Kennedy, Judiciary Republicans push back on Biden Justice Department crackdown on parents’ freedom of speech
Oct 07 2021
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and nine other senators in demanding that the Justice Department (DOJ) not interfere with local school board meetings or threaten the use of federal law enforcement to deter parents’ free speech. This comes after DOJ issued a memorandum suggesting federal law enforcement may need to assist policing local school board meetings.
“We are concerned about the appearance of the Department of Justice policing the speech of citizens and concerned parents. We urge you to make very clear to the American public that the Department of Justice will not interfere with the rights of parents to come before school boards and speak with educators about their concerns, whether regarding coronavirus-related measures, the teaching of critical race theory in schools, sexually explicit books in schools, or any other topic. Furthermore, we urge you to instruct the FBI and the various United States Attorneys to make clear in the meetings discussed above that speech and democratic processes, like those that occur at a local school board meeting, must be respected,” wrote the senators.
“It is not appropriate to use the awesome powers of the Federal government—including the PATRIOT Act, a statute designed to thwart international terrorism—to quash those who question local school boards. By even suggesting that possibility, important speech by American citizens will be chilled in school board meetings across this country. Your job now is to make clear to all stakeholders and the American people that such action is decidedly not the role of the Federal government nor the role of any other government in the United States—in fact, it can never be,” the senators concluded.
Last month, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent a letter to President Biden asking for help from federal law enforcement, referencing the PATRIOT Act, a statute that helps the federal government fight international terrorism. NSBA referenced situations involving parents who have been frustrated by COVID-19 mask mandates for children and the possibility of incorporating critical race theory into the academic curriculum. Such discussions are clearly protected under the First Amendment.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) also signed the letter.
The full letter is available here.
Watch Kennedy’s comments here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in introducing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Modernization Act to end animal testing mandates on drug makers, allowing them to use testing methods that would improve the safety and effectiveness of drugs. Testing experimental medicines on animals has been shown ineffective for preventing certain side effects in humans.
“Testing new drugs on animals is often risky for both animals and people. The FDA Modernization Act would allow drug producers to improve safety by using more modern, humane and effective testing. I want Louisianians to get the best medicines as quickly and safely as possible, and I’m thankful to work with Sen. Paul to protect our furry friends at the same time,” said Kennedy.
“The FDA Modernization Act would accelerate innovation and get safer, more effective drugs to market more quickly by cutting red tape that is not supported by current science. It would also prevent the needless suffering and death of animal test subjects—which is something I think both Republican and Democrats can agree needs to end,” said Paul.
Current law requires drug makers to conduct animal testing to determine the safety and efficacy of drugs developed for humans. Animal testing, however, can be inefficient and problematic because some drugs that appear safe for animals are not safe for humans. This legislation would not altogether ban animal testing, but it would allow drug sponsors to use alternatives to animal testing when appropriate.
The FDA Modernization Act would allow drug producers to use alternative testing methods to verify a drug’s safety and efficiency, including sophisticated computer models and testing methods based on human biology rather than animal biology. This legislation would help make drugs more affordable, reduce the number of animal deaths during testing and get medicines to market sooner.
Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) are also co-sponsors of the bill.
Text of the FDA Modernization Act is available here.
Video of Kennedy’s remarks on the legislation is available here.
Kennedy, Scott, colleagues oppose Democrat plan that would make SBA direct lender, hurt job creators
Oct 06 2021
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy today joined Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and more than 10 other senators in writing to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Small Business Committee Chair Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and House Small Business Committee Chair Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) to oppose a Democrat plan that would make the Small Business Administration a direct lender through their $3.5 trillion reconciliation plan.
“We write today regarding a deeply concerning provision contained within the House Small Business section . . . of the Budget Reconciliation Bill, that would authorize nearly $4.5 billion over 10 years for the Small Business Administration (SBA) to issue direct 7(a) loans. We believe this would be an inefficient, costly, and unequitable position to put both lenders and borrowers,” the senators wrote.
“Giving the SBA the reins to run its own lending program will make it more difficult for existing lenders to continue to participate and potential lenders to even want to join the program. A 10-year authorization of $4.5 billion for this program with little to no oversight will also increase the level of concern over how the money is being used. Without proper parameters, the direct lending program can fall into a great deal of fraud and abuse,” explained the senators.
“As the United States emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the growth of small businesses and entrepreneurship must be a top priority. Unfortunately, under the reconciliation legislation currently under consideration, among other provisions, allowing the SBA to establish and run a lending program that they themselves regulate will harm job creators and hurt the United States economy as a whole,” concluded the senators.
Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) also signed the letter.
The letter is available here.
