MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, joined Ranking Member Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) in seeking further information from the Federal Reserve System, including the Board of Governors, and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco about the mismanagement of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and its collapse.
“From publicly available information, it is now well understood that SVB suffered from rampant mismanagement, ultimately resulting in its catastrophic failure. Even more concerning, however, is the apparent failure of SVB’s regulators, including the Federal Reserve, the primary federal regulator responsible for examining and supervising SVB, to ensure that the bank operated in a safe and sound manner,” the senators wrote.
“Rather than effectively directing SVB management to take definitive, corrective action, it is apparent that the Federal Reserve supervisors and examiners neglected to intervene in a meaningful, appropriate way to rectify the bank’s deficiencies, ensure safe and sound operations, and prevent its ultimate failure,” they continued.
The lawmakers are seeking a response regarding their concerns about the collapse of SVB by no later than April 6, 2023.
“The American people deserve transparency and accountability from their government officials, and they are entitled to understand precisely what Federal Reserve officials knew about the apparent risks associated with SVB, when they knew it, and why they failed to act to prevent the bank failure from occurring,” they expressed.
Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) also signed the letter.
The full letter is available here.
Mar 23 2023
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $5,157,913 in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster aid grant for Louisiana.
“I’m thankful this $5.1 million will support the Terrebonne General Medical Center’s recovery so its staff can continue to prioritize the health and safety of Louisianians,” said Kennedy.
The FEMA aid will fund the following:
- $5,157,913 to the Terrebonne General Medical Center for emergency protective measures related to Hurricane Ida.
Mar 23 2023
“While the world waits for a cure to diabetes, I am glad to join Sen. Warnock in offering a bipartisan solution to the rising cost of insulin for Louisianians and Americans living with diabetes. By making preventative care more accessible, this bill would reduce long-term health care costs for individual patients, avoid devastating complications from diabetes and take pressure off the entire health care system,” said Kennedy.
“I’ve long said that making insulin affordable for everyone should be bipartisan, and today we prove that’s not just talk. I’m thrilled to work with my colleague and friend, Senator Kennedy, to finally make insulin affordable for everyone who needs it. Insulin is a 100-year-old drug with a patent that was sold for $1. No one should feel forced to put their health or life in danger because they can’t afford their insulin. We have the momentum—let’s get this done,” said Warnock.
More than 14% of Louisiana’s adult population has been diagnosed with diabetes, and more than 30% 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 to be determined when the bill is voted on the floor.
- In August of last year, 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.
- In September 2021, Kennedy introduced the Seniors Saving on Insulin Act and the Vital Medication Affordability Act in an effort to make insulin and epinephrine more affordable.
- In August of 2021, Kennedy introduced the Ending Pricey Insulin Act to address skyrocketing insulin prices.
Full bill text is available here.
WASHINGTON – The Humane Society Legislative Fund has named Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) a 2022 Legislative Leader for his congressional record in advocating for animal rights. This title recognizes lawmakers who consistently introduce and support legislation promoting animal issues.
“Life is precious—plain and simple—and it’s our responsibility to protect the welfare of animals who often find themselves at the mercy of human beings,” said Kennedy.
During the 117th Congress, Kennedy introduced the Bear Poaching Elimination Act, which would help protect bears from poaching by ending the trade of their internal organs. The proposed legislation would prevent the import, export, possession, transportation and trading of bear viscera.
Kennedy also introduced the Chimp Sanctuary Act to move all chimps housed at Department of the Air Force installations to Chimp Haven, a sanctuary for more than 300 chimps in Louisiana.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Senate companion to H.R. 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act.
“Energy production is the key to America’s national security and economic success. Louisiana has always served our country by helping bring affordable, sustainable energy to market, and this bill would remove the burdensome, bureaucratic handcuffs that have been hurting the industry and millions of Americans,” said Kennedy.
The Lower Energy Costs Act would:
- Create parity among energy producing states by increasing Louisiana’s and other Gulf states’ share of oil and gas revenues from 37.5 percent to 50 percent.
