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MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) penned this letter to the editor, originally published in the Lafayette Daily Advertiser. The piece, which is below, outlines Kennedy’s work on the State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act. The bill would allow state and local officials to redirect unused COVID relief funds to disaster aid and infrastructure needs in Louisiana.

“Louisianians have been wincing and rebuilding from nature’s onslaught long enough, and the Senate recently passed a bill that would mean our state could stop waiting on Washington for billions in disaster aid.

“Local lawmakers can now help Louisiana themselves. Louisiana’s state government got about $4.8 billion in COVID relief through the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. With the worst of the pandemic in the past, I think state officials should be able to use that state and local funding for what Louisianians need most: disaster relief.

“I amended the State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act to give local lawmakers that flexibility. Since the Senate passed that bill a few weeks ago, the only thing standing between it and the president’s desk is a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“This bill would give state leaders the freedom to use unspent pandemic relief funds from the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund on both natural disaster victims and actual infrastructure needs. If the state hasn’t spent the entire $4.8 billion in that funding yet, officials can use up to 100% of the remaining money for traditional disaster relief efforts. They could also invest up to 30 percent of the $4.8 billion on infrastructure—the roads, bridges and flood protection we need down here. In other words, Louisiana would be able to tap up to $1.44 billion, if the funds are still available, to spend on infrastructure.

“The fake federal infrastructure bill just bankrolled Sen. Chuck Schumer’s $12 billion Gateway Tunnel project, and I think Louisiana should be able to improve our highways and waterways as well, if that’s where state officials want to direct these federal dollars. The Infrastructure and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act would meet real infrastructure goals and help hardworking Louisianians rebuild their homes and businesses.

“The bottom line is that this bill takes the handcuffs off Louisiana’s COVID money so that our state can focus on our people’s biggest needs, like disaster relief.”

The letter is available here.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $5,355,592 from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for unmet community and housing development needs in Lake Charles as a result of Hurricanes Laura and Delta. 

“Hurricanes Laura and Delta left a trail of destruction in Lake Charles, and one of their biggest needs continues to be affordable housing. I’m thankful to see this $5.4 million heading to help disaster victims in southwest Louisiana,” said Kennedy. 

These funds should enable Lake Charles to aid moderate- and low-income individuals and families as they restore housing and repair damage from last year’s hurricanes. The grant is made available through the Declared Disaster Recovery Fund.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and colleagues in introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would prevent the Biden administration from making unilateral cuts to U.S. nuclear forces.

“America can’t afford to be passive when China is being extremely aggressive in growing its nuclear arsenal, including missiles that could penetrate our defenses. Effective nuclear deterrence depends on maintaining and modernizing America’s nuclear capabilities. Our enemies must understand that threatening the United States is never a risk worth taking,” said Kennedy.

“Just this week, the Pentagon reported that China is expanding its nuclear capabilities more quickly than expected. Reports of a rapid Chinese nuclear build up underscore the importance of continuing to modernize our nuclear triad and strengthen our deterrent. Clearly the administration should not consider any unilateral cuts as part of its ongoing NPR, and my legislation would ensure no such cuts could occur,” said Hoeven.

The senators introduced this amendment following reports that China is expanding its nuclear arsenal more rapidly than anticipated. The Biden administration expects to complete its Nuclear Posture Review early next year, which includes recommendations on America’s nuclear force levels.

This summer, China tested a new nuclear-capable hypersonic missile that can evade U.S. defenses, and China could potentially possess 1,000 nuclear warheads by the end of this decade.

Unilateral cuts to nuclear forces would weaken America’s ability to deter rivals from increasing the size and capabilities of their arsenals. Cuts would also undermine the U.S.’s negotiating position in any future effort to reach an arms control agreement with China.

Louisiana’s Barksdale Air Force Base provides a significant part of the U.S. nuclear deterrent force. It is home to the Air Force Global Strike Command, which is responsible for hundreds of ballistic missiles and planes.

