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MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, today urged U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to stop the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) from flowing to the Taliban terrorist group.

The Biden administration has been a proponent of the $650 billion allocation of special drawing rights (SDRs), which would send more than $400 million to Afghanistan. The IMF allocation is set for Aug. 23.

“During our meeting last May, I urged you to halt your pursuit of approving Special Drawing Rights under the guise that an allocation would provide foreign aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. As I noted, the bulk of the funds from an SDR allocation would wrongly benefit G20 countries—the wealthiest economies in the world—while millions would go to our adversaries, state sponsors of terrorists, and countries that have perpetrated genocide. It is my understanding that Afghanistan, under the approved allocation, is expected to receive $450 million in SDRs, a portion of which is scheduled to arrive in Afghanistan by next week,” wrote Kennedy. 

“As the Taliban has seized power in Afghanistan, just two weeks before the U.S.’s troop withdrawal, it is clear these SDRs will fall into their hands. Not only that, but since the U.S.’s withdrawal in Afghanistan, many adversarial governments are poised to extend economic and diplomatic influence over Afghanistan. This is evident as both China and Russia have indicated they would formally recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan’s legitimate government,” Kennedy continued.

“The Biden Administration must not allow the Taliban to gain legitimacy in economic or diplomatic dealings with the U.S. or abroad.  The Taliban never intended to abide by the terms of the peace deal, and this administration should not bend to the false promises of the Taliban,” he explained.

“With this in mind, I urge you to block the nearly half a billion dollars that is headed to Afghanistan under the Taliban’s rule. Furthermore, I ask the Treasury Department and the IMF to end the use of SDRs as a means of foreign aid to countries like China, Iran, and Russia, who continue to support this terrorist regime,” Kennedy concluded.

Text of the letter is available here.

In March, Kennedy questioned Yellen on why the Biden administration is circumventing Congress to burden American taxpayers with SDRs that would go to regimes that oppress their citizens and actively oppose American interests, such as China and Russia.

In June, Kennedy  introduced the No Dollars for Dictators Act. The legislation would prohibit allocations of special drawing rights at the IMF from going to perpetrators of genocide and state sponsors of terrorism unless Congress authorizes the allocation.

Background

The IMF distributes special drawing rights according to each country’s economic standing in the global economy. That means the world’s wealthiest countries receive the most special drawing rights of all IMF members. 

The president’s justification for supporting the proposed allocation is to allow low-income countries to exchange their special drawing rights for currency to fund efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Under the proposed allocation, however, the countries with the 19 largest economies in the world would receive $426 billion—the bulk of the special drawing rights. The 24 poorest countries would receive only three percent of the allocation, or $21 billion. 

China alone would receive $22 billion in special drawing rights, which is more than the total that all of the poor countries combined would receive. Russia would receive $18 billion. In addition to sending billions of dollars to Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, the allocation would send billions in aid to Hassan Rouhani, Bashar al-Assad and Nicolas Maduro.

State sponsors of terrorism would also receive aid from the allocation President Biden has approved. Iran would receive $3.5 billion, and Syria would receive $900 million.

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

There is no requirement that countries that receive loans from the U.S. through special drawing rights ever repay the principal. As a result, the financial burden of these loans will fall on the U.S. taxpayer.

 


Watch Kennedy’s full statement here. 

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today released this statement about President Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. Key excerpts are below:

“I am so sorry that all of our American soldiers who fought so valiantly [in Afghanistan] had to witness what we all saw, and what we saw was stunning incompetence.”

“President Biden chose to withdraw from Afghanistan, but there's no reason it had to be so chaotic. We all saw it: The panic, the fear, the chaos, the abandonment of equipment, the scrambling to destroy unclassified documents and classified documents, thousands of Americans and our allies trapped behind Taliban lines, no plan for the refugees.”

“It was horrible, and this didn’t have to happen. The military and the intelligence community told President Biden that if he withdrew without a plan and too quickly, this was going to happen, but he did it anyway.”

“It was the biggest terrorist victory since 9/11, and Jihadists who want to hurt this country and its people all over the world are reinvigorated today. Our enemies—China and Russia—are laughing. And our veterans are crying, and I cry with them.”

