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“There are no excuses.  It is time to get to work on the agenda promised to the American people.” -Sen. Kennedy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Senators David Perdue (R-GA), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Dean Heller (R-NV), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Luther Strange (R-AL), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) in sending a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledging full support to work 24/7 for the remainder of the year to allow time to pass positive, meaningful reforms for the American people.

“We have to do tax reform now, not just for our party but also for the American people.  The people of Louisiana and our country don’t understand why we have a Republican majority in Congress and we can’t deliver on the promises that were made to them.  There is no excuse,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “We need to work nights, we need to work weekends, and we need to get tax reform done by Thanksgiving.”

View the full text of the letter sent to the Majority Leader below.

Dear Leader McConnell:

The 115th Congress is being disrupted by sustained, partisan obstruction. We believe our conference must be willing to change how the Senate operates both by tradition and by rule.

We appreciate your acknowledging our concerns and applaud your plan to work nights and weekends when necessary to overcome this gridlock. You have our full support to turn the Senate on full time, 24/7, to advance the president’s agenda, including a meaningful health care solution, bold changes to our tax code, and funding the government by year’s end.

As you know, one glaring example of this unprecedented obstruction is the minority party’s perversion of Senate rules to undercut the confirmation process of the administration’s nominees and judicial appointments. When new presidents are elected, they have always been given an opportunity to put their team in place in short order. Historically, this is not just a common courtesy, it is an expectation of Americans to have a seamless transition of power resulting in a functioning federal government.

It is abundantly clear that the tactics employed by the minority are designed to imperil the new administration and its agenda. Overcoming this obstruction will require a real commitment on our part. An aggressive work calendar, as you have proposed, which should include nights and weekends, will enable administration and judicial nominees to be confirmed more quickly.

You have our pledge to be available for voting day and night and we offer our time to preside over the Senate when necessary to keep us on track. Given the unprecedented obstruction by our colleagues across the aisle, we hope you will also take a renewed look at the rules governing executive branch nominations.

Our conference should always remember that we are fighting for hardworking Americans. In their daily lives, when there is work to be done – whether on assembly lines, in the fields of family farms, fishing in our bountiful waters, or standing in harm’s way – everyday Americans do what it takes to get the job done. We owe them the same unrelenting effort in the job they gave us to do.

“We are a nation of immigrants.  But we are also a nation of laws.”- Sen. Kennedy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) questioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions today in the Senate Judiciary Committee about the city of New Orleans’ noncompliance with federal immigration laws and status as a “sanctuary city.”  The Attorney General agreed to Sen. Kennedy’s request to meet with the Mayor of New Orleans and other city officials to ensure that New Orleans complies with federal laws and keeps important crime-fighting funding. 

“I’d like to thank the Attorney General for agreeing to meet with me and New Orleans Mayor Landrieu as soon as possible to ensure a swift resolution between the city and the Department of Justice,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “It’s clear to me that the mayor of New Orleans doesn’t agree with America’s immigration laws.  This is America.  You can believe what you want, but you have to follow the law.  I don’t like traffic cameras.  In fact, I hate them.  But that doesn’t mean I can break the speed limit and run red lights to get to a Saints game.”

Click here or on the image below to watch the full exchange between Sen. Kennedy and the Attorney General.

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Sen. Kennedy sent a letter last weekend to Mayor Landrieu reiterating his offer to arrange a meeting between the Mayor and the Attorney General.  Below is a copy of the letter.

 

October 14, 2017

 

The Honorable Mitchell J. Landrieu

Mayor of New Orleans

1300 Perdido Street

New Orleans, Louisiana 70112

 

Dear Mayor Landrieu:

 

As you know, Byrne JAG grant awards for the City of New Orleans, which are desperately needed to fight violent crime, are contingent on the City’s compliance with 8 USC §1373.  I was concerned to discover that on October 11, the Department of Justice (DOJ) made a preliminary determination that the City is not compliant and is still enforcing ‘Sanctuary Cities’ policies.  Your administration has responded to that determination saying that the City is, in fact, in compliance.  However, the fact remains that the DOJ continues to find issues with the City’s efforts, and a solution is needed.

