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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today voted in favor of a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would give Louisiana troops their largest pay raise in a decade. 

The NDAA authorizes a total of $716 billion for our nation’s military.  This bill would give the military, including 30,000 members in Louisiana, the largest pay raise in nearly 10 years.

“We have 30,000 troops in Louisiana.  Whether they’re at Fort Polk, Barksdale Air Force Base, New Orleans or Chalmette, they deserve our unyielding support and respect,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “They sacrifice everything so that the rest of us can sleep a little bit better at night.  A bump in pay is the least we can do for them.”

Sen. Kennedy’s additions to the NDAA include:

Sen. Kennedy secured language in the NDAA that asks the Air Force for a report and timeline for construction and sequencing of the Weapons Storage Area (WSA) at Barksdale Air Force Base.  A designated storage area at Barksdale is imperative to safely hold nuclear weapons and continue Barksdale’s growth and economic presence in the region.  Sen. Kennedy has been a major advocate for this facility and has pressed the Air Force for essential information and an expedited timeline on the construction and installment process of the WSA. 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today announced that Louisiana is eligible to receive $11.6 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to fight opioid addiction.   Among other things, the funds will be used to support treatment and to reduce deaths from opioid-related overdoses.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Kennedy has fought for funding to address the opioid crisis in Louisiana.  Last year, the state received $8.1 million.

“Opioid addiction is destroying families in every income bracket across Louisiana,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “It’s an epidemic that is absolutely breathtaking in its scope.  In 2016 alone, nearly 350 people died in Louisiana from opioid-related overdoses.  We’ve buried enough people.  Hopefully, this money will help us conquer addiction and rebuild families.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) released the following statement after the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today.  The Congressional Budget Office projects that the legislation, which Sen. Kennedy co-sponsored, could save taxpayers $3.8 billion by increasing competition among generic drug manufacturers and lowering the cost of prescription drugs.  Shreveport is home to Dr. Reddy’s, Louisiana’s only generic drug manufacturing facility.

 “Too many Louisianans struggle to afford their daily medications.  This is especially true for senior citizens on fixed incomes and people battling serious illnesses.  Paying for daily medications shouldn’t be a financial strain,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “We need to work on lowering drug costs for people who are taking them as prescribed for legitimate health problems while continuing to battle the opioid addiction crisis.”

“We're pleased and grateful for Senator Kennedy's leadership in the bipartisan coalition of lawmakers that has worked so hard to move the CREATES act forward," Alok Sonig, Dr. Reddy’s Chief Executive Officer (US) for Developed Markets. "The legislation if passed will allow the FDA to approve generic drugs faster and prevent the anti-competitive tactics of some brand-name drug companies that keep prices artificially high.  When drug companies withhold drug samples from generic manufacturers, the opportunity to create competition dies." 

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“Kim Jong Un did not come to the table out of the goodness of his heart.  He came to the table because he understands that for the first time in a long time, America means what it says and that a military option is on the table.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate this morning about the historic Singapore Summit between U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Click here to watch Sen. Kennedy’s full speech. 

First Step: “I would like to thank President Trump for a successful summit with Kim Jong Un.  It’s a beginning, it’s a baby step, but it’s an important step and I thank President Trump for taking it.”

Coming to the Table: “Kim Jong Un did not come to the table out of the goodness of his heart.  He came to the table because he understands that for the first time in a long time, America means what it says and that a military option is on the table.”

Successful Start: “I would like to thank President Trump today, on behalf of all Americans who believe in peace, for the successful start to what I hope is a successful relationship with North Korea.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R. La) announced today that the Senate Appropriations Committee added an additional $74 million for Louisiana road and transportation projects in the annual transportation funding bill.  The funding levels approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee would provide an estimated $814 million for Louisiana next year from the Federal Highway Trust fund.   

The bill now moves to the Senate floor for consideration.

“Too many of Louisiana’s roads are axle-breaking insults to modern civilization,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Our roads are also too congested, leading to tragedies like the Memorial Day weekend accident that claimed four lives near Covington.  With a 10% increase in our federal highway funding level, we can get started on making the daily commute safer.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today that the Army Corps of Engineers will spend more than $323 million on projects across Louisiana.  As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Kennedy helped secure these funds, including $14 million for the Comite River Diversion Canal and $9.47 million for the Houma Navigation Canal. 

“Louisiana is sorely lacking in flood control and protection.  The Comite River Diversion Canal and the Houma Navigation Canal are just two examples of projects that need funding so homeowners can sleep without worry at night,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “That’s why I am pleased to announce more than $323 million in funding for our state’s water infrastructure projects.  These funds will go a long way towards helping Louisiana.”

