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WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Homeland and Cyber Threat Act to give more legal options for Americans who have fallen victim to foreign cyber-attacks to pursue justice.  

“Americans who fall prey to our adversaries’ cyber-attacks have no legal recourse under current law. Our citizens are powerless to act against foreign governments that damage their property or reputation. The Homeland and Cyber Threat Act would empower Americans to seek justice from foreign actors who have harmed them,” said Kennedy.

The U.S. has experienced a dramatic increase in the frequency of cyber-attacks over the last decade. Foreign adversaries are developing increasingly sophisticated methods to attack Americans online, and these cyber-attacks have become a significant threat to American citizens and national security.

Under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, Americans can sue foreign governments in U.S. federal courts in certain cases, but not for committing cyber-attacks.

The Homeland and Cyber Threat Act would allow American victims of foreign cyber-attacks to sue foreign governments and seek monetary compensation for personal injury, harm to their reputation or property damage or loss that these attacks cause. Under this legislation, victims could sue officials, employees or agents working on behalf of a foreign government.

The bill allows U.S. citizens to sue foreign countries that engage in the following behavior:

  • Accessing U.S. computers or electronics without authorization;
  • Damaging a U.S. computer by sending unauthorized information;
  • Using or sharing information (without consent) obtained by the conduct described above; and
  • Providing material support for any of the above activities.

Text of the Homeland and Cyber Threat Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee, today wrote to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm urging her to address Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) shutting down of American fuel storage facilities in Mexico.

Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. petroleum products, accounting for 12 percent of all exports. The country also represents a growing market for natural gas. Mexico’s excluding private American energy companies from its markets harms American workers and Mexicans who want affordable, reliable and cleaner energy.  

“It is vital to America’s economic, environmental, and national security interests that these facilities, which are American-owned assets, are immediately allowed to reopen. As Secretary, you bear responsibility on these issues, and I am looking to you for action,” Kennedy wrote.

“Recent reports indicate that AMLO is using a militarized police force to prevent the operation of U.S. businesses. . . . AMLO’s strategy includes undermining other privately-owned, American renewable energy facilities. These companies could be the next to be seized, and it is unacceptable. It is obvious what is going on here—AMLO’s shutting down all foreign competition for his state-owned company, Pemex, and so far he’s getting zero resistance from U.S. officials in the Biden Administration,” continued Kennedy.

Kennedy called on the Biden administration to bring up the issue with AMLO at the North American Leaders’ Summit tomorrow.

“Absent action by the White House to address this alarming targeting of American energy companies, I fear that several Department of Energy nominees awaiting confirmation before the Senate will be blocked,” Kennedy explained.

“America’s issues with Mexico go far beyond the crisis at the border. I hope the Biden Administration understands that American workers will feel the consequences of inaction.  Thank you for your prompt attention regarding this matter of critical importance to America,”Kennedy concluded.

The letter is available here.

 




Watch Kennedy’s remarks
here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today spoke on the Senate floor to ask Democrats to forsake their massive spending agenda ahead of Thanksgiving. President Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar spending bills have already led to historic inflation going into the holiday season.

“A lot of people, Mr. President, as you well know, just can’t afford to pay 50 percent more to fill up their gas tanks. They can’t afford to have to stop and go arrange a bank loan to go to the gas station or to the grocery store. And unfortunately for Americans in my state and your state and across the country, here with winter coming on, the cost of heating homes is also going up, just in time for temperatures to fall,” said Kennedy.

“As our days grow shorter, the economic landscape unfortunately is getting darker. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, it’s a cherished American holiday. But even the holiday that Americans observe in order to count our blessings is coming with new hardships. According to the New York Times, Mr. President, Thanksgiving 2021, and I quote, ‘could be the most expensive meal in the history of the holiday,’” Kennedy continued.

“Are you really surprised that prices are rising when the Biden administration is printing money, when the Biden administration is exploding our debt, when the Biden administration is forfeiting America’s energy independence, when the Biden administration is paying people to watch Netflix instead of to produce the goods we need, when the Biden administration is ignoring gridlock in our supply chain? The American people aren’t surprised,” Kennedy continued.

