Kennedy introduces bipartisan U.S. and Pacific Islands Forum Partnership Act to combat communist aggression in the Pacific
Jul 28 2022
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the U.S. and Pacific Islands Forum Partnership Act to combat Communist China’s aggression in the Pacific. The legislation would establish a special envoy to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) is an original cosponsor of this legislation.
“How America conducts diplomacy in the Pacific has been a long-term challenge, and we’re out of time to talk about strategic solutions without implementing them. China is putting more economic and diplomatic pressure on the Pacific Island states each day, and one of the clearest and easiest steps that Congress can take to counter this communist antagonism is to establish a special envoy to the Pacific Islands Forum,” said Kennedy.
The PIF is an international organization of Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island nations.
Beijing recognizes that these nations are strategically located in the Pacific Ocean and has already established a special envoy to the PIF. The U.S., however, has not taken this or an equivalent diplomatic step to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with these important Pacific Island countries.
The special envoy role would require Senate confirmation. It would elevate diplomacy in the region and have accountability to Congress. A special envoy would help answer a diversity of threats from the communist regime by deepening trust and increasing dialogue on the Pacific Islands’ economic, cyber security and military concerns.
Text of the legislation is available here.
WASHINGTON – The Senate today passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) with key provisions for Louisiana that Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) successfully negotiated into the bill.
“The measures we successfully worked to include in WRDA would help finish crucial projects in our state sooner and help restore important habitats in south Louisiana. I hope Congress sends this bill to the president’s desk soon so that the Corps can get to work on more key Louisiana projects,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy fought to include in WRDA several measures that would expedite Army Corps of Engineers projects in Louisiana and a provision that would substantially reduce Louisiana’s cost share to perform ecosystem restoration in areas degraded by the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) navigation channel.
The MRGO navigation channel was closed after Hurricane Katrina, but the habitats the channel damaged have not yet been restored. Louisiana normally covers 35 percent of the cost of Corps of Engineers projects while the federal government covers 65 percent. The WRDA provision that Kennedy helped negotiate increases the federal share of restoring the MRGO to 90 percent of the project’s cost.
Other Kennedy victories in WRDA include directing the Corps of Engineers to:
- Resume operation, maintenance, repair, rehabilitation and replacement of the Algiers Canal Levees at full federal expense.
- Prioritize the Louisiana Coastal Area Project.
- Expedite completion of studies for coastal storm risk management in St. Tammany Parish and south-central coastal Louisiana.
- Mandate a low-cost, environmentally-friendly plan to dispose of dredged material as part of the Port Fourchon Belle Pass Channel Deepening Project. This plan could allow Louisiana to start this project sooner than alternative plans and would allow the state to use the dredged material to create additional wetlands.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in introducing the Combatting Violent and Dangerous Crime Act to fight the surge in crime by reforming the criminal code and clarifying existing law. The legislation aims to help law enforcement better prosecute individuals who commit violent crimes.
“Murder, carjacking, kidnapping and other violent crime are on the rise in major cities across our country. We cannot afford to let criminals off the hook when they choose crime and violence. This bill would help law enforcement get dangerous predators off our streets and away from innocent Americans,” said Kennedy.
“Crime is skyrocketing in communities across the country. Carjackings, homicides, attacks on law enforcement are all up. We have a duty to ensure that penalties for federal offenses serve as a deterrent and that any ambiguity from split court decisions is rectified so that perpetrators can be held accountable. This bill includes a number of small fixes that will go a long way in improving justice and preventing future crimes. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have bipartisan support to advance these modest, but meaningful, reforms. American communities are suffering under a scourge of lawlessness, so I hope we get some cooperation soon and I’ll keep reaching across the aisle to get it,” said Grassley.
Notable reforms in the bill include:
- Bank robbery
- Updates the definition of “attempted bank robbery” to clarify that the statute punishes ordinary “attempts” at bank robbery. This means that the offender intended to commit bank robbery and took a “substantial step” toward carrying out that intent.
- Adds a new “conspiracy” offense to allow for the prosecution of criminals who conspired with others to commit bank robbery.
- Deadly crimes
- Removes the common law year-and-a-day limitation on indictments for federal crimes that result in the death of the victim since many victims survive their attacks thanks to modern medicine yet still succumb to their injuries more than one year later.
- Vehicular homicide (carjacking)
- Reduces the burden for prosecutors who can prove the offender took the vehicle by violence or intimidation by striking the “intent” requirement.
- Creates a conspiracy to commit carjacking offense, which applies the same penalty as offenders who carry out the offense.
- Increases the statutory maximum imprisonment term for carjacking from 15 to 20 years as well as the penalty for offenders who use dangerous weapons to carry out a carjacking.
- Candy-flavored drugs
- Enhances penalties for marketing candy-flavored controlled substances to minors.
- Clarifies that federal kidnapping charges can apply to non-violent abductions, including abductions by deception.