Below are just a few highlights included in the Army Corps of Engineer’s FY 2018 Work Plan:

Construction Funding Projects:

  • $1 million for the Ascension Parish Environmental Infrastructure Program: These funds will be used for the supervision, administration and construction of the effluent discharge system.
  • $14 million for the Comite River Diversion Canal: These funds will help fund various segments of the flood control project.
  • $1.5 million for the East Baton Rouge Parish Environmental Infrastructure Program: This money will go towards the pump station construction.
  • $250,000 for the Iberia Parish Environmental Infrastructure Program: These funds will go towards the water and waste water infrastructure master plan.
  • $750,000 for the Livingston Parish Environmental Infrastructure Program: This money will go towards the water and waste water infrastructure master plan.
  • $900,000 for the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway project: This money will be used to help design and construct the Teague Trails Extension south recreation feature in Bossier Parish.

 

Mississippi River and Tributaries Funding:

 

  • $1.807 million for the Atchafalaya Basin’s floodway system: These funds will be used to manage, operate and protect natural resources on approximately 50,000 acres, including visitor assistance.
  • $51.789 million for the Atchafalaya Basin: This money will go towards operating and maintaining the flood risk management project feature to maintain the integrity and reliability of the existing structure and facilities.
    • $24.85 million for the Atchafalaya Basin: Will help perform bank stabilization/revetment repairs at Bayou Big Graw, Petite Prairie and Calumet flood gate; procure levee surfacing materials; repair Morganza control structure expansion joins and gate seals; process Morganza control structure- paint contract calm; perform Bayou Boeuf lock major gat maintenance and dewatering repair timber guide wall and chamber wall at Bayou Sorrel and Bayou Boeuf Lock. 
    • $11.3 million for the Atchafalaya Basin: To replace Bayou Boeuf south chamber guide wall; perform Bayou Sorrel south end gate repairs and dewatering and develop plans and specifications for guide wall replacement at Bayou Boeuf and Bayou Sorrel locks.
    • $543,000 for the Baton Rouge Harbor- Devil Swamp: Funding will be used to provide engineering, design and surveys for dredging.
    • $36,000 for the Bayou Cocodrie and Tributaries: Funding will be used for routine operation and maintenance for flood risk management activities.
    • $2.345 million for Bonnet Carre: To operate and maintain this project feature; manage and maintain natural resources including bottomland hard and swamp reforestation; create new parking areas and re-open North Main Road; and construct ranger office with energy efficiency improvements.  It will also help perform monthly water quality sampling; provide invasive plant management; provide pond improvements for fisheries management; and procure limestone for road maintenance.
    • $1.727 million for inspection of completed works: Inspection and levee screenings of 470.6 miles of levees, 461.5 miles of channels, 131 drainage structures, 5 pumping stations and 15 weirs in the state of Louisiana.
    • $638,000 for the Lower Red River South Bank Levees: Funding will be used to perform routine operations and maintenance, including levee slide repairs and gravel surfacing.
    • $976,000 for the Mississippi Delta Region in Louisiana: Funds will be used to perform routine operation and maintenance for the Caernarvon Freshwater Diversion Structure.
    • $23.509 million for the Old River: Operate and maintain this project’s flood risk features, including periodic inspections; operate and maintain the integrity of the existing structures and facilities, instrumentation data gathering which is essential in evaluating the performance of the structures and bridges and is an integral part of the periodic inspection and continuing evaluation of completed civil works structures and USACE bridges; operate and maintain the existing lock facilities.
      • $16.2 million for the Old River: Fabricate two miter gates; replace the gantry crane; replace the lowering carriage; repair tainter valves, replace handrails, refurbish mooring bits and construct levee ramp.
      • $6.615 million for the Tensas Basin for the Red River Backwater: Funding will be used to continue operation and maintenance work.

