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WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) in introducing the Protecting our Wealth of Energy Resources (POWER) Act. The POWER Act prevents President Biden and members of his administration from imposing new bans on oil and gas drilling, leasing and permitting on federal property without Congressional approval.

“The Biden Ban on new oil and gas leasing will cost America tens of thousands of jobs, many of them in Louisiana. The energy industry is the lifeblood of our state, and we can’t afford to sacrifice jobs at a time when Louisianians are still recovering from the pandemic. Since the energy industry funds Louisiana’s conservation efforts, our storm-battered coasts can’t afford the Biden Ban either. We must protect both our jobs and our coasts from Washington’s overreach, and that’s just what the POWER Act will do,” said Kennedy. 

“The Biden Ban would be nothing short of catastrophic for western states that are already reeling from the decline in energy usage brought on by the pandemic and continued volatility in energy markets. It’s a one-two punch that means disaster for energy jobs, families and communities. Through the POWER Act, Congress would reiterate that federal lands should serve not the whims of a radical progressive minority, but the needs of all Americans,” said Lummis. 

Last week, President Biden announced a ban on new leases for oil and gas drilling on federal property. Louisiana greatly depends on the energy industry for jobs, conservation efforts and hurricane protection, and some estimates say the state could lose up to 48,000 jobs because of the drilling, leasing and permitting moratorium.

On a national level, President Biden’s ban on leasing and drilling is expected to severely damage the economy, costing an estimated $700 billion in GDP over the next decade and around 1 million jobs by 2022.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced legislation to protect jobs and drilling opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico and the conservation efforts they fund. Sens. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) are original cosponsors of the Conservation Funding Protection Act.

President Joe Biden announced today a moratorium on issuing new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters. The Conservation Funding Protection Act would ensure that American oil producers would retain access to critical energy reservoirs on the Outer Continental Shelf. That energy production funds conservation, coastal restoration, hurricane preparedness, wetland mitigation and public land maintenance.

If enacted into law, the Conservation Funding Protection Act would overrule Biden’s executive order.

“Now more than ever, Congress must act to make sure that Louisianians and other energy producers can keep America running and keep America competitive. President Biden’s war against Louisiana jobs and America’s energy independence is astonishingly dangerous. It’s short-sighted. It cuts against our conservation efforts because domestic energy production funds coastal protection. It gives a leg up to America’s enemies, who are burning fuel recklessly to build their economies at the expense of American workers. In short, Biden’s moratorium on oil and gas leases is unwise, unfair and insulting to every Louisianian who helped revive America’s energy industry. The Conservation Funding Protection Act would guarantee that Americans continue to have access to our country’s energy resources, said Kennedy.

The early actions by the new administration to stop oil and gas production make the Conservation Funding Protection Act all the more significant. Off-shore leases, both current and future, are the source of well-paying jobs and royalty revenues that allow states like Mississippi to fund conservation projects and other vital services. With this bill, we’re stressing that it is just not sound policy to simply stop producing American energy resources,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“Louisiana families depend on energy production and the jobs it produces. This bill aims to keep the Gulf open for business and protect workers who are threatened by Biden’s radical environmental agendas,” said Cassidy.

“I have long fought to ensure that the United States remains a global leader in energy production and maintains our energy independence for years to come. It is vital to the economic and national security of the United States to preserve energy production in the Gulf of Mexico and reduce our reliance on foreign powers. On the same day that President Biden is announcing a ban on new onshore and offshore oil and natural gas leasing, I am proud to support this legislation because our offshore drilling supplies thousands of jobs to hard-working Americans, helps our economy thrive, and funds key environmental conservation projects,” said Cruz.

“Just a few short months ago, Congress passed historic, mandatory funding for LWCF and our public lands. That money comes almost exclusively from oil and gas production in the Gulf Coast. Without this critical energy production, we threaten this important conservation funding and America’s energy independence. We must protect this vital American resource and continue to provide opportunities to produce American energy and conserve our public lands,” Daines said.

“Ensuring continued access to energy resources in the Gulf of Mexico is critical to funding conservation efforts and important storm mitigation projects along the Texas coast. This bill would help keep us from a return to the days of relying on our adversaries to meet our energy needs,” said Cornyn. 

“The Gulf of Mexico’s bountiful natural resources have been a cornerstone in the resurgence of American energy independence. Revenues generated from federal leases have also supported a multitude of critical conservation and restoration projects along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The Conservation Funding Protection Act would ensure our valuable resources are managed responsibly and enable states to continue investing in projects that will sustain their coastlines for generations to come,” said Wicker.  

