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WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) today welcomed the appointment of a Lead Inspector General (IG) to provide focused oversight of America’s aid to Ukraine. Kennedy and Sinema led the effort in Congress to install a Special IG in Ukraine who could provide comprehensive oversight to ensure America’s friends in Ukraine use taxpayer-funded aid efficiently and effectively in their fight against Russia’s illegal invasion

“America’s aid to Ukraine isn’t charity; it’s an important investment in our national security. I’m pleased that the Department of Defense has listened to our proposal and selected a Lead Inspector General to ensure that every dollar the American taxpayers sent to Ukraine is used to deter Russia’s aggression,” said Kennedy. 

“As America stands with Ukraine and ensures it has the tools and resources necessary to defend itself against Russia’s illegal and unprovoked war, we’re glad the Administration listened to our calls and appointed a Lead Inspector General to provide critical oversight of our aid,” said Sinema.

Background

The Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General announced on Saturday that Robert Storch would be the Lead IG overseeing aid to Ukraine. The United States has provided at least $113 billion in aid to Ukraine since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion began in February 2022.

Kennedy and Sinema have consistently advocated for the installation of a dedicated IG to track American aid to Ukraine, including: 

  • Leading a letter in June 2023 asking the Special IG for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John F. Sopko, to provide insight on the importance of having dedicated oversight in Ukraine.
  • Publishing this op-ed in USA Today in June 2023 calling on Congress to work together to install a dedicated IG to provide comprehensive oversight on our aid to Ukraine.
  • Sponsoring an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act in July 2023 based on the Independent and Objective Oversight of Ukrainian Assistance Act to select a Lead IG to provide full-time oversight of aid in Ukraine.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) in introducing the CFPB Pay Fairness Act of 2023, which would increase accountability at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) by requiring the agency to pay its employees according to the same standards that apply to other federal employees.

“The CFPB’s funding scheme reveals much about what’s wrong with big government. Our bill would do away with the CFPB’s unfair pay advantage and begin to put the agency’s staff on equal footing with other hardworking federal employees,” said Kennedy.

“Those who created the CFPB continually sought to remove the agency from meaningful oversight and provide it with preferential treatment, all the way down to ignoring the widely-used federal government GS pay scale for CFPB employees. This legislation is a common-sense step to reigning in exorbitant pay at the CFPB and restoring parity among federal agencies,” said Tillis.

The CFPB’s funding mechanism operates outside the regular congressional oversight process. As a result, many CFPB employees receive salaries comparable with those of members of Congress and cabinet secretaries. The CFPB Pay Fairness Act of 2023 would give the CFPB 90 days to bring its employee salaries in line with the General Schedule (GS) pay scale for federal employees.

Full text of the CFPB Pay Fairness Act of 2023 is available here.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced more than $24.4 million in grants for Louisiana from the Department of Defense’s Defense Community Infrastructure Pilot Program.

“Investing in Louisiana communities is good for Louisianians and our national security, and I’m happy to see that Plaquemines Parish and the City of Leesville will be able to put this $24.4 million to use to make our state a safer place,” said Kennedy. 

The Defense Community Infrastructure Pilot Program will fund the following:

  • $13,725,400 to Plaquemines Parish to construct a multi-use emergency command center for staging and distributing supplies during emergencies.
  • $5,793,200 to Plaquemines Parish to improve stormwater management infrastructure and rehabilitate a flood control basin to better protect airfields during severe weather events.
  • $4,930,000 to the City of Leesville to extend a runway at the Leesville Airport to support the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Johnson.
View Kennedy’s remarks here.
 

WASHINGTON – The Senate today unanimously passed Sen. John Kennedy’s (R-La.) 5G Spectrum Authority Licensing Enforcement (SALE) Act. The legislation would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to release previously auctioned spectrum in order to expand 5G broadband access to rural communities. 

“My 5G SALE Act provides Americans with access to broadband by giving the FCC the authority to finish transferring previously auctioned spectrum to companies that offer 5G coverage. The House should move quickly to send this bill to the president’s desk so that the job providers who depend on wireless communications in Louisiana and across America can continue to support rural economies,” said Kennedy. 

Kennedy questioned FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing about the commission’s lapsed authority to transfer spectrum licenses already sold at auction. The 5G SALE Act would temporarily grant the FCC auction authority it needs to complete spectrum transfers, which would allow broadband services to provide greater 5G network coverage to Americans in rural areas.

