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WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced an amendment that will tackle problems with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), ensure the program’s affordability for middle-class homeowners and invest in cost-saving disaster mitigation and prevention.

Louisianians are resilient, but they depend on affordable flood insurance to protect and rebuild their homes. FEMA is planning to raise flood insurance rates on Louisianians but refuses to explain how or why. It’s urgent that the Senate adopt this amendment to keep premiums from skyrocketing and to help protect Louisiana communities from future floods,” said Kennedy.

“In order to protect hardworking homeowners and ensure our nation is prepared for future storms, it’s vital that we make these reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program. I urge my colleagues to pass this amendment so we can ensure the NFIP is more sustainable and affordable for homeowners and that FEMA has the resources to invest in preventative and mitigation measures,” said Menendez.

The amendment includes the following measures:

  • Premium hike cap: Currently, premiums can more than double every four years, but this amendment will protect policyholders from exorbitant premium hikes by capping annual increases at nine percent.

  • Robust mitigation investment: Provides $25 billion in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding for states to invest in mitigation and prevention projects.

  • NFIP debt interest freeze: Freezes interest payments on NFIP debt and reinvests savings towards mitigation efforts to restore the program to solvency and reduce future borrowing.

  • Affordability for low- and middle-income policyholders: Provides a comprehensive means-tested voucher for millions of low- and middle-income homeowners and renters if their flood insurance premium causes their housing costs to exceed 30 percent of their adjusted gross income. This would significantly increase the affordability of the NFIP program.

Background on Kennedy’s work on flood relief:

  • On July 21, Kennedy joined Louisiana’s congressional delegation in urging the Office of Management and Budget to prioritize Louisiana’s request for supplemental disaster relief in response to Hurricanes Laura and Delta.

  • On June 21, Kennedy introduced the National Flood Insurance Program Consultant Accountability Act of 2021 to protect homeowners from parties found guilty of fraud that involves property damage assessments. 

  • On June 7, Kennedy introduced the Flood Insurance Fairness Act to stop the Biden administration from unilaterally making changes to the NFIP that would raise premiums for Louisianians affected by flooding.

  • On May 20, Kennedy spoke on the Senate floor against the Biden administration’s plan to facilitate raising flood insurance premiums in a way that could make it more difficult for Louisianians to afford flood insurance for their homes.

  • On May 18, Kennedy urged President Biden to provide supplemental disaster relief for southwest Louisiana as the region suffered through flash floods.

Text of the amendment is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) authored this op-ed for National Review, calling on President Biden to protect American savings from Chinese companies evading U.S. stock market regulations. 

Key excerpts include:

“President Biden should make it clear that Chinese companies listing on America’s stock markets face a choice: Play by our rules of transparency and disclosure or don’t play at all. 

“More than 200 Chinese businesses have gone public in U.S. capital markets, but many investors don’t realize that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) refuses to let these companies open their books to American regulators. This refusal threatens the savings of American workers and families. The financial risk resembles an iceberg: Chinese companies such as Didi and Luckin Coffee are just the tip.”

. . .

“As a result, Chinese businesses are freer to commit fraud than their American, Asian, and European competitors. Luckin Coffee, for instance, made up a nonexistent $310 million in sales in less than a year. When such fraud comes to light, these businesses’ stock values can drop quickly — dragging Americans’ savings down with them. 

“Congress has taken decisive bipartisan action to force companies that flout the PCAOB off U.S. markets, but the CCP probably won’t accept such accountability graciously. In fact, President Xi Jinping’s regime is becoming more belligerent by the day. It’s up to President Biden to protect American investors as the CCP vies for global leadership.

 

“He can do that by enforcing and building on the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, which Democrats and Republicans came together to pass last year. The law removes firms from American stock exchanges if they refuse PCAOB auditing for three years in a row.” 

. . .

“Thankfully, there’s room for President Biden to course-correct. He could re-empower the PCAOB and protect Americans and their savings by supporting the Accelerating Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, which would give firms just two consecutive years — not three — to let the PCAOB audit their records.”

. . .

“We can’t afford to lose momentum as the CCP grows more aggressive. President Biden can and should do more to counter its belligerence by supporting this legislation. It’s time for him to join Democrats and Republicans in Congress in safeguarding Americans’ savings by standing up for the integrity of our markets.

