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“The American people are strong and smart. They want to go back to work, and this funding for expanded testing will help men and women return to their jobs safely.”

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $190,781,430 in funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Disease Control, to expand coronavirus testing in Louisiana.

“The American people are strong and smart. They want to go back to work, and this funding for expanded testing will help men and women return to their jobs safely,” said Kennedy.

This HHS funding is part of $11 billion authorized to support coronavirus testing needs under the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. These resources will help expand testing in states, localities, territories and tribes.

 

“I thought our meeting today was very positive as we discussed how we could give state and local governments crucial flexibility to help their communities using money they already have. . . . It’s clear that the president has a deep confidence in the innovation and resilience of the American people, and so do I.”

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today met with President Donald Trump and Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) to discuss Kennedy’s legislation, the Coronavirus Relief Fund Flexibility for State and Local Government Act.

Kennedy requested the meeting to discuss the bill, which would give state and local governments more flexibility as they use funds provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany also attended the meeting.

“President Trump continues to engage Congress as we look for ways to reopen this economy safely and soon. I certainly can’t speak for the White House, but I thought our meeting today was very positive as we discussed how we could give state and local governments crucial flexibility to help their communities using money they already have,” said Kennedy after the meeting.

“It’s clear that the president has a deep confidence in the innovation and resilience of the American people, and so do I.”

The Coronavirus Relief Fund Flexibility for State and Local Government Act would allow states and local governments to use CARES Act funding for operating expenses unrelated to the coronavirus. This bill does not allow officials to spend this CARES Act money on shoring up their pension funds.

The CARES Act established the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund, which has provided payments to state, local and tribal governments to help them respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Every state received at least $1.25 billion from this allocation

Currently, state relief funds expire on Dec. 30, 2020. States are required to send unused funds back to the U.S. Treasury. This legislation would allow state and local governments to continue using these funds until they are expended.

Bipartisan, bicameral lawmakers press Treasury, IRS and Social Security Administration to protect taxpayer dollars by stopping improper payments to dead people

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Reps. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) and Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) in leading a group of lawmakers who are raising concerns regarding recent reports that deceased individuals are receiving COVID-19-related economic impact payments as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

In a letter sent to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Charles Rettig and Social Security Administration (SSA) Commissioner Andrew Saul, the bipartisan, bicameral group asked each agency to take immediate action to prevent further improper CARES Act payments.

“While it is essential that our constituents receive stimulus payments quickly, these improper payments to deceased individuals represent significant government waste and a burden to constituents who mistakenly receive the payments,” the lawmakers wrote.

Specifically, the lawmakers asked how many improper economic impact payments have been disbursed and asked for information on the steps that are being taken to recover these funds, prevent future improper payments of funds to deceased individuals and protect and support taxpayers who received improper payments through no fault of their own.

This letter builds on the work that Kennedy and Carper have done to curb improper payments to the deceased. Last year, they introduced legislation, the Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act, that would help save millions of federal dollars by curbing erroneous payments to deceased individuals.

In their letter, the lawmakers noted, “Unfortunately, this is not a new issue. . . . According to an Office of Personnel Management Inspector General report, agencies made a total of $601 million in improper payments from 2006 to 2010 to federal retirees later found to have already died. In total, the Administration in its most recent budget request estimates that payments to deceased individuals cost taxpayers over $800 million per year.”

The 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.

In addition to Kennedy, Carper, Gianforte and Bustos, the letter was signed by Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Angus King (I-Maine), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Reps. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) and Gil Cisernos (D-Calif.).

Text of the letter is below and available here.

“It’s critical that we expand testing so that the American economy can reopen safely. . . . The better our testing, the more success we’ll have saving lives and jobs.”

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $10,460,799 in funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration, to expand coronavirus testing in 36 health centers around Louisiana.

“It’s critical that we expand testing so that the American economy can reopen safely. This funding will allow health centers to identify, treat and isolate those with the virus and help slow its spread. The better our testing, the more success we’ll have saving lives and jobs,” said Kennedy.

This funding is provided under the authority of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. These resources will help support coronavirus testing and testing-related resources, such as personal protective equipment, training for people involved in testing, laboratory services, expanding walk-up or drive-up testing capabilities and other mitigation activities.

Additional information about this HHS funding is available here.

 

“In order to ensure that these funds are used most effectively in supporting U.S. economic growth and a continuity of service—especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic—I urge the FCC to institute a ‘Buy American’ request to all satellite operators.”

WASHINGTON — Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai requesting that the FCC use C-band auction funds to purchase satellites from U.S. manufacturers to support American workers and families.

“The deployment of nationwide 5G networks and services is believed to be vital to American technological and economic leadership. I am writing you today as I strongly believe that funds raised from this U.S. government-led auction should advantage the American manufacturing base and support job growth here in the United States,” wrote Kennedy.

“Given that U.S. taxpayers are effectively footing the bill for these assets—assets that are already owned by the taxpayer—it makes good sense to require an investment in the American industrial base. In order to ensure that these funds are used most effectively in supporting U.S. economic growth and a continuity of service—especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic—I urge the FCC to institute a ‘Buy American’ request to all satellite operators,” he continued.

