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“[The Paycheck Protection Program] was not designed to give government funds to politicized, partisan abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. . . . Planned Parenthood fraudulently taking tens of millions of dollars that were intended to help keep those small businesses and nonprofit organizations afloat cannot stand and must be addressed.”

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) today in sending a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr urging the Department of Justice to investigate whether dozens of Planned Parenthood affiliates across the country applied for and received loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) even though those affiliates knew they were ineligible to apply.

“The Paycheck Protection Program established by the CARES Act was designed by Congress to help struggling small businesses and nonprofit organizations by giving them access to low-cost loans for expenses like keeping their employees on payroll during this pandemic. It was not designed to give government funds to politicized, partisan abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. The funds in the program are not unlimited, and were depleted once already because of high demand. Planned Parenthood fraudulently taking tens of millions of dollars that were intended to help keep those small businesses and nonprofit organizations afloat cannot stand and must be addressed,” wrote the senators.

Under the statuary text of the CARES Act, organizations like Planned Parenthood’s affiliates are expressly prohibited from receiving PPP funds. Additionally, the Small Business Administration confirmed last month that its standing affiliation rules apply to the new PPP, which excludes organizations like Planned Parenthood, whose type of governance and affiliation structure make it ineligible for these loans, as does the fact that its total number of employees exceed the program’s cap.

The full text of the letter is here.

“It’s asinine that we’re giving Chinese companies the opportunity to exploit hardworking Americans—people who put their retirement and college savings in our exchanges—because we don’t insist on examining their books. . . . I hope my colleagues in the House will immediately send this bill to the president’s desk so we can protect Americans and their savings.”

WASHINGTON – Today the Senate passed the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act by unanimous consent. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) introduced the legislation to protect American investors and their retirement savings from foreign companies that have been operating on U.S. stock exchanges while flouting Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) oversight.

“The SEC works hard to protect American investors from being swindled by American companies. It’s asinine that we’re giving Chinese companies the opportunity to exploit hardworking Americans—people who put their retirement and college savings in our exchanges—because we don’t insist on examining their books. There are plenty of markets all over the world open to cheaters, but America can’t afford to be one of them. China is on a glidepath to dominance and is cheating at every turn. I hope my colleagues in the House will immediately send this bill to the president’s desk so we can protect Americans and their savings,” said Kennedy.

“As we continue to experience the economic fallout and volatility caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to protect main street investors is all the more important. For too long, Chinese companies have disregarded U.S. reporting standards, misleading our investors. Publicly listed companies should all be held to the same standards, and this bill makes commonsense changes to level the playing field and give investors the transparency they need to make informed decisions. I’m proud that we were able to pass it today with overwhelming bipartisan support, and I urge our House colleagues to act quickly,” said Van Hollen.

The Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act prohibits securities of a company from being listed on any of the U.S. securities exchanges if the company has failed to comply with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s (PCAOB) audits for three years in a row.

The bill would also require public companies to disclose whether they are owned or controlled by a foreign government, including China’s communist government. 

Many Americans invest in U.S. stock exchanges as part of their retirement savings, and dishonest companies operating on the exchanges put Americans at risk. This legislation protects the interest of hardworking American investors by ensuring that foreign companies traded in America are subject to the same independent audit requirements that apply to American companies.

Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) have cosponsored the bill.

Background:

Congress established the PCAOB to inspect audits of public companies, ensuring the information companies provide to the public is accurate, independent and trustworthy.

Currently, China’s communist government refuses to allow the PCAOB to inspect audits of companies registered in China and Hong Kong. Such companies represent a keen risk to American investors as nearly 11 percent of all securities class action lawsuits in 2011 were brought against Chinese-owned companies accused of misrepresenting themselves in financial documents.

According to the SEC, 224 U.S.-listed companies are located in countries where there are obstacles to PCAOB inspections. These companies have a combined market capitalization of more than $1.8 trillion.

In the last 10 years, the number of Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges has increased significantly, as those firms take advantage of the capital available in America.

“Hardworking people in rural communities across Louisiana are starting to get back to work. This funding for expanded testing will help make it safer for them to return to their jobs and schools.”

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $8,507,364 in funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration, to expand coronavirus testing in 172 rural health clinics around Louisiana.

“Hardworking people in rural communities across Louisiana are starting to get back to work. This funding for expanded testing will help make it safer for them to return to their jobs and schools,” said Kennedy.

This funding is delivered under the authority of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. These resources will help implement coronavirus testing programs, provide testing supplies, train staff in testing procedures and report testing data to HHS.

“The manufacturing industry plays a critical role in both state and national economies, and 3D printing will help take it to the next level. This funding will help educate university students and better equip Louisiana’s workforce.”

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $4,334,588 in funding from the National Science Foundation to the Louisiana Materials Design Alliance (LAMDA) to promote 3D printing research and education programs in multiple universities within the state. These institutions include Louisiana State University, Louisiana Tech University, Southern University and A&M College, Tulane University and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

“The manufacturing industry plays a critical role in both state and national economies, and 3D printing will help take it to the next level. This funding will help educate university students and better equip Louisiana’s workforce,” said Kennedy.

This funding will support LAMDA’s education products, including new courses and industry-supported technology. LAMDA will help grow the Louisiana science, technology, engineering and math workforce by providing research experience, course module development and professional development for undergraduate and graduate students, the hiring and mentoring of new faculty and training for community college educators.

Additional information about this funding is available here.

“Last year, the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway devastated Louisiana’s seafood and fishing industries, and I appreciate any assistance that helps restore our fisheries. There’s more to be done, though.”

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $58,343,185 in funding from the Department of Commerce to assist Louisiana fisheries impacted by the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway in 2019.

“Last year, the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway devastated Louisiana’s seafood and fishing industries, and I appreciate any assistance that helps restore our fisheries. There’s more to be done, though,” said Kennedy.

This funding is authorized by Congress through the 2019 Consolidated and Supplemental Appropriations Act. These resources could help commercial and recreational fishermen, charter businesses, processors, shore-side infrastructure, subsistence users and fishing ecosystems. 

Kennedy continues to fight for direct payments to fishermen as the Louisiana industry struggles to recover.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) released the following statement in response to reports that Intelsat has filed for bankruptcy, which would put its pending agreement with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on hold.

“Intelsat’s decision to file for bankruptcy reveals what many suspected all along: Intelsat had no intention of accepting the FCC’s deal. The FCC should withdraw its offer, take control of America’s spectrum and save taxpayers billions of dollars instead of shelling out that money to foreign companies,” said Kennedy.

“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.

“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.

 

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.