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WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $5,390,297 in funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for emergency protective measures as a result of Hurricane Delta in Lafayette Parish as well as for recovery efforts as a result of Hurricanes Gustav and Isaac.

“For many Louisianians still rebuilding, hurricanes aren’t a distant memory. I am glad to see these resources from FEMA help our state heal from disaster,” said Kennedy.

FEMA awarded $1,633,429 to Lafayette Parish to cover emergency protective measures in response to Hurricane Delta. These measures included acquiring resources for emergency response and pay, materials and lodging for repair and response crews. FEMA covered 75 percent of the cost of this project.

FEMA awarded the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness two grants to offset the administrative costs of recovery efforts for Hurricanes Gustav and Isaac. The first grant provides $2,680,405 for recovery from Hurricane Gustav and covers 90 percent of the cost. The second totals $1,076,462 for recovery from Hurricane Isaac and covers 75 percent of the project.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in introducing the Protecting Our Democracy by Preventing Foreign Citizens from Voting Act to prohibit federal funding to states and localities that allow non-citizens to vote.

“Allowing non-citizens to vote in our elections makes a mockery of U.S. citizenship. Some Americans were born here, and some immigrated here legally, but no citizen should have his or her vote nullified by a foreign citizen’s ballot. I’m proud to partner with Sen. Rubio to stop federal funds from flowing to states or localities that undermine Americans’ voting rights,” said Kennedy.

“It’s ridiculous that states are allowing foreign citizens to vote. However, if states and localities do let those who are not U.S. citizens to vote in elections, they shouldn’t get U.S. citizen taxpayer money,” said Rubio.

The Protecting Our Democracy by Preventing Foreign Citizens from Voting Act would:

  • Prohibit federal funds from going to any state or local government that allows foreign citizens to vote in any federal, state or local election, and
  • Require state or local governments, upon the application, approval and receipt of any federal funds, to certify they do not allow foreign citizens to vote.

Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) also cosponsored the legislation.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) will introduce a companion bill in the House.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Small Business Mergers, Acquisitions, Sales and Brokerage Simplification Act to help small business owners access the services of small business merger and acquisition (M&A) brokers. M&A brokers assist small business owners who want to sell their businesses or merge with other firms so that their companies can continue expanding and supporting job growth.

“Whether they want to buy new ventures, sell their businesses or retire, small business owners depend on M&A brokers to help them navigate these changes. We need to ensure that Main Street entrepreneurs have consistent access to financial services so that America’s small businesses—and the jobs that depend on them—can continue to thrive,” said Kennedy. 

The bill would allow small business M&A brokers to organize sales and purchases of ownership and control of private companies without registering as “broker-dealers” with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). 

Removing the requirement to register with the SEC and FINRA would remove a bureaucratic roadblock for M&A brokers. This would make their services more affordable and accessible to small business owners who need help buying or selling companies.

Text of the Small Business Mergers, Acquisitions, Sales and Brokerage Simplification Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) today introduced the Protecting Access to Credit for Small Businesses Act to stop Democrats from turning the Small Business Administration (SBA) into a direct lender for the 7(a) program through their partisan spending plan.

“Fraud and inefficiency characterize the Small Business Administration’s history in direct lending. The government shouldn’t encroach on a space where private lenders are already doing a good job getting funds to the small businesses that need them. I’m proud to partner with Sen. Scott to stop the SBA from replacing community and other private lenders with bureaucrats,” said Kennedy.

“Forcing community banks and local credit unions to compete with a massive government agency is inefficient and wrong. Funneling tax dollars through the federal government in order to loan it back to small business owners with interest makes no sense. This is just another example of Democrats’ misguided plan for a big government takeover of virtually every aspect of American life and private institutions,” said Scott.

The Protecting Access to Credit for Small Businesses Act would block the SBA from issuing direct 7(a) loans.