The amendment would stop unilateral reductions to America’s nuclear forces between fiscal year 2022 and fiscal year 2027, with the following exceptions:

  • Reductions necessary to ensure the safety, security and reliability of strategic warheads and their delivery systems,
  • Temporary reductions necessary to field modernized replacement warheads and delivery systems,
  • Reductions of warheads that are retired or slated for dismantlement as of Jan. 1, 2021, and
  • Reductions made pursuant to a treaty ratified by the U.S. Senate.

 The amendment would also preserve at current numbers America’s B-52 and B-2 aircraft.

Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) also cosponsored the legislation.

Text of the amendment is available here.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and colleagues in urging President Biden to take steps to ease energy prices and reduce energy shortages.  

“Even before colder temperatures set in, natural gas inventories around the nation are 5.5% below the five-year average, and demand has ramped up as the economy continues to recover. Due to lower supply and higher demand, natural gas prices are more than 250% higher than they were this time last year and the Energy Information Agency (EIA) expects natural gas prices to climb even higher this winter based on supply projections,” the senators wrote.

“These increased prices are projected to raise the heating bills of the 47 percent of American homes that rely on natural gas for heating and the 40 percent of American homes heated with electricity, the price of which is increasingly reflective of natural gas prices. Similarly, the average price of heating oil and propane is already double what it was one year ago, with prices expected to continue to rise this winter,” the senators continued.

The senators urged Biden to take several steps to ease the energy crisis, including lifting the administration’s ban on oil and gas lease sales on Federal lands and waters, accelerating Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Army Corps permitting and interagency coordination to approve pipeline projects and ending the regulatory uncertainty that is stifling investments in energy.

“In summary, as President of the United States, you have the authority to unleash our nation’s clean, abundant, and affordable natural gas resources for the benefit of all Americans and the world. This is particularly critical for the millions of Americans heading into winter who are worried about how they will keep warm. We are committed to assisting your Administration if you wish to work together in a bipartisan fashion to chart a new course that establishes the kind of regulatory framework and legislative priorities that will increase domestic energy production,” the senators concluded.

Video of Kennedy discussing the danger of the Biden administration’s energy policies is available here.

Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) also signed the letter.

The letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today sent a letter to the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Francis Collins, condemning the waste of taxpayer dollars and the NIH’s failure to follow federal law by keeping chimpanzees at labs in New Mexico and Texas. The law requires the NIH to transfer these chimpanzees to the national sanctuary, Chimp Haven, in Louisiana.

“Not only is Chimp Haven far better suited to meet the complex needs of chimpanzees previously used in biomedical research, but the cost of care is dramatically cheaper,” Kennedy wrote.

“It appears the NIH is stonewalling Congress and failing to prioritize the welfare of these chimpanzees and the taxpayers’ wishes. The extraordinary conflict of interest and lack of transparency is deeply concerning,” Kennedy continued.

At Chimp Haven, chimpanzees would enjoy a high quality of life and receive superior care from the veterinary and behavioral teams there. Chimpanzees at the sanctuary experience large social groups and a natural environment that stimulates their minds and helps them recover from trauma that resulted from their time spent in laboratories.

Kennedy asked Collins to provide the following information:

  • Projected costs to house chimpanzees at the New Mexico and Texas facilities for the next 10 years;
  • The NIH’s contract with KCCMR to house chimpanzees at the laboratory facility;
  • The NIH’s Veterinary Panel Review Summaries for the chimpanzees located at KCCMR; and
  • The NIH’s plan to meet its own recommendations that captive chimpanzees be maintained in environments appropriate to them.

“I see no valid reason for the NIH to continue housing retired chimpanzees at laboratory facilities where the chimpanzees’ needs are not met and the cost to taxpayers is increasing. The chimpanzees at APF and KCCMR will thrive at Chimp Haven while saving taxpayer dollars,” Kennedy concluded.

The letter received the support of Elisabeth Jennings, executive director of Animal Protection New Mexico.

