WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) today called on Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler to ensure the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) will continue enforcing the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act when companies refuse to open their records to inspection.
“We write to request your assurance that the unprecedented replacement of the members of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) by the Commission will not cause a change or delay in policy with respect to the audits of issuers based in foreign countries, including the People’s Republic of China (‘China’),” the senators wrote.
“As you know, the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act (P.L. 116-222) was enacted on December 18, 2020. This landmark law will protect the interests of hardworking American investors by ensuring that foreign companies traded in America are subject to the same independent audit requirements that apply to American companies. In particular, this law is critical to safeguarding Americans’ savings from being invested in entities based in China that pose unacceptable risk under U.S. law,” the senators continued.
“On May 13, 2021, the PCAOB proposed Rule 6100, Board Determinations Under the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act. The proposed rule would provide a framework to guide the PCAOB in carrying out the responsibilities under the Act, and was publicly supported by four board members at the time of its proposal. Ultimately, the proposed rule represents the first step toward fairly enforcing U.S. law to protect American investors. However, since the rule was proposed, the Commission announced the removal of the Chairman of the PCAOB and its intent to seek candidates for all five board positions,” the senators continued.
The senators asked Gensler whether the SEC will appoint new PCAOB board members who will faithfully implement the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act and whether the SEC expects any delay in the implementation of the Act as a result of the PCAOB’s change in leadership. The senators also inquired whether the SEC took into account the previous PCAOB leaders’ positions on the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act before it removed them from the board.
“We urge that the Commission and PCAOB continue the critical work of implementing the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act without delay,” the senators concluded.
Last December, President Trump signed into law Kennedy’s Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act. The law protects American investors by prohibiting securities of a company from being listed on any of the U.S. securities exchanges if the company has failed to comply with the PCAOB’s audits for three years in a row. It also requires public companies to disclose whether they are owned or controlled by a foreign government, including China’s communist government.
This week, the Senate unanimously passed the Accelerating Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act. The bill would put additional pressure on China by requiring foreign companies to comply with PCAOB audits within two consecutive years instead of three. The bill would also apply the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act to Chinese companies that use audit firms in Taiwan or Singapore and do not comply with PCAOB inspections because of Chinese law.
The letter is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and 47 other Republican senators today condemned the Justice Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ attempt to impose unprecedented restrictions on the use of stabilizing braces on firearms.
“We write to express our grave concern regarding the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives’ (ATF) Proposed Rule 2021R-08 . . . the way the proposed rule is written makes clear that ATF intends to bring the most common uses of the most widely possessed stabilizing braces within the purview of the [National Firearms Act of 1934]. Doing so would turn millions of law-abiding Americans into criminals overnight, and would constitute the largest executive branch-imposed gun registration and confiscation scheme in American history,” the senators wrote.
“To one unfamiliar with stabilizing braces, ATF’s proposed rule and the accompanying regulatory analysis suggest that these braces are dangerous alterations to firearms designed to help criminals evade federal law. Nothing could be further from the truth, and ATF knows that. After all, it has repeatedly blessed their design, manufacture, sale, and use. . . . Having fostered this vibrant market in which millions of law-abiding Americans have participated, ATF now suddenly changes course. Its proposed rule would yank the rug out from under those law-abiding Americans. . . . If ATF proceeds as it proposes, virtually all stabilizing brace-equipped pistols in circulation will become contraband,” continued the senators.
“A crime wave is sweeping America. These aren’t broken-windows crimes; they are violent crimes like murder, assault, and robbery. But rather than cracking down on the criminals who are turning America’s cities into warzones, ATF and the Department of Justice have decided to go after law-abiding gun owners . . . This is plain wrong. The proposed rule is worse than merely abdicating your responsibility to protect Americans from criminals; you’re threatening to turn law-abiding Americans into criminals by imposing the largest executive branch-initiated gun registration and confiscation program in American history. We urge you to turn back. Correct this mistake and withdraw the proposed rule,” the senators concluded.
The letter is available here.
Jun 22 2021
WASHINGTON – The Senate today passed Sen. John Kennedy’s (R-La.) Accelerating Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act. The bill would increase accountability for Chinese companies that refuse to submit to U.S. financial oversight and close a loophole that Chinese companies use to avoid such oversight.
“When foreign companies flout America’s security laws, they put Americans’ retirement plans and savings at risk. China is bent on exploiting American investors, so we need more accountability for foreign companies using American capital, and we need it now. I’m pleased to see the Senate take a huge step today by voting to give the SEC the ability to kick fraudulent Chinese companies off U.S. exchanges more quickly. I hope the House sends this common-sense bill to the president’s desk before foreign companies swindle more workers and families here at home,” said Kennedy.
