WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) asked the State Department to maintain maximum economic and diplomatic pressure until six CITGO employees detained in Venezuela are allowed to return home. The employees, two of whom have connections to Lake Charles, recently were released from prison but still aren’t allowed to leave Venezuela.
U.S. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) joined Sen. Kennedy in sending a letter to Pompeo. The text is below.
“What these men have endured is horrific. They are political pawns in a high-stakes, international game,” said Sen. Kennedy. “They’ve missed enough holidays and birthdays with their families in the U.S. It’s time to bring them home.”
The Honorable Michael R. Pompeo Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20320 Dear Secretary Pompeo,
We write to express our support for ongoing efforts to secure the release of Americans held hostage or unlawfully detained in many rogue nations such as Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria and others. As the administration continues to successfully craft policy and solutions, we write to express our steadfast commitment to securing the release of Gustavo Cardenas, Jose Angel Pereira, Jorge Toledo, Tomeu Vadell, Alirio Zambrano, and Jose Luis Zambrano, otherwise known as the CITGO 6, from their unjust detainment in Venezuela.
As you know, the CITGO 6 have suffered from over two years of inhumane detainment conditions and lack of due process. They have experienced significant health hardships as a direct result of their treatment by the oppressive Maduro regime and others who support them. Imprisoned in an overcrowded basement for two years with limited access to sufficient nutrition, exercise, or medical treatment, the men are reported to have suffered severe weight loss and significant physical pain. Although their recent transfer to house arrest is a promising development, we believe it is crucial
the Administration maintain maximum economic and diplomatic pressure in order to secure their full release and return.
We realize there are competing equities at play in Venezuela and we strongly support the Administration’s commitment to securing free and fair elections in Venezuela; however, it must be made clear to all stakeholders that American citizens must be released and not made political pawns by anyone or any group. Therefore, we urge the Administration to use every tool at its disposal to help these Americans. American national interests and citizens must come first. We will continue to support efforts to maintain diplomatic and economic pressure on the illegitimate Maduro regime in Venezuela and secure the release of the CITGO 6.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (FSGG), today announced the bipartisan approval of the annual spending package.
“The American taxpayers entrust Congress with their hard-earned dollars, and it’s up to us to ensure we are spending it well. Increasing defense spending, extending the flood insurance program and giving a raise to our troops are all important ways we are working to put Louisianans and Americans first,” said Sen. Kennedy.
Here are some of the highlights:
- A provision was included in the funding package to extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) until September, 30, 2020. While reforms are still needed to protect the program’s longevity and affordability, the program will be available to help insure Louisiana homeowners in event of a disaster.
- Each and every year, Louisiana families faithfully pay what taxes they owe to the federal government, while the federal government continues to be let off the hook for what they owe to Louisiana families. The U.S. Treasury is sitting on nearly $26 billion in unclaimed savings bonds that belong to the American people. Sen. Kennedy secured $25 million in funding for the U.S. Treasury Department to digitize and distribute records of unclaimed savings bonds.
- Sen. Kennedy included a provision in the funding bill that helps ensure that contractors who refuse to pay their taxes cannot bid for federal contracts until all delinquent taxes are paid in full.
- Sen. Kennedy helped secure $1.4 billion in funding and protected President Trump’s transfer authorities to continue construction of the southern border wall.
- In an attempt to protect the Mississippi River Delta wetlands, Senator Kennedy helped acquire $2 million to fund Roseau cane pest eradication research through the LSU AgCenter.
- To ensure adequate seafood standards, the FDA will receive $15 million for seafood import inspections, as well as $5 million for a new Imported Seafood Safety Pilot Program.
- Provisions were included to fully utilize all funds collected in the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) and Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF). The spending bill will provide $105 million for IWTF to fund projects on the inland waterways, while HMTF will receive $1.67 billion for the purpose of maintaining harbors.
- As a significant industrial user of natural gas as well as a significant supplier of it, Louisiana will receive $7 million for carbon capture research for natural gas power systems. In addition, the spending package will allocate $4 million for research of this technology for use at industrial facilities, which may include developments in process equipment and chemistry, capture of process emissions, and systems integration.
- As leading provider of Cybersecurity Education and Training Assistance Program for K thru 12 teachers and students, the Cyber Innovation Center will receive $4.3 million in funding for development.
- The spending package contains a 3.1% pay raise for military personnel, which will be the largest military pay raise in nearly a decade.
- In an effort to sustain flood mitigation, the Army Corps of Engineers will receive an additional $650 million for the construction of flood-resistant infrastructure.
- The spending package includes the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, which will improve retirement security by making it easier for small employers to sponsor a single retirement plan for their workers. The bill also encourages employees to increase their retirement savings annually through automatic increases into their 401(k) plans.
- To make the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) less of an insider’s club that represents Wall Street instead of consumers, Sen. Kennedy pushed for a provision that caps board members’ compensation and places more distance between the board’s public representatives and their private sector ties.
