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WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, today introduced the Promoting New and Diverse Depositories Act, which would direct the prudential regulators to conduct a study on the barriers that depository institutions face when attempting to enter the banking market. The bill would also require a strategic plan to promote more new applicants for bank charters, especially minority depository institutions and Community Development Financial Institutions. 

Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) is the lead co-sponsor of the bill.

“Small banks and credit unions often provide loans to small businesses and other job creators, especially in rural areas that large banks often forget about. I introduced this bill to make it easier for community lenders to give Americans more options for accessing credit and making the most of their hard-earned money,” said Kennedy.

Federal regulators include the Federal Reserve Board, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the National Credit Union Administration and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

Community banks and credit unions play key roles in America’s financial markets and support huge swaths of the U.S. economy. They are also a major supplier of credit to agricultural producers and businesses, including during times of economic stress when the need for credit is most acute.

In 2023, however, there are 4,161 fewer banks in the United States (4,672 total) than there were in 2005 (8,833). That represents a nearly 50 percent decline. Of the banks active today, only 70 have been established since 2010.

In 2001, there were 164 minority depository institutions (MDIs). The number of MDIs reached its peak at 215 in 2008 and declined to 147 in 2022. 

Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.) introduced the bill in the House of Representatives, which has already passed the legislation.

Text of the Promoting New and Diverse Depositories Act is available here

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, today introduced the Protecting Investors’ Personally Identifiable Information Act, which would protect information that could reveal the identity of American investors. The legislation would prohibit the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from requiring brokers to submit investors’ personally identifiable information to its Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT).

Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) are original cosponsors of the bill.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) has authored companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“Investors trust the U.S. stock market with their savings and their privacy, but the SEC’s Consolidated Audit Trail would expose every American investor’s Social Security number and personal data to malicious hackers. The CAT is unconstitutional, and it hoards personal information it doesn’t need. My bill would make sure that the SEC only houses information it needs, and only while it needs it. As long as hackers and foreign enemies keep targeting Americans, the government shouldn’t endanger their personal information by creating one great, big, centralized target for bad actors,” said Kennedy. 

“The federal government has two huge problems when it comes to cyber security: they collect way too much personally identifiable information (PII), and they have a poor track record of protecting the information from hackers. This is why I introduced the Protecting Investors’ Personally Identifiable Information Act in the House, which will help prevent a breach by restricting the SEC’s ability to collect this data in the first place. Among its provisions, the SEC would only be able to request this data if investigating or enforcing violations of federal securities law. Thank you, Senator John Kennedy, for introducing the Senate companion to my bill,” Loudermilk said.

The SEC’s CAT will be fully operational between 2024 and 2025, making it the largest government database of its kind. The CAT will collect all customer and order information for equity securities and listed options, including data that might be considered personally identifiable information.  

The SEC is implementing the CAT despite concerns from investor protection groups and the securities industry and in the wake of vulnerabilities that recent cyber-attacks have revealed at federal agencies.  

This bill would prohibit the SEC from requiring market participants to submit investors’ personally identifiable information to the CAT. Under this legislation, the SEC can obtain personally identifiable information related to investors only by requesting it on a case-by-case basis. Companies and investors trading on the U.S. stock exchanges would need to fulfill the SEC’s request for this information within 24 hours, though additional time may be requested.  

The bill would also require the SEC to delete personally identifiable information once the agency resolves the investigation or issue that required that information. 

The CAT is a sitting duck that makes every American investor and retirement saver’s personal and financial information an easy target for Chinese hackers. We thank Senator Kennedy for his leadership in protecting America’s mom-and-pop investors by introducing this important legislation to remove their personal and financial information from the CAT,” said American Securities Association CEO Chris Iacovella.

Text of the Protecting Investors’ Personally Identifiable Information Act is available here

Watch Kennedy’s questioning here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today questioned witnesses in the Senate Appropriations Committee on the bipartisan Affordable Insulin Now Act of 2023, which he and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) introduced this March. Their bill would cap the price of insulin for all patients, including those who are uninsured, at $35 for a 30-day supply.

Key moments from the committee exchange include: 

We need to stop nibbling around the edges. We need to be smart enough to figure this out. And the cost? I think it can be done for $250 million a year, and I'm not talking about taking out a reverse mortgage on Alaska and borrowing more money. I'm talking about finding it in our budget,” said Kennedy.

The federal budget is 6,000 billion dollars every year—and we can’t find $250 million to cap the price of insulin? Let's do it right,” Kennedy concluded.

Background on the Affordable Insulin Now Act:

More than 14 percent of Louisiana’s adult population has been diagnosed with diabetes, and more than 30 percent of adult Louisianians are pre-diabetic. 