Foreign satellite operators, which have been using American airwaves at no cost, originally promised to purchase satellites from American manufacturers as they transitioned to using a different part of the spectrum. However, these foreign operators are now planning to invest in launch vehicles, ground equipment and satellites produced by foreign manufacturers, meaning that American taxpayers are being forced to invest in foreign producers.

“It looks like foreign satellite operators are taking the first chance they’ve gotten to break their promises. They pledged to purchase satellites from U.S. manufacturers, but now they’re planning to shop overseas, at great expense to American taxpayers. This isn’t a done deal, though, and I encourage these foreign satellite firms to rethink their plans,” said Kennedy.

The American aerospace industry typically contributes hundreds of billions of dollars to U.S. gross domestic product each year and supports hundreds of thousands of American jobs.

The full letter is available here.

“While it’s not the federal government’s job to bail out local and state officials who spent recklessly, giving those governments the flexibility to do maximum good for their communities—with money they already have—is a no-brainer.”

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Coronavirus Relief Fund Flexibility for State and Local Government Act to give state and local governments more flexibility as they use funds provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“Local and state governments are struggling to serve their people in the face of an incredible health crisis. Louisianians know all about weathering hard providences. While it’s not the federal government’s job to bail out local and state officials who spent recklessly, giving those governments the flexibility to do maximum good for their communities—with money they already have—is a no-brainer. This bill gives state and local leaders the chance to regain their fiscal footing without putting American taxpayers on the hook for even more spending,” said Kennedy.

The Coronavirus Relief Fund Flexibility for State and Local Government Act would allow states and local governments to use CARES Act funding for operating expenses unrelated to the coronavirus. This bill does not allow officials to spend this CARES Act money on shoring up their pension funds.

The CARES Act established the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund, which has provided payments to state, local and tribal governments to help them respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Every state received at least $1.25 billion from this allocation.

Currently, state relief funds expire on Dec. 30, 2020. States are required to send unused funds back to the U.S. Treasury. This legislation would allow state and local governments to continue using these funds until they are expended.

The bill text is available here.

 

“The Federal Reserve’s decision to make relief more available to the companies and workers who drive America’s energy independence comes in the nick of time. There’s still more we should do to preserve the industry and its jobs, and I hope the administration takes additional positive steps in the coming days.”

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) praised the Federal Reserve’s decision to make its Main Street Lending Program more accessible to firms employing oil and gas workers.

“Louisiana has been hemorrhaging jobs because of the devastating toll the pandemic and price war have taken on the oil and gas industry. The Federal Reserve’s decision to make relief more available to the companies and workers who drive America’s energy independence comes in the nick of time. There’s still more we should do to preserve the industry and its jobs, and I hope the administration takes additional positive steps in the coming days,” said Kennedy.

“Universities and students around Louisiana are doing everything they can to adapt to this pandemic. This funding will help institutions continue to provide quality education and help students succeed under these challenging circumstances.”

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $51,410,270 in funding for Louisiana schools from the Department of Education. The resources will support continued education for minority serving institutions in Louisiana that were affected by the coronavirus pandemic. These institutions include historically black colleges and universities, tribally controlled colleges and universities and institutions serving low-income students.

“Universities and students around Louisiana are doing everything they can to adapt to this pandemic. This funding will help institutions continue to provide quality education and help students succeed under these challenging circumstances,” said Kennedy.

This funding comes as part of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The money will help pay for distance education technology, student grants, staff trainings, payroll and operational costs.

Additional information about this CARES Act relief funding is available here.

“Louisianians have lost their homes, businesses and health as a result of tornadoes that devastated Monroe and other Louisiana communities. I join Gov. Edwards in asking for this disaster declaration.”

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined fellow lawmakers from Louisiana in sending a letter to President Donald Trump in support of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ request for a federal disaster declaration for the state of Louisiana. The request comes as a result of severe storms and tornadoes that impacted a large swath of the state this Easter.

“Louisianians have lost their homes, businesses and health as a result of tornadoes that devastated Monroe and other Louisiana communities. I join Gov. Edwards in asking for this disaster declaration,” said Kennedy.

“On April 12, tornadoes and severe weather devastated parts of northern Louisiana, centered around the City of Monroe and Ouachita Parish in my congressional district. I appreciate the prompt responses of President Trump and Governor Edwards in marshaling relief resources, and I ask the Administration to give Governor Edwards’ request for a federal disaster declaration the full consideration it deserves,” said Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-La.).

Sen. Cassidy (R-La.) and Reps. Garret Graves (R-La.), Clay Higgins (R-La.), Mike Johnson (R-La.), Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and Steve Scalise (R-La.) also signed the letter with Kennedy and Abraham.

The letter is available here.

“Our children will become America’s next leaders, so it’s important that we continue to invest in their education during this outbreak. This funding will give Louisiana students the resources to succeed even under challenges they’ve never walked through before.”

 MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $286,980,175 in funding from the Department of Education to support continued education for K-12 students in Louisiana who were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our children will become America’s next leaders, so it’s important that we continue to invest in their education during this outbreak. This funding will give Louisiana students the resources to succeed even under challenges they’ve never walked through before,” said Kennedy.

This funding is part of $13.2 billion allocated to the Education Department through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It will help promote distance education, prepare for next school year and ensure student health and safety.

Additional information about this CARES Act relief funding is available here.