Background

  • In October, Kennedy sent a letter to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House and Senate Small Business Committee Chairs Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) warning against their plan to make the SBA a direct lender.
  • The SBA Office of the Inspector General estimates that the federal government’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program issued $79 billion in potentially fraudulent loans. The EIDL program was rife with fraud and unnecessary delays throughout the pandemic.
  • The American Bankers Association, Consumer Bankers Association, Independent Community Bankers of America, Bank Policy Institute, Credit Union National Association and National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions support the Protecting Access to Credit for Small Businesses Act. 

Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), John Thune (R-N.D), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Steve Daines (R- Mont.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) also cosponsored the legislation.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today wrote to Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Director Michael Carvajal demanding answers about staffing shortages in Federal Correction Complexes (FCC) in Pollock and Oakdale, La. FCC Pollock and FCC Oakdale have experienced staffing shortages that have been exasperated by COVID-19, and the BOP director has failed to respond to Kennedy’s formal questions (QFRs) about the shortages.

“As of the date of this letter, I have not received a response from you. In other words, QFRs have remained unanswered for eight months. This is unacceptable. . . . Federal agencies must respond to congressional inquiries in a timely way. As a result of your failure to respond, the staffing crisis at FCC Oakdale has actually gone from bad to worse since the Judiciary Committee held the BOP oversight hearing earlier this year,” Kennedy wrote.

“Our men and women in law enforcement, including those working some of the most dangerous jobs in our federal prisons, must have every resource available to them to ensure their safety. Sufficient staffing levels are crucial to that safety. To that end, I ask that you respond to this letter by December 31, 2021, with the date that the BOP will restore FCC Oakdale to its 2016 staffing levels, per the direction of Congress,” Kennedy concluded. 

To meet custody requirements in the wake of staffing shortages, these facilities have had to pay increased overtime and siphon personnel from other departments to increase the number of guards on duty. 

The BOP has also ordered FCC Oakdale to reduce existing staff levels to 93 percent of current levels, even though it has lost personnel because of President Biden’s vaccine mandate. If this reduction occurs, the facility will have approximately 120 fewer personnel than it did in 2016, which is the level Congress has funded and required the facility to maintain.

Text of the letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and nine other Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee in writing to Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) requesting a full committee hearing in Washington, D.C. to address the rising crime wave.

The senators wrote the letter after Durbin held a hearing titled “Combating Gun Trafficking and Reducing Violence in Chicago” in Chicago, Ill. on Dec. 13. The senators previously requested that Durbin allow virtual or phone participation in that hearing, but the chairman denied this request.

“Beginning in the summer of 2020, the country has experienced a sustained and unprecedented 30% increase in murders. This spike has correlated with a move toward depolicing, after the eruption of over 500 riots nationally,” the senators wrote.

“In June of 2021, the Biden Administration unveiled its own strategy to reduce violent crime. We were troubled to see how much of the President’s strategy focuses on lawful gun acquisition and lawful gun owners. For example, one of the tenets of the President’s plan is finding ways to sue legal gun manufacturers, an initiative that would do much to interfere with Americans’ access to guns but nothing to target murders or reduce crime. . . . Legally owned firearms play an important role in allowing Americans to protect themselves during a violent crime surge. A 2013 CDC-commissioned study found that as many as millions of people a year defend themselves with a firearm,” they continued.

“We therefore request that you hold a full committee hearing in Washington, D.C. on the spike in murders and the challenges that law enforcement is facing. Ineffective bail policies, cumbersome restraints on police officers, and the impact of the ‘progressive prosecutor’ movement are exacerbating this surge. While it would have been helpful to explore the effects of these factors on crime in Chicago, given the many other cities that are impacted by the crime surge, we believe it would be even more useful if we could explore these problems on a national scale with the full committee,” concluded the senators.

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) also signed the letter. 

The letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sens. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) in introducing the Streamlining EIDL Act to improve the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) application process for small businesses and to fight fraud in the program.

“Louisiana’s small businesses contend with enough adversity as it is. They don’t need bureaucracy to make it harder to get straight answers on their EIDL applications or to combat fraud. I’m thankful to work with Sens. Risch and Hickenlooper to improve the EIDL program so that small businesses can get back to investing in their communities,” said Kennedy.

