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MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $119,937,456 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for south Louisiana to address damage caused by Hurricanes Laura and Ida.    

“South Louisianians are still reeling from the damage that Laura and Ida caused in our state. These funds will help Louisianians put the pieces back together,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $118,244,712 for the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury for debris removal related to damage caused by Hurricane Laura.
  • $1,692,744 to Jefferson Parish for state management costs related to Hurricane Ida.
 

Watch Kennedy’s remarks
here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) spoke on the Senate floor to commemorate William Clifford Smith, a south Louisiana native and advocate for preserving Louisiana’s coast and wetlands, who passed away last Thursday.

Key excerpts from Kennedy’s speech include:

“I lost a good friend in Louisiana, and Louisiana lost a good friend, last week: Mr. Clifford Smith. Clifford happened to be a civil engineer, but he was so much more.”

. . .

“Clifford Smith was one of the first Louisianians, if not the first, to talk about the need for coastal restoration in my state. . . . He was on every board imaginable. When his church burned down in Houma, Clifford said, ‘I’ll be responsible for raising the money and rebuild the church.’ Took him five years—and he did it.”

. . .

“He was whip-smart. He was visionary. He was wise. He was very charming. . . . I miss Clifford. I’m going to miss him. . . . I went down to the funeral on Monday to say goodbye, but I wanted to say goodbye on the floor of the United States Senate and recognize my friend, and a Louisiana favorite son, William Clifford Smith.”

Video of Kennedy’s comments is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $14,649,618 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Louisiana to address damage caused by Hurricanes Laura and Ida.    

“Hurricanes Laura and Ida tore through Louisiana. Louisianians need help getting back on their feet after major disasters, and these funds will help us on the road to recovery,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $4,084,048 to the Society of the Roman Catholic of the Diocese of Lake Charles for Public Assistance emergency protective measures as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $2,499,359 to St. Charles Parish for emergency bulkhead repairs at Des Allemands related to damage caused by Hurricane Ida.
  • $2,424,658 to the Rapides Parish School Board for districtwide mold remediation related to damage caused by Hurricane Laura.
  • $2,403,915 to the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury for emergency protective measures as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $2,181,977 to the Office of Risk Management for permanent repairs to damage caused by Hurricane Laura.
  • $1,055,661 to the Office of Risk Management for permanent repairs to the McNeese University Track and Field buildings damaged by Hurricane Laura.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) in writing to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael Connor. The senators urged Regan and Connor to suspend a proposed rule that would redefine the scope of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), meaning waters that the Clean Water Act protects, in a way that would clear the path for a federal land grab.

The senators asked the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to suspend this proposed rule until the U.S. Supreme Court completes its consideration of Sackett v. EPA, a case that may have major implications for the Clean Water Act’s scope and enforcement.

“The federal government should not promulgate rules for the sake of political expediency, but rather provide regulatory certainty for stakeholders within the bounds of an agency’s respective statutory authority. Proceeding with the rulemaking at this time, despite the pending litigation and potentially influential ruling, will only deepen uncertainty within the regulated community,” the senators wrote.

“We are foremost troubled to see that the proposed rule exceeds the regulatory authority granted to EPA and USACE by the Clean Water Act. The proposed rule seeks to federalize waters in a land grab that arguably surpasses its 2015 predecessor, improperly encompassing water features traditionally within the sole purview of states,” the senators explained.

The senators pointed out that the rule would subject certain water features, with few exceptions, to burdensome regulatory processes that would cost landowners significant time and money.

“Given the severe financial penalties stakeholders could face for conducting standard agricultural or other land development practices under the proposed rule, family farmers and ranchers are understandably alarmed by the administration’s attempted land grab. These producers have an especially vested interest in responsible stewardship of their water and land, and they depend on precise, consistent, and durable regulations that can guide such activity,” the senators continued.

All other Republican senators also signed the letter.

The letter is available here.


 

Watch Kennedy’s remarks here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) spoke on the Senate floor about the rising inflation that President Biden’s economic policies have caused and its impact on Louisianians’ lives.

Below are key excerpts from the speech:

“From December of 2020 to December of 2021 . . . gasoline is up 49.6 percent. In my state, in Louisiana, it costs Louisianians $27 more than it did last year to fill up the tank of a Chevy truck. That’s every time they fill up the tank. Used cars and truck prices have increased by 37.3 percent. In New Orleans . . . used car prices were up 38.2 percent through last September.”

. . .

“The truth is that most Americans are having to spend, on average, about $3,500 more per year because of President Biden’s inflation. Now, to some people, that may not sound like much—that’s a lot of money to the people in my state. An extra $3,500 out of the budget of most working Americans is a lot.

“Now, I wish it weren’t so, but this inflation has been caused by the Biden administration’s economic policies. Inflation is not complicated: It’s too much money chasing too few goods.”

. . .

“The Biden administration wants to throw another 5 trillion—not billion, not million—trillion dollars of gasoline on the fire in the Build Back Better bill. And, if we pass that, there’ll be another trillion dollars. I mean, this administration spends money like it was gully dirt. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

. . .

“It’s hurting the least among us the most. Yes, we’re seeing inflation in terms of services, but we’re seeing inflation more in terms of goods, and low-income Americans, as you well know, spend proportionately more of their income on goods than they do on services. The president’s policies, I regret to have to say, have administered a sucking chest wound on the budgets of the people of my state and the people of America, and it’s got to stop.”

Video of Kennedy’s comments is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today urged Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to help Americans claim more than $26 billion in unredeemed savings bonds, including $337 million that belong to the people of Louisiana.

The Treasury Department is currently holding more than $26 billion in matured, unredeemed U.S. savings bonds, most of which the Treasury deems lost, stolen, destroyed or “unclaimed.” Many of these bonds were issued more than 70 years ago and have matured—meaning they no longer earn interest for bondholders. 