Kennedy, Cornyn, colleagues press Biden administration for answers on release of illegal immigrants into U.S.
Oct 06 2021
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and more than 30 other senators to urge Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to address reports that thousands of illegal immigrants in Del Rio, Texas were released into the interior of the U.S. instead of facing removal as the Biden administration had previously pledged.
“While we applaud the Administration’s original stated intent to expel the majority of migrants under the CDC’s Title 42 order or to expeditiously remove them, we are concerned that DHS did not actually carry out this plan, deployed resources in a manner that weakened border security, and undermined the deterrent effect of any future statements that the Biden Administration will enforce our immigration laws at the border,” the senators wrote.
“DHS has openly admitted that the rapid influx of Haitian migrants into the interior was orchestrated by smuggling organizations, which only makes some aspects of the agency’s response more puzzling. . . . And Administration officials have communicated to congressional staff that smuggling organizations strategically bused migrants into Ciudad Acuña in order to concentrate migrants at a single location and overwhelm the Border Patrol. Despite knowing this, however, DHS shut down Border Patrol checkpoints in the Del Rio Sector and reassigned those agents to process migrants under the Del Rio International Bridge,” explained the senators.
“Finally, the Administration’s response to the ongoing border crisis only makes it more likely that we will continue to experience surges like the one in Del Rio,” the senators continued.
The full letter is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) authored this op-ed, originally published in the Daily Comet. Below are key excerpts from the piece, which outlines the need to keep the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) affordable and accessible to Louisianians and all Americans.
“Like many coastal states, Louisiana sometimes has floods, which is why roughly 500,000 Louisianians depend on the National Flood Insurance Program, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to protect them from these natural disasters.
“But now FEMA is implementing a new plan that will price its flood insurance well beyond the means of most Louisianians and other Americans.”
. . .
“FEMA’s madness—called Risk Rating 2.0—would enact the biggest change in history to how the NFIP calculates flood insurance premiums.
“According to FEMA’s own estimates, Risk Rating 2.0 would lead to higher insurance rates for roughly 80% of Louisianians who depend on the NFIP. What good is flood insurance if no one can afford it?
“These new, higher rates started Oct. 1 for new NFIP policies and will take effect for existing policyholders on April 1, 2022.
“FEMA’s timing in rolling out its plan is terrible. This May, historic rainfall caused widespread flooding in southern Louisiana, hurting areas that Hurricanes Laura and Delta already damaged. More than 12 inches of rain fell on Lake Charles alone. Thousands of homes and businesses lost power.
“Just weeks ago, Nicholas came right on the heels of Hurricane Ida, soaking parts of southeastern Louisiana with up to a foot of rain. More than half of our state was under a flood alert. Hurricane season isn’t even over yet. Now is not the time to gut the NFIP like a fish.”
. . .
“It’s disgraceful that FEMA is now pushing through Risk Rating 2.0 without congressional approval or public input. FEMA’s process in developing its new edict has been opaque and undemocratic.
“Louisianians and other Americans who choose to be prudent by insuring against the risk of flood deserve a say over such a significant change to their flood insurance.”
. . .
“I hope FEMA will regain its sanity and stop this disastrous plan, or at least give Louisianians and other Americans a say in the matter. Until they do, I’m going to oppose Risk Rating 2.0 like a hound from hell, no matter how much FEMA wants to deny the asininity of the program.”
The op-ed is available here.
Senate passes Kennedy, Peters Patriot Week resolution celebrating American history, honoring Sept. 11 victims
Oct 01 2021
MADISONVILLE, La. – The Senate passed Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Gary Peters’s (D-Mich.) resolution designating the week of Sept. 11 through Sept. 17 as Patriot Week.
Cofounded by Judge Michael Warren, Patriot Week honors the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, celebrates Constitution Day on Sept. 17 and encourages students to engage with American history and civics.
“The first responders and other heroes whose lives were taken 20 years ago, on Sept. 11, 2001, exemplify the American spirit. We will remember their sacrifice forever, and we will teach our children to do the same. As we refuse to forget these Americans or the evil of Sept. 11, we walk forward with a reverence for the liberties anchored in our Constitution and for the selfless patriotism they foster. Patriot Week helps tell America’s story, and our story is worth telling,” said Kennedy.
“Patriot Week offered everyone an opportunity to delve deeper into our nation’s history, engage in civics, and reflect on the values and ideals that define who we are as Americans. We recently marked 20 years since the horrific September 11th terrorist attacks—and I will never forget how we rallied together as one nation during that difficult time. We must channel that unity and work together to address the very serious challenges our nation faces. I am thankful to Judge Warren for his commitment to this effort and was proud to work with him and Senator Kennedy to lead this annual recognition in the Senate,” said Peters.
