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WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today defended the independence of the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (Permitting Council), which focuses on streamlining the process for environmental permit approval for large infrastructure projects.

As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) during the 116th Congress, Kennedy worked to give the Permitting Council the freedom and resources it needs to move federal infrastructure projects forward in a timely manner.

“Louisianians know firsthand how important federal infrastructure investment is to communities across the country. They also know that bureaucracy often delays crucial road, bridge and levee construction. As a new administration begins, I hope the increased funding and independence that the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council gained last Congress continue so that the council can keep doing its work efficiently and transparently,” said Kennedy.

Congress established the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council in 2015. Since then, it has served as an impartial federal partner that oversees and coordinates multiple federal agencies that play a role in the federal environmental permitting of major infrastructure projects. The Permitting Council is funded through the FSGG Appropriations Subcommittee. 

The Permitting Council’s mission is to improve the timeliness, predictability and transparency of the permitting process. Under Kennedy’s FSGG chairmanship, the council’s annual funding increased by $9 million. In addition, the FY 2020 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill elevated the council from an office within General Services Administration located inside the White House to an independent entity.

Background:

The Permitting Council does not perform National Environmental Policy Act reviews or change environmental standards. Rather, the council works with the agencies involved in the infrastructure permitting process to establish and meet their deadlines. It also mediates differences among the agencies to prevent or minimize delays that occur when sister agencies are deadlocked in disagreement over matters of overlapping jurisdiction.

The Permitting Council is chaired by an executive director who is appointed by the president. The council is composed of agency representatives at the deputy-secretary level. The Permitting Council includes members from the following agencies:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Army Corps of Engineers
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of the Interior
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Defense
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
  • Office of Management and Budget
  • Council on Environmental Quality

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today condemned the Biden administration’s cancellation of an oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico scheduled for March 17. The sale of available leases was to be livestreamed from New Orleans and would have involved approximately 78.3 million unleased acres.

“Destroying jobs in an industry that makes up a third of Louisiana’s economy is no way to ‘Build Back Better.’ Louisiana is still recovering from the pandemic and a historic hurricane season, and President Biden decided to stop new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters. Now, the president has cancelled a lease sale worth tens of millions of dollars—one that the Obama Administration had approved. I urge President Biden to stop his war on Louisiana’s oil and gas jobs,” said Kennedy.  

On Feb. 12, less than one month into Biden’s presidency, the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management officially announced the lease’s cancellation. This move comes in the wake of President Biden’s ban on new oil and gas leases on federal property, which if left unchanged is estimated to cost Louisiana up to 48,000 jobs by 2022.

The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Lands Act authorizes the Department of Interior to establish a lease sale schedule for the OCS, which covers approximately 160 million acres.

Beginning in 2014, former President Barack Obama worked on and ultimately approved a five-year lease plan for the years 2017-2022, which included a spring lease ultimately scheduled for this March. This schedule stipulated 10 lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico through 2022. Last year’s leases generated a combined total of over $200 million in revenues for Gulf states and the U.S. Treasury. The most recent OCS lease sale occurred on Nov. 18, 2020. It covered over 500,000 acres and generated $120.8 million in lease revenue.

Louisiana’s energy industry supports thousands of jobs in the state and provides a significant revenue stream for environmental conservation, coastal restoration and storm protection. 

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $11,352,580 in grant funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support health care centers in Avondale, Opelousas, Batchelor and St. Gabriel, La.

“As Louisianians continue to battle the pandemic, it’s great to see HHS send resources to local health care centers that are helping communities on the front lines,”said Kennedy.

The following grants were awarded to each health care center:

  • Jefferson Community Health Care Centers: $4,149,929
  • Southwest Louisiana Primary Health Care Center: $3,265,587
  • Innis Community Health Center: $2,722,946
  • St. Gabriel Health Clinic: $1,214,118

WASHINGTON—Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) released the following statement upon voting “not guilty” in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump: 

“My job as a senator and juror in an impeachment trial is not—NOT—to defend, excuse or explain anyone’s behavior—not the Capitol rioters’, not the Democrats’, not the president’s. My job is to evaluate the evidence.

“In my judgment, impeachment is not supposed to be political sport where one party seeks advantage over the other at the expense of the country.

“The merits of the Democrats’ case were not even close.

“The Democrats afforded the president no due process in the House—no hearings, no investigation, no right to be heard, no defense. No one is above the law, but no one is beneath it.

“Second, the president is no longer the president. We were asked to impeach a guy in Florida. The Democrats never proved jurisdiction.

“Third, the Democrats charged President Trump with inciting a riot through his speech, but then the Democrats introduced evidence that the riot was pre-planned. The Democrats disproved their own case.

“There are one or two things I think we can all agree on: The nut jobs who violated the Capitol on Jan. 6 should be prosecuted and jailed. There can be no justice without order. Political violence is wrong. Always. It was wrong on Jan. 6, and it was wrong during the riots this summer.

“Finally, both parties should be big tents, but those big tents should each have a big door to kick out extremists who exist on both sides.”

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) has been selected to represent Louisiana on five key committees in the 117th Congress. He will also lead the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development as the subcommittee’s top Republican.

This subcommittee funds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Energy, two agencies vital to Louisiana workers and families. Kennedy remains the only member of the Louisiana delegation serving on an appropriations committee in Congress. 

Kennedy will serve on the following committees:

  • Committee on Appropriations, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
  • Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
  • Committee on the Budget 
  • Committee on the Judiciary
  • Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

In only a few weeks, President Biden has managed to make a mockery of the thousands of hardworking Louisianans in the energy industry by enforcing an energy ban that will cost many thousands of Louisianian jobs by next year. The people of Louisiana want to keep working hard and caring for their families. They want to use their talents and liberties to strengthen our economy through energy independence.

