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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators John Kennedy (R-La.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) reintroduced the Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act this week.  This bipartisan legislation will help save millions of federal taxpayer dollars by curbing erroneous payments to deceased individuals. 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains the most complete federal database of individuals who are reported to have died.  However, only a small number of federal agencies have access to this official list, and most federal agencies rely on a slimmed down, incomplete and less timely version of the death information.  In addition, most Inspectors General lack access to the complete death information.  As a result, many federal agencies make erroneous payments to people who are actually deceased.

Senators Kennedy and Carper were joined by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Gary Peters (D-MI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) in introducing the legislation. Bipartisan companion legislation has also been introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) and Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.).

“It’s pretty simple: We need to stop paying dead people. Taxpayer dollars are precious. They’re too precious to be lost to fraud,” said Senator Kennedy. “A Louisiana man was just indicted for neglecting to tell Social Security that his sister died.  He pocketed more than $30,000 in her disability benefits before he was caught.  Unfortunately, this type of fraud happens more than you’d think.  Our bill will give the federal government added tools to ensure that dead people aren’t receiving taxpayer-funded benefits.”

“As government officials, one of our most important responsibilities is to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said Senator Carper. “That’s why, for years, I have worked across the aisle to assess federal government spending and eliminate billions of taxpayer dollars in waste, fraud and abuse. But there is still work to be done because we know that year after year, the federal government continues to mismanage billions of dollars through improper payments. Today, I’m proud to join Senator Kennedy to re-introduce the Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act which would provide federal agencies with the most up-to-date data they need to prevent improper payments to deceased people. The money saved by these efforts can be put to good use, like funding health care programs or investing in our decades-old infrastructure. With a little hard work and bipartisanship, we can take the common sense steps necessary to reduce improper payments and put these funds to better use for the American people.”

“As Representatives, we owe it to the American people to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “Cutting checks to deceased people is one of the most glaring examples of government waste and that’s why it’s crucial our federal agencies have access to the most up-to-date information available to prevent this from occurring in the future. I’m proud to work across the aisle to introduce this common-sense solution to crack down on waste, fraud and abuse of tax dollars.”

“The federal government makes billions of dollars in improper payments each year, including Social Security payments to deceased beneficiaries. We must give the Social Security Administration and other agencies more tools to ensure taxpayers aren’t sending checks to dead people,” Congressman Gianforte said. “This bipartisan bill will cut unnecessary red tape in the federal bureaucracy to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse as well as protect taxpayer money.”

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.

Organizations that supported the bill in 2018 included American Commitment, Americans for Tax Reform, Coalition to Reduce Spending, FreedomWorks, National Taxpayers Union, Project on Government Oversight, 60 Plus Association, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced today that the Federal Aviation Administration awarded the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport a $15 million grant and the Lafayette Regional Airport a $10.5 million grant for improvement projects.

“The Baton Rouge and Lafayette airports bring thousands of people to Louisiana every year and serve as hub for commerce, tourism and the last stop on the way back home,” said Sen. Kennedy “These grants will help fund projects that will improve the functionality and efficiency of both airports.  Baton Rouge and Lafayette are growing.  Their airports need to grow with them.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced the Contracting and Tax Accountability Act of 2019 today to require prospective federal government contractors to certify that they don’t owe back taxes. 

“If you want to benefit from taxpayer dollars through government contracts, then you need to pay your taxes,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Federal contractors owe billions of dollars in back taxes.  They shouldn’t be rewarded for shirking their responsibilities.  We don’t need to employ deadbeats.”

A report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-742T) found that thousands of federal contractors owe more than $7 billion in unpaid taxes.

The bill will:

  • Require contractors to certify they do not have seriously delinquent tax debt during an agency’s grant/contract solicitation process.
  • Authorize the secretary of Treasury to disclose information on seriously delinquent tax debt.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today a $3 million FEMA grant for a drainage project along Highway 56 in Chauvin.

The grant will fund the next phase of a drainage project, including constructing a new four-bay concrete pump station substructure and an access bridge, excavation and embankment stabilization.