Earlier this year, I asked you to meet with Attorney General Sessions and myself in hopes of finding a solution, but you declined.  That offer still stands, and I hope that you will now consider it.  Furthermore, I will be asking the Attorney General about the City’s compliance issues next week when he appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  I am confident that he, too, remains willing to meet and help the City forge a path to 8 USC§1373 compliance.

The Attorney General has made clear that any jurisdiction’s willingness to prioritize the protection of criminal aliens over the rule of law will not be tolerated.  I fully support that view and believe it is incumbent upon your administration to demonstrate that same commitment.  As the City of New Orleans continues to have serious issues with violent crime and gang activity, jeopardizing Byrne JAG funding simply cannot be an option.

I ask you for your full cooperation with the Attorney General and the Department of Justice to secure a swift resolution to this issue and to ensure future Byrne JAG funding.  I look forward to your response.

 

Sincerely,

 

John Kennedy

             United States Senator

 

cc: The Honorable Jeff Sessions, Attorney General of the United States     

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today that FEMA is granting $10.4 million in Public Assistance Funds to school districts in Livingston Parish, East Baton Rouge Parish and the city of Baker.

The East Baton Rouge School Board will receive $8.3 million.  The Livingston Parish School Board will receive $1.1 million.  Baker Schools System will receive $1 million.

“The 2016 flooding didn’t just impact homes and businesses.  It also devastated many schools,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Every bit of funding counts when you’re rebuilding.  I’m thankful for this funding and will continue to work with our school districts until they are whole again.”

“As the East Baton Rouge Parish School District continues recovery in the aftermath of the 2016 floods, we appreciate the work of Senator John Kennedy in securing FEMA funding in the amount of $8 million,” said East Baton Rouge Parish school system Supt. Warren Drake.  “Senator Kennedy’s efforts are valuable in restoring school transportation services which directly benefit the students and families in our community.”

“The staff, parents and students will definitely benefit from this temporary measure,” said City of Baker School System Supt. Herman Brister.  “We are still working very closely with FEMA and GOHSEP regarding permanent work on Baker High School and project worksheets.”

“I appreciate FEMA reimbursements that continue to allow Livingston Parish Public Schools to recover from the August 2016 flooding,” said Livingston Parish School Supt. Rick Wentzel.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) released the following statement today after President Trump issued a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of Louisiana triggering the Public Assistance funds to help impacted communities recover from Tropical Storm Harvey.

“I would like to thank President Trump for directing Public Assistance funds to impacted Parishes in south Louisiana,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “However, I continue to encourage the President to designate Individual Assistance funds for citizens in Calcasieu Parish.  This storm devastated many homes and local businesses, and it’s only right that they have direct access to the tools necessary for rebuilding.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today urged Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to look into Medicaid cost saving efforts for the state.  This follows the letter that Sen. Kennedy sent Gov. Edwards last week highlighting possible ways to save Louisianans money.  Specifically, Sen. Kennedy pointed out the benefits of enacting work requirements for Medicaid recipients.

“Medicaid is a very important program, however, we have to be mindful about the cost.  Every dollar we spend unnecessarily on Medicaid is a dollar less we have for our public schools, our universities, and our roads.  I strongly encourage Gov. Edwards to look into cost-saving measures for Medicaid immediately,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “One of the best ways to save money is by implementing work requirements for Medicaid recipients.”

Click here or the video below to watch Sen. Kennedy’s comments about work requirements for Medicaid.