“Kudos to Senator Kennedy for speaking up for the surviving chimpanzees at laboratories in New Mexico and Texas. NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, has reneged on his commitment to send these chimps to Chimp Haven where the cost of superior care is far less expensive for taxpayers. NIH is ignoring federal law, has betrayed taxpayers and Congress, and forgotten these chimpanzees. After decades of trauma and suffering in biomedical research, these chimps will thrive at Chimp Haven. All sides agree NIH must be held accountable and we’re grateful to Senator Kennedy for his leadership,” said Jennings.

Kennedy’s letter is available here.

Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined colleagues to explain the danger the Biden administration’s energy plan poses to Louisiana’s economy, America’s national security and the world’s climate. The senators also outlined conservatives’ approach to energy policy, which focuses on economic growth and energy diversity.

Below are key excerpts from Kennedy’s remarks.

I’m pretty much an all-of-the-above energy type of guy. I support wind. I support solar. I support thermal. I support hydrogen. Unlike many of my Democratic colleagues, I support nuclear—particularly the new, small modular reactors—but I also support oil and gas.”

“As best I can tell, [President Biden] wants us at some undetermined time in the future to be able to produce our energy without nuclear, without oil and without natural gas—and certainly without coal. He doesn’t really explain how we’re going to get from where we are today to that future that he envisions, which is why you're seeing the disruptions in the energy supply throughout the world.”

Short-term, as best I can tell, President Biden and Secretary Kerry’s plan is, ‘Let’s don't produce our own fossil fields.’ Even though the American economy, the greatest economy in all of human history, gets 80% of its energy from fossil fuels, [President Biden] wants to end that abruptly. He doesn’t want us to produce our own fossil fuels. He wants us to buy natural gas and oil from other countries, and basically give countries that hate us more money, so they’ll have weapons—they can buy weapons—to try to kill us. And that didn’t make any sense to me. And it doesn’t make any sense to the American people.”

“I see, and I think these colleagues of mine see, the changes in our climate as a discrete scientific problem, unlike President Biden and Secretary Kerry and the other Trotsky-like Wokers. They see climate change as a religion, and you can’t talk about it unless you follow their dogma. . . . And it’s not popular with the American people. And it’s not going to solve the problems that we face in terms of the changes that are taking place in our climate.”

Video of the speech is available here.

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Teacher, Principal, and Leader Residency Access Act to help college students who aspire to become teachers and leaders in America’s schools access residency programs.

“Every time I substitute teach, I’m more convinced that Louisiana’s future rests on education. Louisiana students deserve that their teachers have the best preparation possible, but many young educators aren’t able to gain practical experience before they enter their own classrooms. I’ve introduced the Teacher, Principal, and Leader Residency Access Act to help provide future educators with more teaching experience while they finish their degrees,” said Kennedy. 

Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) introduced the bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives. Reps. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) cosponsored the legislation.

Many college students report that their college courses do not prepare them for a career after graduation. Residencies for teachers and school leaders would better prepare college students for careers in education by providing them with practical classroom experience. These residencies, however, can prove costly for colleges to offer. As a result, the opportunities are often out of reach for low-income students.

The Federal Work Study (FWS) Program funds part-time employment for undergraduate, graduate and professional students who require financial aid. The Teacher, Principal, and Leader Residency Access Act would expand the FWS Program to cover residencies for students who want to become teachers or school leaders. It would also prioritize helping low-income students access the FWS Program.

Text of the Teacher, Principal, and Leader Residency Access Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Claiming Losses After Disasters Act to help disaster victims receive tax deductions following damage caused by natural disasters. 

“In 2021, historic flooding, Hurricane Ida and a devastating winter storm all hit Louisiana families—and the year isn’t even over. Unfortunately for every Louisianian trying to rebuild, current law limits tax deductions for natural disaster victims. I introduced the Claiming Losses After Disasters Act to help more Louisianians defray the costs of rebuilding,” said Kennedy. 

This year’s historic winter storm caused $20.8 billion in damage to Louisiana. Rainfall and flooding caused $1.4 billion in damage. Hurricane Ida caused an estimated $64.5 billion in damage. The combined damage from all of these disasters totals roughly $86.7 billion.

