Media

“While it’s not the federal government’s job to bail out local and state officials who spent recklessly, giving those governments the flexibility to do maximum good for their communities—with money they already have—is a no-brainer.”

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Coronavirus Relief Fund Flexibility for State and Local Government Act to give state and local governments more flexibility as they use funds provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“Local and state governments are struggling to serve their people in the face of an incredible health crisis. Louisianians know all about weathering hard providences. While it’s not the federal government’s job to bail out local and state officials who spent recklessly, giving those governments the flexibility to do maximum good for their communities—with money they already have—is a no-brainer. This bill gives state and local leaders the chance to regain their fiscal footing without putting American taxpayers on the hook for even more spending,” said Kennedy.

The Coronavirus Relief Fund Flexibility for State and Local Government Act would allow states and local governments to use CARES Act funding for operating expenses unrelated to the coronavirus. This bill does not allow officials to spend this CARES Act money on shoring up their pension funds.

The CARES Act established the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund, which has provided payments to state, local and tribal governments to help them respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Every state received at least $1.25 billion from this allocation.

Currently, state relief funds expire on Dec. 30, 2020. States are required to send unused funds back to the U.S. Treasury. This legislation would allow state and local governments to continue using these funds until they are expended.

The bill text is available here.

 

“The Federal Reserve’s decision to make relief more available to the companies and workers who drive America’s energy independence comes in the nick of time. There’s still more we should do to preserve the industry and its jobs, and I hope the administration takes additional positive steps in the coming days.”

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) praised the Federal Reserve’s decision to make its Main Street Lending Program more accessible to firms employing oil and gas workers.

“Louisiana has been hemorrhaging jobs because of the devastating toll the pandemic and price war have taken on the oil and gas industry. The Federal Reserve’s decision to make relief more available to the companies and workers who drive America’s energy independence comes in the nick of time. There’s still more we should do to preserve the industry and its jobs, and I hope the administration takes additional positive steps in the coming days,” said Kennedy.

“Universities and students around Louisiana are doing everything they can to adapt to this pandemic. This funding will help institutions continue to provide quality education and help students succeed under these challenging circumstances.”

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $51,410,270 in funding for Louisiana schools from the Department of Education. The resources will support continued education for minority serving institutions in Louisiana that were affected by the coronavirus pandemic. These institutions include historically black colleges and universities, tribally controlled colleges and universities and institutions serving low-income students.

“Universities and students around Louisiana are doing everything they can to adapt to this pandemic. This funding will help institutions continue to provide quality education and help students succeed under these challenging circumstances,” said Kennedy.

This funding comes as part of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The money will help pay for distance education technology, student grants, staff trainings, payroll and operational costs.

Additional information about this CARES Act relief funding is available here.

“Louisianians have lost their homes, businesses and health as a result of tornadoes that devastated Monroe and other Louisiana communities. I join Gov. Edwards in asking for this disaster declaration.”

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined fellow lawmakers from Louisiana in sending a letter to President Donald Trump in support of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ request for a federal disaster declaration for the state of Louisiana. The request comes as a result of severe storms and tornadoes that impacted a large swath of the state this Easter.

“Louisianians have lost their homes, businesses and health as a result of tornadoes that devastated Monroe and other Louisiana communities. I join Gov. Edwards in asking for this disaster declaration,” said Kennedy.

“On April 12, tornadoes and severe weather devastated parts of northern Louisiana, centered around the City of Monroe and Ouachita Parish in my congressional district. I appreciate the prompt responses of President Trump and Governor Edwards in marshaling relief resources, and I ask the Administration to give Governor Edwards’ request for a federal disaster declaration the full consideration it deserves,” said Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-La.).

Sen. Cassidy (R-La.) and Reps. Garret Graves (R-La.), Clay Higgins (R-La.), Mike Johnson (R-La.), Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and Steve Scalise (R-La.) also signed the letter with Kennedy and Abraham.

The letter is available here.

“Our children will become America’s next leaders, so it’s important that we continue to invest in their education during this outbreak. This funding will give Louisiana students the resources to succeed even under challenges they’ve never walked through before.”

 MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $286,980,175 in funding from the Department of Education to support continued education for K-12 students in Louisiana who were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our children will become America’s next leaders, so it’s important that we continue to invest in their education during this outbreak. This funding will give Louisiana students the resources to succeed even under challenges they’ve never walked through before,” said Kennedy.

This funding is part of $13.2 billion allocated to the Education Department through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It will help promote distance education, prepare for next school year and ensure student health and safety.

Additional information about this CARES Act relief funding is available here.

“With accurate data, we can understand what works best to combat the spread of the coronavirus. I’m glad to see this funding support Louisiana research to flatten the curve.”

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today announced $199,009 in grant funding from the National Science Foundation to support a coronavirus research project at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

“With accurate data, we can understand what works best to combat the spread of the coronavirus. I’m glad to see this funding support Louisiana research to flatten the curve,” said Kennedy.