Last December, President Trump signed into law Kennedy’s Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, which prohibits foreign companies from listing their securities on any of the U.S. exchanges if the company has failed to comply with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s (PCAOB) audits for three years in a row. The law protects the interest of hardworking American investors by ensuring that foreign companies traded in America are subject to the same independent audit requirements that apply to their competitors in America and other countries.
The Accelerating Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act would put additional pressure on China by requiring foreign companies to comply with PCAOB audits within two consecutive years instead of three. This would help remove fraudulent and non-compliant companies from U.S. exchanges more quickly.
The bill would also apply the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act to Chinese companies that use audit firms in Taiwan or Singapore and do not comply with PCAOB inspections because of Chinese law.
“ASA applauds the Senate for coming together once again and unanimously passing common sense legislation to protect the American people and end Communist China’s exploitation of our capital markets. We thank Senator Kennedy for his leadership in accelerating a timeline which now forces Chinese companies to comply with our audit and regulatory requirements much quicker, and we urge the House to swiftly move this bill to the President’s desk. A bipartisan Washington is finally waking up to the China threat and it’s time for Wall Street to do the same. U.S. exchanges must ensure American investor money is not used to finance Beijing’s egregious human rights abuses and genocide by immediately halting Chinese company IPOs and delisting every Chinese company from their exchange until those companies can prove they are NOT controlled by the CCP,” said American Securities Association CEO Chris Iacovella.
Congress established the PCAOB to inspect audits of public companies, ensuring the information companies provide to the public is accurate, independent and trustworthy.
Currently, China’s communist government refuses to allow the PCAOB to inspect audits of companies registered in China and Hong Kong. Such companies represent a keen risk to American investors as nearly 11 percent of all securities class action lawsuits in 2011 were brought against Chinese-owned companies accused of misrepresenting themselves in financial documents.
According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, 224 U.S.-listed companies are located in countries where there are obstacles to PCAOB inspections. These companies have a combined market capitalization of more than $1.8 trillion.
In the last 10 years, the number of Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges has increased significantly, as those firms take advantage of the capital available in America.
Text of the Accelerating Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Save Our Afghan Allies Act to protect Afghan translators and other allies who played a crucial role helping U.S. forces during the War in Afghanistan.
“America’s Afghan allies risked their lives and families to help American soldiers, and it’s unthinkable that the U.S. would leave them in the hands of the merciless Taliban. These brave Afghans have no safe haven in their homeland, and the least we can do is guarantee their protection in the U.S. I hope my colleagues join me in passing this bill to give sanctuary to our allies and their families,” said Kennedy.
The Save Our Afghan Allies Act would direct the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense to develop a plan to relocate and accept Afghan allies and their immediate families to the U.S. before the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from the country is completed.
Under the Special Immigrant Visa program, Afghans who helped the U.S. in Afghanistan for a period of at least two years can move to America with their immediate families. Thousands of applicants are still waiting for final visa approval but are running out of time as U.S. forces prepare to leave the country. The Taliban is known for murdering translators and their loved ones, and it already controls much of Afghanistan.
Text of the Save Our Afghan Allies Act is available here.
Jun 21 2021
WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) today 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.
“Vultures who prey on suffering Louisianians after a natural disaster have no business working with the National Flood Insurance Program or receiving taxpayer money. I’m proud to work with Sen. Menendez to protect Louisiana families from falling victim to fraudsters in the wake of hard-hitting storms,” said Kennedy.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable that many of the same bad actors who preyed on Sandy survivors after the storm devastated New Jersey continue to work with the National Flood Insurance Program. The current system makes it nearly impossible for the NFIP to fire engineering firms, lawyers, consultants and contractors who mishandle claims and defraud flood victims. I’m happy to work with Sen. Kennedy to right this wrong and increase accountability in the NFIP,” said Menendez.
The National Flood Insurance Program Consultant Accountability Act of 2021 would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fire consultants, contractors, law firms, engineering firms and other third parties involved in National Flood Insurance Program contracts if those parties deliberately mishandle claims in order to lower insurance reimbursements to homeowners following a disaster. Currently, FEMA can only fire individuals or entities that have a criminal conviction.
Text of the National Flood Insurance Program Consultant Accountability Act of 2021 is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) authored this op-ed for the Daily Iberian in Iberia Parish, calling for hunters to have more of a voice in determining the length of duck hunting season.