“Heavy rainfall and flooding in South Louisiana can wreck towns and cause massive damage,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “This grant will help protect towns like Chauvin from dangerous and destructive flooding.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, thanked FBI Director Christopher Wray today for the FBI’s help in arresting the man charged with burning three churches in St. Landry Parish.  Wray appeared before the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing.

 “I want to thank you personally and your entire team for your help in catching the punk that burned three of our churches in Louisiana,” said Sen. Kennedy. “The perpetrator was caught quickly, and I don’t think we could’ve done that without the assistance of the FBI. We, in Louisiana, are very grateful for that.”

Click here or the photo below to hear Sen. Kennedy’s remarks:

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today held his first hearing as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (FSGG).  The subcommittee took testimony on the budget requests for the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The Financial Services and General Government subcommittee is responsible for allocating $23 billion in taxpayer money to 27 various federal government agencies.

The witness panel attending this hearing included U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and U.S. Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph J. Simons.

“The Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee might seem small compared to the others that make up the Appropriations Committee, but we are entrusted with allocating $23 billion in taxpayer dollars, and that’s no small matter, said Sen. Kennedy. “The departments and agencies funded by this subcommittee are responsible for promoting our nation’s economy, supporting small businesses and ensuring an efficient and fair judicial system, among many other important government priorities.  I am honored to serve as the chairman of this subcommittee that plays a role in the daily lives of many Americans.”

Click here or the photo below to watch Sen. Kennedy’s opening statement. 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement today on President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit to Louisiana:

“I am thrilled that President Trump is coming to Louisiana and visiting Sempra Energy’s LNG facility in Cameron Parish.  Liquefied natural gas is a booming industry in Louisiana that’s creating countless jobs and meeting energy demands around the world.  We have an exciting story to tell.  Cameron Parish cannot wait to welcome President Trump to Louisiana.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today three FEMA grants for Orleans Parish, West Feliciana Parish and St. Mary Parish for flood mitigation.

Orleans Parish was awarded a $1.8 million grant to fund research and data collection for the Orleans Parish Lakeview project designed to prevent flooding by diverting stormwater.

West Feliciana Parish was awarded a $2.5 million grant for flood mitigation necessary for preventing erosion in the Bayou Sara streambank and the undercutting of a local sewer system.

St. Mary Parish was awarded a $2.1 million grant to fund a drainage project that includes installing new culverts and pumps and drainage excavation.

“Flooding in Louisiana can wreck homes and turn streets into rivers,” said Sen. Kennedy. “These FEMA grants spread over three different parishes help us build systems that will divert stormwater and protect our homes and neighborhoods from flooding and erosion.” 

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) today introduced the Stop Silencing Victims Act to protect victims of government workplace sexual harassment by limiting the ability of offenders who work in the public sector to hide behind nondisclosure agreements (NDAs).  Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) endorsed the legislation. 

The Stop Silencing Victims Act discourages abusers from repeat offending by limiting the enforceability of NDAs between public sector employers and their employees.  This legislation prioritizes the victim’s privacy by allowing personally identifying information to remain confidential unless the victim chooses to make the information public.

The federal government should set the highest standard of policies that protect victims of workplace sexual harassment,” said Sen. Kennedy. “It is unacceptable that a government employee who sexually harasses a co-worker can use a nondisclosure agreement as a get out-of-jail-free card.  This legislation prioritizes the rights of the victims and ensures offenders in the public sector cannot legally be protected by nondisclosure agreements.”

“Victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment who want to speak out are too often silenced by non-disclosure agreements. Our bipartisan legislation protects and empowers victims and holds abusers accountable,” said Sen. Sinema.

 “We’ve seen how mandatory non-disclosure agreements can shield serial sexual harassers and hide important information from the public,” said Scott Berkowitz, president of RAINN.  “We’re grateful to Sen. Kennedy for finding a way to bring this misconduct by government employees, and the millions it costs taxpayers, to light — without silencing victims,”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement on the Department of Interior’s revisions to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Well Control Rule:

“The Department of Interior’s adjustment to the Well Control Rule will both reinforce safety and address over-regulation of the offshore drilling industry,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “We need to enforce regulations that make sense.  This rule change upholds safety as its number one priority and allows businesses to create jobs without excessive government interference.”

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