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MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) penned this letter to the editor, originally published in the Lafayette Daily Advertiser. The piece, which is below, outlines Kennedy’s work on the State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act. The bill would allow state and local officials to redirect unused COVID relief funds to disaster aid and infrastructure needs in Louisiana.

“Louisianians have been wincing and rebuilding from nature’s onslaught long enough, and the Senate recently passed a bill that would mean our state could stop waiting on Washington for billions in disaster aid.

“Local lawmakers can now help Louisiana themselves. Louisiana’s state government got about $4.8 billion in COVID relief through the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. With the worst of the pandemic in the past, I think state officials should be able to use that state and local funding for what Louisianians need most: disaster relief.

“I amended the State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act to give local lawmakers that flexibility. Since the Senate passed that bill a few weeks ago, the only thing standing between it and the president’s desk is a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“This bill would give state leaders the freedom to use unspent pandemic relief funds from the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund on both natural disaster victims and actual infrastructure needs. If the state hasn’t spent the entire $4.8 billion in that funding yet, officials can use up to 100% of the remaining money for traditional disaster relief efforts. They could also invest up to 30 percent of the $4.8 billion on infrastructure—the roads, bridges and flood protection we need down here. In other words, Louisiana would be able to tap up to $1.44 billion, if the funds are still available, to spend on infrastructure.

“The fake federal infrastructure bill just bankrolled Sen. Chuck Schumer’s $12 billion Gateway Tunnel project, and I think Louisiana should be able to improve our highways and waterways as well, if that’s where state officials want to direct these federal dollars. The Infrastructure and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act would meet real infrastructure goals and help hardworking Louisianians rebuild their homes and businesses.

“The bottom line is that this bill takes the handcuffs off Louisiana’s COVID money so that our state can focus on our people’s biggest needs, like disaster relief.”

The letter is available here.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $5,355,592 from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for unmet community and housing development needs in Lake Charles as a result of Hurricanes Laura and Delta. 

“Hurricanes Laura and Delta left a trail of destruction in Lake Charles, and one of their biggest needs continues to be affordable housing. I’m thankful to see this $5.4 million heading to help disaster victims in southwest Louisiana,” said Kennedy. 

These funds should enable Lake Charles to aid moderate- and low-income individuals and families as they restore housing and repair damage from last year’s hurricanes. The grant is made available through the Declared Disaster Recovery Fund.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and colleagues in introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would prevent the Biden administration from making unilateral cuts to U.S. nuclear forces.

“America can’t afford to be passive when China is being extremely aggressive in growing its nuclear arsenal, including missiles that could penetrate our defenses. Effective nuclear deterrence depends on maintaining and modernizing America’s nuclear capabilities. Our enemies must understand that threatening the United States is never a risk worth taking,” said Kennedy.

“Just this week, the Pentagon reported that China is expanding its nuclear capabilities more quickly than expected. Reports of a rapid Chinese nuclear build up underscore the importance of continuing to modernize our nuclear triad and strengthen our deterrent. Clearly the administration should not consider any unilateral cuts as part of its ongoing NPR, and my legislation would ensure no such cuts could occur,” said Hoeven.

The senators introduced this amendment following reports that China is expanding its nuclear arsenal more rapidly than anticipated. The Biden administration expects to complete its Nuclear Posture Review early next year, which includes recommendations on America’s nuclear force levels.

This summer, China tested a new nuclear-capable hypersonic missile that can evade U.S. defenses, and China could potentially possess 1,000 nuclear warheads by the end of this decade.

Unilateral cuts to nuclear forces would weaken America’s ability to deter rivals from increasing the size and capabilities of their arsenals. Cuts would also undermine the U.S.’s negotiating position in any future effort to reach an arms control agreement with China.

Louisiana’s Barksdale Air Force Base provides a significant part of the U.S. nuclear deterrent force. It is home to the Air Force Global Strike Command, which is responsible for hundreds of ballistic missiles and planes.

The amendment would stop unilateral reductions to America’s nuclear forces between fiscal year 2022 and fiscal year 2027, with the following exceptions:

  • Reductions necessary to ensure the safety, security and reliability of strategic warheads and their delivery systems,
  • Temporary reductions necessary to field modernized replacement warheads and delivery systems,
  • Reductions of warheads that are retired or slated for dismantlement as of Jan. 1, 2021, and
  • Reductions made pursuant to a treaty ratified by the U.S. Senate.