Louisiana alone spends an estimated $5.7 billion a year on direct medical expenses for those who are diagnosed with diabetes. By ensuring that insulin is affordable, the long-term cost of care for patients will decrease over time as more Americans are able to prevent complications including heart disease, kidney disease, strokes and other diagnoses. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, medical costs and lost work and wages for people with diagnosed diabetes total $327 billion yearly, and the American Diabetes Association has asserted that diabetics account for $1 of every $4 spent on health care in the U.S.

A national study projected that improving access to insulin for uninsured patients could help avoid complications of diabetes and deaths related to the disease. As a result, the health care system could save substantial amounts of money on providing care to uninsured diabetes patients.

The Affordable Insulin Now Act of 2023 would:

  • Require private group or individual plans to cover one of each insulin dosage form (i.e., vial, pen) and insulin type (i.e., rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting) for no more than $35 per month.
  • Require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a program to reimburse qualifying entities for covering any costs that exceed $35 for providing a 30-day supply of insulin to uninsured patients.
  • Be fully paid for by an offset and not add to the federal deficit.

Kennedy’s efforts to save taxpayer money by defraying insulin costs include:

  • In August 2022, Kennedy introduced an amendment to President Biden’s inflation reduction Act to cap insulin costs.
  • In June 2022, Kennedy penned an op-ed outlining the benefits of making insulin affordable for diabetic Louisianians.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $68,407,820 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Louisiana disaster relief efforts.

“Many Louisianians are still suffering from the aftermath of Hurricanes Laura and Ida. I’m grateful to see this $68.4 million investment ease some of the issues these storms caused,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $42,025,248 to the Jefferson Parish Public School System for mold remediation related to Hurricane Ida.
  • $8,442,373 to the Calcasieu Parish School Board to repair damages resulting from Hurricane Laura
  • $4,362,618 to the Terrebonne General Medical Center for mold remediation related to Hurricane Ida.
  • $3,323,505 to the Housing Authority of Lafourche Parish for mold remediation at 24 housing units related to Hurricane Ida.
  • $2,109,381 to the Greater Lafourche Port Commission to repair damages resulting from Hurricane Ida.
  • $1,697,150 to the city of Hammond for emergency protective measures required by Hurricane Ida.
  • $1,548,964 to Lafourche Parish Water District #1 to repair damages resulting from Hurricane Ida.
  • $1,495,293 to Jefferson Parish to repair damages to drainage pump stations resulting from Hurricane Ida.
  • $1,225,349 to Lafourche Parish to repair damages to Leeville Boat Launches and Pier resulting from Hurricane Ida.
  • $1,159,324 to Terrebonne Parish to repair damages to inmate facilities resulting from Hurricane Ida.
  • $1,018,616 to the Winn Parish Police Jury for permanent road repairs resulting from Hurricane Laura.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $10,032,981 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Louisiana flood mitigation efforts.

“I am thankful for this $10 million, which will help protect Louisianians’ properties in St. Charles and Ascension Parishes from flood damage,” said Kennedy. 

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $7,046,627 to Ascension Parish to elevate 37 structures.
  • $2,986,354 to St. Charles Parish to elevate 16 properties.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and a bipartisan group of 33 other senators in urging Pres. Joe Biden to ensure that North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members follow through on their past commitments of defense spending ahead of the organization’s summit.

Throughout last year, only seven NATO members met the defense goal, including the U.S. Excluding the U.K., none of the other members who met the requirement are major economies. 

“Failure of many of our allies—including some of NATO's largest members—to meet commitments of 2% of GDP on defense has the potential to undermine American support for the alliance, severely limits Europe's ability to contribute to our shared interest in defending against Russia, and is a source of long-term instability in Europe, not to mention frustration for American taxpayers. We are not asking our NATO allies to do anything they have not already pledged to do,” the senators wrote.

The U.S., which accounts for roughly half of the combined alliance’s GDP, pays 70 percent of NATO's combined defense expenses.

“The lack of sufficient progress is politically and economically unsustainable. American citizens rightly question why our government disproportionately bears the burden—decade after decade—for Europe's defense,” they continued.

“That disparities in NATO member defense spending have persisted for so long is incompatible with genuine partnership,” the lawmakers concluded. 

Last August, the Senate unanimously adopted an amendment to require NATO members to spend at least two percent of their GDP on defense.

In 2014, during the Obama-Biden Administration, all NATO members pledged to maintain or meet the two percent defense spending guideline within 10 years.

Kennedy penned this op-ed urging Germany to pull its weight against Russia by contributing what it promised to NATO and also spoke on the Senate floor about the need for Germany to follow through on its defense spending pledge.

The full letter is available here

 

 

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $16,225,957 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Louisiana disaster aid. 