“This Thanksgiving . . . I hope my Democratic friends will give up on tying millstones around the neck of the American economy. I hope they will give up fueling inflation with another extremist spending . . . bill. And if they would do thatif they would just do thatAmericans could sit down to eat next Thursday and give thanks that compassion and common sense have finally prevailed in Washington, D.C.,” Kennedy concluded.

Video of Kennedy’s comments is available here.

Watch Kennedy’s questioning here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today questioned Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on the Biden administration’s mishandling of the ongoing immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Kennedy pressed Mayorkas on DHS’s releasing illegal immigrants who are COVID positive, who have criminal records or who have promptly taken advantage of welfare programs into American communities.

Key excerpts include:

Kennedy: “I don't think you deserve to have to be here today to answer questions about immigration because I don't think you're calling the shots. I think those shots are being called out of the White House. I think they ought to be here. The people determining our border policy—in your opinion—are they just incompetent, or do they believe in open borders?”

Mayorkas: “Senator, I'm intensely and immensely proud to be a member of President Biden's cabinet, and for the policies that are promulgated, I should be held accountable.”

Kennedy: “Right. I looked last night at President Biden's platform when he ran for president. He supported amnesty for the 11.7 million people in our country illegally. He promised he would end the Remain in Mexico program. He promised he would end the Safe Third Country agreements. He promised he would get rid of the border wall. He promised to encourage sanctuary cities, and he said, ‘I'm not going to deport people.’ Can we agree that you don't have to be Mensa-material to understand that's an open border policy?”

. . .

Kennedy: “Vice President Harris, our border czar, what kind of grade would you give her?”

Mayorkas: “Vice President Harris is not the border czar. Vice President Harris has been asked by the president of the United States to focus on root causes.” 

Kennedy: “Okay, let me ask this quickly in my last few seconds: When's the last time you talked to her about securing the border?”

Mayorkas: “Several weeks ago.” 

Background

  • This November, Kennedy helped introduce the Prohibiting Taxpayer Funded Settlements for Illegal Immigrants Act to block President Biden’s reported plan to spend $450,000 per person for legal settlements for illegal immigrants. Kennedy led Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in writing to Biden in November opposing the plan. 
  • This October, Kennedy and more than 30 other senators wrote to Mayorkas urging him to address reports that thousands of illegal immigrants in Del Rio, Texas were released into the interior of the U.S. instead of facing removal as the Biden administration had previously pledged.
  • This March, Kennedy introduced the Empowering Immigration Courts Act, the Terrorist Deportation Act, the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act and the Criminal Alien Removal Clarification Act to empower immigration courts and make dangerous aliens deportable.
  • This March, Kennedy also introduced the Visa Lottery Repeal Act, the Preventing Visa Overstays Act and the Ending Sanctuary Cities Act to address key flaws in America’s immigration system and enforcement.

Watch the video of Kennedy’s questioning here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would require an act of Congress before the Taliban could receive any current or future allocation of special drawing rights through the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These special drawing rights (SDR) burden U.S. taxpayers because the Taliban could exchange the drawing rights for U.S. dollars at any time.

“If the IMF recognizes the Taliban as Afghanistan’s government, those terrorists will automatically have access to hundreds of millions of American tax dollars through the most recent allocation of special drawing rights. It’s Congress’s job to make sure America doesn’t end up bankrolling the Taliban’s violence against women, children and ethnic minorities. I can’t imagine any person who understands the Taliban’s human rights abuses and wouldn’t support this amendment,” said Kennedy.

The IMF created the SDR as an international reserve asset to supplement IMF member countries’ official reserves. The IMF distributes these assets to member countries, including Afghanistan, based on each country’s IMF quota, which depends on its size relative to the global economy.

Member countries receive SDRs and can exchange them for U.S. dollars. The IMF approved $650 billion in SDRs in August, $450 million of which was allocated for Afghanistan.