“Every Member of Congress who supported the Great American Outdoors Act would be hypocritical to not support the Conservation Funding Protection Act. President Biden’s actions today are an example of finding a problem where there was a solution: His leasing ban undercuts funding for environmental projects, which are paid for by revenue from energy leasing in the Gulf. The most economically sustainable and least burdensome way to fund conservation efforts is through energy leasing, and I’m proud to support Sen. Kennedy’s bill to continue leasing our natural resources and providing good jobs, economic growth, and conservation funding for the American people,” said Lummis.

Background:

In order to ensure that the Gulf region can steward the shelf’s resources, the Conservation Funding Protection Act would require at least two area-wide lease sales per year on available acreage in the Western and Central Gulf of Mexico. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act currently directs the Secretary of Interior to establish a schedule for lease sales on the Outer Continental Shelf but does not mandate the number of lease sales the department is required to hold.

Even before today’s executive order prohibiting any new sales of oil and gas leases on federal property, some projections estimate that a permitting ban on natural gas and oil leasing and development projects on federal lands and waters—such as the Outer Continental Shelf—would result in the loss of nearly 1 million oil and gas related jobs within the first 12 to 24 months of the ban. Louisiana is home to 48,000 of those jobs. Such a ban would decrease offshore oil production by 44 percent and natural gas production by 68 percent within the next decade.

This bill would maintain all current environmental laws and ensure that the Department of Interior conducts the environmental reviews required by law within clear time frames. The legislation does not alter environmental regulations for lease sales, rig operations or exploration.

Support for this legislation includes the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, American Petroleum Institute, National Ocean Industries Association, International Association of Drilling Contractors, Consumer Energy Alliance, International Association for Geophysical Chemistry, Petroleum Equipment and Service Association and others.

The Conservation Funding Protection Act is critical to protecting existing energy production in the Gulf of Mexico and the livelihoods of thousands of hardworking citizens across the Gulf coast. Oil and gas leasing and production in the Gulf of Mexico is also the primary source of funding for conservation projects across the country, and, importantly, for Louisiana's hurricane protection systems and coastal restoration efforts. Now, more than ever we should be investing in America’s offshore oil and natural gas industry rather than restricting development, increasing our dependence on foreign resources and sending our American jobs to other parts of the world. This important bill will protect the Louisiana communities that depend on energy production for economic stability and for the protection and resiliency of our coast,” said Tyler Gray, Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association President.

The bill text is available here.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today received confirmation from the White House that the Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane Protection Project will receive New Start Construction funding with approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

“The people of south Louisiana have worked hard to make the Morganza to the Gulf Project a reality for 13 years. It’s both smart and fair for the federal government to step up and help them complete this crucial hurricane protection initiative. I’m thankful to the White House and the Trump Administration for recognizing the value of safeguarding lives and property in Terrebonne Parish and surrounding areas. I’m also grateful to the Corps of Engineers for the time and talent they’re investing into Morganza to the Gulf,” said Kennedy.

As a member of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kennedy secured language in the Corps’ FY 2021 appropriations bill that directs the Corps to select at least one authorized storm protection project that had not previously been funded for construction.

Kennedy also advocated for the Morganza to the Gulf Project to be that selection. Morganza to the Gulf had been initially authorized in 2007, but had never received any Corps construction funding. After the president signed the funding bill into law last month, Kennedy worked with the administration to ensure that the Morganza to the Gulf Project would receive New Start Funding.

Background

The Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane Protection Project is set to be one of seven new construction projects that the Army Corps of Engineers is directed to initiate as part of the FY 2021 funding bill. The project should receive a New Start designation, which will provide FY 2021 funding and better position the project to receive annual funding through the project’s completion.

Once constructed, the Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane Protection Project will protect a region in southeast Louisiana that has about 250,000 residents and some of the most important oil and gas, marine transportation and seafood support infrastructure on the Gulf Coast.

Southeastern Louisiana began taxing itself in 1992 for the dedicated purpose of hurricane protection and has already invested about $500 million to construct elements of the Morganza to the Gulf Project.

The state of Louisiana has also invested approximately $500 million to construct elements of the project.

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La) released the following statement on the events surrounding yesterday’s joint session of Congress.