- Provide for 50 percent of revenues from offshore wind leasing to be shared with coastal states.
- Eliminate the two percent administrative fee assessed on the state share of onshore energy revenue.
- Secure America’s critical mineral supply.
- Affirm states’ primacy in regulating energy production on state and private land.
- Provide analysis on how refineries can become more efficient energy producers.
- Promote energy infrastructure and pipelines across international borders.
- Express disapproval of President Biden’s revocation of the Keystone XL pipeline.
- Express congressional opposition to restrictions on the export of crude oil or other petroleum products.
- Repeal all restrictions on the import and export of natural gas.
- Improve interagency coordination for reviewing natural gas pipelines.
- Repeal the natural gas tax in Section 136 of the Clean Air Act.
- Repeal the greenhouse gas reduction fund in Section 134 of the Clean Air Act.
- Give homeowners more freedom to power their homes with their choice of energy options.
- Require the Interior Department to immediately resume quarterly lease sales on federal lands.
- Require the Interior Secretary to resolve any protest to a lease sale within 60 days.
- Require the Interior Department to make the permitting process for drilling more transparent by publishing relevant information online.
- Require the Interior Secretary to conduct all lease sales in the congressionally approved 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing five-year plan no later than Sept. 30, 2023.
- Require the Interior Secretary to issue the five-year oil and gas leasing program for 2023-2028 and to begin preparing for the subsequent oil and gas leasing program within 36 months of the first sale in the current program.
- Require yearly lease sales for geothermal energy.
- Require the Interior Department to grant any additional approvals for previously awarded coal leases required for mining to begin.
- End the existing moratorium on new coal leasing.
- Prohibit the Chinese Communist Party from acquiring any interest in lands leased for oil or gas under the Mineral Leasing Act or Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
- Direct the Interior Secretary to authorize geological and geophysical surveys related to oil and gas activities on the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf.
- Prevent the Bureau of Land Management from deferring the approval of permit applications because of agency formatting preferences.
- Require the Interior Secretary to process permit applications for drilling under a valid existing lease regardless of unrelated civil action.
- Expedite the approval process for gathering lines on federal lands that capture or transport oil, natural gas or related materials.
- Bar a mining claimant from operating on federal land if the Interior Secretary finds the claimant has a foreign parent company with a record of human rights violations and knowingly operated an illegal mine in another country.
- Prevent the Interior Secretary from stopping or slowing leasing and permitting activities on federal lands and waters that are open to energy and mineral development.
- Incentivize domestic production by rolling back burdensome fees on oil and gas development from the “Inflation Reduction Act.”
Full bill text is available here.
Kennedy introduces Small Business Disaster Damage Fairness Act to help Louisiana homeowners, small businesses rebuild properties
Mar 22 2023
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today introduced the Small Business Disaster Damage Fairness Act of 2023 to permanently increase access to Small Business Administration (SBA) loans for homeowners and small business owners who face natural disasters.
The legislation would indefinitely extend an increase to the Recovery Improvements for Small Entities After Disaster Act’s initial loan limit of $14,000 to $25,000. The increase would not require borrowers to pledge collateral for three years.
“Too often in the aftermath of hurricane season, thousands of Louisiana’s families depend on SBA loans to rebuild their homes and businesses. I’m introducing this bill to give Louisianians more access to loans when disaster strikes and they need resources quickly,” said Kennedy.
Physical disaster loans help businesses, homeowners and others rebuild damaged property in declared disaster areas.
- Kennedy introduced the Rebuilding Small Businesses After Disasters Act of 2019 to extend the Recovery Improvements for Small Entities After Disaster Act of 2015, which became law but expired in November of 2022.
- A Government Accountability Office (GAO) study showed that Kennedy’s 2019 bill reduced government spending and saved taxpayer dollars. According to the study, the GAO “reviewed more than 20 years of loan data and found that the loans approved before the change in collateral requirements had higher default rates than the loans approved after the change.”
Text of the bill is available here.
View Kennedy’s full remarks here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) spoke on the Senate floor today about the danger that President Biden’s budget presents to the U.S. economy and about the Federal Reserve’s failure to oversee risk at Silicon Valley Bank.