“Hurricanes Ida and Laura dealt a massive blow to Louisianians in Lake Charles and in Jefferson and St. Tammany Parishes, and I’m grateful that this $16.2 million will support their recovery efforts,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $4,741,389 to the Louisiana Children’s Medical Center DBA LCMC Health for generator repairs required as a result of Hurricane Ida.
  • $4,736,923 to Jefferson Parish for debris removal operations required as a result of Hurricane Ida. 
  • $3,064,768 to Washington - St. Tammany Electric Cooperative for Alternative Procedure Debris Removal required as a result of Hurricane Ida. 
  • $2,284,504 to the Southwest Louisiana Hospital Association DBA Lake Charles Memorial Hospital for campus wide emergency protective measures as a result of Hurricane Laura. 
  • $1,398,373 to the Louisiana Children’s Medical Center DBA LCMC Health for emergency protective measures required as a result of Hurricane Ida. 

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today joined Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and others on the committee in writing to Meta Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg regarding recent reporting that Instagram’s algorithm promotes and facilitates sexual interest in and activity with children, including the production and sharing of child sexual abuse material (CSAM). 

“We are gravely concerned that Instagram’s failure to prevent this perverse use of its algorithms is not due to a lack of ability, but instead a lack of initiative and motivation. In other contexts, Meta has taken steps to map out user networks facilitated by its algorithm, and has even been able to suppress unlawful user content within those networks,” the senators wrote.

“Nevertheless, the Stanford experts determined that Instagram has been ‘ineffective’ in preventing the growth of Self-Generated Child Sexual Abuse Material (SG-CSAM) networks on its platform, largely because of a ‘general lack of resources devoted to detecting SG-CSAM and associated commercial activity.’ It is alarming that online child sexual exploitation and the proliferation of CSAM, including SGCSAM, is not among Meta’s highest priorities—especially when its platform directly facilitates and bolsters the black market for child sexual abuse material,” they continued.

“This Committee has united across the political aisle to combat the evil of online child sexual exploitation. Tech companies cannot assist malevolent actors who seek to take advantage of children. As the experts at Stanford so succinctly articulated, ‘minors do not have the ability to meaningfully consent to the implications of having widely distributed explicit material and the other harms for which it puts them at risk.’  We refuse to let those who traffic in CSAM subject children to these harms and alter the course of their lives. And we refuse to accept Meta’s facilitation of these crimes. We therefore urge Meta to join us in combatting this threat,” the senators concluded. 

Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) also signed the letter.

The letter is available here.

 

 

 

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) penned this op-ed in the Ouachita Citizen explaining how Washington’s soft-on-crime policies and rhetoric have harmed Louisiana. He argues that his colleagues in Congress must do more to support law enforcement and promote policies that maintain law and order. 

Key excerpts of the op-ed are below:

“Some people in power who should know better think cops are a bigger problem than criminals. And they’ve got more empathy for criminals than they do for the law-abiding people those criminals robbed, maimed, or killed. It’s pure lunacy. And it’s making life worse for Louisianians.

“Louisiana has the second-highest homicide rate in the nation. As a city, New Orleans led the nation in homicides in 2022. Baton Rouge’s burglary rate is 330 percent higher than the national average. Shreveport landed on a list of the most dangerous metro areas after a 21.3 percent increase in violent crime.”

. . . 

“You don’t need to be Einstein’s cousin to understand what’s driving this crime wave: anti-cop rhetoric, soft-on-crime policies, and the idea that criminal justice is usually unjust.

“Hating cops has become a status symbol for the loon wing of the progressive movement. They have spent years spewing vitriol at law enforcement and working to defund the police.

“Now, we face a severe police officer shortage nationwide, especially in Louisiana. The Louisiana State Police were 300 officers short of the recommended staffing levels. New Orleans is short hundreds of officers, too. Baton Rouge’s police vacancy rate climbed from 30 officers in 2016 to 105 officers in 2022. Shreveport needed 135 additional officers as of March.” 

. . .

“Only in Washington would someone be more worried about a criminal’s comfort than a victim’s pain. Or find concerned parents at school board meetings more dangerous than terrorists sneaking across our open border. Or think policing is a bigger threat than crime. 

“The government’s first job is to protect people and their property. By demonizing law enforcement while coddling criminals, woke lawmakers and prosecutors have endangered innocent Americans.

“I won’t let Washington ignore the carnage that has unfolded, and I’ll keep fighting for policies that restore safety and order to our country and our state. Without order, there can be no justice.”

Sen. Kennedy has introduced and supported several bills aimed at restoring law and order in America, including the Fairness in Fentanyl Sentencing Act and the Prosecutors Need to Prosecute Act. He also has a strong record of opposing reforms that shorten sentences for criminals, including the  First Step Act

Read the full op-ed here.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $1,126,558 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Louisiana disaster aid.

“Louisianians are still rebuilding after Hurricane Laura, and I’m glad to see this $1.1 million go towards the facilities at the Lake Charles Memorial Hospital,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following: 

  • $1,126,558 in federal funding to the Southwest Louisiana Hospital Association for the Lake Charles Memorial Hospital for the second phase of installing temporary facilities as a result of Hurricane Laura.