“What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was despicable and shameful. The rioters responsible should go to jail and pay for the destruction they caused. No exceptions. I condemned rioters and mob violence last summer in our cities, and I condemn them now. I’m proud that Congress was not cowed. We returned to the Senate floor late last night and finished our work early this morning. 

“Most Louisianians get up every day, go to work, obey the law, pay their taxes and try to do right by their kids. They would never join a mob. They care about election integrity, and many are concerned about irregularities surrounding the Nov. 3 election. I came to the Capitol yesterday to give them a voice. I joined several Senate colleagues in calling for a bipartisan commission to inspect election issues raised across the country. Our proposal was not successful, but our goal to ensure full confidence and transparency in our elections—for all Americans—is a noble one, and I’ll keep pursuing it.

“I want to thank the Capitol Police, the National Guard and all the law enforcement officers who bravely kept us safe. They are heroes.

“God bless America.”

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in releasing the following statement in advance of Congress’s meeting on Jan. 6, 2021 to count the Electoral College votes.  

Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), as well as Senators-elect Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) also issued the joint statement. 

“America is a Republic whose leaders are chosen in democratic elections. Those elections, in turn, must comply with the Constitution and with federal and state law.

“When the voters fairly decide an election, pursuant to the rule of law, the losing candidate should acknowledge and respect the legitimacy of that election. And, if the voters choose to elect a new office-holder, our Nation should have a peaceful transfer of power.

“The election of 2020, like the election of 2016, was hard fought and, in many swing states, narrowly decided. The 2020 election, however, featured unprecedented allegations of voter fraud, violations and lax enforcement of election law, and other voting irregularities. 

“Voter fraud has posed a persistent challenge in our elections, although its breadth and scope are disputed. By any measure, the allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election exceed any in our lifetimes. 

“And those allegations are not believed just by one individual candidate. Instead, they are widespread. Reuters/Ipsos polling, tragically, shows that 39% of Americans believe ‘the election was rigged.’  That belief is held by Republicans (67%), Democrats (17%), and Independents (31%). 

“Some Members of Congress disagree with that assessment, as do many members of the media.

“But, whether or not our elected officials or journalists believe it, that deep distrust of our democratic processes will not magically disappear. It should concern us all. And it poses an ongoing threat to the legitimacy of any subsequent administrations.

“Ideally, the courts would have heard evidence and resolved these claims of serious election fraud. Twice, the Supreme Court had the opportunity to do so; twice, the Court declined.

“On January 6, it is incumbent on Congress to vote on whether to certify the 2020 election results. That vote is the lone constitutional power remaining to consider and force resolution of the multiple allegations of serious voter fraud. 

“At that quadrennial joint session, there is long precedent of Democratic Members of Congress raising objections to presidential election results, as they did in 1969, 2001, 2005, and 2017. And, in both 1969 and 2005, a Democratic Senator joined with a Democratic House Member in forcing votes in both houses on whether to accept the presidential electors being challenged.

“The most direct precedent on this question arose in 1877, following serious allegations of fraud and illegal conduct in the Hayes-Tilden presidential race. Specifically, the elections in three states—Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina—were alleged to have been conducted illegally. 

“In 1877, Congress did not ignore those allegations, nor did the media simply dismiss those raising them as radicals trying to undermine democracy. Instead, Congress appointed an Electoral Commission—consisting of five Senators, five House Members, and five Supreme Court Justices—to consider and resolve the disputed returns. 

“We should follow that precedent. To wit, Congress should immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states. Once completed, individual states would evaluate the Commission’s findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed.

“Accordingly, we intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified’ (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed. 

“We are not naïve. We fully expect most if not all Democrats, and perhaps more than a few Republicans, to vote otherwise. But support of election integrity should not be a partisan issue. A fair and credible audit—conducted expeditiously and completed well before January 20—would dramatically improve Americans’ faith in our electoral process and would significantly enhance the legitimacy of whoever becomes our next President. We owe that to the People.

“These are matters worthy of the Congress, and entrusted to us to defend. We do not take this action lightly. We are acting not to thwart the democratic process, but rather to protect it. And every one of us should act together to ensure that the election was lawfully conducted under the Constitution and to do everything we can to restore faith in our Democracy.”

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, helped secure key provisions of the funding bill that Congress is expected to vote on soon.