That distribution to Afghanistan has been blocked since the Taliban took control. That move, however, can be reversed should the majority of the IMF voting shares move to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate government. The U.S. cannot veto that recognition.

Background

This summer, President Biden agreed to a general allocation of IMF SDRs totaling $650 billion without consent from Congress. Large portions of that allocation flowed to dictators and countries that actively oppose American interests and violate human rights.

China, Russia, Venezuela and state sponsors of terrorism like Syria and Iran received a huge portion of this allocation.

While some have claimed that SDRs offer the U.S. a no-cost way to assist poor countries, this is demonstrably false. Large IMF allocations require the U.S. to issue debt in order to cover the loans issued through SDRs. The U.S. has to pay interest on that debt, and that interest would exceed any interest that the U.S. might receive on the loans it issues.

There is no requirement that countries that receive loans from the U.S. through SDRs ever repay the principal. As a result, the financial burden of these loans falls on the U.S. taxpayer.

Kennedy previously introduced the No Dollars for Dictators Act to prohibit allocations of SDRs at the IMF from going to perpetrators of genocide and state sponsors of terrorism unless Congress authorizes the allocation.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced the Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act to address whether Palestinian students are being taught inaccurate or racist content about Israel and the Jewish people.

“The Middle East will never experience peace until Palestinians stop teaching their kids to hate Israel, and American dollars should not fund this anti-Jewish propaganda. The Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act would give us a closer look at what Palestinian schools are teaching and whether or not American money is supporting antisemitism,” said Kennedy.

The Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act would require the Secretary of State to submit annual reports examining the curriculum Palestinian schools are using to teach students. The reports will review whether Palestinian curricula encourage racist violence against the Jewish people and whether U.S. foreign aid is supporting such material. 

Currently, America provides significant funding to the Palestinians, and this funding may be supporting antisemitic propaganda in school curricula.

Text of the Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) and colleagues in writing to the postmaster general to condemn a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) pilot program that would introduce banking services into the USPS and undercut the agency’s ability to deliver mail quickly and effectively.

“The Postal Service lost tens of billions of taxpayer dollars when it was focused solely on delivering mail. If you think the USPS is inefficient now, wait until it tries its hand at banking and delivering mail at the same time,” said Kennedy.

Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) also signed the letter.

“We are concerned that the pilot program exceeds the Postal Service’s legal authority and fails to comply with relevant regulations and procedural requirements. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act generally prohibits the Postal Service from providing ‘nonpostal services,’ and requires the Postal Regulatory Commission to review any nonpostal service offered by the Postal Service,” the senators wrote. 

“We are also concerned that entering into products and services unrelated to the Postal Service’s mission will divert necessary attention, time, and money away from the core function of mail delivery. Historically, the Postal Service has failed to effectively provide financial services and compete with private sector innovation. From 2007-2019 the Postal Service lost over $75 billion,” they explained.

“Given that these losses occurred during a period of time in which the Postal Service was exclusively focused on mail delivery, it would be imprudent to shift attention and resources toward an area in which the agency lacks expertise. It is essential that the Postal Service address this revenue shortfall by focusing on fixing inefficiencies with its mail delivery system, not pivoting to financial products and offerings with which the agency has no expertise,” the senators continued.

“Given substantial financial shortfalls, a mission-specific focus on mail delivery, and a history of unsuccessfully competing with private sector alternatives, we are highly skeptical that the Postal Service can safely and effectively provide financial services,” the senators concluded.

The letter is available here.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) penned this letter to the editor, originally published in the Lafayette Daily Advertiser. The piece, which is below, outlines Kennedy’s work on the State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act. The bill would allow state and local officials to redirect unused COVID relief funds to disaster aid and infrastructure needs in Louisiana.

“Louisianians have been wincing and rebuilding from nature’s onslaught long enough, and the Senate recently passed a bill that would mean our state could stop waiting on Washington for billions in disaster aid.

“Local lawmakers can now help Louisiana themselves. Louisiana’s state government got about $4.8 billion in COVID relief through the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. With the worst of the pandemic in the past, I think state officials should be able to use that state and local funding for what Louisianians need most: disaster relief.

