Kennedy, bicameral group issue statement calling on Biden administration to reverse its plan to circumvent U.S. law and create an unofficial U.S. Consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem
Jun 23 2022
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) and more than 80 members of Congress in releasing a joint bicameral statement in support of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995.
The lawmakers call on the Biden administration not to move the Palestinian Affairs Unit (PAU) out of the U.S. Ambassador to Israel’s reporting chain of command and not to rename the PAU the “U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs” or allow it to serve as an unofficial U.S. consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem.
The full statement is below:
“It is alarming that the Biden Administration has opened what amounts to be a separate U.S. diplomatic office to the Palestinians in Israel’s capital. This decision is wholly inconsistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 that Congress passed into law and has repeatedly reaffirmed with overwhelming bipartisan support over the years. We strongly supported the Trump Administration’s decision to fully and faithfully implement the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 by formally recognizing Jerusalem as the eternal and undivided capital of Israel, by moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and by closing the U.S. Consulate General for the Palestinians in Jerusalem and merging its functions into the U.S. Embassy’s ‘Palestinian Affairs Unit’ within one diplomatic mission under the authority the U.S. Ambassador to Israel. The Biden Administration’s disregard for that law, however, undermines our nation’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and signals support for dividing Jerusalem.
“Let there be no misunderstanding: this unprecedented arrangement—to turn the Palestinian Affairs Unit into a ‘U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs’ that will no longer report to the U.S. Ambassador to Israel but instead report directly to the State Department in Washington, D.C., and to appoint a Special Envoy to the Palestinians—is an effort to open an unofficial and de facto U.S. consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem. In fact, the Biden Administration admits this decision is one step closer to opening an official U.S. consulate, a plan it refuses to stop pushing despite the Government of Israel’s adamant opposition and Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKeon’s admission to Congress in October 2021 that the United States, under international law, would ‘need to get the consent of the host government to open any diplomatic facility.’
“The Biden Administration’s decision is wrong and not how America should treat Israel, one of our closest allies in the world. As sponsors of the Upholding the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Law Act of 2021 to withhold funding for a U.S. consulate to the Palestinians in Israel’s capital, we unequivocally oppose the Biden Administration’s decision and will use every tool at our disposal to stop it in the 117th Congress and afterward
Watch Kennedy’s remarks here.
WASHINGTON—Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, today questioned David Maurstad, the Senior Executive of the National Flood Insurance Program at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), on the algorithm FEMA uses to set new, higher flood insurance rates.
Below are key excerpts from the exchange.
Kennedy: “I believe that FEMA and the Biden administration have made their decision with respect to flood insurance. I regret that, but I believe that’s a fact. And most of my people in Louisiana understand at this juncture that the only place they’re going to find lower food prices, cheaper gas, a cleaner, safer environment and affordable insurance is in the voting booth. Because my people, most of them, and I think most Americans, have concluded that Republicans aren't perfect but the other side is crazy.
“Now, about 500,000 people in my state have flood insurance. And despite what some people say, these are not multimillionaires in multimillionaire homes on the beach. These are working people. And there are people in the United States Congress who claim to be for the little guy, but they don't really like him or her very much.”
. . .
Kennedy: “Why won't FEMA share its algorithm with the American people?”
Maurstad: “Thank you, sir. And, you know, we look forward to continuing to work with you. We've shared the algorithm. We've put forward on the on our website, the methodology—”
Kennedy: “No, you haven’t. No, you haven’t, Mr. Administrator.”
. . .
Kennedy: “Well, if I sent you a [public information] request, and I said, ‘Look, I want the algorithm so I can hire somebody to review this algorithm to see what clairvoyant people are telling us about climate change and what's going to happen in America over the next 150 years,’ would you give me that algorithm?”
Maurstad: “As I said, we already have, and we responded to a letter—”
Kennedy: “No, you haven’t. I want the algorithm so I can hire some experts to look at it and either say ‘This thing is watertight,’ or, ‘It’s grossly political,’ or somewhere in between.”
Video of the full exchange is here.
WASHINGTON—Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, today questioned Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell about historically high inflation rates.
Below are key excerpts from the exchange.
Kennedy: “Mr. Chairman, inflation is just an imbalance of supply and demand. Can we agree on that?”
Powell: “Yes, generally.”
Kennedy: “And to put a little finer point on it, our inflation at this time—and this is the case with respect to most cases of inflation—demand is greater than supply, so prices go up?”
Powell: “In some parts of the economy, yes.”
. . .
Kennedy: “What about if we reduce the regulatory burden, let’s say on refineries? Wouldn't that incent refineries to start refining more and help on the supply side?”
Powell: “I would say anything that could increase capacity on that front could have a positive impact.”
. . .
Kennedy: “Yeah, but would that help? I’m not trying to get you to endorse legislation. Mr. Chairman, we’ve got a hell of a mess here, okay? Inflation is hitting my people so hard they’re coughing up bones. . . . It’s the highest in 40 years, our national debt is greater than our national output, crime is up, the border is open, respect for institutions is way down and 70 percent of the American people think we’re headed in the wrong direction."