“Small businesses in Idaho have struggled to get meaningful answers on their EIDL applications from the SBA. They’ve been forced to submit the same document multiple times, received vague and ambiguous responses from the agency, and in some cases, had to contend with fraudsters submitting false applications on their behalf. Small businesses deserve a program that actually functions the way it should, and the Streamlining EIDL Act will go a long way to fix the flaws in the EIDL application process and make these disaster loans accessible to small businesses,” said Risch.        

“Economic Injury Disaster Loans have been a lifeline for small businesses throughout the pandemic. This bill will help businesses stay open and prevent fraud, a win-win,” said Hickenlooper.

Applicants to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) EIDL program often experience a lag in the application process because of slow and unorganized review procedures. Applicants also have to contend with fraudulent applications submitted in their names.

The Streamlining EIDL Act would:

  • Impose deadlines on the EIDL program application process,
  • Require the SBA to conduct a comprehensive review of the process for submitting EIDL applications,
  • Direct the SBA to submit a report to Congress detailing steps it has taken to correct how it has handled identity theft cases, and
  • Require the SBA to report how it has recovered improper payments and how it is reconciling previous identity theft allegations with newly filed identity theft allegations.

Sens. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.) also cosponsored the legislation.

Text of the Streamlining EIDL Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Impact Act to study the impact of RSV, which can be serious for infants and older adults.  

“RSV causes tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year. When young children get sick, their parents often struggle to balance caring for their kids at home and meeting goals at work. I introduced the RSV Impact Act to give us insight into how we can better protect against this illness and help families recover from it,” said Kennedy. 

RSV leads to mild symptoms for most individuals who contract it, but the virus can seriously impact infants and the elderly in particular. Annually in the U.S., RSV leads to nearly 2.1 million outpatient visits and 58,000 hospitalizations for children under five years old.

Parents have reported high stress levels, poor health and lost productivity at work as a result of caring for children who contract RSV.

The RSV Impact Act would require the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to study RSV transmission in schools and day cares and the impact this virus has on the domestic economy, particularly on parents who have to miss work. The bill would require the Academy to send a report of its findings to Congress. 

Text of the RSV Impact Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – The Senate today passed a bipartisan resolution to nullify President Biden’s vaccine mandate on private employees with support from Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.). All other Senate Republicans as well as Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voted in favor of the resolution.

The resolution would invalidate the mandate under the Congressional Review Act, which is the official Congressional process for eliminating an executive branch rule.

“Vaccines can be a blessing, but Pres. Biden’s vaccine mandate is a major threat to every American’s liberty. The president’s power grab contradicts his earlier promise that he wouldn’t impose such a mandate. I’m proud to help reverse this bureaucratic overreach and hope the House follows suit soon,” said Kennedy. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a rule to officially mandate vaccination requirements for employees at private businesses with more than 100 employees. The rule would affect more than 80 million Americans. 

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.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $78,692,355 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Louisiana to address damage caused by Hurricanes Laura, Delta and Ida.   

“Louisianians have suffered so much as a result of destructive hurricanes the last year and a half. They’ve remained strong and resilient like always, but they still need help, and this $78.7 million will help us recover from some of the enormous costs we’ve had to bear,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $34,621,295 to the Jefferson Davis Electric Cooperative for emergency protective measures related to Hurricane Laura.
  • $8,572,317 to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for emergency protective measures related to Hurricane Laura.
  • $7,747,884 to the Louisiana Department of Military for emergency protective measures related to Hurricane Ida.
  • $7,446,887 to St. John the Baptist Parish for debris removal related to Hurricane Ida.
  • $6,523,262 to the Calcasieu Parish School Board for management costs related to Hurricane Laura. 
  • $5,009,266 for Public Assistance debris removal of debris caused by Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles.
  • $3,609,555 to remove debris caused by Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles.
  • $3,579,725 to the Lafayette Parish Consolidated Government for permanent work repairs to the Lafayette Utilities System, which was damaged by Hurricane Delta.
  • $1,582,164 to the Society of the Roman Catholic Church of the Diocese of Lake Charles for temporary facilities related to Hurricane Laura.