The op-ed is available here.

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today asked Deputy Associate Administrator for Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration Resilience at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) David Maurstad to answer outstanding questions on Risk Rating 2.0 (RR 2.0). The plan would raise Americans’ flood insurance rates through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

“The NFIP was founded on the principle of capturing risk while ensuring the program remains affordable for policyholders. FEMA’s fact sheets on RR 2.0 state that 3.8 million Americans will see an increase in their policy, up to $240 per year. Not only that, FEMA will continue to raise premium rates by 18% until a policyholder’s premium mirrors their ‘true risk-based premium.’ I am deeply concerned that flood insurance will become unaffordable under your proposal. . . . Your actions to roll out RR 2.0 will impact home sales, commercial property values, and real estate commissions all across this country,” wrote Kennedy. 

“RR 2.0 has not had the opportunity to benefit from necessary public input, nor do I believe the public truly understands their fate under RR 2.0. Historically, any significant change to the NFIP has included participation from FEMA and Congress, and this should not stop with RR 2.0. It is incumbent on FEMA to uphold our nation’s longstanding commitment to transparent government and due process. Thorough examination is required for any program’s success,” Kennedy continued.

“I am deeply concerned about the affordability of flood insurance under the RR 2.0 proposal. This proposal will significantly raise premiums for policyholders in Louisiana,” he explained.

Kennedy detailed several questions to FEMA about RR 2.0’s transparency, affordability and efficiency and the impact the plan would have on Louisianians.

“Although FEMA has touted the proposal for RR 2.0 for several years, it remains shrouded in mystery. RR 2.0 needs to be an open and transparent process, and I ask to further discuss my concerns with you in an in-person meeting,” Kennedy concluded.

Text of the letter is available here.

              Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – The Senate today voted on Sen. John Kennedy’s (R-La.) amendment to the Senate’s infrastructure bill. The amendment would provide $1.1 billion in disaster relief to Louisianians recovering from Hurricanes Laura, Delta and Zeta.

The aid would come through the Community Development Block Grant program. Neighborhoods and communities could use that funding for long-term disaster recovery needs, including repairs to infrastructure.

“Today, I offered the Senate an opportunity to help our people without adding a dime to the debt or taking a cent from taxpayers, and I’m incredibly disappointed they chose not to do that. It’s clear once again that President Biden must send a request for this disaster aid to Congress in order for Washington to grant disaster aid for Louisiana,” said Kennedy.

To pay for the aid, Kennedy’s amendment would use revenue from the Federal Communications Commission’s spectrum auction last year. That would leave the government with no need to borrow money or add to the deficit.

The Senate blocked the amendment.

Text of amendment is available here.

Background on requests for disaster relief:

Kennedy continues to support supplemental disaster relief for Louisiana as the state is still rebuilding after historic storms.

Once Congress receives a request for supplemental disaster aid from the White House, legislators can appropriate relief funds and send that bill to the president for his signature.

The White House has not yet made a request for supplemental relief for Louisiana, despite repeated requests from Louisiana’s congressional delegation. 

  • On August 2, Kennedy offered an amendment to the Senate’s infrastructure bill that would provide $1.1 billion in disaster relief to Louisianians recovering from Hurricanes Laura, Delta and Zeta.
  • On July 15, Kennedy introduced and asked the Senate to pass the Gulf Coast Hurricane Aid Act of 2021. The bill would provide $1.1 billion in disaster relief to Louisianians recovering from historic storms. The Senate blocked the bill’s passage.
  • On May 19, Kennedy pressed HUD for answers about why the White House has been silent on providing disaster relief to southwest Louisiana.
  • On May 18, Kennedy again urged President Biden to provide supplemental disaster relief for southwest Louisiana.
  • On May 13, Kennedy helped introduce the Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act, which would allow rural homeowners, renters and small businesses to access disaster relief more easily in the wake of a natural disaster.
  • In September 2020, Kennedy wrote to Senate leadership, Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), to request that the Senate consider emergency supplemental aid to help Louisiana residents recover from Hurricane Laura.

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced an amendment to the Senate infrastructure bill to help Americans claim almost $28 billion in unredeemed savings bonds.

“This money belongs in the hands of the American people. It shouldn’t be under lock and key at Treasury. This amendment will empower states to make sure that these dollars are returned to their rightful owners,” said Kennedy.