Background:

In 2022, the FCC auctioned off roughly 8,000 licenses to grant companies access to America’s broadband spectrum. These licenses are the only way companies can legally use the radio waves that deliver 5G to customers. These wavelengths are therefore highly valuable.

During the period between when companies paid for their licenses and when the FCC should have parceled the licenses out, Congress failed to reauthorize the FCC’s ability to auction off licenses altogether. Now, each company that bought spectrum in that auction is waiting to receive its transfer. Despite payments being complete, the FCC says it no longer has the authority to grant those licenses. 

Kennedy’s legislation would grant the FCC a one-time, temporary authority to issue licenses purchased in auctions that were held before March 9, 2023 (when the FCC’s Congressional authorization ended).

Full text of the 5G SALE Act is available here.

 

WASHINGTON – The Senate passed Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Bill Cassidy’s (R-La.) resolution to recognize the Louisiana State University’s (LSU) Fighting Tigers baseball team for winning the 2023 College World Series National Championship. The hard-fought series against the Florida Gators resulted in LSU’s seventh national championship title.

“Louisianians are proud of the LSU Tigers and Coach Jay Johnson for the team’s historic season. Each of the players worked hard to deliver an incredible championship win, inspiring us all. Geaux Tigers!” said Kennedy.

“The 2023 LSU Baseball team will go down in history as one of the best ever college baseball teams. Congratulations to the players, Coach Johnson, and the coaching staff. Geaux Tigers!” said Cassidy. 

The resolution congratulates Head Coach Jay Johnson on becoming the first coach to win an NCAA Division I baseball title before his third year and highlights the many achievements by players on the field. The resolution also thanks LSU fans for their dedication and support.

Read the full resolution here.

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and 44 other Republican senators in demanding that Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) restore the traditional, business dress code for senators on the Senate floor. 

“For more than 230 years, the United States Senate has served the American people with honor and dignity. As members of this esteemed body, we understand the seriousness our positions require,” the senators wrote.

“The Senate is a place of honor and tradition, and the Senate floor is where we conduct the business of the American people. It is where we debate the policies which impact every American family and, when necessary, it is where we must make the gravest decision imaginable—whether to send our fellow Americans into battle to defend the freedoms we all hold dear. The world watches us on that floor and we must protect the sanctity of that place at all costs,” they continued.

“Allowing casual clothing on the Senate floor disrespects the institution we serve and the American families we represent. We the undersigned members of the United States Senate write to express our supreme disappointment and resolute disapproval of your recent decision to abandon the Senate’s longstanding dress code for members, and urge you to immediately reverse this misguided action,” the senators concluded.

The letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, today joined Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) and other Banking Committee Republicans in sending a letter to Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Sandra Thompson about the agency’s racial equity housing plans, which encourage discrimination on the basis of race.

These plans pursue a discriminatory agenda rather than focusing on increasing the safety and soundness of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Though the senators previously asked the FHFA to refocus efforts on these priorities, FHFA ignored their request and instead published a proposed rule on April 26, 2023 that codifies a requirement to develop and measure implementation of the discriminatory plans.

“As we made you aware, the Plans are inherently problematic. They are manifestly unfair and encourage discrimination on the basis of race. The Plans may very well be unconstitutional and violate the Equal Protection Clause as they express a clear, discriminatory intent,” wrote the senators.

“While perhaps well-intentioned, we have seen the consequences of relaxing underwriting criteria and lowering down payment requirements after years of record home price appreciation; many minority families lost significant, generational wealth when they were pushed into highly-leveraged home purchases shortly before the last housing crisis,” the law makers continued. 

Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) also signed the letter.

The full letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced a resolution urging all member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to spend a minimum of 2% of their gross domestic product on defense. 

“Friends tell friends the truth: By not meeting their own pledge to spend 2% of GDP on defense, our NATO allies are opening the door to further political instability. Every member of NATO must do its part, just as many countries are already doing, to deter bad actors like Russia from advancing their goals,” said Kennedy.

“To effectively confront the vast range of security risks we face—from Russia and China to cybersecurity, our NATO allies must fully meet defense spending commitments. Peace and stability do not come without a price and that’s why I am proud to introduce this resolution urging NATO members to strive toward the agreed-upon 2% of GDP defense spending allocation. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this resolution to ensure every NATO state is shouldering the responsibilities of this defense alliance,” said Manchin.  

