Kennedy introduces bill to stop banks from discriminating against American businesses based on politics
May 26 2021
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the No Red and Blue Banks Act, which would prohibit the federal government from entering contracts with banks that discriminate against lawful businesses based solely on social policy considerations.
“If banks want to become political actors and impose their policy positions on Americans, they shouldn’t get to rake in taxpayer dollars from government contracts. The No Red and Blue Banks Act would block banks that discriminate based on their own political values from profiting off federal contracts,” said Kennedy.
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) is an original co-sponsor of this legislation.
- On March 22, 2018, Citigroup announced new guidelines imposing three extralegal requirements on gun sales made by its partner businesses. The guidelines force businesses to adopt background check requirements, restrict the sale of firearms for individuals under 21 years of age and refrain from selling bump stocks or high-capacity magazines.
- A few weeks later, Bank of America followed suit and announced that it would be winding down its business dealings with companies that manufacture semi-automatic rifles.
- In both announcements, these banks cited social concerns about gun violence as motivation to take action.
- These banks took action to restrict legal commercial activity, above and beyond the limitations on gun and accessory sales that Congress has already imposed.
- Citigroup and Bank of America were among the “systemically important banks” granted bailouts during the Great Recession, totaling more than $812.3 billion taxpayer dollars.
- Citigroup is the world’s largest issuer of credit cards, with nearly $500 billion in annual purchases. The bank serves 100 million customers in 19 markets.
- Bank of America has more than 47 million customers and a retail footprint that reaches 80% of the United States.
Text of the No Red and Blue Banks Act is available here.
May 25 2021
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $5,906,127 in funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for structure elevation and acquisition in Lafayette and St. Tammany Parishes.
“The recent flooding in Louisiana reminds us how important investing in elevation projects is for our state. I am grateful that FEMA is fully funding these improvements,” said Kennedy.
FEMA will grant $3,420,195 to Lafayette Parish for the elevation of seven structures and the acquisition of seven structures. Seven structures will be removed from areas of historic flooding, and the first floor of each elevation project will be raised to mitigate flood risk.
In addition, FEMA will allocate $2,485,932 to St. Tammany Parish for the elevation of 10 structures.
FEMA is funding 100 percent of both projects because all properties in view fall into the severe repetitive loss category. These grants are pursuant to the National Flood Insurance Act.
May 25 2021
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and other Republican senators in introducing a resolution condemning hatred and violence against Jews, denouncing anti-Israel rhetoric from elected officials and the media and reaffirming that Jews must be treated with dignity and respect.
“Some say that being anti-Israel doesn’t mean being anti-Semitic, but the two often go hand-in-hand. Since Hamas started lobbing rockets at Israel, we have seen anti-Semites commit numerous acts of violence against Jews in America and abroad. The individuals whose irresponsible words have added to this cloud of hate have no excuse. Israel is America’s ally, and Jewish Americans have played a significant role in making America the great, diverse nation that we are today. We must continue to stand against anti-Semitism,” said Kennedy.
“The sickening rise in anti-Semitic attacks in the United States and around the world must end, along with the hateful anti-Israel rhetoric from politicians and the media that inspires the violence. We must ensure that Jewish people receive the full protection of law owed to them as citizens of the United States,” said Hawley.
Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) co-sponsored the resolution.
The resolution has also received support from the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Family Research Council.
In recent weeks, Jewish people in the United States have been threatened, cursed at, spit on, burned and physically assaulted in nearly 200 documented attacks since the start of the most recent conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Kennedy previously joined his colleagues in introducing a resolution to stand with Israel and condemn the attacks by Hamas. Kennedy and more than 40 other senators also sent a letter to President Biden urging him to stand with Israel and stop negotiating with Iran concerning potential sanctions relief.
LAKE CHARLES, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today met with flood victims and disaster relief volunteers in Lafayette, Carencro and Lake Charles, La. The current flooding hits Louisiana after historic hurricanes struck the state last fall.
“The most important things in life aren’t things—they’re people. The men and women of south Louisiana are again proving that Louisiana can pull through anything as long as we’re pulling together. It was an honor to visit their communities and hear their stories of strength today.
“After Hurricanes Laura and Delta and flooding from this historic rainfall, neighbors are again helping neighbors. But they still need help. I would support a presidential disaster declaration in the wake of these floods. Now, it’s time for the White House to show our people they’re not alone and move on getting supplemental disaster relief to Louisianians on the ground,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy hears directly from flood victims in Carencro, La.
Kennedy speaks with Lafayette Parish residents whose homes were flooded when the Vermilion River and Coulee Mine rose.
Kennedy spoke with Louisianians from Lafayette and Vermilion Parishes whose homes suffered damage from the floods and met with Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory, Carencro Mayor Glenn Brasseaux, Duson Mayor Johnny Thibodeaux, Scott Mayor Jan-Scott Richard and Youngsville Mayor Ken Ritter in Lafayette.