The Treasury Department is holding more than $27.9 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 are now matured—meaning they no longer earn interest for bondholders.

In cases in which bonds are not physically possessed by their rightful holders, only the Treasury has the names and addresses of the original bond owners, as well as the serial numbers needed to claim the bond proceeds. 

The Treasury has not taken any significant actions to proactively reunite bonds with their rightful owners despite its relaunch of Treasury Hunt, an online search tool that allows bond owners to locate bond information, at Kennedy’s request. Individual states, however, conduct programs that reconnect their citizens with unclaimed property.

Kennedy’s amendment would require the Treasury to provide states information about matured and unclaimed bonds so these states can use unclaimed property programs to help find the original owners (or heirs of these original owners) of these bonds. This provision would only apply to bonds that are matured and unredeemed as of December 31, 2017.

Text of the amendment is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today offered an amendment to the Senate’s infrastructure bill that would provide $1.1 billion in disaster relief to Louisianians recovering from Hurricanes Laura, Delta and Zeta. The aid would come through the Community Development Block Grant program. Neighborhoods and communities could use that funding for long-term disaster recovery needs, including repairs to infrastructure.

“In the last year, Louisiana—especially southwest Louisiana—has suffered through historic hurricanes, followed by flooding. Louisianians have always helped their neighbors, and I again ask the Senate to help Louisiana recover by adopting this amendment to get them relief. Our people have waited too long for the funds they need to rebuild their lives and communities,” said Kennedy.

To pay for the aid, Kennedy’s amendment would use revenue from the Federal Communications Commission’s spectrum auction last year. That would leave the government with no need to borrow money or add to the deficit.

Text of amendment is available here.

Background on requests for disaster relief:

Kennedy continues to support supplemental disaster relief for Louisiana as the state is still rebuilding after historic storms.

Once Congress receives a request for supplemental disaster aid from the White House, legislators can appropriate relief funds and send that bill to the president for his signature. The White House has not yet made a request for supplemental relief for Louisiana, despite repeated requests from Louisiana’s congressional delegation. 

  • On July 15, Kennedy introduced and asked the Senate to pass the Gulf Coast Hurricane Aid Act of 2021. The bill would provide $1.1 billion in disaster relief to Louisianians recovering from historic storms. The Senate blocked the bill’s passage.
  • On May 19, Kennedy pressed HUD for answers about why the White House has been silent on providing disaster relief to southwest Louisiana.
  • On May 18, Kennedy again urged President Biden to provide supplemental disaster relief for southwest Louisiana.
  • On May 13, Kennedy helped introduce the Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act, which would allow rural homeowners, renters and small businesses to more easily access disaster relief in the wake of a natural disaster.
  • In September 2020, Kennedy wrote to Senate leadership, Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), to request that the Senate consider emergency supplemental aid to help Louisiana residents recover from Hurricane Laura.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Click to Quit Act to require online platforms such as social networks, search engines and public websites to give users a straightforward way to delete their accounts. The Federal Trade Commission would penalize any platforms that violate this requirement.

“Quitting a social media account or a web app shouldn’t require a trip through a maze of tabs or legalese. Online platforms often make it confusing or hard for users to cut ties, and the Click to Quit Act would give users a quick, easy and sure way to delete their accounts,” said Kennedy.

Text of the Click to Quit Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) today issued the following statement regarding Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler’s announcement that the SEC would increase scrutiny on Chinese companies seeking to be listed on U.S. exchanges.

“We appreciate SEC Chair Gensler’s quick public response to our recent letter on the risks to American investors posed by U.S.-listed Chinese companies. While we were encouraged to see that the SEC seems to be taking the recent developments seriously, there is much more to be done. We will be watching closely to ensure that the SEC follows through on the execution using all tools at its disposal, including the delisting authority of the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, to protect American investors.”

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), along with Reps. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), Trent Kelly (R-Miss.), Michael Guest (R-Miss.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and more than 200 other lawmakers in filing an amicus brief supporting the State of Mississippi in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, which considers the question of whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health represents the most significant challenge to Roe v. Wade and the viability standard in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in a generation. 

“I’m proud to support this amicus brief, and I stand with Mississippi’s noble effort to defend life in the womb,” said Kennedy.