Operation and Maintenance Funding:

  • $15.645 million for Atchafalaya River and Bayous Chene, Boeuf and Black:  Funds are being used to dredge critical reaches in Atchafalaya River, Crewboat Cut, Bay and Bar, perform channel condition surveys of the entire project and routine operation and maintenance, coordinate and prepare environmental compliance consistency and continue monitoring the effectiveness of Value Engineering Study alternatives to improve navigation and to alleviate unconsolidated fluid mud in the bar channel.
  • $100,000 for Barataria Bay Waterway:  Funds are being used for project management, hydrographic surveys, permit reviews and to prepare for future dredging operations.
  • $1.512 million for Bayou Bodcau Reservoir:  Funds are being used for routine operation and maintenance and to perform slide repairs on the levee.
  • $769,000 for Bayou Lafourche and Lafourche Jump Waterway: Funds are being used for project management, dredging, hydrographic surveys, environmental assessments, managing water level data, to reset gauges from National Geodetic Vertical Datum to North American Vertical Datum, permit applications, right-of-entry to dredged material disposal areas, foreshore and jetty rock repairs.
  • $42,000 for Bayou Pierre:  Funds are being used for routine operation and maintenance.
  • $20,000 for Bayou Segnette Waterway: Funds are being used for project management, hydrographic surveys, dredging preparation efforts and to review permit applications.
  • $12,000 for Bayou Teche and Vermilion River: Funds are being used for permit review for Teche Vermilion.
  • $50,000 for Bayou Teche: Funds are being used for hydrographic surveys real estate management, maintenance dredging and permit reviews.
  • $198,000 for Caddo Lake: Funds are being used for routine operation and maintenance.
  • $34.556 million for Calcasieu River and Pass:  Funds are being used for maintenance dredging, to operate and maintain the Saltwater Barrier Control Structure, hydrographic surveys, right-of-entry for dredged material disposal areas, to reduce encroachments, instrumentation data collection, environmental planning for dredging and permit reviews.
  • $1.824 million for Freshwater Bayou: Funds are being used for operating and maintaining Freshwater Bayou Lock, hydrographic surveys and collection of instrumentation/engineering data to monitor the lock’s stability, sustaining energy savings, real estate and permit reviews.
  • $26.871 million for Gulf Intracoastal Waterway:  Funds are being used for dredging, hired labor maintenance and operating expenses on 6 GIWW locks, dewatering Harvey Lock, Algiers Lock concrete joint repairs, hydrographic surveys and to collect and manage data from water level gauges.
  • $9.479 million for Houma Navigation Canal:  Funds are being used for project management, for dredging operations, to perform hydrographic surveys, to provide right of entry for dredged material disposal areas, environmental monitoring and to collect, manage, store and disseminate water level data.
  • $866,000 for Inspection of Completed Works: Funds are being used to inspect federally constructed and locally maintained flood risk management projects with an emphasis on approximately 11,750 of federally authorized and locally maintained levee systems.  Funds are also used to review updates to project operation and maintenance manuals.
  • $12.288 million for J. Bennett Johnston Waterway:  Funds are being used for operation and maintenance, maintenance dredging and operation and maintenance of recreation/visitation areas.
  • $12,000 for Lake Providence Harbor:  The funds are being used for surveys.
  • $296,000 for Madison Parish Port:  These funds are being used for surveys and for annual maintenance dredging required to maintain authorized channel dimensions to ensure the harbor is open during low water periods.
  • $3.476 million for Mermentau River:  Funds are being used for the operation and maintenance of the Catfish Point and Schooner Bayou Control Structures and hydrographic surveys.
  • $1.449 million for Mississippi River Outlets at Venice:  Funds are being used for project management, dredging, surveys, environmental assessments, permits, real estate management and water level data.

Investigations:

  • $1.035 million for Calcasieu Lock:  Funding will complete the preconstruction, engineering and design phase.
  • $1.285 million for Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lock Replacement:  Funding will complete the feasibility study phase for the reevaluation.
  • $820,000 for Southwest Coastal Louisiana:  Funding will initiate the preconstruction, engineering and design phase.
  • $101.929 million for Mississippi River, Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico: Funds are being used for maintenance dredging to partial channel dimensions from Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico (Southwest Pass, New Orleans Harbor, crossings between Baton Rouge and New Orleans), channel surveys, salt water barrier sill, rock projection, jetty repairs, water management, environment and real estate.  These funds are being used only provide partial dimensions, restricting transit of deep draft commercial vessels through the largest US port complex.
  • $54,000 for Project Condition Surveys:  Funds are being used for performing hydrographic and topographic project condition surveys (PCS) for federally authorized navigation projects, including navigation channels, inlets, anchorages, structures such as jetties and breakwaters and other navigation features within the states.  Funds are also used to respond to unanticipated needs, including concerns raised by the U.S. Coast Guard, local harbor masters or other agencies regarding projects that have become shoaled as a result of severe storming and/or abnormal deposition rates that may have compromised safe navigation.
  • $200,000 for Removal of Aquatic Growth: Funds are being used for work with state applicators to identify and treat specific point sources (if state resources are available) and to handle inquiries and complaints from the public regarding the expansion of water hyacinth, alligator weed, common salvinia and other noxious aquatic plants within district navigable waterways.
  • $213,000 for Wallace Lake: Funds are being used for routine operation and maintenance.
  • $8,000 for Waterway from Empire to Gulf: Funds are being used for project management, hydrographic surveys, Water Control Data Systems and to review permit applications.
  • $22,000 for Waterway from Intracoastal Waterway to Bayou Dulac: Funds are being used for project management, hydrographic surveys and preparations for future dredging contacts and permit application reviews.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. John Kennedy announced today that the Fiscal Year 2019 Military Construction and Veteran’s Affairs spending bill passed by the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee this week includes funding that puts Barksdale Air Force Base in line to finish the Barksdale Interchange/I-220 access road project. 
“My top priority for Barksdale Air Force Base has been a new entrance road and gate complex.  The number of gates we have just doesn’t cut it.  We need increased access and better access to the base,” said Sen. Kennedy.   “The new entrance road will help military families with their daily commute, and it will resolve access concerns created by the construction of the weapons storage facility.”
The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
 