Key comments from Kennedy’s remarks include:
“I learned that since 2019 until today, the population in the United States has grown 1.8 percent. You know how much our budget has increased? Fifty-five percent. And that doesn't even count the additional half a trillion dollars’ worth of spending that the president has just proposed.”
“I also learned that the president is proposing $4.7 trillion—not billion—$4.7 trillion dollars in new taxes.”
“Gross debt, all of our debt, will rise under President Biden’s budget from $32.7 trillion at the close of this year to $51 trillion by 2033. Only in Washington, D.C.—only in La La Land—can you go around and say, ‘My budget reduces the deficit and debt by $3 trillion’ when it really increases it by $18 trillion.”
“President Biden's bailout of Silicon Valley Bank was the result of bad management by the bank officials but also by bad supervision.”
“Four years ago, the Fed told Silicon Valley Bank that its system to control risk was not up to snuff. Fact number two: Last fall, short sellers and private bank analysts said the same thing.”
“It wasn't a failure of regulation that caused Silicon Valley Bank to go under. It was the failure to enforce the rules that we already have.”
“Now I also learned some of my colleagues are saying, ‘Well, you know, this is all the fault of Congress. It’s the fault of Congress because Silicon Valley Bank was not subject to a stress test. We, as you know, Democrats and Republicans, supported an amendment to Dodd Frank back in 2018 that some say prevented the bank from being stress tested. That’s not true. The bill that we passed in 2018 said categorically and unequivocally . . . the Federal Reserve and the other banking regulators have the authority at any time to stress test Silicon Valley Bank, and they chose not to do it.”
“Now the other point being made by some of my colleagues is that, ‘Well, they weren't big enough to stress test. They had to be $100 billion or more.’ That’s not true. They were over $100 billion bank at the end of 2021. So, they did qualify to be stress tested in 2022.”
“If the Federal Reserve had stress tested Silicon Valley Bank, Silicon Valley Bank would have passed. It would have passed. You know why? Because the Federal Reserve and its stress testing in 2022 didn't stress test interest rate risk. They just stress tested credit risk.”
“So, it wasn't a question of something that Congress did or didn't do. Under the regulations we passed, we put the Federal Reserve in charge of checking these banks for duration or interest rate risk. And the Federal Reserve chose not to do so.”
“The bank’s failure was the result of inadequate supervision by the Federal Reserve and the other banking regulators in the Biden Administration. Congress had nothing to do with it.”
Kennedy’s full remarks are here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today joined Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in introducing a constitutional amendment to guard the U.S. Supreme Court from partisan efforts to expand and politicize the body.
The proposed amendment would ensure that the court remains apolitical by cementing the number of justices who can serve at a time at nine.
“The effort to pack the Supreme Court and turn justices into politicians in robes would delegitimize and destroy one of the most important institutions in America. Congress must protect the judicial branch from political expedience by safeguarding its current structure,” said Kennedy.
Once approved by Congress, the amendment would go to the states for ratification.
“The Democrats’ answer to a Supreme Court that is dedicated to upholding the rule of law and the Constitution is to pack it with liberals who will rule the way they want. The Supreme Court should be independent, not inflated by every new administration. That’s why I’ve introduced a constitutional amendment to permanently keep the number of justices at nine,” said Cruz.
Sens. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) also cosponsored the legislation.
The amendment is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today introduced the Fairness in Fentanyl Sentencing Act of 2023 to crack down on fentanyl trafficking by lowering the threshold required for minimum sentencing in light of the drug’s potency relative to other substances.
The current mandatory minimum threshold does not reflect the substance’s capacity to end lives. For reference, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) states that a mere two milligrams of fentanyl—which can fit on the tip of a pencil—can kill a person. As a result, a lower quantity of fentanyl should trigger a mandatory minimum sentence.
“Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin. It’s killing Americans, and the justice system needs to make sure that the criminals who are blanketing our communities with fentanyl get sentenced appropriately. The Fairness in Fentanyl Sentencing Act would bring justice to the Louisiana families who have lost loved ones to this scourge,” said Kennedy.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Katie Britt (R-Ala.) cosponsored the legislation.
“Current federal mandatory minimums are drastically out of step with the deadly threat fentanyl poses to American lives. Fentanyl-related overdoses kill 70,000 Americans each year and cause a new 9/11 every two weeks. I’m glad to work with my colleagues on this legislation. We know that even a miniscule amount of fentanyl can be lethal. It’s time the federal code treat fentanyl for what it is: a weapon of mass destruction,” said Graham.
“Fentanyl kills over 70,000 Americans each year and is more powerful than most other drugs, but federal sentences for fentanyl trafficking don’t currently reflect its immense threat. We should strengthen these penalties and ensure fentanyl traffickers face the consequences of their crimes,” said Cotton.
“Fentanyl is stealing lives and devastating families in every corner of Alabama and America. This crisis is infiltrating our schools and our communities, and it is past time that we hold the criminals profiting off of this poison accountable. This legislation is an important part of comprehensively addressing the supply of and demand for fentanyl in our country, so we can keep our children safe and our future strong,”said Britt.
Current mandatory minimum sentences for fentanyl trafficking only apply when a trafficker possesses 40 grams or more of fentanyl or 10 grams or more of a fentanyl analogue. The Fairness in Fentanyl Sentencing Act of 2023 would reduce the threshold of possession for minimum prison sentences to two grams of fentanyl or 0.5 grams of a fentanyl analogue.
- Fentanyl is now the leading cause of death among Americans ages 18-45.
- The CDC states that deaths from fentanyl and fentanyl analogues increased 56% from 2019-2020. According to data, that number is expected to increase for 2021.
- Last year, the DEA seized enough fentanyl to kill 379 million people—more than the entire U.S. population.
Full text of the bill is available here.
Mar 16 2023
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today joined Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in introducing the Respect for the Second Amendment Act to protect an individual’s right to keep and bear arms.
The legislation would codify the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen.
“Congress has the ability to use its authority to guard against state overreach—and that is what this bill does. At a time when the constitutional right to keep and bear arms is under attack in courtrooms throughout America, we must ensure that the Supreme Court’s decision about the Second Amendment is not only legal precedent but that the law preserves it forever,” said Kennedy.
“The Supreme Court has spoken very clearly in Heller and Bruen on the Second Amendment: We have an individual right to own a gun,” Kennedy added.
On the topic of gun ownership, the senator said, “I own several. I also believe that love is the answer, but I do, I own a hand gun just in case.”
“I am very pleased that all Senate Judiciary Republicans are speaking with one voice when it comes to supporting the Second Amendment rights recognized by the Supreme Court in the Heller and Bruen decisions. Now more than ever, it is important that Congress recognize and support that the Second Amendment is an individual right and that the right to bear arms to defend oneself is an integral part of American society. With this bill, we are ensuring that the rights affirmed by the Supreme Court are part of the federal code—and preventing a future Supreme Court from reversing this decision. The Respect for the Second Amendment Act will memorialize the holdings in these landmark Supreme Court cases and provide further protection to the Second Amendment,” said Graham.
The Respect for the Second Amendment Act would:
- Create public and private rights of action against any person who seeks to enforce a law, rule or ordinance that violates the constitutional right of an individual to manufacture for personal use, acquire, possess, own, carry, transport or use a privately owned firearm or privately owned ammunition unless that law is consistent with the U.S. Constitution and history of firearm regulation.
- Prohibit states from rejecting firearms licenses on the sole basis of the license originating under another state’s jurisdiction.
- Eliminate 18 U.S. Code § 927 so that, on a case-by-case basis, Congress can override state law when it proves an unconstitutional attempt to override the Second Amendment.
- New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen brought into question the constitutionality of a New York state law, known as the Sullivan Act, which required those who applied for a concealed carry license to show a special cause for getting a license.
- The Court held that “New York’s proper-cause requirement violate[d] the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense.”
Full text of the bill is available here.