“Louisianians send big chunks of their paychecks to Washington, and I work as hard as I can to ensure our state doesn’t stand alone when we face challenges like historic hurricanes. This year, I’m pleased to say that, should this funding bill pass, our state will receive $1.3 billion in loan forgiveness for interest owed on New Orleans’ storm protection system. Additionally, the executive branch must submit a proposal for a new federal courthouse in Lake Charles, and key water infrastructure projects could now move forward.

“This year’s funding package invests in protecting our people, preserving our coasts and supporting Louisiana’s economy as we recover from the pandemic. It protects Louisiana jobs through the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act and by bringing a National Center of Excellence for Liquefied Natural Gas to Louisiana to increase training in this growing field. Finally, this package will safeguard Louisiana wallets by stopping the IRS from sending taxpayer dollars to dead people and fraudsters,” said Kennedy.

Lake Charles courthouse

As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, Kennedy secured language to require the General Services Administration and the federal courts to submit a plan to Congress for building a new courthouse in Lake Charles, Louisiana following the severe damage Hurricane Laura did to the Edwin F. Hunter, Jr. U.S. Courthouse.

“I saw firsthand how Hurricane Laura wrecked Lake Charles, and I’ve been fighting for a new federal courthouse since then. I’m glad to see the federal courts there get the green light they need to rebuild as the Lake Charles community keeps recovering from a wicked hurricane season,”said Kennedy.

Protecting jobs by keeping the U.S. competitive

After introducing the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, Kennedy announced a historic bipartisan agreement to include the AIM Act in the government funding bill.

More than ever, foreign competition demands we protect American jobs by keeping the U.S. competitive in global industry. Investing in next-generation refrigerants will create thousands of jobs, save billions of dollars and safeguard the environment, all of which matter deeply to Louisianians. I’m grateful to have worked with Chairman Barrasso and Sen. Carper to champion the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act and bring American production into the future,” said Kennedy.

For the first time, the funding package includes a provision for a 15-year phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons at a national level, administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. The legislation gives U.S. companies the certainty they need to make the investments necessary to lead the world in the production of next-generation coolants. It will create jobs, save Louisiana jobs and ensure the U.S is the world leader in this emerging global market.

Establishing the National Center of Excellence for Liquefied Natural Gas in Louisiana

Kennedy successfully negotiated a provision in pipeline infrastructure reauthorization (PIPES Act) legislation that locates a newly established National Center of Excellence for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in Louisiana. The center will promote and facilitate training, education and research and development in the burgeoning field of liquified natural gas. Louisiana will see the construction of this LNG National Center of Excellence within two years.

Stopping taxpayer money from going to dead people

The government funding bill includes the Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act, which Kennedy introduced to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not wasted on paying government benefits to dead people or to fraudsters.  

“Every so often, Washington actually saves taxpayer dollars instead of watching that money circle the bureaucratic drain. Today, the Senate is set to pass the Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act as part of the government funding bill. Now, we are closer than ever to ensuring taxpayer dollars work on behalf of hardworking Americans instead of fraudsters who take advantage of flaws in the system,” said Kennedy.

The Social Security Administration 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.

The Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act provision in the funding bill would allow federal agencies access to the complete death database, require agencies to use death data to curb improper payments and improve that death data so that federal payments are made accurately. 

Developing water resources

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) set to pass with the funding bill authorizes several Army Corps of Engineers projects throughout Louisiana. These projects invest in the state’s flood control, hurricane protection, navigation and conservation efforts.

Key provisions include:

  • Thanks to a provision negotiated by Kennedy, WRDA directs the Corps of Engineers to accept, without interest, Louisiana’s cost share loan payment for the storm protection system encircling the New Orleans area, provided that the state pays at least $200 million of its debt by Sept. 30, 2021 and pays the remaining unpaid principal balance by Sept. 30, 2023. This direction to the Corps eliminates $1.3 billion of debt that Louisiana would have otherwise owed to the Corps.
  • WRDA authorizes $394 million in new construction projects. The Baptiste Collette Bayou navigation channel deepening project in Plaquemines Parish is authorized at a total cost of $44,920,000. The Houma navigation canal deepening project in Terrebonne Parish is authorized at a total cost of $253,458,000. The Port Fourchon Belle Pass channel deepening project in Lafourche Parish is authorized at a total cost of $95,483,000.
  • WRDA authorizes the Corps of Engineers to modify the existing federal levee system that protects Shreveport, known as the Red River below Denison Dam Project, by incorporating the Cherokee Park levee segment into the existing federal system. The Caddo Levee District built the segment to meet Corps standards. Once the levee segment becomes part of the federal system, it will facilitate FEMA accreditation.
  • WRDA modifies the existing Ouachita and Black Rivers (Arkansas and Louisiana) project for navigation to include water supply as an authorized purpose. The original authorization only allowed the Corps of Engineers to perform work related to navigation. With the new expanded authorization, the Corps can also perform work related to the water supply.
  • Within 120 days after its enactment, WRDA directs the Corps of Engineers to provide a report on plans to modify the Calcasieu River and Pass dredged material management plan and supplemental environmental impact statement to allow for expansion of dredged material placement facilities.
  • WRDA directs the Corps of Engineers to identify the causes of and “implement measures to effectively detect, prevent, treat, and eliminate, harmful algal blooms associated with water resources development projects.”  WRDA also directs the Corps to “undertake program activities related to harmful algal blooms” in seven different areas of the U.S., including Louisiana’s coast.
  • WRDA directs the Corps of Engineers to expedite the completion of the ongoing feasibility study for the Amite River and its tributaries east of the Mississippi River, Louisiana flood control project, as Congress requires the Corps to submit a favorable feasibility study before authorizing project construction.
  • WRDA directs the Corps of Engineers to expedite the completion of the ongoing feasibility study for the Upper Barataria Basin Louisiana project for coastal storm risk management.
  • WRDA authorizes the Corps of Engineers to assist the Grand Isle Independent Levee District with modifying the scope of the existing Grand Isle beach erosion and hurricane protection project to include periodic beach nourishment in response to erosion.
  • WRDA authorizes the Corps of Engineers to assist Jefferson Parish with obtaining a feasibility study for the proposed flood protection project in the Cataouatche sub-basin, which encompasses part of the west bank of Jefferson Parish.
  • WRDA authorizes the Corps of Engineers to assist the non-federal project sponsor with obtaining a feasibility study for the proposed flood and storm protection project in the Hoey’s Basin area of the east bank of Jefferson Parish.
  • WRDA authorizes the Corps of Engineers to review a project proposal and issue a report to Congress on whether the portion of the Ouachita River levee system from Monroe to Caldwell Parishes should be included in the Mississippi River and tributaries project.
  • WRDA authorizes the Corps of Engineers to conduct a feasibility study of a proposed project for flood-risk management in Tangipahoa Parish. A positive feasibility study is the first step in obtaining construction authorization for the proposed project.
  • WRDA directs the Coastal Louisiana Ecosystem Protection and Restoration Task Force to submit, within one year after enactment of this WRDA bill, a report to Congress summarizing the activities and recommendations of the task force for conserving, protecting, restoring and maintaining Louisiana’s coastal ecosystem.
  • WRDA directs the Corps of Engineers, in collaboration with the heads of other relevant federal agencies, to conduct a comprehensive study of the Lower Mississippi River basin for the comprehensive management of the basin for the purposes of hurricane and storm damage reduction, flood-risk management and floodplain management strategies; navigation; ecosystem and environmental restoration; hydropower production; recreation; and other purposes as determined by the Corps of Engineers.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today issued the following statement in response to urgent relief for entertainment venues included in the bipartisan, bicameral COVID relief package. Based on the Save Our Stages Act, which Kennedy has cosponsored, the provisions in the relief bill include $15 billion in funding for performance venues, movie theaters and museums.

“Live performing arts and entertainment venues are a huge part of Louisiana’s culture and economy, but these were the first to shutter when the pandemic struck. There’s no question that key industries with significant revenue losses deserve relief. The government shut down this major sector of our economy, and it’s right that we help preserve those jobs while we work to vaccinate our country and reopen it safely. I’m glad to see our efforts on the Save Our Stages Act become part of a package focused on helping hardworking Americans recover from what has been an unbelievably hard year for Louisiana and other states,” said Kennedy.

Specifically, the legislation authorizes the Small Business Administration to provide grants to eligible live venues, performing arts venues, movie theaters and other operators or promoters that demonstrate a significant reduction in revenue.

WASHINGTON – Today, the Senate will vote to pass the major provisions of Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Tom Carper’s (D-Del.) Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act as part of the government spending bill. The bill, introduced by Kennedy and Carper in 2019, would help save millions of federal 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, the federal government’s centralized improper payments screening initiative, the Treasury Department’s Do Not Pay program, lacks access to the complete death information. As a result, many federal agencies make erroneous payments to people who are actually deceased.