Watch Kennedy’s full statement here.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and 22 other Republican senators today urged President Biden to reverse his decision to call upon the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies to increase oil production in response to rising gas prices.

“We are surprised by your recent actions in calling on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies to increase oil production in response to rising gasoline prices. Since your first day in office, your Administration has pursued policies that have restricted and threatened American oil and gas development, which has had devastating consequences for American workers and consumers. It is astonishing that your Administration is now seeking assistance from an international oil cartel when America has sufficient domestic supply and reserves to increase output which would reduce gasoline prices,” the senators wrote.

“Last month, gasoline prices reached a seven year high and are forty-percent higher than they were on January 1, 2021. It is no surprise how we got here. Your Administration’s domestic oil and gas development policies are hurting American consumers and workers, are contrary to an ‘America First’ energy agenda, and reinforce a reliance on foreign oil,” they continued.

“We agree with your intent to reduce the cost of gas for hardworking Americans, but your domestic policy agenda has proven to have the opposite effect and continues to threaten American jobs and family budgets. We urge your Administration to revise its regulatory agenda and legislative priorities as it relates to domestic oil and gas development. The best and most effective way to reduce the cost of gasoline at the pump is to unleash clean, affordable and reliable American energy,” concluded the senators.

Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) also signed the letter.

The letter is available here.

Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) offered an amendment to the Senate budget resolution that would penalize abortion providers that perform elective abortions on unborn babies with a gestational age of 20 weeks or more. Senate Democrats blocked Kennedy’s amendment.

“Babies can start feeling pain at 20 weeks in the womb. These unborn children can suffer horrifically as they struggle for their lives during an abortion. I’m incredibly sad that Senate Democrats rejected the chance to protect innocent babies from such cruelty,” said Kennedy. 

Children in the womb can feel pain 20 weeks after fertilization. In some cases, fetal surgeons performing medical procedures in the womb have had to sedate unborn children with anesthesia to relieve their stress and prevent them from moving in reaction to pain. 

Text of the amendment is available here.

 

Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) offered an amendment to the Senate budget resolution that would prohibit any changes to the treatment of like-kind exchanges in the U.S. tax code. The Senate adopted Kennedy’s amendment.

“President Biden’s tax-and-spending binge would be a direct tax on the middle class, and he wants to make that load heavier by limiting tax deferrals through like-kind exchanges. Like-kind exchanges directly benefit Middle America by creating jobs and affordable housing. Congress should pursue economic policies that multiply opportunity and productivity, and I’m glad the Senate voted for an amendment that will support middle- and working-class Americans,” said Kennedy. 

Americans have to pay capital gains taxes when they make profits from a property sale. When individuals engage in a like-kind exchange—reinvesting profits from one property sale into a similar property of equal or greater value—they can defer those capital gains taxes.

Like-kind exchanges apply to any real estate used for business, trade or other productive purposes. Deferrals from these sales encourage people to pour resources back into the market.

Text of the amendment is available here.

Watch Kennedy’s extended remarks on the infrastructure package here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) released the following statement upon voting against the Senate’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending binge and tax increase:

“The infrastructure bill will cost taxpayers $1.2 trillion­­, $550 billion in new spending. The bill is 2,700 pages—twice as long as the Bible. We were given only a few days to read it. 

“This is not an infrastructure bill. It’s an infrastructure, Green New Deal and welfare bill. Only 23 percent of the new spending in the bill is for actual infrastructure.

“We were told the bill would be paid for. That’s not accurate. It would increase America’s deficit by at least $256 billion. That’s more than the entire GDP of Louisiana.

“We were told the bill does not raise taxes. That’s not accurate. It raises taxes on Louisiana industry specifically.

 “It has been represented that Louisiana will receive $6 billion in new money for infrastructure. That’s not accurate. We would have received more than $4.8 billion anyway from the Federal Highway Trust Fund even if the infrastructure bill had not passed. Louisiana will only receive $1.1 billion in new money over 10 years, or about $110 million a year. That is less than 10 percent of the $12 billion that Sen. Schumer will get for a single tunnel in New York.