“I amended the State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act to give local lawmakers that flexibility. Since the Senate passed that bill a few weeks ago, the only thing standing between it and the president’s desk is a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“This bill would give state leaders the freedom to use unspent pandemic relief funds from the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund on both natural disaster victims and actual infrastructure needs. If the state hasn’t spent the entire $4.8 billion in that funding yet, officials can use up to 100% of the remaining money for traditional disaster relief efforts. They could also invest up to 30 percent of the $4.8 billion on infrastructure—the roads, bridges and flood protection we need down here. In other words, Louisiana would be able to tap up to $1.44 billion, if the funds are still available, to spend on infrastructure.

“The fake federal infrastructure bill just bankrolled Sen. Chuck Schumer’s $12 billion Gateway Tunnel project, and I think Louisiana should be able to improve our highways and waterways as well, if that’s where state officials want to direct these federal dollars. The Infrastructure and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act would meet real infrastructure goals and help hardworking Louisianians rebuild their homes and businesses.

“The bottom line is that this bill takes the handcuffs off Louisiana’s COVID money so that our state can focus on our people’s biggest needs, like disaster relief.”

The letter is available here.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $5,355,592 from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for unmet community and housing development needs in Lake Charles as a result of Hurricanes Laura and Delta. 

“Hurricanes Laura and Delta left a trail of destruction in Lake Charles, and one of their biggest needs continues to be affordable housing. I’m thankful to see this $5.4 million heading to help disaster victims in southwest Louisiana,” said Kennedy. 

These funds should enable Lake Charles to aid moderate- and low-income individuals and families as they restore housing and repair damage from last year’s hurricanes. The grant is made available through the Declared Disaster Recovery Fund.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and colleagues in introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would prevent the Biden administration from making unilateral cuts to U.S. nuclear forces.

“America can’t afford to be passive when China is being extremely aggressive in growing its nuclear arsenal, including missiles that could penetrate our defenses. Effective nuclear deterrence depends on maintaining and modernizing America’s nuclear capabilities. Our enemies must understand that threatening the United States is never a risk worth taking,” said Kennedy.

“Just this week, the Pentagon reported that China is expanding its nuclear capabilities more quickly than expected. Reports of a rapid Chinese nuclear build up underscore the importance of continuing to modernize our nuclear triad and strengthen our deterrent. Clearly the administration should not consider any unilateral cuts as part of its ongoing NPR, and my legislation would ensure no such cuts could occur,” said Hoeven.

The senators introduced this amendment following reports that China is expanding its nuclear arsenal more rapidly than anticipated. The Biden administration expects to complete its Nuclear Posture Review early next year, which includes recommendations on America’s nuclear force levels.

This summer, China tested a new nuclear-capable hypersonic missile that can evade U.S. defenses, and China could potentially possess 1,000 nuclear warheads by the end of this decade.

Unilateral cuts to nuclear forces would weaken America’s ability to deter rivals from increasing the size and capabilities of their arsenals. Cuts would also undermine the U.S.’s negotiating position in any future effort to reach an arms control agreement with China.

Louisiana’s Barksdale Air Force Base provides a significant part of the U.S. nuclear deterrent force. It is home to the Air Force Global Strike Command, which is responsible for hundreds of ballistic missiles and planes.

The amendment would stop unilateral reductions to America’s nuclear forces between fiscal year 2022 and fiscal year 2027, with the following exceptions:

  • Reductions necessary to ensure the safety, security and reliability of strategic warheads and their delivery systems,
  • Temporary reductions necessary to field modernized replacement warheads and delivery systems,
  • Reductions of warheads that are retired or slated for dismantlement as of Jan. 1, 2021, and
  • Reductions made pursuant to a treaty ratified by the U.S. Senate.

 The amendment would also preserve at current numbers America’s B-52 and B-2 aircraft.

Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) also cosponsored the legislation.

Text of the amendment is available here.