“Mississippi is at the forefront of the fight for life, and I am glad to lead the charge in Congress on behalf of the unborn. For too long, the precedents of Roe and Casey have prevented states from taking meaningful steps to protect life in the womb. My colleagues and I are urging the Supreme Court to correct these decades of injustice,” said Wicker.

“In taking up Mississippi’s pro-life law, the Supreme Court has a chance to reconsider the current misguided abortion jurisprudence. As a Senator, as a woman, and as a mother, I think this case offers us a chance to overturn Roe and return the abortion issue to the political process and away from activist judges. I am thankful so many of my colleagues are standing with Mississippi and against unlimited abortion on demand in this case,” said Hyde-Smith. 

In the amicus brief, the lawmakers ask that “the Court uphold Mississippi’s law as effectuating important state interests, or, alternatively, return this case to the lower courts for consideration on a full evidentiary record, recognizing that certain precedents [Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey] may be reconsidered and, where necessary, be wholly or partially overruled.”

The State of Mississippi in 2018 enacted the Gestational Age Act, a state law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks’ gestation, except in cases of medical emergency. The Jackson Women’s Health Organization, an abortion clinic in Jackson, Miss., sued on the grounds that the law violates the viability standard established by Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The Fifth Circuit Court affirmed the district court’s decision on these grounds.

The State of Mississippi filed its case with the Supreme Court on July 22, 2021.

Text of the amicus brief is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), along with five of their Senate colleagues, sent a letter to Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Gary Gensler following the initial public offering (IPO) by the Chinese vehicle-for-hire company Didi and the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) enforcement actions against Didi.

The senators urged Gensler to enforce the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act and start thorough investigations of potentially fraudulent Chinese Companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges.

“As an illustration of our concern, the Chinese ride-hailing company, Didi Global Inc. recently held its initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Prior to the offering, Didi officials and executives downplayed the risks of imminent Chinese regulation in its IPO prospectus filed at the SEC despite news reports that the CCP warned Didi officials to delay the IPO. . . . Immediately following the IPO, the CCP’s cyber arm, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), opened an investigation into Didi claiming that the company violated Chinese privacy and national security laws. . . . Resulting from this CAC crackdown, Didi’s stock price plummeted only two days after its IPO. The timing of the CAC investigation conveniently occurred after the company was able to snatch billions of dollars from American investors,” the senators wrote.

“The Didi IPO also highlights the troubling trend of Chinese companies taking advantage of our capital markets while ignoring the transparency that is required under U.S. law to access U.S. markets. According to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, as of October 2020 there were 217 Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges, including 13 companies that are claimed by the CCP as Chinese state-owned enterprises. We have serious doubts that these companies are in compliance with U.S. transparency requirements,” the senators continued.

“All of this requires the SEC to get much more serious and focused on U.S. listed Chinese companies, starting with the full enforcement of the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act that became law last year after passing both chambers of Congress unanimously. This law will delist Chinese companies that do not comply with Public Company Accounting Oversight Board inspections within three years. The SEC should recognize the urgency of implementing this law and begin counting compliance years now. Congress has already recognized this urgency and is currently considering accelerating this law’s compliance shot clock,” the senators continued.

The senators recommended that, to combat the threat of fraudulent Chinese companies, the SEC should also:

  • Launch investigations into Chinese companies, like Didi, and their underwriters to combat potential fraud and reporting oversights.
  • Investigate the potential risks that certain Chinese-controlled shell companies pose to U.S. investors.
  • Consider cooperative efforts among American, European and Japanese stock exchanges to prevent prospective or delisted Chinese companies from working their way into other prominent markets.
  • Investigate index providers doing business in the U.S. that continue to add Chinese companies to their products despite these companies’ lack of transparency.

Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) joined Kennedy and Sullivan on the letter.

Text of the letter is available here.

Background

Last December, the president signed into law Kennedy’s Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, which prohibits 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.

Many Americans invest in U.S. stock exchanges as part of their retirement and college savings, and dishonest companies operating on the exchanges put Americans’ investments 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 their competitors in America and other countries.

This June, the Senate also passed Kennedy’s Accelerating Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, which would put additional pressure on China by requiring foreign companies to comply with PCAOB audits within two consecutive years instead of three. This would help remove fraudulent and non-compliant companies from U.S. exchanges more quickly.