“In these very challenging times, reminding Americans what unites us is more important than ever. We ask all Americans to learn, celebrate, and embrace our First Principles, great patriots, founding documents, and flags that make America that greatest nation in world history. Co-founder Leah (my then 10 year old daughter) and I are very appreciative of Senators Peters and Kennedy for moving this grassroots based resolution through the US Senate on a bipartisan basis for a third consecutive year,” said Warren.
More than 17 states have officially recognized Patriot Week through gubernatorial proclamations and legislative resolutions.
Text of the resolution is available here.
Sep 30 2021
Kennedy outlined Monday how storms have devastated Louisiana and the nearly $150 billion in damages they caused in just 13 months.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) voted today in support of a short-term funding bill that would send disaster aid to Louisiana and extend the National Flood Insurance Program without raising the debt limit. The Senate passed the bill, which now moves to the House of Representatives.
“If you even glance at the storm damage levied on Louisiana over the last year, you know our people need disaster relief. I’m thankful the Senate did the right thing by voting to send aid to our state, extend the flood insurance program Louisianians depend on and keep the government open,” said Kennedy.
Senate Republicans attempted to pass a bill similar to today’s legislation on Monday, but Democrats blocked that move before eventually removing the debt ceiling provision from their funding bill and bringing that measure for a vote today.
Kennedy has explained the need for disaster aid and criticized the political gamesmanship that originally led Democrats to tether that aid to lifting the debt limit. Video of Kennedy’s comments made on Sept. 27 is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and more than 30 other senators in writing to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) opposing a measure of the multi-trillion-dollar Democrat spending bill that would raise taxes on married couples. The policy would effectively discourage marriage.
“We were disappointed to learn that in some instances the House of Representatives’ reconciliation bill creates harmful penalties for marriage. Discouraging marriage is not in our country’s best interest and sends the wrong message to our families,” the senators wrote.
“Federal policy should be designed to foster strong marriages, which are the foundation of strong families and strong communities. Unfortunately, despite its original rollout as part of the ‘American Families Plan,’ the current draft of the reconciliation bill takes an existing marriage penalty in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and makes it significantly worse,” explained the senators.
“The reconciliation bill could make the same family significantly worse off. It could nearly double the marriage penalty,” the senators continued.
“We believe that marriage is a vital social good. It is misguided and unfair for the government to build bigger barriers for couples to marry,” concluded the senators.
Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), John Thune (R-N.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) also signed the letter.
The letter is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $4,229,552 in funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) National Cemetery Administration to expand the Northwest Louisiana Veterans Cemetery in Keithville, La.
“Louisianians know that we can never do enough to thank our nation’s heroes. These resources from the Veterans Cemetery Grants Program will help honor veterans and their loved ones in northwest Louisiana,” said Kennedy.
According to the VA, this grant will expand the Northwest Louisiana Veterans Cemetery by providing for 1,520 pre-placed crypts, 1,260 columbarium niches, as well as landscaping, additional infrastructure and signage on roughly two acres of land. The cemetery serves more than 73,000 veterans and their families living in a radius of 75 miles of the location.
This Veterans Cemetery Grants Program funds veteran cemeteries nationwide and expands access to burial benefits for veterans and eligible family members.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and more than 30 other senators in urging President Biden not to support the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, which would subject Americans’ Second Amendment rights to international oversight if ratified.
“We write to you today seeking clarification on your Administration’s position on the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Recent remarks by Deputy Director for Conventional Arms Threat Reduction, William Malzahn, seem to indicate your intention to rejoin this misguided and overbearing international treaty,” the senators wrote.
“At the Seventh Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty, Deputy Director Malzahn stated ‘The United States has long supported strong and effective national controls on the international transfer of conventional arms, and the Arms Trade Treaty is an important tool for promoting those controls internationally.’ We find this statement to be most concerning and contrary to the current and historical position of the United States,” explained the senators.
“The vague language of the ATT makes American commitments uncertain, the most concerning of which is the lack of protections for lawful gun ownership which threatens the rights afforded to Americans under the Second Amendment. Further, with an amendment process that only requires a ¾ vote for approval, more intrusive provisions could be applied in the future; legally obligating the United States to comply with international commitments without consent from the Senate,” the senators continued.
“Under any circumstance, it is inconceivable that the United States would consider subjecting our constitutional right to bear arms to international oversight and interference. For these reasons, we request clarification on your intentions regarding this international accord. Moreover, we urge you to reject the ATT; however, should you have plans otherwise, please know we will unequivocally oppose its ratification in the Senate,” they concluded.
The letter is available here.