“Louisiana’s money is in effect coming from new taxes on Louisiana businesses. Louisiana petrochemical manufacturers will pay an estimated $1.3 billion in new taxes over 10 years, or $130 million a year—second only to Texas.

“So, Louisiana will receive $110 million a year in new road money and pay for it with roughly $130 million in new taxes that impact more than 100,000 chemical jobs. Louisiana is losing money on this deal.

“The infrastructure bill and the second bill right behind it—the $5.5 trillion tax-and-spending binge—are joined at the hip. President Biden, Sen. Schumer and Speaker Pelosi have all said we won’t have one without the other. The proponents of the infrastructure bill say it makes it harder to pass the tax-and-spending binge, so why is every Democrat in the Senate voting for the infrastructure bill?

“I also voted against the infrastructure bill because it provides no disaster aid for southwest Louisiana.

“Additionally, this bill is an inflation bomb. I don’t usually brag about the expensive places I go, but I just came back from the gas station. This bill is going to make prices worse. 

“This bill shortchanges Louisiana and America. I support infrastructure, but not ‘at any cost.’ I support infrastructure, but not ‘no matter what.’ This is not really an infrastructure bill. It contains new taxes, and we will still have to borrow money to pay for the bill. It severely deepens the debt that we’re leaving for Louisiana’s children and grandchildren.

“The proponents of the infrastructure bill say that it shows that Washington works. It does not. It just shows that Washington can spend money that it doesn’t have.”

View Kennedy’s extended remarks on the specific problems with the infrastructure bill here.

WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) filed an amendment to the Senate infrastructure bill that would block a new tax on chemical manufacturers.

“The infrastructure bill’s chemical tax would cost Louisiana companies more than one billion dollars, which puts good jobs in danger. The chemical industry supports more than 100,000 jobs in our state, and this tax takes direct aim at those jobs. I urge the Senate to adopt this amendment blocking that tax,” said Kennedy.

The proposed tax would cost Louisiana companies $125 to $130 million a year. Over 10 years, that tax would total roughly $1.3 billion. Many of the chemicals the tax penalizes are used to manufacture batteries, light bulbs, soap, paper, medical supplies and other common consumer items.

Text of the amendment is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced an amendment that will tackle problems with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), ensure the program’s affordability for middle-class homeowners and invest in cost-saving disaster mitigation and prevention.

Louisianians are resilient, but they depend on affordable flood insurance to protect and rebuild their homes. FEMA is planning to raise flood insurance rates on Louisianians but refuses to explain how or why. It’s urgent that the Senate adopt this amendment to keep premiums from skyrocketing and to help protect Louisiana communities from future floods,” said Kennedy.

“In order to protect hardworking homeowners and ensure our nation is prepared for future storms, it’s vital that we make these reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program. I urge my colleagues to pass this amendment so we can ensure the NFIP is more sustainable and affordable for homeowners and that FEMA has the resources to invest in preventative and mitigation measures,” said Menendez.

The amendment includes the following measures:

  • Premium hike cap: Currently, premiums can more than double every four years, but this amendment will protect policyholders from exorbitant premium hikes by capping annual increases at nine percent.

  • Robust mitigation investment: Provides $25 billion in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding for states to invest in mitigation and prevention projects.

  • NFIP debt interest freeze: Freezes interest payments on NFIP debt and reinvests savings towards mitigation efforts to restore the program to solvency and reduce future borrowing.

  • Affordability for low- and middle-income policyholders: Provides a comprehensive means-tested voucher for millions of low- and middle-income homeowners and renters if their flood insurance premium causes their housing costs to exceed 30 percent of their adjusted gross income. This would significantly increase the affordability of the NFIP program.

Background on Kennedy’s work on flood relief:

  • On July 21, Kennedy joined Louisiana’s congressional delegation in urging the Office of Management and Budget to prioritize Louisiana’s request for supplemental disaster relief in response to Hurricanes Laura and Delta.

  • On June 21, Kennedy introduced the National Flood Insurance Program Consultant Accountability Act of 2021 to protect homeowners from parties found guilty of fraud that involves property damage assessments. 