. . .
“President Biden—I don’t blame him, I understand politics—he keeps saying, ‘Well, your 401K has crashed, and gas has gone from two bucks to five bucks a gallon because the economy is so good.’ And the American people know that’s not true. Now, other than relieving regulatory burden . . . what if the United States Congress said, ‘Look, we've got a budget. We’re going to freeze spending. We’re going to stop injecting more money into the economy. We’re going to freeze spending until Powell can get control on the demand side.’ Would that help?”
Powell: “You know, I feel like I’m giving you advice on what to do when we’re not getting our own job done. I feel like maybe a better thing to do would be for us to get our own house in order and do the job you've assigned us.”
Video of the full exchange is here.
WASHINGTON – An amendment modeled on Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.)’s Unclaimed Savings Bond Act today passed the Senate Finance Committee. The amendment would help Americans claim more than $29 billion in unredeemed savings bonds, including $337 million that belong to the people of Louisiana.
“The heart of the Unclaimed Savings Bond Act is finally heading to the Senate floor so that we can make sure states have what they need to get billions of dollars to the rightful owners. The Treasury has sat on money that should be in Americans’ pockets for too long—including more than $300 million that belong to Louisianians. Louisianians pay their taxes faithfully, and Washington needs to pay out these savings bonds,” said Kennedy.
The Treasury Department is currently holding more than $29 billion in matured, unredeemed U.S. savings bonds, most of which the Treasury deems lost, stolen, destroyed or “unclaimed.” Many of these bonds were issued more than 70 years ago and have matured—meaning they no longer earn interest for bondholders.
In cases in which bonds are not physically possessed by their rightful holders, only the Treasury has the names and addresses of the original bond owners. The Treasury also has the serial numbers needed to claim the bond proceeds.
The Treasury has not taken any significant actions to proactively reunite bonds with their rightful owners despite its relaunch of Treasury Hunt, an online search tool that allows bond owners to locate bond information, at Kennedy’s request. Individual states, however, conduct programs that reconnect their citizens with unclaimed property.
Kennedy’s legislation would require the Treasury to provide states information about matured and unclaimed bonds so these states can use unclaimed property programs to help find the original owners (or heirs of those original owners) of these bonds.
Text of the Unclaimed Savings Bond Act is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $9,263,291 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants in disaster aid for Louisiana.
“Louisiana is still rebuilding from Hurricanes Katrina, Laura and Zeta. This $9.3 million will help us recover from storms that hit our parishes and families hard,” said Kennedy.
The FEMA aid will fund the following:
- $3,509,048 to the Society of Holy Family School for new construction due to damage from Hurricane Katrina.
- $1,938,382 to the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury for emergency protective measures following Hurricane Laura.
- $3,815,861 to Jefferson Parish for debris removal related to Hurricane Zeta.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sens. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and 29 other senators in a bipartisan push to protect a key U.S. military and diplomatic post in the Middle East. The group of senators penned a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin urging that the United States Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem remain an officer of three-star rank and not be downgraded.
“Given continued regional volatility, steadfast high-level U.S. leadership and engagement to support peace and stability in Israel and the West Bank remain in the national security interest of the United States,” Kennedy and his colleagues wrote.
The letter comes after it was reported earlier this month that the Pentagon is considering downgrading the position to colonel, which Kennedy and his colleagues warn may undermine U.S. leadership, credibility and communication in a historically volatile region.
The full letter with its specific requests is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) penned this op-ed for The Farmerville Gazette. Below is the full text of the article, which explains how Pres. Biden’s energy policy is financially burdensome for Louisianians:
Most Louisianians get up every day, go to work, obey the law, pay their taxes, and try to save a little money for retirement while living in the greatest country in all of human history. But Louisianians are struggling under the Biden administration’s war on American energy.
President Biden took office on January 20 of last year, which means that America is now 17 months into “Build Back Better.” From where Louisianians sit, though, nothing has been built, nothing is back, and nothing is better. Inflation and gas prices are still soaring, and wages haven’t caught up. At the start of the president’s term, Louisianians paid about $2 for a gallon of gas. Today, the price is roughly $4.45. That means moms are forking out close to $90 to fill up their minivans. It’s not just gasoline that’s breaking household budgets. A dozen eggs now costs more than $2.50. Ground beef is way above $5 per pound, and chicken is over $4 per pound. The list goes on, and it’s connected to energy prices. Much of our food, clothing, pharmaceuticals, and other basic goods arrive in our stores by air, truck, or tanker — all of which run on fossil fuel. As a result, Biden’s constant attacks on the oil and gas industry aren’t just forcing oil prices higher — they’re stoking inflation across Louisiana’s economy.
President Biden has canceled leases on federal lands in the Gulf of Mexico when Louisianians could be drilling there and helping recover America’s energy independence. President Biden has also created new strict regulations on oil and gas producers that could make it nearly impossible to open new pipelines in America.