- As chairman of the FSGG subcommittee, Sen. Kennedy included a provision in the funding bill that will prevent any agency under the subcommittee’s jurisdiction from signing onto public relations contracts over $5,000 without prior Congressional notification.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 to reauthorize a program that has provided billions of dollars to help domestic violence and sexual assault victims.
The Violence Against Women Act expired in February. U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced legislation to reauthorize it and ensure the continuation of programs that prevent and respond to domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes.
“Some of my colleagues in the Senate are trying to inject the issue of gun control into this bill. We shouldn’t turn this into a political statement,” said Sen. Kennedy. “We need to do everything we can to help domestic violence victims. We shouldn’t make them pawns in partisan, political games. We need to reauthorize this program to protect women.”
Click here to watch Sen. Kennedy’s full statement.
Dec 18 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, today announced that a provision he authored to prevent tax cheaters from receiving federal contracts was included in the annual spending bill.
Starting in 2015, federal agencies were prohibited from awarding contracts to entities with seriously delinquent tax debts. However, in April 2019, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported widespread noncompliance with this law. GAO found that many federal contracting officers did not follow proper procedures or did not bother to ask, and many contractors simply lied.
Sen. Kennedy included a provision that will require entities bidding for federal contracts to secure an authenticated, tamper-proof document from the IRS and to submit it as part of their bid for the federal contract.
“There’s no point in writing laws if the bureaucracy refuses to enforce them,” said Sen. Kennedy. “My provision ensures that federal contractors who refuse to pay their taxes won’t get another red penny from American taxpayers. The free ride is over for tax cheaters.”
This provision applies to entities with seriously delinquent tax debts. It includes important exceptions for those who are disputing a tax assessment and those who have arranged an appropriate and legal payment plan with the IRS.
Dec 17 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (FSGG), today announced he secured $25 million for the Treasury Department to digitize and distribute records of unclaimed U.S. savings bonds. The funding will better help Treasury reunite approximately $26 billion in unclaimed savings bonds with their rightful owners.
Some states estimate that their residents have more than $1 billion in matured, unclaimed savings bonds. Louisiana estimates that the amount owed to Louisiana residents tops $300 million. These bonds are currently sitting in the U.S. Treasury, but the department has taken little initiative to return the proceeds to their owners. Many people are likely unaware that the bonds even exist because the paper bonds were lost over the years.
“This funding brings us one step closer to returning $26 billion in savings bonds to their rightful owners. Each and every year, Louisiana families faithfully pay what they owe to the federal government, while the federal government continues to be let off the hook for what they owe Louisiana families,” said Sen. Kennedy. “We are correcting a breathtaking hypocrisy by creating records to allow families to claim their bonds.”
Earlier this year, Sen. Kennedy secured a commitment from Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin that the Treasury Department would create an online tool that will allow individuals to verify against Treasury records if they have any unredeemed savings bonds dated after 1974.
For the records on the older bonds dating back to World War II, Treasury will gather expert opinions and states’ input on how to digitize them.
Sen. Kennedy (R-La.) Urges Declassification Of Entire FISA Record On Former Trump Campaign Aide Carter Page
Dec 13 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today urged President Donald Trump to declassify the entire Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) record on former campaign aide Carter Page so that it can be released to the American people.
“The Inspector General report showed the FBI was willing to do anything in order to spy on Carter Page, including making 17 significant inaccuracies and omissions. The American public deserves to know everything the FBI did,” said Sen. Kennedy. “I’m asking President Trump to declassify the entire record so that Attorney General Barr and FBI Director Wray can release it to the American people. If the FBI wants to continue the employment of rogue, politically-motivated agents, then let the public read the entire record.”
Dec 11 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.) announced today a decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to expedite the funding process for the U.S. Virgin Islands to pay Louisiana contractors who provided immediate aid after hurricanes Irma and Maria.
After two hurricanes devastated the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2017, Louisiana businesses were hired to provide relief and repairs to families who experienced home damage. Their work provided families with safe, clean homes immediately after the disaster.
Many of these Louisiana contractors are still waiting on millions in past due payments for their work and have begun laying off Louisiana employees. Some of these companies have even filed for bankruptcy. Earlier this year, Sen. Kennedy joined the Louisiana delegation in sending a letter to U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan requesting the continuation of work towards a solution to paying the contractors and the scheduling of a second “strike team” meeting to iron out bureaucratic hurdles that have impeded payment.
New FEMA funds are expected to be released in the coming weeks, but there is a growing concern that significant bureaucratic hurdles remain and will, again, delay payments to Louisiana businesses.
“Louisiana businesses have waited long enough and are dying on the vine as a result of all of this,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Now it’s up to Gov. Bryan to ensure that this funding is directed towards Louisiana contractors who badly need these funds to pay their workers before Christmas and keep their doors open. We’ve left these contractors in the lurch for far too long, and enough is enough. I’m optimistic that Gov. Bryan is aware of our dire situation and will remove any remaining obstacles in the coming days.”