  • On June 7, Kennedy introduced the Flood Insurance Fairness Act to stop the Biden administration from unilaterally making changes to the NFIP that would raise premiums for Louisianians affected by flooding.

  • On May 20, Kennedy spoke on the Senate floor against the Biden administration’s plan to facilitate raising flood insurance premiums in a way that could make it more difficult for Louisianians to afford flood insurance for their homes.

  • On May 18, Kennedy urged President Biden to provide supplemental disaster relief for southwest Louisiana as the region suffered through flash floods.

Text of the amendment is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) authored this op-ed for National Review, calling on President Biden to protect American savings from Chinese companies evading U.S. stock market regulations. 

Key excerpts include:

“President Biden should make it clear that Chinese companies listing on America’s stock markets face a choice: Play by our rules of transparency and disclosure or don’t play at all. 

“More than 200 Chinese businesses have gone public in U.S. capital markets, but many investors don’t realize that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) refuses to let these companies open their books to American regulators. This refusal threatens the savings of American workers and families. The financial risk resembles an iceberg: Chinese companies such as Didi and Luckin Coffee are just the tip.”

. . .

“As a result, Chinese businesses are freer to commit fraud than their American, Asian, and European competitors. Luckin Coffee, for instance, made up a nonexistent $310 million in sales in less than a year. When such fraud comes to light, these businesses’ stock values can drop quickly — dragging Americans’ savings down with them. 

“Congress has taken decisive bipartisan action to force companies that flout the PCAOB off U.S. markets, but the CCP probably won’t accept such accountability graciously. In fact, President Xi Jinping’s regime is becoming more belligerent by the day. It’s up to President Biden to protect American investors as the CCP vies for global leadership.

 

“He can do that by enforcing and building on the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, which Democrats and Republicans came together to pass last year. The law removes firms from American stock exchanges if they refuse PCAOB auditing for three years in a row.” 

. . .

“Thankfully, there’s room for President Biden to course-correct. He could re-empower the PCAOB and protect Americans and their savings by supporting the Accelerating Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, which would give firms just two consecutive years — not three — to let the PCAOB audit their records.”

. . .

“We can’t afford to lose momentum as the CCP grows more aggressive. President Biden can and should do more to counter its belligerence by supporting this legislation. It’s time for him to join Democrats and Republicans in Congress in safeguarding Americans’ savings by standing up for the integrity of our markets.

The op-ed is available here.

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today asked Deputy Associate Administrator for Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration Resilience at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) David Maurstad to answer outstanding questions on Risk Rating 2.0 (RR 2.0). The plan would raise Americans’ flood insurance rates through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

“The NFIP was founded on the principle of capturing risk while ensuring the program remains affordable for policyholders. FEMA’s fact sheets on RR 2.0 state that 3.8 million Americans will see an increase in their policy, up to $240 per year. Not only that, FEMA will continue to raise premium rates by 18% until a policyholder’s premium mirrors their ‘true risk-based premium.’ I am deeply concerned that flood insurance will become unaffordable under your proposal. . . . Your actions to roll out RR 2.0 will impact home sales, commercial property values, and real estate commissions all across this country,” wrote Kennedy. 

“RR 2.0 has not had the opportunity to benefit from necessary public input, nor do I believe the public truly understands their fate under RR 2.0. Historically, any significant change to the NFIP has included participation from FEMA and Congress, and this should not stop with RR 2.0. It is incumbent on FEMA to uphold our nation’s longstanding commitment to transparent government and due process. Thorough examination is required for any program’s success,” Kennedy continued.

“I am deeply concerned about the affordability of flood insurance under the RR 2.0 proposal. This proposal will significantly raise premiums for policyholders in Louisiana,” he explained.

Kennedy detailed several questions to FEMA about RR 2.0’s transparency, affordability and efficiency and the impact the plan would have on Louisianians.

“Although FEMA has touted the proposal for RR 2.0 for several years, it remains shrouded in mystery. RR 2.0 needs to be an open and transparent process, and I ask to further discuss my concerns with you in an in-person meeting,” Kennedy concluded.

Text of the letter is available here.