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today filed the Fraud Reduction Through Photographic Identification Act to reduce fraud that wastes taxpayer dollars.  The act will require food stamp recipients to show a photo ID when using a benefit card that doesn’t have a photo on it.


“Welfare fraud costs taxpayers $75 billion per year.  Too many people trade their food stamps for cigarettes, cash or drugs.  We can’t allow them to abuse taxpayer dollars,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “It’s not asking a lot to show a photo ID in order to preserve the integrity of a program funded through the generosity of taxpayers.  At the very least, we’ll ensure that these benefits are used, as intended, to feed the vulnerable and not to feed a drug habit.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) sent the following letter to Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards regarding the waste of taxpayer money at the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.  The letter, seen below, was also sent to President Donald Trump, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.

 

June 5, 2018

 

The Honorable John Bel Edwards

Governor

State of Louisiana

P.O. Box 94004

Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804

 

Dear Governor Edwards:

 

            I am writing to inquire what you plan to do about the inexcusable waste of taxpayer funds at the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.  An internal audit by the Department of Public Safety revealed problems with overtime, travel expenses, consulting contracts, payroll and the safeguarding of expensive purchases.  Do you plan to try to recover any of this money for the taxpayers?

            The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission receives nearly $40 million a year in taxpayer funding.  The money, 92% of which is federal dollars, is appropriated through House Bill 1.  I, along with the rest of the Louisiana delegation, am responsible for ensuring that this money is spent, as intended, on reducing traffic accidents.  Louisiana has the second highest number of hit-and-run fatalities per capita in the nation.  It is alarming to me that the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission has a history of questionable spending practices and sloppy bookkeeping, not to mention the fact that salaries and benefits consume 86% of its expenditures.

            The internal audit found 15 areas of concern.  The audit revealed that employees used state funds to buy jazz brunch tickets, accepted Essence Festival tickets in violation of state ethics laws, ignored the bid laws regarding consulting contracts, kept poor payroll records, paid 226.5 hours of overtime to a single employee without any evidence to support the claim, overcharged for expenses, kept sloppy travel records, failed to safeguard public funds and neglected to keep tabs on expensive camera equipment.

            The bulk of the problems appear to have occurred under the leadership of Katara Williams, whom you appointed.  It is my understanding that Dr. Williams now holds a high-ranking position at Southern University.  It is concerning that Dr. Williams continues to be on the public payroll given the management problems at the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.

            If this is how state officials are allowed to spend taxpayer money, then it is no wonder to me that the state is running a budget deficit.  Clearly, the state needs to eliminate waste like this before asking taxpayers to pay even more in taxes.

Thank you, Governor, for your consideration of this request.  

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

John Kennedy

United States Senator

 

CC:  The Honorable Donald J. Trump, President of the United States

        Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney

        U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao

       

            

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement this afternoon after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the traditional August recess will be canceled.  Sen. Kennedy had previously joined his Republican Senate colleagues in sending a letter to the Majority Leader calling for August recess to be canceled.  A copy of the letter is attached.

“As much as I love being out of Washington, D.C., and back in Louisiana, it’s time to get important work done,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Majority Leader McConnell made the right decision in canceling the August work period.  We need to work nights, weekends and holidays to deliver the promises that were made to the American people.  That starts with confirming the 264 nominees still waiting, passing all the appropriations bills and fixing the National Flood Insurance Program.”

 

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