Text of the legislation is available here.
Watch Kennedy’s remarks here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and six colleagues today urged David Maurstad, the Senior Executive of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to explain the Risk Rating 2.0 pricing methodology for NFIP premiums.
“Thus far, insufficient data has been disclosed in order to adequately evaluate Risk Rating 2.0 and make judgements about how to address FEMA’s implementation of premiums in a reauthorization bill,” the senators wrote.
“To improve public understanding and assessment of Risk Rating 2.0, and to achieve our essential transparency objectives in support of our evaluation of current NFIP practices and issues to be addressed in reauthorization legislation, we ask that FEMA publish all the datasets, programs, models, simulations, complete regression model outputs for rating factors, including associated confidence intervals, and inputs and outputs, including all the data and methods described in FEMA’s ‘Risk Rating 2.0 Methodology and Data Sources, January 18, 2022,’” they continued.
The senators also request that FEMA answer questions on the NFIP and the Biden administration’s legislative proposal to change and reauthorize the program and that the information be made available online within 60 days.
Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) also signed the letter.
The full letter is available here.
Kennedy receives Senator of the Year award from National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition
Jul 27 2022
WASHINGTON – The National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition has named Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) its Senator of the Year for his support of its mission to fight illegal drugs by equipping narcotics officers and task forces with key resources.
“Illegal drugs have become an extremely destructive force in America today, hurting our communities and our men and women serving on the front lines. The National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition works tirelessly to protect our communities from the consequences of drug abuse, drug trafficking and violent crime. It’s an incredible honor to support these law enforcement agents and to receive this award,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy’s DUMP Opioids Act became law this year and allows everyone in a community to use drop boxes at Veterans Affairs medical centers to dispose of unused controlled substance prescription medications.
In 2021, Kennedy introduced the Ending the Fentanyl Crisis Act, which would increase the legal penalties for fentanyl traffickers in proportion to the drug’s potency and make it harder for drug dealers to circulate the substance.
The same year, he introduced the Tourism District Protection Act to empower local police in tourist areas to combat crime and use funding through the Edward R. Byrne Grant Program.
In 2020, Kennedy helped secure almost $3 million to help Louisiana State Police combat opioid abuse.
In 2019, Kennedy helped secure a $11.7 million grant to help Louisiana understand and prevent opioid overdoses.
Kennedy: Louisianians can’t afford energy bills because Biden administration forfeited America’s energy independence
Jul 26 2022
Watch Kennedy’s remarks here
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today explained on the Senate floor how President Joe Biden’s energy policy has made electricity bills unaffordable for many in Louisiana. Kennedy also outlined how Louisianians can find help to lower their electricity bills.
Below are key excerpts from his remarks:
“Folks in my home state of Louisiana . . . are facing some of the largest energy bills—electricity bills—in the history of ever.”
. . .
"Here’s a news flash . . . heat is not the main reason that these electricity bills are soaring—it’s not. The main reason that electricity bills are soaring is because of President Biden’s profoundly foolish energy policies, which have depleted America’s natural gas inventories. Because of this, natural gas prices have increased 75 percent from 2020.”
. . .
“The current energy crisis—and that’s what this is—is a sucking chest wound for Louisianians and for Americans, but, yet, President Biden refuses to budge from his war on affordable energy that got us here.”
. . .
“He killed the Keystone Pipeline, he’s canceled our country’s mineral leases, he’s stalled our country’s pipelines, and he’s told his banking regulators to dry up capital and loans for energy production.
“He’s put the full force and weight of the United States government behind this effort to destroy oil and gas. And, in doing so, he has intentionally forfeited America’s energy independence—and that’s why electricity bills are so high.”
. . .
“Now, what’s the answer? How do we fix this? Well, the answer—duh—is to have the American people produce their own oil and gas. And we can do it. We’ve done it before. We were energy independent.
“My people in Louisiana know how to produce clean, affordable energy, and so do other people in other states.”
View Kennedy’s complete remarks here.
Senate committee passes Kennedy-supported bill to bring millions more in oil revenue to Louisiana
Jul 21 2022
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today applauded the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources’ move to eliminate the state revenue sharing cap that the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) establishes. Kennedy has worked closely with committee members and his Senate colleagues to lift the revenue cap that penalizes Gulf states unfairly and has remained especially focused, in recent days, on moving this bill to the Senate floor.
The Reinvesting in Shoreline Economies and Ecosystems (RISEE) Act, which Kennedy cosponsored, would reform GOMESA to allow Louisiana and other states to share more resources from offshore oil and gas leases. Kennedy also introduced the Offshore Cap Parity Act to eliminate the GOMESA cap.
“The current GOMESA cap unfairly targets oil producing states and denies them revenue that they have earned. Without this money to build infrastructure and storm barriers, Louisianians remain even more vulnerable to natural disasters. Eliminating the GOMESA cap is key to protecting people’s lives and livelihoods, and I’m glad we’ve made a way to move this bill forward. There’s still more to be done, but this is a step in the right direction,” said Kennedy.
