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WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) released the following statement on Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) 1,445 page (and climbing) Endless Frontier Act.

“Based on conversations with the Budget Committee, the cost of Sen. Schumer’s Endless Frontier Act is now up to $250 billion. That’s $250,000,000,000.

“At some point, we’re going to run out of digits.”

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced a bill that would require Senate confirmation of the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that Americans have to have trust in the qualifications and independence of the CDC and that the office should never be politicized. This agency has a budget of billions, and its policies affect America’s health and economy directly. No one elects the CDC Director, and it’s clear that the people need to have more oversight of the position through their representatives in Congress,” said Kennedy.

Text of the bill is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) again urged President Biden to provide supplemental disaster relief for southwest Louisiana. The region is currently experiencing flash flooding even as recovery efforts from last year’s historic hurricane season are ongoing. 

“I still don’t know why bad things happen to the good people of Louisiana, but I know they didn’t deserve the wrath of Hurricane Laura or Delta, and they don’t deserve the flooding being dumped on them this week. Southwest Louisiana has shown us its strength, and it is past time for the Biden administration to show them they’re not in this alone. President Biden needs to stop ignoring our calls for help and put resources to work in Lake Charles and the areas that are still recovering from Mother Nature’s heavy hand,” Kennedy said. 

“I ask that President Biden provide emergency disaster appropriations to unleash the full resources of the federal government on behalf of families in Louisiana and to take action to protect life and property ahead of the next disaster. Our people desperately need these resources, and the federal government must not stand in the way,” he added.

“These include the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as other programs provided by the Economic Development Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Coast Guard, and emergency appropriations for federal highways,” wrote Kennedy. 

The letter is available here.

Background:

Last year, five categorized storms hit Louisiana, affecting all 64 parishes. Hurricane Laura hit southwest Louisiana as a Category 4 storm and is one of the strongest storms to make landfall in American history. Hurricane Laura was the most expensive weather event of 2020, causing an estimated $19 billion in damages. Hurricane Delta added to the damage when it made landfall in the same area 42 days later.

  • Kennedy wrote to Senate leadership, Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), in September to request that the Senate consider emergency supplemental aid to help Louisiana residents recover from Hurricane Laura.
  • Kennedy wrote to President Trump in December for supplemental disaster funds to help Louisiana recover from extensive hurricane damage caused by the 2020 season’s storms.
  • Kennedy has repeatedly pressed the White House for the disaster relief that Lake Charles and the surrounding areas need.
  • Today, Kennedy criticized FEMA for trying to raise flood insurance premiums on Louisiana residents without explaining how those decisions have been made. FEMA is bypassing Congress to initiate Risk Rating 2.0, which is scheduled to go into effect for new National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies on Oct. 1, 2021. New rates for existing NFIP policyholders will go into effect on April 1, 2022. This rating system would change the way premium rates are calculated, potentially making flood insurance unaffordable for Louisiana families in flood-prone areas.
  • Last week, Kennedy and Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) introduced the Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act, which would allow rural homeowners, renters and small businesses to more easily access disaster relief in the wake of a natural disaster.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), released the following statement upon the passing of Gov. Buddy Roemer.

“Louisiana weeps. Buddy was one of the most interesting people I have ever met. He was immeasurably talented. All he ever wanted to do was make Louisiana better, and he did. That meant making the right people mad, but he understood that. When I count my blessings, I count Buddy twice.

“More than anything, Buddy loved his family. Becky and I are honored to count his family and loved ones as our friends. We are so sad to lose this Louisiana warrior, and we are praying for everyone who was blessed to know and love him.”

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and 16 other senators in announcing a resolution condemning Hamas’s attacks against Israel and reaffirming the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel and Israel’s right to take whatever means are necessary to stop the murder of its citizens and foreign nationals residing in that country.

 “For days, Iran and Hamas have been bombing the hell out of America’s only true friend in the Middle East—Israel. Palestinian terrorist groups continue to launch rockets targeting Israel. There’s no room for confusion: Israel has a right to defend itself against terrorism, and it is right for our ally to do so,” said Kennedy.

