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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) returned from an official overseas trip last week to China, Tibet, Hong Kong and Japan with members of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.  Sen. Kennedy used his time to talk to the number two and number three ranking officials in China about the threat that North Korea poses and to press for China's help in achieving amicable negotiations.  He also discussed the possibility of opening China's energy markets to Louisiana's liquid natural gas (LNG) exports and of negotiating an agreement with Japan on importing Louisiana's rice.

“The situation in North Korea is not a fleeting crisis.  I, and the rest of the delegation, stressed the importance of working together to ensure stability in the region.  A united front is especially important as tensions continue to rise between North Korea and the United States.” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Also during the trip, I took the opportunity to promote Louisiana as an LNG leader.  China is energy hungry, and Louisiana can help feed that hunger.  I met with National People's Congress Chairman Zhang Dejiang and China Premier Li Keqiang, who are respectively the number two and number three ranking officials in China, to discuss removing obstacles currently preventing more natural gas exports to China.  I also proposed a bilateral agreement with Japan to open their markets to buy more Louisiana rice.”

The congressional delegation trip kicked off in Alaska, where Sen. Kennedy met Lt. General Kenneth Wilsbach, commander of the Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, to discuss military readiness.  From Alaska, the delegation flew overseas for meetings in Japan, China, Tibet and Hong Kong on the North Korea crisis and trade.

“My main objective on this trip was to impress on China's officials that the American people are very concerned about the threat of North Korea,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “We spent a lot of time on this issue and had a frank conversation.”

Sen. Kennedy and the delegation met with:

  • Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) National People's Congress Chairman Lobsang Gyaltsen.  The delegation made clear its concerns about religious intolerance as it pertains to the Tibetan Buddhists, whose leader is the exiled Dalai Lama.  
  • Hiroshige Seko, minister of economy, trade, and industry for Japan. He and Sen. Kennedy discussed at length trade relations between Louisiana and Japan with an emphasis on Louisiana's rice crops. 
  • Carrie Lam, the incoming chief executive of Hong Kong, to discuss how Louisiana and Hong Kong can further trade.

Sen. Kennedy spent a great deal of time with Chinese officials trying to resolves obstacles that are blocking further imports of LNG to China from America, specifically from Louisiana.  Natural gas currently supplies about 5% of China's energy.  China has expressed interest in increasing imports of LNG to 10% by 2020 to meet the growing demands.

This trip coincided with President Donald J. Trump's summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the United States. 

 

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Senators Kennedy (R-La.), Portman(R-Oh.), Barrasso (R-Wy.), and Daines (R-Mt.) meet with Qi Zhala, the Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today announced a combined $11,499,552.10 in federal disaster grants for the city of Baton Rouge and three school systems in the area.

 

“The severe damage that these schools suffered in the March and August floods was unbelievable. This money is critical to ensuring that our schools and communities do not struggle financially because of the unprecedented flooding,” said Sen. Kennedy “These funds are a necessary step towards recovery in our region.  I will continue to work tirelessly to ensure Louisiana gets the assistance it needs.” 

 

These grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will partially reimburse the city of Baton Rouge and the school systems for the money they spent recovering from the flooding.

 

“I was extremely pleased to learn of the approval of this funding.  Our community and our school district have experienced many challenges rebuilding since the August flood.  This funding will allow us to continue to push ahead restoring the learning environments and resources necessary to help prepare our students to succeed.  We are happy to see this first step in mitigating the financial strain of the flood on the system's resources," said Superintendent Warren Drake of East Baton Rouge Schools.

 

“I would like to thank all the members of our congressional delegation for working hard to assist us in addressing the needs our school system had as a result of the August flooding.

This grant will provide us a financial shot in the arm and enable us to recover a large portion of the losses we incurred as a result of the flooding.  Because of the assistance of Senator Kennedy

and his staff we were able to receive this financial assistance quicker than anticipated,” said Michael W. Faulk, superintendent of the Central Community School System.