 The amendment would also preserve at current numbers America’s B-52 and B-2 aircraft.

Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) also cosponsored the legislation.

Text of the amendment is available here.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and colleagues in urging President Biden to take steps to ease energy prices and reduce energy shortages.  

“Even before colder temperatures set in, natural gas inventories around the nation are 5.5% below the five-year average, and demand has ramped up as the economy continues to recover. Due to lower supply and higher demand, natural gas prices are more than 250% higher than they were this time last year and the Energy Information Agency (EIA) expects natural gas prices to climb even higher this winter based on supply projections,” the senators wrote.

“These increased prices are projected to raise the heating bills of the 47 percent of American homes that rely on natural gas for heating and the 40 percent of American homes heated with electricity, the price of which is increasingly reflective of natural gas prices. Similarly, the average price of heating oil and propane is already double what it was one year ago, with prices expected to continue to rise this winter,” the senators continued.

The senators urged Biden to take several steps to ease the energy crisis, including lifting the administration’s ban on oil and gas lease sales on Federal lands and waters, accelerating Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Army Corps permitting and interagency coordination to approve pipeline projects and ending the regulatory uncertainty that is stifling investments in energy.

“In summary, as President of the United States, you have the authority to unleash our nation’s clean, abundant, and affordable natural gas resources for the benefit of all Americans and the world. This is particularly critical for the millions of Americans heading into winter who are worried about how they will keep warm. We are committed to assisting your Administration if you wish to work together in a bipartisan fashion to chart a new course that establishes the kind of regulatory framework and legislative priorities that will increase domestic energy production,” the senators concluded.

Video of Kennedy discussing the danger of the Biden administration’s energy policies is available here.

Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) also signed the letter.

The letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Claiming Losses After Disasters Act to help disaster victims receive tax deductions following damage caused by natural disasters. 

“In 2021, historic flooding, Hurricane Ida and a devastating winter storm all hit Louisiana families—and the year isn’t even over. Unfortunately for every Louisianian trying to rebuild, current law limits tax deductions for natural disaster victims. I introduced the Claiming Losses After Disasters Act to help more Louisianians defray the costs of rebuilding,” said Kennedy. 

This year’s historic winter storm caused $20.8 billion in damage to Louisiana. Rainfall and flooding caused $1.4 billion in damage. Hurricane Ida caused an estimated $64.5 billion in damage. The combined damage from all of these disasters totals roughly $86.7 billion.

Under current law, tax deductions for casualty losses are limited to disaster victims until the end of 2025. For someone to qualify for tax deductions, however, the casualty losses suffered must be more than the sum of 10 percent of an individual’s adjusted gross income and $100.

The Claiming Losses After Disasters Act would allow disaster victims from a major federally-declared disaster to claim a larger tax deduction for damages not covered by insurance. Specifically, Kennedy’s bill would permanently waive the requirement that disaster-related casualty losses must exceed 10 percent of a victim’s adjusted gross income for tax deductions to apply. Instead, a new minimum threshold of $500 in losses per disaster would apply before a person could receive a tax deduction.

Text of the Claiming Losses After Disasters Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Teacher, Principal, and Leader Residency Access Act to help college students who aspire to become teachers and leaders in America’s schools access residency programs.

“Every time I substitute teach, I’m more convinced that Louisiana’s future rests on education. Louisiana students deserve that their teachers have the best preparation possible, but many young educators aren’t able to gain practical experience before they enter their own classrooms. I’ve introduced the Teacher, Principal, and Leader Residency Access Act to help provide future educators with more teaching experience while they finish their degrees,” said Kennedy. 

Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) introduced the bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives. Reps. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) cosponsored the legislation.

Many college students report that their college courses do not prepare them for a career after graduation. Residencies for teachers and school leaders would better prepare college students for careers in education by providing them with practical classroom experience. These residencies, however, can prove costly for colleges to offer. As a result, the opportunities are often out of reach for low-income students.

The Federal Work Study (FWS) Program funds part-time employment for undergraduate, graduate and professional students who require financial aid. The Teacher, Principal, and Leader Residency Access Act would expand the FWS Program to cover residencies for students who want to become teachers or school leaders. It would also prioritize helping low-income students access the FWS Program.