“Leading the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development means that Louisiana will have a front seat in shaping energy policies that are critical to every corner of our state and country. I intend to use my position on this subcommittee to stop President Biden’s war on energy jobs and keep America energy independent. As part of committees that defend America’s economic and religious freedoms, I’ll continue to represent Louisianians and their values,” said Kennedy. 

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development has jurisdiction over an array of issues, including those related to: 

  • The Department of Energy and its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Strategic Petroleum Reserve,
  • the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,
  • the Corps of Engineers, 
  • the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army, which has authority over civil works, and
  • the Delta Regional Authority.

FY 2021 funding for the Army Corps of Engineers, passed in December, provided $7.8 billion, an increase of $145 million above the FY 2020 level and $1.8 billion more than the budget request.

FY 2021 funding for the Department of Energy provided $39.6 billion for the department, an increase of $1 billion above the FY 2020 level and $4.5 billion above the budget request.

Last Congress, Kennedy chaired the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government in addition to serving on the Banking, Budget, Judiciary and Small Business Committees.

In addition to being ranking member on the Energy and Water Development subcommittee, Kennedy will also serve as a member of the following Senate Appropriations subcommittees:

  • Financial Services and General Government
  • Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies
  • Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies
  • Homeland Security
  • Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $2,161,776 in grant funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support the Rapides Primary Health Care Center in Alexandria, La.

“Rapides Parish health care providers continue to work tirelessly on the frontline of the pandemic. I’m thankful for this HHS grant that helps bring quality health care to central Louisiana,” said Kennedy.

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, joined Ranking Member Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Republican committee members in urging the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to reject a proposed NASDAQ rule that would force publicly traded companies to adopt new racial and gender diversity standards for their boards of directors.

“While we think America’s corporations benefit from boards that avoid groupthink and offer a diversity of perspectives and commend firms that look to increase diversity among their boards, we do not think NASDAQ should be using its quasi-regulatory authority to impose social policies,” the senators wrote.

The proposed NASDAQ rule would require corporations to appoint some board directors on the basis of their self-identified race, gender and sexual orientation, or explain why the company has not done so. If the company does not provide a public explanation, it is subject to delisting.

The senators point out that requiring corporations to appoint board directors on the basis of diversity instead of merit would hurt their operational efficiency and cause economic damage.

“It interferes with a board’s duty to follow its legal obligations to govern in the best interest of the corporation and its shareholders. It violates central principles of materiality that govern securities disclosures, and finally, it harms economic growth by imposing costs on public corporations and discouraging private corporations from going public,” explained the senators.

Requiring disclosures on diversity information would also controvert the principle of materiality, which only requires public disclosures when they directly affect potential investment decisions in a corporation.

The letter is available here.  

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $19,687,594 in federal funding for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to administer the coronavirus vaccine.

“Vaccinating Louisianians against the coronavirus is key to keeping communities safe and rebuilding our economy, and nearly $20 million is a meaningful step toward accomplishing these goals,” said Kennedy.

One hundred percent of this project funding comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) authored this op-ed, originally published in the “10/12 Industry Report” on February 9, 2021.  

Below are key excerpts from the article, which focuses on legislation Kennedy introduced to protect Louisiana jobs and defend the environment.

“Bipartisanship, like common sense, is rare in Washington, D.C. But every now and then, the stars align and both sides find common ground. At the end of last year, the president signed into law landmark legislation that lowers greenhouse emissions and defends American jobs all at once—and the solution came from Louisiana.

“Our state is home to tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs. It is also ground zero for the hostile storms and coastal erosion that some link to a changing climate. Our jobs and our coasts took particularly hard licks in 2020, so it’s no surprise that Louisiana drew on our unique experience to give Washington a gift that protects both: the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act.”

“The AIM Act will not just reduce the impact of greenhouse gases, however. As a lifelong Louisianian, I introduced this legislation to protect Louisiana jobs.”

“The markets that adapt to producing refrigerants with smaller environmental footprints will not only survive once HFCs are obsolete, but they’ll also have a global competitive advantage. So will the markets that make the appliances that use these new coolants.

“That’s a big deal for Louisiana, which currently has several plants that produce HFCs. Because of the AIM Act, plants in Geismar, Baton Rouge, and St. Gabriel have the chance to save hundreds of jobs and add new ones by transitioning to safer coolants over time.”

“Thanks to the AIM Act, Louisiana companies that produce, service, or sell HVACR equipment will not shut their doors. They now have the time and space to innovate in an emerging market, and that will enable America to export these new coolants and the products that depend on them. That’s why the AIM Act is expected to create 150,000 American jobs.

“Now more than ever, America must lead the global economy. In recent years, China has been accused of violating U.S. trade laws to flood our homes with HFCs that are older and more harmful than American-made chemicals. Communist China’s leadership is happy to profit by hurting American consumers and workers, but Louisiana is helping pave the way forward for our country even though 2020 was not easy on our state.”

The full op-ed is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $6,689,566 in grants from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support diabetes research and health centers in Kenner and New Orleans, La.

“I’m thankful that this HHS funding will support more research into a disease that affects many Louisianians and support health centers that deliver important medical care to their communities,” said Kennedy. 

HHS has awarded the following grants:

  • $259,000 to the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. to focus on diabetes, endocrinology and metabolic research
  • $4,685,960 to St. Charles Community Health Center, Inc. in Kenner, La.
  • $1,744,606 to St. Thomas Community Health Center, Inc. in New Orleans, La.