What’s even more curious to me is that, despite the Biden administration’s claims that it is kneecapping America’s oil production for so-called environmental reasons, the White House insists that the U.S. must purchase foreign oil from countries that bring that fuel to our shores in tankers. Those tankers use 2,000 gallons of fuel and emit eight tons of carbon dioxide into the environment every hour. This White House is beyond tone deaf.
Now, President Biden has said he has no control over the price of oil or gasoline. But it’s clear that you can’t have regulatory control over the drilling, transport, storage, refining, trading and taxation of oil — as the president does — and claim to have no control over the price of gas. That’s just not true, and people of Louisiana know it.
Here’s what most people in our state see: The Biden administration has crashed their 401k’s and increased their bills by $5,200 a year. Louisianians understand that that is a rotten deal built on bad liberal policies.
President Biden’s energy agenda depends on “wind, solar and wishful thinking” and is causing much of these prices to skyrocket. Whether they’re at the grocery store or gas pump, the people of Louisiana are struggling under a president whose policies ignore Middle America. Louisianians deserve better. Americans deserve better. So, I’ll keep fighting for better.
The op-ed is available here.
WASHINGTON—Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today announced $47,374,642 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in disaster aid grants for Louisiana.
“Hurricanes Ida and Laura hit our state hard, and I’m glad to see that this $47 million is going towards the costs of recovery efforts,” said Kennedy.
The grants will fund the following:
- $14,834,300 to the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury for management costs as a result of Hurricane Laura.
- $3,053,770 to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for emergency protective measures as a result of Hurricane Laura.
- $3,445,213 to the Jefferson Davis Electric Cooperative Inc. for permanent work restoration as a result of Hurricane Laura.
- $1,521,458 to the town of Iowa as a result of Hurricane Laura.
- $1,583,565 to the city of Monroe for debris removal as a result of Hurricane Laura.
- $1,207,953 to the city of Monroe for debris removal as a result of Hurricane Laura.
- $1,417,506 to Cameron Parish for emergency protective measures as a result of Hurricane Laura.
- $3,821,874 to Livingston Parish for debris removal operations as a result of Hurricane Ida.
- $2,306,411 to the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office for emergency protective measures as a result of Hurricane Ida.
- $11,668,385 to Livingston Parish for debris removal as a result of Hurricane Ida.
- $2,514,207 to the city of Covington for debris removal as a result of Hurricane Ida.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Rep. Troy Carter (D-La.) have asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to extend the August 2023 deadline for the city of New Orleans to use the $2 billion of FEMA public assistance it received in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The money focuses on repairing roads and pipes damaged by the historic storm.
“Hurricane Katrina devastated our state, and Hurricanes Laura, Delta, Zeta and Ida have only slowed recovery and dealt their own blows. South Louisiana’s communities and economy need this $2 billion in FEMA aid to keep rebuilding what Katrina damaged, and I hope the agency gives the state an extension quickly,” said Kennedy.
The lawmakers cited the need for an extension.
“When Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast in August 2005 with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph, it killed 1,833 people. It took some 43 days after Katrina made landfall for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to pump the last of the floodwaters out of the city. Even a month later, up to 600,000 households were still displaced, and by the fall of 2006, less than half of the residents had returned,” they wrote.
“In the more recent years, New Orleans’ rebuilding has been challenged by the COVID pandemic and the unprecedented 2020 hurricane season that included Hurricanes Ida, Zeta, Barry, and Laura. . . . New Orleans’ need for an extension has been expected by FEMA for some time,” the lawmakers explained.
The letter is available here.
Jun 16 2022
WASHINGTON—Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (FSGG), which has jurisdiction over the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), today raised concerns with Chairman Gary Gensler about privacy and national security threats that the Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT) poses.
“The most obvious and necessary step the SEC can take to is to eliminate the collection of all PII under the CAT. Collecting and storing PII serves no regulatory purpose, it’s unconstitutional, and the SEC’s ability to monitor potential risks in the equity market will not be diminished without PII,”explained the senators.
The CAT is set to begin collecting the personal and financial information (PII) of every investor that trades on U.S. stock exchanges this July. It will be one of the largest databases of PII ever created.
“Collecting the sensitive personal and financial information of individuals without any suspicion of wrongdoing is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Forcing broker-dealers to provide this information under threat of significant penalties compounds this unlawful government surveillance,” they continued.
In October 2019, the Senate Banking Committee also learned that about 3,000 individuals will have full access to the PII collected by the CAT. The lawmakers note that this raises the possibility that employees of the SEC, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority or contractors working with the CAT could steal or misappropriate investor PII.
In April 2021, Kennedy introduced the Protecting Investors’ Personally Identifiable Information Act to prohibit the SEC from requiring that PII be collected under CAT reporting requirements.
FSGG ranking member Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.) also signed the letter.
The full letter is available here.