 “For decades, the people of Israel have endured unyielding attacks from terrorist groups, like Hamas, who wish to destroy the Jewish state and its people. Now, as thousands of rockets rain down, our resolve to stand with Israel must be stronger than ever. I want to be clear: no country, certainly not the United States, would tolerate attacks like these and not take whatever action is necessary to end them. As our great ally and the only shining example of democracy in the Middle East, Israel deserves our full support,” said Scott.

 The senators will introduce the resolution and ask for the Senate’s unanimous consent to pass it later this week.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today asked the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Commerce Committee and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security to hold oversight hearings on the federal government’s response to the SEACOR Power tragedy. The SEACOR Power, a commercial lift boat, capsized this April in the Gulf of Mexico, killing six crewmembers. Seven crewmembers remain missing.

“It is clear that communication between the vessel operator and crewmember families was all too infrequent during search and rescue operations and that Congress must close gaps in existing vessel response plan regulations. Details of the immediate response from the [U.S. Coast Guard] and subsequent search and rescue efforts deserve to be heard on the record in a Congressional setting. Testimony from SEACOR Marine, the operator of the SEACOR Power, will help clarify why the lift boat was traveling through such severe weather in the first place,”wrote Kennedy.

“The capsizing of the SEACOR Power is the worst disaster to strike the Gulf Coast since the Deepwater Horizon blowout in 2010. We must ensure the federal response was timely and adequate. . . . There is an urgent need for clarity as loved ones of the lost crewmembers desperately seek answers. I stand ready to support all efforts to conduct oversight hearings in the relevant authorizing committee and appropriations subcommittee,” Kennedy concluded.

Following the SEACOR Power tragedy, Kennedy introduced the Vessel Response Plan Improvement Act, which would require commercial vessels to provide timely notifications to the crew’s family members throughout search and rescue operations. 

The letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in introducing the Providing Resources for Emergency Preparedness and Resilient Enterprises (PREPARE) Act, which would help small businesses mitigate property damage from future disasters.

“No one knows better than a Louisianian how to prepare for natural disasters, and this bill will make it easier for our small businesses to prevent loss. Too often, hardworking Americans are forced to weather storms first and federal bureaucracy second. I’m thankful to work with Sen. Rubio and colleagues to pass the PREPARE Act before another historic hurricane batters our state,” said Kennedy.

Small businesses in America should be able to prepare for unplanned disasters. The PREPARE Act would allow small businesses the opportunity to invest in mitigation before a disaster strikes, saving businesses and taxpayers money, as well as reducing potential property damage,” said Rubio.

According to Federal Emergency Management Agency statistics, approximately 50 percent of small businesses close indefinitely following a disaster, and every $1 spent on mitigation saves taxpayers $6.

The PREPARE Act would:

  • Create an updated Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program for small businesses to proactively take out a low-interest loan (up to $500,000) to implement mitigation measures to protect their property from future disaster-related damage,
  • Authorize $25 million annually (FY2021 to FY2025),
  • Task the Small Business Administration (SBA) with establishing and carrying out an advertising and outreach program related to pre-disaster mitigation,
  • Task SBA with issuing guidance to ensure borrowers purchase and maintain insurance coverage over the duration of the loan,
  • Require SBA to conduct initial reporting and a program evaluation annually thereafter, and
  • Increase, from 20 to 30 percent, the limit on existing SBA Physical Business Disaster Loans a borrower may use towards post-disaster mitigation.
Text of the PREPARE Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) Reform Act, which would expand the concealed-carry rights of qualified law enforcement officers.

“America’s police officers protect communities when they’re on- and off-duty. The LEOSA Reform Act would make Louisianians safer by expanding concealed-carry rights for off-duty and retired cops in public places—so brave officers can protect and serve without unnecessary red tape,” said Kennedy.

The bill builds on the original LEOSA of 2004, which gives qualified officers, whether active, retired or no longer working in law enforcement, the right to carry concealed firearms in any U.S. state or territory, regardless of state or local laws. However, the original legislation contains numerous exceptions, including bans on concealed-carry rights on certain state, local and federal government property.