“As Louisiana’s State Treasurer for 17 years, I was frustrated and utterly perplexed when I first discovered the Treasury was holding on to billions of dollars from Americans across the country. To make matters worse, many who purchased U.S. savings bonds did so out of a patriotic sense of duty to help the nation weather financial uncertainties such as World War II. For years, Treasury refused to release bond-owner information to the states, most of which have programs in place to reunite Americans with their unclaimed property,” Kennedy wrote.

At Kennedy’s request, Congress provided the Treasury Department with $50 million to prioritize the digitization of bond records. In 2019, the Treasury relaunched Treasury Hunt, an online search tool that allows bond owners to locate bond information. The Treasury, however, has been slow to start the digitization process and is now considering proposals and potential contracts from vendors. 

“Once Treasury selects a vendor, I ask that the department work to execute the digitization of these records swiftly and prioritize the distribution of this information to the bonds’ rightful owners. As Treasury Secretary, you are responsible for reuniting taxpayers with their investments. Each day that passes without a solution, Treasury reneges on its contract with the American people,” continued Kennedy.

“It is long past time that Treasury keep its promise to the millions of Americans who purchased U.S. savings bonds. The American people deserve the billions of dollars that rightfully belong to them. To delay any longer is an affront to the law and to common sense,” Kennedy concluded.

Kennedy introduced the Unclaimed Savings Bond Act of 2021 last September. The bill would require the Treasury to provide states information about matured and unclaimed bonds so individual states can use unclaimed property programs to help locate the original owners of these bonds or their heirs. This provision would only apply to unredeemed bonds that matured before 2018.

The letter is available here.

Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today discussed the historic crisis at the U.S-Mexico border. Below are key excerpts from Kennedy’s remarks.

“I think it would be fair to say that, if you have a pulse and a marginal desire for a better life, you understand that we have a problem at the border.”

 . . .

“The American people don’t understand why a Nigerian doctor or a German machinist has to be vetted for years, but, if you can jump the fence at the southern border, you’re welcome. That makes no sense to them. 

“And I think, as a result, many Americans—perhaps even most of Americans—have concluded that this [border crisis] is purposeful. Many Americans—by some polls, most Americans—have concluded that President Biden believes in open borders. And many Americans also believe that the members of the Biden administration who are making immigration policy believe that vetting people at the border is racist. And all of that, in part, in my judgment, is why President Biden’s poll numbers have been on a journey to the center of the Earth.

“I think President Biden has misread the American peopleThe American people do not hate immigration. They support legal immigration. The American people don’t think vetting people at the border is racist. They think it’s prudent.”

. . .

“Most Americans look at our southern border as America’s front door. And they look at the southern border like they look at their own front door: Most Americans lock their front door at night. They don’t lock their front door at night because they hate everybody on the outside. They lock their front door at night because they love the people on the inside, and they want to know who is coming in and who’s going out of their home. They see it as a rule-of-law and a safety issue. And, if I could offer any advice to the Biden administration, I would respectfully suggest that they adopt the view of most Americans.”

Video of Kennedy’s comments is available here.  

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) released the following statement after the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) finalized the Federal Register Notice for Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds in response to Hurricanes Laura and Delta.

“Lake Charles and south Louisiana are still recovering from the devastating hurricanes of 2020. I hope that HUD moves quickly to approve our state’s plan and get this $600 million to the communities that need it to rebuild and that have been waiting too long already,” said Kennedy.

 Kennedy, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was instrumental in securing $600 million in CDBG-DR relief for Louisiana in Sept. 2021 through a government funding bill.

These funds will support Louisiana communities, including Lake Charles, as they recover from Hurricanes Laura and Delta. Louisiana state officials must submit the state’s action plan before HUD releases the aid.

The state was unable to submit its plan until HUD finalized the federal register notice, which the department did on Jan. 31. 

 

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today released the following statement upon the passing of William Clifford Smith: 

“Clifford Smith was—and is—smart, charming, wise and visionary. He spent his life serving Louisiana and was an extraordinarily effective advocate, among other things, for protecting Louisiana’s coast and wetlands. I will miss him, and so will our state, but he has a wonderful family that will continue to spread Clifford’s truths. Becky and I are sending prayers for Jo-Anne and the entire Smith family.”

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) in pushing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan to reconsider two proposed actions that would hurt small refineries in Louisiana and raise gas prices for Louisiana consumers.

The EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program requires petroleum-based transportation fuel, heating oil and jet fuel to contain a specific amount of renewable fuel. The EPA annually determines this Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO). Small refineries can receive temporary exemptions from the RVO if they can show that compliance with the RVO would cause them disproportionate economic hardship.

The EPA proposed to increase the 2022 RVO to unprecedented high levels and to deny all 65 pending small refinery exemptions without providing a cause.

“We are puzzled by the action EPA took in these proposals, including the unprecedented and drastic step to propose a blanket denial of all 65 outstanding small refinery hardship petitions at a time of increasing gasoline prices and several small refinery closures around the nation. The current proposal neglects not only its own economic impacts, but negates the intent of Congress in deliberately amending the Clean Air Act to allow for exemptions for small refiners that suffer disproportionate economic hardship from compliance with the RFS,” the senators wrote.

“With that in mind, we urge EPA to reconsider this effort to deny all 65 outstanding small refinery petitions and the proposal to set the RVO at unprecedented levels for 2022. Reconsidering these actions will provide much-needed relief and certainty for companies, employees, and communities across the country; bolster access to affordable, domestically-produced fuels for American consumers; and remove obstacles for an economy already facing significant challenges from inflation and other supply chain challenges,” the senators concluded.

Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) also signed the letter.

The letter is available here.