The resolution also commends member countries including Greece, the United Kingdom, Finland, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia for taking strides to either meet or exceed the spending commitment. 

Background:

  • In 2006, member countries of NATO first agreed to spend 2% of GDP on defense. In 2014, at the NATO Summit in Wales, all member countries once again committed to maintain or move toward meeting the 2% defense spending minimum within 10 years. 
  • As of 2022, only 11 member countries were meeting the 2% minimum, including the U.S. and the United Kingdom.
  • Many member countries issued statements pledging to meet the 2% minimum following the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, yet many member countries are projected to not reach the minimum until as late as 2035. 
  • Kennedy recently commended NATO allies for increasing defense spending on the Senate floor and called on other countries to meet their commitments. 

The resolution is available here.

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today joined Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in introducing the Secure the Border Act of 2023 to end the border crisis by requiring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to address illegal immigration.

The Secure the Border Act is a companion bill to the House-passed H.R.2, and would resume construction on the southern border wall, tighten asylum standards, criminalize visa overstays, increase the number of Border Patrol agents, prohibit DHS from using its app to assist illegal aliens and more. 

“President Biden is presiding over the worst border crisis in our nation’s history, and Americans are paying the price. Mexican cartels are smuggling fentanyl into our communities, women and children are being trafficked and individuals on the terror watchlist are running amok. It is well past time that my Senate colleagues force the Biden administration’s Department of Homeland Security to uphold America’s laws and protect U.S. national security interests,” said Kennedy.

“Under Joe Biden, we have a wide-open southern border. The Biden Border Crisis has created the largest illegal immigration crisis in our nation’s history. Biden’s open borders are an invitation for the cartels to brutalize children, to assault women, to overrun our communities with illegal aliens, and to flood this country with narcotics and fentanyl that kill over 100,000 people per year. This bill would stop the Biden Border Crisis dead in its tracks by building the wall, ratcheting up asylum standards, increasing the number of Border Patrol agents, and implementing effective border security policies,” said Cruz. 

Sens. Mitch McConnell (R- Ky.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) also cosponsored the legislation.

The Secure the Border Act would:

  • Require DHS to resume border wall construction.
  • Tighten asylum standards.
  • Narrow DHS’s parole power.
  • Criminalize visa overstays.
  • Require the return of all unaccompanied migrant children who do not express credible fear or are not trafficking victims.
  • Increase the number of Border Patrol agents.
  • Prevent Border Patrol agents from processing apprehended aliens.
  • Stop non-governmental organizations from receiving federal funds to facilitate illegal immigration.
  • Limit DHS’s use of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) One App to cargo.
  • Require all employers to electronically verify worker immigration status.
  • Require CBP to certify that it has access to criminal history databases of all countries of origin and transit for aliens encountered.

Full text of the Secure the Border Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the 5G Spectrum Authority Licensing Enforcement (SALE) Act to require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to release previously auctioned spectrum in order to expand 5G broadband access to rural communities.

The legislation would temporarily grant the FCC auction authority so that it may complete spectrum transfers and allow broadband services to provide 5G network coverage to Americans in rural areas.

“Louisiana’s economy relies on small business, and small businesses rely on broadband. Currently, bureaucratic red tape is standing in the way of Louisianians’ wireless communications. My 5G SALE Act offers a simple solution for providing rural Americans with access to broadband by giving the FCC the authority to finish transferring already auctioned spectrum to companies who offer 5G coverage,” said Kennedy. 

Background:

The FCC auctioned off roughly 8,000 licenses to grant companies access to America’s broadband spectrum. These licenses are the only way companies can legally use the radio waves that bring 5G to customers. These wavelengths are therefore highly valuable.

During the period between when companies paid for their licenses and when the FCC should have parceled the licenses out, Congress failed to reauthorize the FCC’s ability to auction off licenses altogether. Now, each company that bought spectrum in that auction is waiting to receive its transfer. Despite payments being complete, the FCC says it no longer has the authority to grant those licenses.

Kennedy’s legislation would grant the FCC a one-time, temporary authority to issue licenses purchased in auctions that were held before March 9, 2023 (when the FCC’s Congressional authorization ended).

Full text of the 5G SALE Act is available here.