The LEOSA Reform Act will expand the original bill by allowing qualified officers to carry their concealed firearms in the following locations:

  • State, local and private property otherwise open to the public,
  • National parks, and
  • Certain federal public access facilities.

The bill would also allow qualified officers to carry magazines that are not prohibited by federal law and to carry their concealed firearms in gun-free school zones. It would also alleviate other undue burdens on concealed-carry rights.

Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) have co-sponsored the LEOSA Reform Act.

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

The LEOSA Reform Act has support from numerous law enforcement organizations, including:

  1. The Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI
  2. The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association
  3. The National Association of Police Organizations
  4. The Fraternal Order of Police
  5. The Association of Former Agents of the United States Secret Service
  6. The FBI Agents Association
  7. The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
  8. The Sergeants Benevolent Association of the New York City Police Department
  9. The National Sheriffs Association
  10. The Port Authority Retired Police Association of New York and New Jersey
  11. The San Francisco Veteran Police Officers Association
  12. The ATF Association
  13. The FBI National Academy Associates
  14. San Jose Police Officers Association
  15. Air Marshal Association
  16. Peace Officers Research Association of California
  17. Association of Federal Narcotics Agents
  18. USAF Police Alumni Association
  19. International Union of Police Associations
  20. Retired Police Association of the State of New York
  21. United States Marshals Service Association
  22. Association of Former New Jersey State Troopers
  23. Major Cities Chiefs Association
  24. The International Association of Chiefs of Police
  25. The National District Attorneys Association

Text of the LEOSA Reform Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) in introducing the Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act, which would allow rural homeowners, renters and small businesses to more easily access disaster relief in the wake of a natural disaster.

“Natural disasters don’t discriminate: They destroy homes and affect lives in rural communities just as in big cities. The people of Louisiana experienced this firsthand during last year’s historic hurricane season. The Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act would make it easier for people in rural communities to access much-needed federal assistance to recover from natural disasters. We cannot allow bureaucracy to block or delay help to those who desperately need it,” said Kennedy.   

“Under the current system, disaster victims in rural communities have experienced significant delays in relief funding brought on by bureaucratic red tape. This bipartisan legislation aims to fix that. The Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act will make critical resources available for rural small businesses affected by natural disasters,” said Risch. 

Under current law, bureaucratic roadblocks prevent small businesses and homeowners in rural communities from accessing Small Business Administration (SBA) assistance following a natural disaster. This legislation creates a waiver at no cost to taxpayers allowing rural communities to more readily access and secure SBA disaster assistance in the case of a presidentially-declared disaster.

Co-sponsors of this bill include Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).

Reps. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.) and Jared Golden (D-Maine) introduced the Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act in the House.

Text of the Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today questioned the cancellation of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I women’s golf regional in Baton Rouge, La. The NCAA scheduled this year’s tournament to occur at Louisiana State University’s University Club, but eventually canceled it, claiming that several inches of rainfall made the course “playable but not championship level.”

“The cancellation of the tournament is concerning for several reasons. First, there appear to have been multiple windows during the scheduled tournament when the athletes could have played. . . . Second, the players and their coaches were comfortable with the conditions and did not think they posed any risk to their safety. Third, the tournament has not been rescheduled,” wrote Kennedy. 

“This cancellation appears to be yet another example of how women’s sports are increasingly undervalued in this country. In Washington, D.C., ongoing efforts to undermine Title IX opportunities for women’s athletics would open competition to biological men who identify as women. The inaccurately named ‘Equality Act’ is one such effort. Our daughters and sisters must have opportunities equal to those of men to demonstrate their athletic ability without having their achievements diluted by unfair competition or mismanagement,” continued Kennedy.

“With all this in mind, I request a response detailing whether the NCAA is considering rescheduling the women’s tournament before the upcoming championship. If not, please detail what the NCAA will do to ensure female athletes do not face such an unfair result in the future,” Kennedy concluded.

The letter is available here.