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Text of the letter:

 

October 10, 2017

 

The Honorable John Bel Edwards

Governor

State of Louisiana

P.O. Box 94004

Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804

 

Re: Medicaid cost savings

 

By email, fax and U.S. mail

 

Dear Governor Edwards:

As you are aware, our Medicaid spending in Louisiana is growing at an alarming rate.  In Fiscal Year 2008-09, we spent $6.6 billion on the Louisiana Medicaid Program.  $1.5 billion of that was state taxpayer money and $5.1 billion was federal taxpayer money.  The Louisiana Medicaid budget for this fiscal year, 2017-18, was appropriated at $12.5 billion.  $3.3 billion of that is state taxpayer money and $9.1 billion is federal taxpayer money.

Thus, in 9 years, overall Medicaid spending is up 90%.  The state Medicaid contribution is up 120%, an average of a whopping 13% a year.  Federal monies are up 80%.

Louisiana now has 1.6 million Medicaid enrollees, about 440,000 of whom were added under Obamacare.  65% of all babies born in Louisiana had their births paid for by Medicaid.

Top quality health care for our people is extraordinarily important.  (No reasonable person has ever described Medicaid as “top quality,” but we can discuss that another time).  So, however, are other things, like elementary and secondary education, higher education, TOPS, roads and public safety.  The massive, unchecked spending increases in Medicaid are crowding out spending on these other priorities.  We need to do something about it.

The Trump administration is anxious to work with states on reducing Medicaid costs.  In fact, you received a letter from the federal Department of Health and Human Services Secretary and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator in March of this year encouraging you to seek permission from them to experiment with new ways to more efficiently and effectively promote Medicaid’s objectives.

Other states are seizing this opportunity.  Here is what some of them are doing:

1.  Indiana is seeking CMS permission to require Medicaid recipients who are able-bodied, without minor children and not elderly to work at least 20 hours per week.  According to a study by the University of New Hampshire’s Casey School of Public Policy, this is about 31.3% of the nation’s adult Medicaid enrollees.  These enrollees would participate in Indiana’s Gateway to Work program.  Gateway to Work helps participants fill out applications, build resumes, prepare for job interviews and search for employment.  The objective, of course, is to get people into the workforce so they can purchase their own health insurance and know the dignity of being self-sufficient.

2.  Indiana is also seeking permission to charge higher premiums to Medicaid enrollees who smoke cigarettes in the second year of enrollment.

3.  Arkansas wants to add a work requirement to its program and help some Medicaid patients transition to private insurance through tax credits and other assistance. 

4.  Kentucky recently filed a CMS application to charge small monthly premiums for Medicaid participants.  The premiums would range from $1 to $15.  That little bit of money would add up to big savings of more than $300 million for the state of Kentucky.  It also would reinforce the fact that everyone should have “skin in the game” and accept some responsibility for paying for a “free” government service that is not free at all, because taxpayers pay for it.

5.  Kentucky and Arizona are seeking permission to require Medicaid enrollees to report changes in their income that would exceed the Medicaid limits.

6.  Wisconsin is seeking CMS permission to drug test Medicaid applicants without children.  Applicants who test positive will not lose eligibility for Medicaid but instead will be referred to a 90 day drug treatment program.  A Medicaid applicant would not have to take an initial drug test if the applicant is willing to enter a substance abuse treatment program.  The idea is to build a healthy population that is able to work. 

7.  Wisconsin is also seeking CMS permission to charge monthly premiums for Medicaid ranging from $1 to $10 per household according to household income, impose a small co-pay ($8 for the first visit) for Emergency Room visits, and ask Medicaid applicants to fill out a health risk assessment to identify unhealthy behavior that can be improved through patient education.

These are only some of the innovative steps other states are taking to save money in Medicaid, encourage work and improve health outcomes.

You should also know that these efforts are not only Trump Administration-encouraged initiatives.  President Obama, for example, approved a waiver application by Arkansas to require its Medicaid beneficiaries to pay a small share of their health care.