Under current law, tax deductions for casualty losses are limited to disaster victims until the end of 2025. For someone to qualify for tax deductions, however, the casualty losses suffered must be more than the sum of 10 percent of an individual’s adjusted gross income and $100.

The Claiming Losses After Disasters Act would allow disaster victims from a major federally-declared disaster to claim a larger tax deduction for damages not covered by insurance. Specifically, Kennedy’s bill would permanently waive the requirement that disaster-related casualty losses must exceed 10 percent of a victim’s adjusted gross income for tax deductions to apply. Instead, a new minimum threshold of $500 in losses per disaster would apply before a person could receive a tax deduction.

Text of the Claiming Losses After Disasters Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) in introducing the Small Scale LNG Access Act to make it easier for small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) producers to export their product.

“Louisiana is the leading state for LNG production and export, and the Small Scale LNG Access Act would help our state continue to supply our allies with the clean energy they need. America’s economy and national security are tied to our energy independence, so we need more freedom to make the most of our energy resources,” said Kennedy.

“The United States cannot continue to cede energy production to countries like Russia and Iran. Producing cleaner burning natural gas here in the U.S. creates American jobs and exporting it abroad decreases global emissions. This bill benefits Louisiana workers, unleashes our energy dominance, and improves our environment,” said Cassidy.

“Expediting approval of small-scale natural gas exports would strengthen an emerging sector of Florida’s economy and bolster our existing ties with Caribbean and Latin American nations. Importantly, the bill would also ensure that bad actors, including the criminal regimes in Venezuela and Cuba, do not benefit from expedited access to American energy exports while they continue to undermine democracy and commit human rights atrocities,” said Rubio.

“Reducing the burden of federal regulations will mean more good paying jobs for Florida families in the emerging industry of small scale natural gas exports. Anything we can do to make LNG more accessible and cost-effective to our partners throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and decrease their reliance on Maduro and Venezuelan oil is good for the United States,” said Scott. 

“We must do everything we can to unleash American energy development, especially as the current administration does the opposite. That’s why I am proud to join Sen. Cassidy and my other Republican colleagues in introducing the Small Scale LNG Access Act to ensure the expedited, streamlined approval of small-scale LNG exports. This would be a boon to American jobs and provide long-term stability for suppliers here at home, while also helping Caribbean and Latin American countries get access to clean and reliable natural gas,” said Inhofe.

The Small Scale LNG Access Act would codify into law a Department of Energy rule that expedites the approval process for facilities that export small-scale shipments of LNG. Streamlining the approval process would boost American LNG production and promote job growth.

Kennedy previously helped introduce the Natural Gas Export Expansion Act to remove regulatory bottlenecks on the LNG trade. Kennedy’s op-ed about the bill is available here.

Text of the Small Scale LNG Access Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and colleagues in introducing the Prohibiting Taxpayer Funded Settlements for Illegal Immigrants Act to block President Biden’s reported plan to spend $450,000 per person for legal settlements for illegal immigrants. This plan could cost more than one billion dollars in taxpayer money.

“Sending money to illegal immigrants rewards people for breaking the law, and that only makes the border crisis more dangerous. These settlements with illegal aliens would be a bitter insult to every person who has come to America by respecting our laws and borders. I’m happy to partner with Sen. Daines to prevent the Biden administration from undermining and apologizing for the rule of law,” said Kennedy.

“Biden’s open border policies have reached a new crazy level. Montana families are struggling with inflation and skyrocketing costs on everything from gas to groceries because of Biden’s wasteful spending policies, and now the President wants to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to illegal immigrants. Because of Biden, our southern border has been taken over by Mexican cartels and this effort will only continue to incentivize illegal immigration making it worse. This is a gut punch to the American taxpayer,” said Daines.

Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) also cosponsored the legislation.

The senators are also introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022 that would prevent taxpayer-funded settlements for illegal immigrants.

Text of the Prohibiting Taxpayer Funded Settlements for Illegal Immigrants Act is available here.

Text of the NDAA amendment is available here.