President Trump laid out an ambitious plan for our country, and I look forward to working with him to achieve these important goals.  We need to lower prescription drug costs.  We need to invest in our nation’s infrastructure.  We need an immigration system that looks like someone designed it on purpose.”

Click here or the image below to watch the Senator’s full interview.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R. La) invited Calvin Franklin to attend the President Trump’s State of the Union address.  Sen. Kennedy and Franklin became friends through Franklin’s role as a Senate custodian through Goodwill’s AbilityOne Program.  Franklin is a 23-year-old Washington, D.C., native who enjoys playing in his local soccer and fast-pitch softball leagues. 

“I am proud to take Calvin as my guest to the State of the Union.  He works hard behind the scenes at the U.S. Senate and deserves a front row seat to history unfolding,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “I’m excited that he will be able to enjoy this moment and look forward to hearing what he thinks about the experience.”



WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued a statement today applauding President Trump for inviting Cajun Navy 2016 founder Jon Bridgers to the State of the Union.

“The results seen by the Cajun Navy 2016’s efforts to help those in need are an example of what can be accomplished when you don’t have stacks of governmental red tape to cut through,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “What the Navy was able to get done in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey is simply incredible.  I cannot think of a better way to honor this group than by inviting its founder, Jon Bridgers, to the State of the Union.”

Jon Bridgers founded the Cajun Navy 2016, as a non-profit rescue and recovery organization to respond to flooding in south Louisiana.  Last year, the Cajun Navy 2016 set out to provide aid to those in Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey.  He and the Cajun Navy 2016 have helped thousands of people across the South, and to this day, they are helping collect resources and donations for those who lost their homes in the storms.

Sen. Kennedy dropping off supplies at one of the Cajun Navy 2016’s drop off points.



WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R. La) issued a statement today after the Senate failed to put the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act up for a vote.  With the failure to invoke cloture, Senate Democrats have prohibited the bill to be voted on for final passage.  Sen. Kennedy is a co-sponsor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

“This vote is another black mark for Senate Democrats.  We are one of only seven countries, including China and North Korea, that allows abortions after 20 weeks,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “It has been scientifically proven that babies at this age can not only suck their thumbs, make faces, and yawn, but they can also feel pain.  By not allowing this bill to be voted on, Senate Democrats have shown a disregard for the preciousness of human life.  That is disgraceful.”



WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement today after a lawsuit was filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Health Law Program and the Kentucky Equal Justice Center to prevent Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin from implementing a Medicaid work requirement:   

“Gov. Matt Bevin should be applauded for attempting to rein in the out-of-control costs of the Medicaid program. Instead, he’s being sued,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “A work requirement for Medicaid doesn’t ask mothers with children in their arms to work.  It doesn’t ask the elderly to work.  It simply asks able-bodied adults to get a job, enroll in job training or do volunteer work in order to receive tax-payer funded Medicaid.  I don’t think that’s asking too much. Medicaid is supposed to help able-bodied adults become healthy and sufficient and be an off-ramp from poverty, not a parking lot.  A work requirement is a helping hand, not a slap in the face, and I support Gov. Bevin’s efforts to make it a reality.”



WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) thanked his colleagues today for working together to achieve long-term security for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also called CHIP, by acting quickly to end the ill-advised government shutdown.

Under the spending plan approved Monday, CHIP will be renewed for six years.  CHIP was created with bipartisan support and currently covers basic medical costs for at least 122,000 children across Louisiana.  According to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC), the federal government contributed $325.6 million and the state contributed $18.4 million to the CHIP program in federal fiscal year 2016

“My Democratic friends did not have a Lincoln moment when they decided to shut down the entire U.S. government and turn children’s health insurance into a hostage.  Fortunately, good sense eventually prevailed,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “CHIP now has long-term security, ensuring that kids can get the health care they need to grow into healthy adults.”



WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement today after voting for the three-week federal government funding bill, which includes the long-term reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP):

“This type of bi-partisan bickering is a disservice to the American people.  While I am happy that my Democratic colleagues have finally agreed to stop taking the federal government hostage, I’m left wondering how we got there in the first place,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “I have always said that there better be an emergency to shut down government.  I am still waiting on someone to tell me what that emergency was.  Hopefully, we can use this opportunity in the coming days to address the numerous immigration problems facing our country, including border security, the diversity visa lottery and DACA.”




WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement today after Democrats blocked the government funding bill and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) reauthorization:


“This is an embarrassment to Congress, democracy and the United States of America.  If you shut down government, you’d better have a good reason for doing it.  I defy any Democrat to explain why it was so important to ask our military to sacrifice their pay, furlough hundreds of thousands of workers and reject a long-term renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “They need to get their heads out of the sand and do what’s best for this country.”