“Every so often, Washington actually saves taxpayer dollars instead of watching that money circle the bureaucratic drain. Today, the Senate made the commonsense move to include the Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act as part of the government funding bill. Now we can make sure taxpayer dollars work on behalf of hardworking Americans instead of fraudsters who take advantage of flaws in the system. I’m thankful for Sen. Carper’s leadership in helping save billions in taxpayer money from flowing to ghosts,” said Kennedy.

“This has been a long, hard fight for many years, but this is good news for American taxpayers. As government officials, one of our most important responsibilities is to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. 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. The money saved by curbing improper payments to the deceased can be used to fund health care programs or invest 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. I want to thank my wingman, Senator Kennedy, for his leadership on this issue,” said Carper. 

In the Senate, the bill is cosponsored by Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). Bipartisan companion legislation was introduced in the House by Reps. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) and Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.).

Key provisions in the bill include:

Providing Do Not Pay with 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. This legislation provides the federal government’s centralized improper payments screening service, Do Not Pay, with access to the complete death data to help agencies identify and prevent improper payments.

Improves management of death data. The legislation safeguards the Social Security Trust Funds by allowing the SSA to recoup the costs of managing this data. The legislation allows for the SSA to correct errors in the death data and ensures states can maintain their death registration systems.

Improving Death Data Sharing in the Future. The legislation requires the National Academy of Public Administration to conduct an independent study of the sources and access to state-owned death data for use by federal agencies for program administration and payment integrity and to report on options for future distribution of death data government-wide.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, secured language to require the General Services Administration and the federal courts to submit a plan to Congress for building a new courthouse in Lake Charles, Louisiana following the severe damage Hurricane Laura did to the Edwin F. Hunter, Jr. U.S. Courthouse.

“I saw firsthand how Hurricane Laura wrecked Lake Charles, and I’ve been fighting for a new federal courthouse since then. I’m glad to see the federal courts there get the green light they need to rebuild as the Lake Charles community keeps putting the pieces back together after a wicked hurricane season,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy also worked with the General Services Administration to identify the appropriate resources for building a new courthouse in Lake Charles.

The appropriations bill requires the General Services Administration to submit a plan within 150 days of the passage of the bill that “fully meets the operational needs of the Federal courts” through the new Lake Charles facility.

WASHINGTON – Today Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) in announcing a historic bipartisan agreement to include the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act in the government funding bill.

More than ever, foreign competition demands we protect American jobs by keeping the U.S. competitive in global industry. Investing in next-generation refrigerants will create thousands of jobs, save billions of dollars and safeguard the environment, all of which matter deeply to Louisianians. I’m grateful to have worked with Chairman Barrasso and Sen. Carper to champion the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act and bring American production into the future,” said Kennedy.

“HFC chemicals are in every home – from our cars, to our air conditioners. The emissions from the use of these chemicals contribute to climate change. This agreement will authorize a 15-year phase down of their use, while safeguarding consumers and American manufacturers,” said Barrasso.

“Inside nearly every home in this country are hydrofluorocarbons, potent greenhouse gases used as coolants in air conditioning and refrigerators. The cruel irony is that, while HFCs keep our homes cool and our groceries cold, they heat up our planet. With a global warming effect that is thousands of times more potent than carbon, HFCs are slowly destroying our planet. Fortunately, there is a solution – one that would have huge economic benefits for our country. For years, Senator Kennedy and I have been working to pass legislation that would put American workers and industries in the driver’s seat of the global phasedown of these super-polluting chemicals. By implementing a national phasedown of HFCs, we can reap close to $39 billion in economic benefits while creating tens of thousands of new jobs. I thank Senator Kennedy for being such a good partner on this legislation and thank Chairman Barrasso for his work to help us to find a compromise that can get this bill across the finish line. Thanks to all our efforts, Congress is now on the cusp of passing the most significant climate solution in more than a decade, and American workers and families will reap the benefits for decades more to come,” said Carper.

The appropriations package will now include, for the first time, a provision for a 15-year phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) at a national level, administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The amendment is based on Kennedy’s AIM Act and requires EPA to implement an 85 percent phase down of the production and consumption of HFCs, so they reach approximately 15 percent of their 2011-2013 average annual levels by 2036.

The legislative language matches the agreement reached earlier this year by Kennedy, Barrasso and Carper to protect critical uses of HFCs.