I ask that you instruct your DHH Secretary to review these state proposals, develop a cost-savings plan for the Louisiana Medicaid Program, report the findings and seek legislative and CMS approval to implement them immediately.  My office will be happy to assist you and DHH in developing such a plan and getting it approved.

Thank you, Governor, for your cooperation in this endeavor.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

John Kennedy

U.S. Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA.) released the following statement today on the Office of Management and Budget's supplemental budget request.

"The request includes deeply troubling policy suggestions that would harm Louisiana families insured through the National Flood Insurance Program.  The Office of Management and Budget wants to turn the NFIP into a means-tested program that would lead to skyrocketing premiums for the majority of policyholders in Louisiana.  This would hurt middle-class families as well as senior citizens living on fixed incomes.  This would put our economy in a death spiral by pricing families out of their homes.

"I am going to fight the inclusion of this language.  Owning a home is part of the American dream.  We can't put that dream out of reach."

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today at the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) questioned former Equifax CEO, Richard Smith, about the recent no bid $7.3 million contract between the IRS and Equifax.

Equifax informed the Senate Banking Committee today that 2.16 million people in Louisiana were impacted by the security breach.  After the breach, Equifax received a fraud prevention contract from the IRS.

“The contract is $7 million and change.  Does that involve taxpayer information that you would have access to?” asked Sen. Kennedy.  “You realize to many Americans right now, it looks like we are giving Lindsay Lohan the keys to the minibar.”

Sen. Kennedy continued his questioning of Mr. Smith by asking him to explain the unfair premium credit monitoring services Equifax sells to the American people.

 “You collect my information without my permission and you sell that information to businesses.  You can’t run your business without me.  My data is the product that you sell,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “You then offer me a premium service to make sure the data you are collecting about me is accurate.  I don’t pay extra in a restaurant to prevent the waiter from spitting in my food.”

Click here to watch Sen. Kennedy question Mr. Smith in the U.S. Senate Banking Committee or click the photo below.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA.) announced today that farmers in 10 parishes are eligible for federal assistance, including emergency loans, because of devastating weather in 2017. The impacted parishes are Concordia, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Madison, St. Helena, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Tensas, Washington and West Feliciana.

“Excessive rainfall and flooding hit our farmers hard this year,” said Sen. Kennedy. “The federal government is offering low interest loans that can help farmers recover and rebuild. We want our farmers to prosper.”

Farmers have eight months to apply for low interest loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. For more information, contact your local FSA office.

“What in God’s name were you thinking?”- Sen. Kennedy to Wells Fargo CEO

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today at the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs hearing, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) questioned Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan about the egregious lapse in judgment that led to the creation of 3.5 million unauthorized deposit accounts and more than 500,000 unauthorized credit card applications. 

Click here to watch Sen. Kennedy question Mr. Sloan or click the link below.

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“Like you I believe in the free enterprise system.  I believe that the free enterprise system has lifted more people out of poverty than all of the social programs put together,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “I am certainly not anti-business.  You can’t be for jobs if you are against business.  What I am curious about is what in God’s name were you thinking?  I am not against big business.  With all due respect, I am against dumb.  I’m against a business practice which puts Wells Fargo first and customers second.”

This hearing occurred one year after Wells Fargo’s then CEO John Stumpf appeared before the Senate Banking Committee to testify about the phony accounts.  Mr. Stumpf resigned shortly after the hearing.  Wells Fargo has since entered into a $185 million settlement with its customers.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

WASHINGTON—US Senators John Kennedy (R-LA) and Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) released a joint statement today warning against the inclusion of the Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill, rather than as part of comprehensive flood insurance reform:

“The decision to include this flood insurance measure on the FAA reauthorization bill, and not as part of comprehensive flood insurance reform, is greatly concerning. This would be a disservice to millions of families across the U.S., especially those families still recovering from the recent hurricanes. We need Congress to act on a long-term reauthorization of the NFIP that will provide these families with affordable insurance and peace of mind.”