GOMESA divides federal revenues from the offshore energy production of Gulf states into three portions. The federal government returns 37.5 percent of this revenue to Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama. The Land and Water Conservation Fund receives 12.5 percent of offshore revenue and directs most of that money to landlocked states. The final 50 percent of Gulf oil and gas revenue goes to the U.S. Treasury.
The GOMESA cap limits the dollar value of Gulf states’ 37.5 percent revenue share to $375 million, meaning the states receive no benefit when the energy sector peaks and revenues surpass the cap. Conversely, the Mineral Leasing Act ensures that states with onshore drilling operations receive 50 percent of their revenues, while there is no cap on how much money that share includes.
States with onshore energy production typically aren’t required to spend that money on environmental priorities. Louisiana, however, constitutionally dedicates that revenue from offshore energy production fund its coastal conservation and restoration projects.
Kennedy announces $59 million in disaster relief for winter storms, Hurricanes Ida, Laura and Delta
Jul 19 2022
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $58,883,643 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants in disaster aid for Louisiana.
“Hurricanes Laura, Ida and Delta left parts of our state in shambles. I’m thankful to see this $59 million help Louisiana families and communities recover from these blows,” said Kennedy.
The FEMA aid will fund the following:
- $1,231,771 to the Livingston Parish School Board for repairs to the Denham Springs Freshman High School damaged as the direct result of severe storms and flooding.
- $1,280,441 to the Livingston Parish School Board for repairs to the Denham Springs Junior High School damaged as a direct result of severe storms and flooding.
- $2,219,942 to Southwest Louisiana Electric Membership Corp. for removal and replacement of damaged infrastructure in Vermillion Parish as a result of Hurricane Laura.
- $1,307,528 to the St. Nicholas Center for Children for emergency protective measures as a result of Hurricane Laura.
- $5,769,062 to Calcasieu Parish School Board for repairs to their damaged facilities on the Lewis Middle School campus as a result of Hurricane Laura.
- $2,849,080 to The Lord’s Outreach Ministries for damages to their sanctuary building as a result of Hurricane Laura.
- $1,997,697 to the LA Department of Agriculture and Forestry for emergency protective measures as a result of Hurricane Delta.
- $1,620,369 in federal funding to Dixie Electric Membership Corp. for removal and replacement of damaged infrastructure as a result of the winter storm.
- $2,857,546 to St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office for Emergency Protective Measures as a result of Hurricane Ida.
- $18,880,881 to Tangipahoa Parish for debris removal operations as a result of Hurricane Ida.
- $4,494,972 to Ascension Parish for Public Assistance Alternate Procedure for debris removal as a result of Hurricane Ida.
- $12,832,090 to the Lafourche Parish School Board for emergency protective measures as a result of Hurricane Ida.
- $1,542,264 to St. Bernard Parish for Emergency Protective Measures as a result of Hurricane Ida.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) introduced the Chase COVID Unemployment Fraud Act of 2022 to recover stolen COVID unemployment money and return it to taxpayers. The legislation encourages states to implement guardrails that would protect against future fraud.
“The greatest theft of taxpayer dollars in American history is the billions of COVID unemployment money that fraudsters stole. This bill will help recover that money and return it to taxpayers,” said Kennedy.
Of the roughly $163 billion in COVID unemployment insurance that people took illegally, states have only recovered about $4 billion. The bill would fight fraud by:
- Incentivizing states to recover fraudulent unemployment payments by allowing them to retain 25 percent of the funds they recover from federal COVID unemployment programs. Workforce agencies currently have little incentive to go after fraud and must pay the up-front costs of hiring investigators and paying to prosecute fraud.
- Preventing further fraud by requiring states to match unemployment claims and verify employment, in addition to preventing incarcerated people from receiving unemployment benefits.
- Prohibiting the Biden administration from allowing states to waive suspicious overpayments by requiring the Department of Labor (DOL) to amend guidance that lets states off the hook for over-looking large volumes of suspicious unemployment claims.
- Requiring the DOL to report on fraudulent overpayments and the amount of money states recover from fraudsters.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) has introduced the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Full text of the bill can he found here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Extension Act of 2022 along with Sens. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.). The legislation would prevent the NFIP from expiring on September 30, 2022.
The bill extends the NFIP for one year, until September 30, 2023.
“Louisiana’s families rely on their flood policies to help them when bad weather wrecks their homes and businesses. Between storms and flooding, I can’t express enough how important extending the NFIP is for my state, especially now that we’re in the middle of hurricane season,” said Kennedy.
Of the 5 million Americans nationwide who rely on the NFIP, roughly 500,000 are Louisianians who need the program to protect their businesses and homes.
Text of the NFIP Extension Act of 2022 is available here.