The funding comes through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act.

More information about the project is available here.

“I respectfully urge you to deny any request for early release made by Robert Allen Stanford, Bernie Madoff, and others who chose to devastate innocent Americans with their fraudulent schemes.”

 MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today wrote a letter to Attorney General William Barr to request that he deny early prison releases for Allen Stanford, Bernie Madoff and others convicted of serious fraudulent crimes.

“Our efforts should be focused on protecting those who protected us[:] our parents, grandparents, and military veterans who led crime-free lives. Criminals such as Stanford and Madoff who preyed on the elderly should be the last ones to benefit from the change in circumstances COVID-19 has caused. . . . I respectfully urge you to deny any request for early release made by Robert Allen Stanford, Bernie Madoff, and others who chose to devastate innocent Americans with their fraudulent schemes,” wrote Kennedy.

On March 26, 2020, Attorney General Barr directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to grant early release to certain non-violent criminals who are at high risk of falling victim to the coronavirus. Congress originally authorized this power through emergency legislation to protect elderly or chronically ill inmates from infection.

Kennedy also requested that the Justice Department publish on its website key information regarding every inmate who is released under the orders developed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter is available here.

“Waiving SBA’s affiliation rules for local newspapers and broadcasters and ensuring that financial assistance flows to the local affiliate, not the parent company, would allow these small, local operations to be eligible for much-needed financial relief. Local newspapers and broadcasters have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, are essential for maintaining a well-informed public, and deserve our help.”

MADISONVILLE, La. – As the Senate considers additional measures to support small businesses around the country struggling with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) sent a letter to Senate leadership urging them to ensure any future legislation make thousands of local newspapers, TV and radio stations around the country eligible for small business assistance under the Paycheck Protection Program.

In the letter, the senators called for waiving the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) affiliation rule to allow local media outlets to access funding, pointing to the critical role these outlets play in keeping communities healthy and informed.

“Ensuring that local news outlets remain viable at this critical time is not only a matter of fairness, but is essential to public health. Local newspapers, radio, and television stations provide important local content that keeps their communities informed,” wrote the senators.

The coronavirus pandemic has had devastating effects on local media outlets around the country, including Louisiana’s. In the last few months, local newspapers have lost as much as 50 percent of advertising revenue, and the National Association of Broadcasters found that some local broadcasters have reported as much as a 90 percent loss in advertising revenues. Nationwide, advertising losses for local TV and radio broadcasters are estimated to reach at least $3 billion. The crisis has also resulted in an estimated 28,000 news workers being laid off nationwide.

These losses have only increased the financial difficulties many local media outlets have been feeling for years. From 2005 to 2018, newspaper advertising revenue fell from $49 billion to $14 billion, while subscription revenue remained flat. During the same time period, at least 1,800 newspapers went out of business, and roughly 28,000 newsroom jobs were lost nationwide.

“Waiving SBA’s affiliation rules for local newspapers and broadcasters and ensuring that financial assistance flows to the local affiliate, not the parent company, would allow these small, local operations to be eligible for much-needed financial relief. Local newspapers and broadcasters have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, are essential for maintaining a well-informed public, and deserve our help,” the senators concluded. 

The letter is available here.

“Federal and state governments are working together to save lives and livelihoods in Louisiana and many other states, as America’s oil industry is struggling mightily. I’m proud to join my state officials in asking the EPA to quickly approve this waiver and protect Louisiana refinery jobs.”

 MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today wrote a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler to request a waiver of the renewable volume obligation (RVO) under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) program in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Federal and state governments are working together to save lives and livelihoods in Louisiana and many other states, as America’s oil industry is struggling mightily. I’m proud to join my state officials in asking the EPA to quickly approve this waiver and protect Louisiana refinery jobs,” said Kennedy.

Governor John Bel Edwards recently requested that the EPA approve a waiver to lower the total RVO in order to combat the impact of the coronavirus on the oil and gas industry.

Low demand for gasoline and jet fuel has forced refineries operating along the gulf coast to decrease production between 20 and 33.3 percent. As oil prices decline, refineries across the country are fighting to maintain facilities and pay employees.

The letter is available here.

“Our state’s public transportation system is doing whatever it takes to adjust to this pandemic, and this funding will help Shreveport maintain its transit services and support efforts to slow the spread of the virus around northern Louisiana.”

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced an $11,323,615 grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to support Shreveport Transit Management, Inc. in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Our state’s public transportation system is doing whatever it takes to adjust to this pandemic, and this funding will help Shreveport maintain its transit services and support efforts to slow the spread of the virus in northern Louisiana,” said Kennedy.

The federal funding requires no local match. It is part of a previously announced $162 million grant delivered through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to support Louisiana’s public transit industry. More information from the FTA is available here.