Text of the Teacher, Principal, and Leader Residency Access Act is available here.

Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined colleagues to explain the danger the Biden administration’s energy plan poses to Louisiana’s economy, America’s national security and the world’s climate. The senators also outlined conservatives’ approach to energy policy, which focuses on economic growth and energy diversity.

Below are key excerpts from Kennedy’s remarks.

I’m pretty much an all-of-the-above energy type of guy. I support wind. I support solar. I support thermal. I support hydrogen. Unlike many of my Democratic colleagues, I support nuclear—particularly the new, small modular reactors—but I also support oil and gas.”

“As best I can tell, [President Biden] wants us at some undetermined time in the future to be able to produce our energy without nuclear, without oil and without natural gas—and certainly without coal. He doesn’t really explain how we’re going to get from where we are today to that future that he envisions, which is why you're seeing the disruptions in the energy supply throughout the world.”

Short-term, as best I can tell, President Biden and Secretary Kerry’s plan is, ‘Let’s don't produce our own fossil fields.’ Even though the American economy, the greatest economy in all of human history, gets 80% of its energy from fossil fuels, [President Biden] wants to end that abruptly. He doesn’t want us to produce our own fossil fuels. He wants us to buy natural gas and oil from other countries, and basically give countries that hate us more money, so they’ll have weapons—they can buy weapons—to try to kill us. And that didn’t make any sense to me. And it doesn’t make any sense to the American people.”

“I see, and I think these colleagues of mine see, the changes in our climate as a discrete scientific problem, unlike President Biden and Secretary Kerry and the other Trotsky-like Wokers. They see climate change as a religion, and you can’t talk about it unless you follow their dogma. . . . And it’s not popular with the American people. And it’s not going to solve the problems that we face in terms of the changes that are taking place in our climate.”

Video of the speech is available here.

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today sent a letter to the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Francis Collins, condemning the waste of taxpayer dollars and the NIH’s failure to follow federal law by keeping chimpanzees at labs in New Mexico and Texas. The law requires the NIH to transfer these chimpanzees to the national sanctuary, Chimp Haven, in Louisiana.

“Not only is Chimp Haven far better suited to meet the complex needs of chimpanzees previously used in biomedical research, but the cost of care is dramatically cheaper,” Kennedy wrote.

“It appears the NIH is stonewalling Congress and failing to prioritize the welfare of these chimpanzees and the taxpayers’ wishes. The extraordinary conflict of interest and lack of transparency is deeply concerning,” Kennedy continued.

At Chimp Haven, chimpanzees would enjoy a high quality of life and receive superior care from the veterinary and behavioral teams there. Chimpanzees at the sanctuary experience large social groups and a natural environment that stimulates their minds and helps them recover from trauma that resulted from their time spent in laboratories.

Kennedy asked Collins to provide the following information:

  • Projected costs to house chimpanzees at the New Mexico and Texas facilities for the next 10 years;
  • The NIH’s contract with KCCMR to house chimpanzees at the laboratory facility;
  • The NIH’s Veterinary Panel Review Summaries for the chimpanzees located at KCCMR; and
  • The NIH’s plan to meet its own recommendations that captive chimpanzees be maintained in environments appropriate to them.

“I see no valid reason for the NIH to continue housing retired chimpanzees at laboratory facilities where the chimpanzees’ needs are not met and the cost to taxpayers is increasing. The chimpanzees at APF and KCCMR will thrive at Chimp Haven while saving taxpayer dollars,” Kennedy concluded.

The letter received the support of Elisabeth Jennings, executive director of Animal Protection New Mexico.

“Kudos to Senator Kennedy for speaking up for the surviving chimpanzees at laboratories in New Mexico and Texas. NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, has reneged on his commitment to send these chimps to Chimp Haven where the cost of superior care is far less expensive for taxpayers. NIH is ignoring federal law, has betrayed taxpayers and Congress, and forgotten these chimpanzees. After decades of trauma and suffering in biomedical research, these chimps will thrive at Chimp Haven. All sides agree NIH must be held accountable and we’re grateful to Senator Kennedy for his leadership,” said Jennings.

Kennedy’s letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and more than 30 other senators and representatives in moving to nullify President Biden’s vaccine mandate on private employees under the Congressional Review Act, which is the official Congressional process for eliminating an executive branch rule.