 

“Ascension Public Schools is so grateful for the continued assistance it has received from federal funding sources.  Overall, recovery from such a catastrophic event is a huge challenge, but the support we have received certainly tempers that challenge.  A special thank you to the efforts of Senator Kennedy and Louisiana's entire congressional delegation, who are prioritizing the recovery of facilities that are so vital to the education of our community's children,” said Ascension Public Schools Superintendent David Alexander.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency notified Sen. Kennedy that a combined $11,499,552.10 in Public Assistance grants have been awarded to the city of Baton Rouge, Ascension Parish School Board, Central Community School System, and East Baton Rouge School Board.  For more information about the individual grants see the information below:

 

Individual awards are listed below with descriptions from FEMA

  • $1,755,245.70 – City of Baton Rouge - The award provides $1,755,245.70 in federal funding to Baton Rouge for efforts associated with replacing flood damaged vehicles as a result of FEMA-DR-4277-LA (Louisiana Severe Storms and Flooding), and is authorized under Section 406 of the Robert T. Stafford Act.
     
  • $3,529,608.17– Ascension Parish School Board - The award provides $3,529,608.17 in federal funding to the Ascension Parish School Board for remediation activities at St. Amant High School as a result of FEMA-DR-4277-LA (Louisiana Severe Storms and Flooding), and is authorized under Section 403 of the Robert T. Stafford Act.
     
  • $2,822,869.49– Central Community School System - The award provides $2,822,869.49 in federal funding to Central Community School System (CCSS), for the permanent repairs required for Tanglewood Elementary, which withstood approximately 24 inches of flooding as a result of FEMA-DR-4277-LA Severe Storms and Flooding, and is authorized under Section 406 of the Robert T. Stafford Act.
     
  • $1,214,695.23 –East Baton Rouge School Board- The award provides approximately $1,214,695.23 in federal funding to East Baton Rouge School Board (EBRSB), for the environmental remediation required for Park Forest Elementary School (PFES), which withstood approximately 32 to 38 inches of flood waters as a result of FEMA-DR-4277-LA Severe Storms and Flooding, and is authorized under Section 403 of the Robert T. Stafford Act.
     
  • $2,177,133.53 – East Baton Rouge School Board- The award provides approximately $2,177,133.53 in federal funding to East Baton Rouge School Board (EBRSB), for remediation required for Park Forest Middle School, which withstood approximately 2.5 feet of flood waters as a result of FEMA-DR-4277-LA Severe Storms and Flooding, and is authorized under Section 403 of the Robert T. Stafford Act. 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today voted to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to be the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Below is Sen. Kennedy's statement:

“Alexander Hamilton said in Federalist No. 78 that the court has 'neither force nor will, but merely judgment.'  I think that is what we should be looking for in a nominee to any court, but especially the Supreme Court,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “We need someone with excellent judgment.  We need someone who understands that the role of a judge is to interpret the law, not make it.  And in that regard, Judge Gorsuch is as good as it gets.  Judge Gorsuch is a strict constitutionalist who believes that a judge's personal policy preferences should not affect the outcome of a case.  He's a legal rock star.  I am proud to have voted for Judge Neil Gorsuch to be the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement about last night's military strike in Syria:

“I commend President Trump for his swift action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  Assad is a thug.  He cannot murder his own citizens and children without expecting consequences,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “You cannot reason with someone like Assad- it's like trying to hand feed a shark and expecting to get anything but bitten.  I hope that Assad gets the message that there's a new Sheriff in town and that the United States of America will assert its moral authority to do the right thing.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), Dr. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.), Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-La.) and Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) today announced a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help repair roads and infrastructure damaged in the August floods.

“This grant is a critical step in helping Louisiana recover and rebuild after the 'thousand year flood' last August.  I would like to thank the Department of Transportation for working with us to get this money to our state,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “I am grateful this vital assistance is on the way.”