“Louisiana contractors rushed to help the U.S. Virgin Islands recover in the aftermath of Irma and Maria. Two years later, they have not been paid,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This funding is intended for Louisiana contractors. Gov. Bryan making these payments is vital for these firms to remain open and able to aid in future disasters.”
Dec 11 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) questioned Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the Department of Justice, today about his report outlining misuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Horowitz conducted an investigation into how and why the FBI investigated the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.
Click here or the photo below to watch Sen. Kennedy’s questioning.
Exchange between Sen. Kennedy and Inspector General Horowitz:
Kennedy: “Let’s talk about the people involved in the initial FISA application and the renewals. These are experienced people, right?”
Horowitz: “In this case, these were experienced people.”
Kennedy: “Many of them had professional degrees, including but not limited to, law degrees, right?”
Horowitz: “I actually don’t know what all their degrees were.”
Kennedy: “They knew the law?”
Horowitz: “They should have not only known the law; they should have known every single policy they had to deal with here.”
Kennedy: “I mean they were hand-picked by Mr. McCabe right?”
Horowitz: “They were hand-picked.”
Kennedy: “This wasn’t their first rodeo.”
Horowitz: “It certainly wasn’t with maybe an exception or two towards the end of relatively new agents coming on board. But that should not have been an excuse, just to be clear.”
Kennedy: “It just seems to me that it has to be one of two things: incompetence or intentional conduct.”
Horowitz: “I agree. It’s either sheer incompetence or intentionality or something in between.”
Kennedy: “So which do you think it is?
Horowitz: “… I think it’s fair for people to sit there and look at all of these 17 events and wonder how it could be purely incompetence.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) spoke with reporters Tuesday to provide an update on the latest developments in the impeachment process.
Click here or the photo below to watch Sen. Kennedy’s statement on impeachment.
Highlights from Statement:
Senate impeachment trial: “There will be a trial conducted in the Senate. That trial will begin either Jan. 2 or Jan. 6. I don’t know how long the trial will take. My guess is a minimum of two weeks. It could last four, five or six weeks.”
Rules for the trial: “The rules will be set either by negotiated agreement, on which all senators have to vote, or just a straight up Senate vote in terms of the rules on how we will proceed. I can tell you right now that I will vote to allow both sides – the House managers of the impeachment articles and the President – to have virtually unfettered discretion to cross examine all witnesses, to call any witness that they want to and to offer any rebuttal evidence that they want to. And I will vote that way because I think that no one is above the law, but nobody is beneath the law. And I’ve been very disappointed at the absence of due process in the House of Representatives.”
Future impeachment trials: “This will be the first purely partisan impeachment in the United States. And I worry that Speaker Pelosi, in her decision to do this, is normalizing impeachment as a routine political weapon.”
Impeachment corruption: “The second concern I have about the House proceedings is that they’re rigged. They’re as rigged as a carnival ring toss, as I’ve said before. The president has not been allowed to cross examine any of the witnesses against him. He’s not been allowed to call witnesses. He’s not been allowed to offer rebuttal evidence. Toward the end, Speaker Pelosi and some of the other leadership said now, after all the damage has been done, you can come participate. But at this juncture it’s pretty clear that the cow is out the barn … We will do it differently in the Senate, and we will afford both sides due process.”
Dec 11 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced the Hazardous Materials Safety Improvement Act of 2019 today to ensure that rail shippers and tank car owners aren’t subjected to costly and unfair regulatory burdens because of a usurping of federal authority. Outside groups are trying to circumvent the federal rulemaking process without conducting a comprehensive safety assessment or a cost benefit analysis to protect the public.
The legislation requires the administrator of the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to respond to petitions for regulatory action within 18 months and makes it clear the response supersedes a decision by outside groups. The proposal is supported by the American Chemistry Council, tank car builders and tank car shippers.
“Tank car owners and shippers are under constant threat from regulatory burdens that leave them financially strapped. These burdens are job killers,” said Sen. Kennedy. “The Department of Transportation’s exclusive authority to set standards for hazardous materials is being usurped by outside groups. My legislation puts DOT back in charge.”
“Sen. Kennedy’s bill will bring much needed urgency and clarity to how the federal government addresses the transportation of hazardous materials. Simply put, this legislation will require PHMSA to act quicker on regulatory requests and will help the administration be more agile when it comes to safeguarding the shipment of hazardous materials,” said Chris John, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council. “Equally important, the bill will also reaffirm the Department of Transportation as the final authority when it comes to establishing regulations and standards that govern the safe movement of hazardous materials. We appreciate Sen. Kennedy’s leadership on helping PHMSA to act quicker on regulatory requests and urge his colleagues to support this important legislation.”