Key excerpts include:
“Whether you prefer to hunt around the Wax Lake, in the marshes of Pecan Island, or in the rice fields of Thornwell, Louisiana has a lot to offer the sportsman. As a duck hunter myself, I know our state has also done the yeoman’s work of conserving our coastal ecosystems.
“In fact, no one has done more to grow America’s duck population than duck hunters. So why are we ignoring their input when it comes to cutting the hunting season short?”
. . .
“Unfortunately, the government has imposed unfair limits on when hunters can use America’s wetlands. Many Louisiana hunters believe the duck season is unreasonably and unnaturally short. They want more time in the blind.”
. . .
“In my experience, hunters have valuable on-the-ground insight to offer, so officials should respect their input.
“That’s why Congress should amend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to allow duck hunting to continue until March 10. This amendment wouldn’t automatically extend the season into March, but it would permit state and federal wildlife management authorities to make that change, if the facts support it. And, significantly, amending the Migratory Bird Treaty Act would give duck hunters a chance to make their case for extending their access to Louisiana’s marshes and rice fields.”
. . .
“Washington has restricted America’s access to wetlands for more than a century. Louisiana hunters care about the great outdoors, and it’s time to listen more carefully to their experience. That’s what amending the Migratory Bird Treaty Act would do.”
The op-ed is available here.
MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) authored this op-ed for the Farmerville Gazette in Union Parish, highlighting the need for better information about boil advisories to protect water quality for Louisiana residents.
Key excerpts include:
“When winter storms hit our state this February, they wrecked water pipes and took out power in communities across northeast Louisiana. People in parts of Ouachita Parish lived under a boil advisory for almost a week, and roughly 50,000 Louisianians in 11 northeast parishes suffered through boil advisories as well.”
. . .
“Boil advisories have plagued Louisiana communities for longer than the Israelites wandered in the desert, and they’re not limited to natural disasters. In the past six years, Louisiana experienced almost 10,000 of these alerts. More than 1,900 were system-wide advisories, meaning they often affected entire communities. In the last year alone, Louisianians had to endure 1,630 boil advisories, 341 of which were system-wide.
“Louisiana’s northeast parishes know that boil advisories aren’t just a minor inconvenience. They’re a major disruption to daily life. When a public water system issues a boil advisory, Louisiana families have to drop what they’re doing so they can boil water to drink, cook, and wash up or rush to the store to buy bottled water.”
. . .
“To improve our water systems, we need to understand what triggers these boil advisories. That’s why I just introduced an amendment to the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 that would help us identify the underlying issues here.”
. . .
“While it’s hard to forge true bipartisanship in Washington these days, senators on both sides of the aisle saw that we need to take a deeper dive into this issue. My amendment received unanimous support and passed the Senate as part of the water infrastructure bill. That means it’s now up to the House of Representatives to do its job so we can get the plan to the president’s desk.
“I’m urging lawmakers in the House to do just that because Louisianians deserve to have confidence that there’s no debris or disease in their water. The problem is real, the solution is simple, and there’s no time to lose.”
The op-ed is available here.
Watch Kennedy question FEMA on flood insurance here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today questioned David Maurstad, Senior Executive of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), about changes to the NFIP that could raise flood insurance rates for many Louisianians.
Key excerpts include:
“With respect to Risk Rating 2.0, I think you’re presiding over a tire fire. I think the rollout of Risk Rating 2.0 looks like a ferret fire drill.
“Here’s what I hear FEMA saying, ‘We created this program in 1968. FEMA has the authority to assign premiums. We, FEMA,’ I hear you saying, ‘all these years, have been doing it wrong. We’ve been assessing risk wrong. And now, we, FEMA, have had an epiphany. And we have figured out how to look at every individual property, out of all the properties of the United States of America, and assign the risk for that particular property. But we’re not going to tell you how we’re going to do it. In fact, we’re going to require the insurance companies who are implementing Risk Rating 2.0 to sign a gag order. We’re not going to promulgate a rule. We’re not going to allow for public comment. We’re just going to do it because we’re smarter than the people who pay the premiums and we’re smarter than the United States Congress.’
“Now, I need you to explain to the policyholders of America . . . because you’re not waiting—you’re going to pull the trigger in August. I need you to explain to them this epiphany that FEMA has had, and how, if you look at a particular property, you’re able now to assign with specificity and accuracy flood risk, when all these years you did it wrong. Tell me what you did wrong, and tell me now why it’s going to be accurate.”
. . .
“You’ve got some consultants, and they’ve developed models. I get that part. They haven’t been tested. You’ve done no rule. You’ve done no public comment. Nobody’s been allowed to weigh in. Policyholders have no idea what you’re talking about.