“This federal aid assures the people of Louisiana that more help is on its way,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Repairing our damaged infrastructure represents a crucial step in our recovery.  The entire Louisiana delegation continues to work to ensure that our state has every resource it needs to rebuild and prosper.”

“Recovery efforts in Louisiana are ongoing, and I'm glad that this grant was approved to help rebuild local infrastructure that was damaged.  I look forward to continuing to work with the rest of my Louisiana colleagues to ensure that those affected by the August flooding receive the resources they need to get their lives back on track,” said Rep. Scalise (La.-01).

“It's encouraging that the federal government is providing grants to help the citizens of Louisiana fix infrastructure and roads damaged by the floods of 2016.  I expect our state officials to make the areas most damaged by the flooding top priority in receiving funding,” said Rep. Higgins (La.-03).

"Last month, I testified before the House Appropriations Committee to stress the importance of investing in Louisiana's transportation infrastructure.  Severe flooding and storms devastated much of the state last year, and many areas have yet to see any restoration.  Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Transportation seems to share my concerns regarding the lack of funding.  I am very pleased with this investment in our state and will continue to fight for additional improvements while in Congress,” said Rep. Johnson (La.-04).

“Infrastructure repair is vital to comprehensive recovery, and this grant is an important step toward getting our communities back on their feet.  I appreciate the Department of Transportation for awarding our state this grant that will help Louisiana bounce back from last year's floods,” said Rep. Abraham (La.-05).

“This is another step forward in our recovery.  In addition to the billions of dollars in other federal flood recovery funds, this $10M in transportation funding helps to address damages to our roads and bridges resulting from the August flood,” said Rep. Graves (La.-06).


Grant Description:
Title 23, U.S.C., Section 125, authorizes an Emergency Relief (ER) program within the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, for the repair or reconstruction of Federal-aid highways and roads on Federal lands that have suffered serious damage as a result of natural disasters or catastrophic failures from an external cause.  These funds are awarded to a State after the President or the Governor issues a formal emergency declaration and the State files a request for ER for the cost of damages to its eligible highways.  Eligible repair work includes emergency repairs needed to restore essential traffic, minimize the extent of damage, or protect the remaining facilities as well as permanent repairs necessary to restore the highway to its pre-disaster condition.

The repair work includes stabilizing and repairing the impacted roadway embankments, rebuilding damaged roadways, and the repair/replacement of damaged structures, and scour at bridges.

 

Contact Information:

Senator Kennedy: Michelle Millhollon, 225-205-2196

Senator Cassidy: John Cummins, 202-224-5824

Rep. Scalise: Lauren Fine, 202-225-0197

Rep. Abraham: Cole Avery, 202-225-8490

Rep. Graves: Kevin Roig, 202-225-3901

Rep. Higgins: Andrew David, 202-279-0467

Rep. Johnson: Ainsley Holyfield, 202-225-2777

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today released the following statement after the U.S. Senate failed to obtain the 60 vote threshold needed for the cloture vote on U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch:

“It is important for the American people and American democracy that the United States Senate be allowed to vote on Judge Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the United States Supreme Court.  Unfortunately, my friends on the Democratic side of the aisle decided to filibuster to prevent the Senate from voting.  To break their filibuster we had to modify the rules of the Senate.  I did not want to vote to change the rules, but I had no choice.  On Friday, we will now have the up or down vote that this highly qualified nominee deserves,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Judge Gorsuch is painstaking in his application of the law to the facts before him.  He is an intellectual, not an ideologue.  He is a mainstream judge, not a politician.  He understands that a judge's role is to interpret the law, not make it.  It's on that basis that he has my support."

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today voted Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  
“I voted for Judge Neil Gorsuch because he understands that the role of a judge is to interpret the law, not make it.  In that regard, he is a strict constitutionalist who believes that a judge's personal policy preferences should not affect the outcome of a case.  He'll be a great addition to the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Sen. Kennedy.  

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) sent a letter to New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu this morning urging the mayor to comply with federal immigration law.