Kennedy meets with disaster volunteers at Trinity Baptist Church in Lake Charles, La.
Kennedy also met with Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter and disaster relief volunteers who have been helping victims on the ground in Lake Charles, La.
Background on requests for disaster relief:
Kennedy continues to support supplemental disaster relief for Louisiana as the state is still rebuilding after Hurricanes Laura and Delta and from this week’s flooding.
Once Congress receives a request for supplemental disaster aid from the White House, legislators can appropriate relief funds and send that bill to the president for his signature. The White House has not yet made a request for supplemental relief for Louisiana following the last year of hurricanes and flooding.
- On May 20, Kennedy spoke directly with Housing and Urban Development Secretary (HUD) Marcia Fudge about supplemental disaster relief for Louisiana. Fudge said she was personally supportive of the aid and would talk to the White House about when it might make the necessary request to Congress for that relief.
- On May 19, Kennedy pressed HUD for answers about why the White House has been silent on providing disaster relief to southwest Louisiana.
- On May 18, Kennedy again urged President Biden to provide supplemental disaster relief for southwest Louisiana. His letter is here.
- On May 18, Kennedy criticized FEMA for trying to raise flood insurance premiums for Louisiana residents without explaining how those decisions have been made. FEMA’s new rating system would change the way premium rates are calculated, potentially making flood insurance unaffordable for Louisiana families in flood-prone areas.
- Last week, Kennedy helped introduce the Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act, which would allow rural homeowners, renters and small businesses to more easily access disaster relief in the wake of a natural disaster.
- In December 2020, Kennedy wrote to President Trump for supplemental disaster funds to help Louisiana recover from extensive hurricane damage caused by the 2020 season’s storms.
- In September 2020, Kennedy wrote to Senate leadership, Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), to request that the Senate consider emergency supplemental aid to help Louisiana residents recover from Hurricane Laura.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today questioned Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge about the status of supplemental disaster relief for Louisiana in the wake of Hurricanes Laura and Delta and current historic flooding.
Watch Kennedy question HUD Secretary here.
Key exchanges include:
Kennedy: “Secretary Fudge, Louisiana, as you probably know, was hit by two massive hurricanes last year. The focal point was southwest Louisiana, but the hurricanes were devastating to central Louisiana, to northeast Louisiana. With respect to block grant disaster assistance . . . our entire Congressional delegation have repeatedly talked to the White House about getting an answer to our requests for the disaster relief. We have asked, we have begged, we have cajoled, we’ve sent fruit baskets. We haven’t sent over a personal pan pizza yet, but we are thinking about doing that to the White House. We just want an answer. Can you help me get an answer?”
Fudge: “What I am saying as well, is that we are more than willing to support what is happening, but Congress needs to make that decision. Whatever decision Congress makes we are going to be supportive of. I stand ready.”
Kennedy: “As you know, customarily the way this works, the White House has to send a request to Congress. Has the president decided to send over that request, and if so, do you know when we’ll get it?”
Fudge: “No, but I can ask.”
Fudge: “Well, I will find out, sir, because I think we need to do as much as we possibly can.”
Kennedy: “Okay, well I thank you for that, Madam Secretary. Let me be sure I understand: You are—you personally—on behalf of HUD are supportive of granting—of asking Congress—to give us the relief, is that right?”
Fudge: “I personally, yes, but as you say, that’s not my decision to make.”
Kennedy: “I know. Have you talked to anyone at the White House about our request?”
Fudge: “I have not, but I will make sure that I do it right away.”
. . .
Kennedy: “Can you tell me when we’ll get an answer?”
Fudge: “I’m going to call today. Now, I don’t know when that answer will be, but as soon as I get answer, I will make sure that you get it right away.”
. . .
Kennedy: “Okay. If you could, Madam Secretary, if we could get an answer—my people deserve an answer.”
Fudge: “I will.”
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) in introducing the Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act of 2021, which would improve the transparency of online platforms, strengthen consumers’ options when a data breach occurs and ensure companies comply with privacy policies that protect consumers.
“It’s common sense that people have a right to data privacy, and that right does not evaporate when someone logs on to their social media profile. Social media companies have a duty to protect their users’ data and to offer quick solutions when a breach occurs. The Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act would strengthen users’ control over their own data and better protect their privacy,” said Kennedy.
“For too long companies have profited off of Americans’ online data while consumers have been left in the dark. This legislation will protect and empower consumers by allowing them to make choices about how companies use their data and inform them of how they can protect personal information,” said Klobuchar.
Social media and other online platforms routinely capture users’ behavior and personal information, which they then use to help advertisers or other third parties target those users.
The Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act of 2021 would:
- Give consumers the right to opt out and keep their information private by disabling data tracking and collection,
- Provide users greater access to and control over their data,
- Require terms of service agreements to be in plain language,
- Ensure users have the ability to see what information about them has already been collected and shared,
- Mandate that users be notified of a breach of their information within 72 hours,
- Offer remedies for users when a breach occurs, and
- Require that online platforms have a privacy program in place.
Watch Kennedy’s speech here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today spoke on the Senate floor against the Biden administration’s plan to facilitate raising flood insurance premiums in a way that could make it more difficult for Louisianians to afford flood insurance for their homes.
Key comments include:
“President Biden, at the worst possible time, is about to raise the insurance premiums for every flood insurance policyholder in America—or almost all of them. So much for not hurting the middle class. So much for not taxing the working people.”
“We insure through our National Flood Insurance Program—which once again is the almost exclusive source of flood insurance for the American people—we insure about 5 million people. About 500,000 of those people are in my state, Louisiana.”
“Now, this is all a very clever way to raise everybody’s premiums. As best I can tell, about 80 percent of the people in my state, who have to have flood insurance, are going to see their rates go up. And FEMA’s probably going to start by doing a little bit the first year, and they’re going to say, ‘See, we told you that wasn’t going to hurt.’ But then they’re going to do it the second year, and the third year, and the fourth year, and the fifth year and the sixth year.”
“President Biden’s FEMA is just going to drop this on us. And it’s not just Louisiana. Now, this does involve Louisiana. I mean last year, my people, we got hit by two major storms, we got hit—like a lot of states—by an ice storm. Right now, south Louisiana, a big portion of it’s under water. We just got hit with between eight and 20 inches of rain. And we have people flooding who are not even near a body of water. And I promise you, Mr. President, if you get eight to 20 inches of rain in a short period of time, you’re going to flood. I don’t care if you’re in the desert. I don’t care if you’re on Pike’s Peak. You’re going to flood. The water’s got to go somewhere.”
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) released the following statement on Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) 1,445 page (and climbing) Endless Frontier Act.
“Based on conversations with the Budget Committee, the cost of Sen. Schumer’s Endless Frontier Act is now up to $250 billion. That’s $250,000,000,000.
“At some point, we’re going to run out of digits.”
May 19 2021
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced a bill that would require Senate confirmation of the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that Americans have to have trust in the qualifications and independence of the CDC and that the office should never be politicized. This agency has a budget of billions, and its policies affect America’s health and economy directly. No one elects the CDC Director, and it’s clear that the people need to have more oversight of the position through their representatives in Congress,” said Kennedy.
Text of the bill is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) again urged President Biden to provide supplemental disaster relief for southwest Louisiana. The region is currently experiencing flash flooding even as recovery efforts from last year’s historic hurricane season are ongoing.
“I still don’t know why bad things happen to the good people of Louisiana, but I know they didn’t deserve the wrath of Hurricane Laura or Delta, and they don’t deserve the flooding being dumped on them this week. Southwest Louisiana has shown us its strength, and it is past time for the Biden administration to show them they’re not in this alone. President Biden needs to stop ignoring our calls for help and put resources to work in Lake Charles and the areas that are still recovering from Mother Nature’s heavy hand,” Kennedy said.
“I ask that President Biden provide emergency disaster appropriations to unleash the full resources of the federal government on behalf of families in Louisiana and to take action to protect life and property ahead of the next disaster. Our people desperately need these resources, and the federal government must not stand in the way,” he added.
“These include the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as other programs provided by the Economic Development Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Coast Guard, and emergency appropriations for federal highways,” wrote Kennedy.
The letter is available here.
Last year, five categorized storms hit Louisiana, affecting all 64 parishes. Hurricane Laura hit southwest Louisiana as a Category 4 storm and is one of the strongest storms to make landfall in American history. Hurricane Laura was the most expensive weather event of 2020, causing an estimated $19 billion in damages. Hurricane Delta added to the damage when it made landfall in the same area 42 days later.
- Kennedy wrote to Senate leadership, Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), in September to request that the Senate consider emergency supplemental aid to help Louisiana residents recover from Hurricane Laura.
- Kennedy wrote to President Trump in December for supplemental disaster funds to help Louisiana recover from extensive hurricane damage caused by the 2020 season’s storms.
- Kennedy has repeatedly pressed the White House for the disaster relief that Lake Charles and the surrounding areas need.
- Today, Kennedy criticized FEMA for trying to raise flood insurance premiums on Louisiana residents without explaining how those decisions have been made. FEMA is bypassing Congress to initiate Risk Rating 2.0, which is scheduled to go into effect for new National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies on Oct. 1, 2021. New rates for existing NFIP policyholders will go into effect on April 1, 2022. This rating system would change the way premium rates are calculated, potentially making flood insurance unaffordable for Louisiana families in flood-prone areas.
- Last week, Kennedy and Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) introduced the Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act, which would allow rural homeowners, renters and small businesses to more easily access disaster relief in the wake of a natural disaster.