“President Biden’s vaccine mandate would force many Americans either to violate their consciences or lose their jobs. This overreach contradicts the president’s earlier promise that he wouldn’t impose such a mandate. I’m happy to partner with my colleagues to oppose this power grab,” said Kennedy.

“Since the announcement of President Biden’s vaccine and testing mandate in September, I have led the charge to strike down this vast overstep of authority by the federal government. Today, we are one step closer to protecting the liberties of millions of Americans in the private sector workforce under the Congressional Review Act. I urge my Senate colleagues to vote in favor of this disapproval resolution in the coming weeks,” said Braun.

Biden is expected this week to issue a rule to officially mandate vaccination requirements for employees at private businesses with more than 100 employees. The rule will affect more than 80 million Americans and imposes $14,000 fines for individuals who do not comply with the mandate. 

The federal employee and contractor plan doesn’t allow a worker to submit to weekly COVID testing rather than taking the vaccine.

The lawmakers initiated a Congressional Review Act disapproval of Biden’s vaccine mandate. 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.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) in introducing the WALL Act to fully fund the wall along the southern border.

“With more illegal border crossings this year than ever before, we need to focus taxpayer dollars on solving the border crisis instead of aggravating it. I’m proud to work with Sen. Inhofe to fund the border wall without asking taxpayers for another penny. The common-sense steps in the WALL Act would pay for a southern border wall and protect both U.S. citizens and immigrants in the process,” said Kennedy.

“Over the past year, we’ve seen an unprecedented number of illegal immigrants pour into the country, and the Biden administration’s inability or unwillingness to secure our border from the flow of drugs and dangerous criminals is a growing threat to our national security. I’ve always said: border security is national security, and to have a secure border, we need to build a wall. That’s why I have reintroduced the WALL Act. We’re going to build the wall through concrete reforms that protect the integrity of Oklahoman’s tax dollars and address the crisis that President Biden and the Democrats have worsened,” said Inhofe.

“The Biden administration’s approach to border security is a complete dereliction of duty. Telling migrants not to come while simultaneously halting construction of the border wall and writing checks to illegal immigrants sends the message that our borders are open and our laws are moot. It’s time to finish the construction of the southern border wall and enforce our immigration laws. That must be goal number one as we look at the problems in our immigration system. I thank Senator Inhofe for his leadership on this issue,” said Lummis.

“During my visit to the southern border last month, I saw firsthand that our nation is in crisis because of President Biden’s open border agenda. President Biden spent billions of taxpayer dollars to cancel our border wall, and he is incentivizing even more illegal immigration with his proposal to issue millions of dollars in settlement payouts. Along with my colleagues in the Senate, I am taking action to keep the White House’s radical policy agenda from making every state a border state and every town a border town,” said Blackburn.

“Under President Biden and Vice President Harris’ watch, illegal immigrants are flooding across the border at the highest level in 35 years. This influx has boosted dangerous international criminal cartels and created a humanitarian crisis in South Texas communities like Del Rio, where thousands of Haitian immigrants have camped under the Del Rio International Bridge due to a lack of resources at migrant housing facilities. This man-made crisis is a direct result of political decisions made by the administration, including halting wall construction on day one, and Congressional Democrats have not so much as held a hearing to listen to Texas witnesses who continue to suffer from these decisions. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to swiftly pass the WALL Act to help stop this massive influx of illegal immigrants and end this crisis,” said Cruz.

“Illegal border crossings are at an all time high thanks to President Biden’s disastrous border policies. It is due time that we finish building the wall at our southern border. The Wall Act will ensure that the border wall is fully paid for by closing loopholes that allow illegal immigrants to receive federal benefits and tax credits,” said Braun.

“We are in the middle of the worst illegal immigration surge in decades, and the Biden Administration has failed to take action to stop it. The WALL Act would strengthen our southern border and eliminate several incentives that have encouraged illegal immigrants to travel to the U.S. The Senate should pass this bill without delay so that we can finally bring to a halt the madness on our southern border,” said Wicker.

This bill would fully fund a border wall while providing specific ways to pay for it, including requiring a work-authorized Social Security Number to claim refundable tax credits, requiring welfare applicants to verify their citizenship status, increasing the minimum fines on illegal border crossers and establishing a minimum penalty for visa overstays.

Text of the WALL Act is available here.