“You know what I’ve discovered about consultants in predicting the future? For every consultant, there’s an equal and opposite consultant, and oftentimes they’re both wrong. And a lot of them are—their accuracy is about as good as those late-night psychic hotlines on TV. And you’ve done this in secret, and it’s not right, and we don’t know if you’ve considered other alternatives.”
. . .
“In my state, we’re not talking about a bunch of wealthy homeowners who have a second and third beach house. These are working people. They get up every day. They go to work. They obey the law. They try to do the right thing by their kids. They try to save a little money for retirement. Their biggest investment is in their home, and now you’re doing this to them without explaining it to them?”
. . .
“You’ve got to explain why, Mr. Maurstad. There’s a lot of distrust of Washington. You’ve got to explain why. You can’t hide your consultants. You’ve got to be in front of God, and country, and policyholders—you’ve got to say, ‘This is the methodology. Now let’s test it through debate.’”
Watch Kennedy’s questioning of the FEMA executive here.
Kennedy introduces No Dollars for Dictators Act to prevent taxpayer money from flowing to China, Russia, Iran
Jun 17 2021
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the No Dollars for Dictators Act. The legislation would prohibit allocations of special drawing rights at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from going to perpetrators of genocide and state sponsors of terrorism unless Congress authorizes the allocation.
“The Biden administration shouldn’t be forcing U.S. taxpayers to line the pockets of Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani. It’s astonishing that President Biden and Secretary Yellen have green-lit a deal that sends $40 billion to China and Russia while all the world’s poor countries combined would receive half that.
“Congress is responsible for stewarding taxpayer money, and this bill would stop the Biden administration from making an end run around the Constitution on behalf of the world’s worst dictators. Oppressive, hostile regimes work to undermine America’s safety and success every day, but the White House shouldn’t be helping them,” said Kennedy.
President Biden has agreed to a general allocation of special drawing rights at the IMF totaling $650 billion without consent from Congress. Large portions of that allocation will flow to dictators and countries that actively oppose American interests and violate human rights.
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.
Text of the No Dollars for Dictators Act is here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced legislation that would improve Louisianians’ access to telehealth services. The package of bills would raise reimbursement levels for health care professionals conducting virtual visits, end a regulation that limits access to telehealth services and improve telehealth access in rural areas.
“Telehealth services help Louisiana patients who aren’t always able to make a trip to the doctor. My legislation would support telehealth providers and the people they care for, especially when those Louisianians live in rural areas,” said Kennedy.
Audio-Only Telehealth for Emergencies Act
The Audio-Only Telehealth for Emergencies Act would allow physicians delivering care during a public health emergency or a major disaster declaration to receive the same compensation for audio-only telehealth visits as they would receive for in-person appointments.
Text of the Audio-Only Telehealth for Emergencies Act is available here.
Telehealth HSA Act
The Telehealth Health Savings Account (HSA) Act would allow employers to offer high-deductible health plans that include telehealth services without limiting employees’ ability to use health savings accounts. A current IRS regulation stops employees from making or receiving contributions to HSAs if they hold a high-deductible health plan that waives the deductible for telehealth services. This means that employees holding such high-deductible health plans will often need to pay out of pocket for telehealth services.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act temporarily waived this regulation, and the Telehealth HSA Act would make this waiver permanent.
Text of the Telehealth HSA Act is available here.
EASE Behavioral Health Services Act
The Enhance Access to Support Essential (EASE) Behavioral Health Services Act would allow mental health professionals providing telehealth services through Medicare and Medicaid to be reimbursed at the same levels as mental health professionals conducting in-person visits. This would allow patients to receive care in the comfort of their own homes and reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment.
Text of the EASE Behavioral Health Services Act is available here.
Increasing Rural Telehealth Access Act
The Increasing Rural Telehealth Access Act would expand access to health care by improving remote patient monitoring technology for individuals in rural areas. Remote patient monitoring is a form of telehealth that uses digital technologies and mobile medical devices to gather health data from patients at home and send it to their health care providers. This technology allows health care providers to continuously monitor patients with chronic health problems.
Rural patient monitoring relies on wired or wireless measurement devices such as blood pressure cuffs, biosensors and those measuring blood glucose levels. Some devices provide real-time video interactions between the patient and health care provider. Rural patient monitoring relies on technology that operates at low frequencies, such as 2G cellular connectivity, giving rural Louisianians more reliable access to medical attention.
Text of the Increasing Rural Telehealth Access Act is available here.