“On March 27, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he was urging all states and local jurisdictions to comply with federal immigration laws,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Unless changes are made, the city of New Orleans could be ineligible for important Department of Justice grants.  These grants support law enforcement and justice programs that the people of New Orleans rely on and sorely need, especially in light of the rampant crime in our city.  I urge Mayor Landrieu to take immediate steps to comply.”

 

Text of the letter:

 

March 30, 2017

 

The Honorable Mitchell J. Landrieu

Mayor of New Orleans

1300 Perdido Street

New Orleans, Louisiana 70112

 

VIA EMAIL, FACSIMILE, AND U.S. MAIL

 

Dear Mayor Landrieu:

On March 27, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he was urging all states and local jurisdictions to comply with all federal laws, including 8 U.S.C. Section 1373.  Attorney General Sessions also said he will require state and local jurisdictions seeking or applying for Department of Justice grants to certify compliance with Section 1373 as a condition for receiving them.  Section 1373, as you know, prohibits state and local policies that restrict communication to the federal government about any individual's immigration status.  It prohibits so-called “sanctuary cities.” Additionally, Attorney General Sessions has previously criticized cities that refuse to honor immigration detainer requests.

The Attorney General's announcement follows President Trump's Executive Order, titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.”  This order stated that jurisdictions “that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary [of Homeland Security].”

The City of New Orleans is a sanctuary jurisdiction and is not in compliance with Section 1373.  On February 28, 2016, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) issued a policy that prohibits police from disclosing information on immigration status to federal officials, except in certain situations.  The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General has noted that New Orleans policy “presents concerns” and “unless the understanding of NOPD's employees is that they are not prohibited or restricted from sharing immigration status information with ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], the policy would be inconsistent with Section 1373.”  Unless changes are made, the City of New Orleans could be ineligible for important Department of Justice grants.

These grants are substantial. In Fiscal Year 2016, the Office of Justice Programs in the Department of Justice made nearly 3,000 grants, totaling $3.9 billion to states, counties, cities, and other local governments.  Closer to home, Orleans Parish received $2.9 million in Department of Justice grants during Fiscal Year 2016 and $9.4 million in Fiscal Year 2015.  These grants support law enforcement and justice programs that the people of New Orleans rely on and sorely need, especially in light of the rampant crime in our city.  Justice Department grants to our city included grants for comprehensive law enforcement strategies, programs for justice and mental health, an anti-human trafficking task force, a sexual assault kit initiative, and a youth violence prevention team.  Retaining the current policies of the New Orleans Police Department about reporting immigration status and any other refusal by city officials to cooperate in enforcing federal immigration law puts future funding at risk.  Additionally, Attorney General Sessions also mentioned the possibility of “clawing back” grant monies that have already been awarded.

You have stated publically that the New Orleans Police Department “will not be coerced into joining Trump's deportation army.”  I respect your personal feelings on illegal immigration but you must comply with federal law unless Congress sees fit to change that law.

Please take immediate steps to comply with federal immigration laws, including Section 1373, and preserve this important funding that improves the lives of citizens of New Orleans and keeps them safe. 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

John Kennedy

U.S. Senator

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement today on the state's selection of a contractor to manage the $1.6 billion recovery program for victims of the March and August flooding.

“The Division of Administration and the committee Gov. Edwards put in charge of the recovery have once again turned in a Three Stooges-like performance.  The legal opinion they relied on, done by an attorney (and former state senator) whose son worked for one of the contract bidders, has now resulted in even further delay in getting money that the U.S. Congress appropriated seven months ago into the hands of our people.  Anyone who knows a law book from a Sears and Roebuck catalog can see that Sen. Larry Bankston has a conflict.  The appearance of impropriety, and the delay, makes it that much harder for us in Congress to convince our colleagues to appropriate more taxpayer money to help our flood victims,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Members of Congress and their staff read newspapers too.  And the stench they have been reading about hurts our cause mightily.”

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