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Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today spoke on the Senate floor about improving education in Louisiana schools.

“Louisiana, like all of our states, is working as hard as we can to improve K through 12, elementary and secondary education. . . . Our problem in America is elementary and secondary education, and it’s frustrating, Mr. President. We've made some improvements but not nearly enough. . . . Now here's our problem today: Some years ago we started grading our schools, Mr. President. We grade our schools in Louisiana, our elementary and secondary schools, for two reasons. First, because we want education quality. Number two, transparency,” said Kennedy.

“But here's the problem: 41 percent of our elementary and middle schools get A's and B's. I think that's probably pretty accurate. We’re going to get that number up, those grades up. But about 41 percent of our elementary and middle schools grade A or B. Seventy percent of our high schools grade A or B. Something's not meshing here. I wish I could say that 70 percent of our high schools were A and B schools, but we all know in Louisiana that they are not,” he continued.

“It's not just money. . . . In Louisiana, we spend about $12,000 per year, per child. Now that's a lot of money in my state, given the standard cost of living. By way of comparison, Florida spends about $10,000,” explained Kennedy. 

“Let's work together. Let's look reality in the eye and accept it. Let's understand that we need a new methodology to try to grade our schools. Let's look reality in the eye and accept the fact that our parents deserve to know the quality of school that their kids are attending. And let's come up with a new system that is accurate but that is fair to everybody. And let's stop blaming people and regretting yesterday and start creating tomorrow. Because . . . the future of my state is education. It's not the price of oil. It’s not the unemployment rate. It's not who the senators are. It’s education,” Kennedy concluded.

View Kennedy’s full speech here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and more than 40 other Republican senators today introduced a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to prevent the Biden administration from enforcing a Department of Labor (DOL) rule that would encourage fiduciaries to support environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) priorities over growing Americans’ retirement accounts.

“President Biden’s attempt to use Americans’ retirement plans to bankroll the woke agenda is fiscally irresponsible and morally wrong. Congress must reject this rule before American families suffer even more just so that Biden can support the Left’s pet projects,” said Kennedy.

“President Biden is jeopardizing retirement savings for millions of Americans for a political agenda. In a time when Americans’ 401(k)s have already taken such a hit due to market downturns and record high inflation, the last thing we should do is encourage fiduciaries to make decisions with a lower rate of return for purely ideological reasons. That’s why we are proud to stand up against this rule for the millions of Americans who depend on these funds for their retirement,” said Braun.

Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) is leading the effort in the House of Representatives. 

Background:

  • In November, the Biden administration’s Department of Labor finalized the Prudence and Loyalty in Selecting Plan Investments and Exercising Shareholder Rights rule, which allows fiduciaries to consider ESG factors when they make investments or take proxy votes for shareholders. The rule undoes a Trump administration rule that prioritized financial, rather than ideological, outcomes for investors.
  • A Harvard Business Review study found that investing in funds that prioritize ESG goals results in poor return rates.

Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), John Thune (R-S.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Tedd Budd (N.C.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), John Ricketts (R-Neb.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Dan Sullivan (R-Ark.), Tom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) also cosponsored the resolution.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) in introducing the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. The bill would allow individuals with concealed carry privileges in their home states to exercise those rights in any other state that allows concealed carry, so long as one exercises those rights within the limits of each respective state’s laws.

“The Second Amendment helps safeguard all of Americans’ constitutional rights. This bill would affirm Americans’ fundamental liberties while respecting individual states’ rights to establish their own laws,” said Kennedy. 

“I’m proud to support law-abiding gun owners across America with this commonsense legislation that would let them concealed carry in all states that allow it. This legislation strengthens two of our most fundamental constitutional protections—the Second Amendment’s right of citizens to keep and bear arms and the Tenth Amendment’s right of states to make laws best-suited for their residents—and I’m grateful to 44 of my Republican Senate colleagues for joining me on this important bill,” said Cornyn.

This legislation would:

  • Allow individuals with concealed carry privileges in their home states to exercise those rights in any other state that has concealed carry laws.
  • Treat state-issued concealed carry permits like drivers’ licenses, allowing an individual to use his or her home-state license to drive in another state while abiding by the speed limit of whatever state that person is in.
  • Protect state sovereignty by refusing to establish a national standard for concealed carry. 

Both the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the National Rifle Association have endorsed this legislation.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), along with a bipartisan group of more than 50 other senators, in urging the Biden administration to maintain support for the Medicare Advantage program, which provides quality health care to more than 420,000 Louisianians.

“As the administration considers updates to the program for plan year 2024, we urge you to ensure that any proposed payment and policy changes enable Medicare Advantage to continue providing the affordable, high-quality care our constituents rely on every day,” the senators wrote.

“With fifty-three percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees living on less than $25,000 per year, combined with increasing pressures on Americans’ budgets, it is critical that older adults and individuals with disabilities continue to have stable access to these cost protections that are only available in Medicare Advantage,” they continued.

Importantly, the lawmakers also noted, “The Medicare Advantage program allows for plans to focus on prevention and care coordination, which results in better health outcomes.”

Forty-seven percent of Louisiana’s eligible population is enrolled in Medicare Advantage.

Text of the full letter is here.

WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) today introduced the Stop Harassing Owners of Rifles Today (SHORT) Act to undo the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) federal registry for firearms with stabilizing braces by clarifying that short-barreled rifles cannot be further regulated.

 Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) introduced the bill in the House of Representatives.

“The Biden administration is going to keep looking for ways to penalize law-abiding gunowners unless Congress makes their rights clear. A brace that countless disabled Americans use to exercise their Second Amendment rights should not be regulated by unelected anti-gun bureaucrats, and this bill would force the Biden ATF to stop devising new restrictions for legal firearms,” said Kennedy. 

“Finalization of this pistol brace rule represents the worst fears of gun owners across the country. The SHORT Act will protect Americans from the anti-2nd Amendment gun registry that the ATF is abusing the National Firearms Act to create. This Congress, I challenge my colleagues in both chambers to make protecting Americans’ 2nd Amendment Rights a priority and sign onto this legislation that will stop the ATF’s pistol brace rule in its tracks,” said Marshall.

Congress cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the Biden Administration’s weaponization of the NFA and ongoing assault on Americans’ Second Amendment freedoms. In the face of President Biden’s unconstitutional tactics and backdoor gun control, the SHORT Act provides a permanent solution to combat the unlawful Pistol Brace Rule and protect Americans’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms. I’m proud to reintroduce this legislation with Senator Marshall and lead the fight on behalf of all law-abiding gun owners across our great nation against the Biden Administration’s latest gun-grabbing measure,” said Clyde.

Kennedy is also introducing a joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to prevent the Biden administration’s ATF from enforcing a new pistol brace rule that would turn law-abiding gun owners into felons.

Under this rule, gun owners could face up to 10 years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines if they fail to register pistols with stabilizing braces with the ATF. If gun owners do not register their firearms, they would have to destroy the firearm, surrender their firearm to the ATF, or remove the brace in such a way that it cannot be reattached.

“The Stop Harassing Owners of Rifles Today (SHORT) Act will repeal elements of the archaic National Firearms Act, which the Biden ATF is using to justify their pistol ban and “amnesty registration” plan—a policy change that affects millions of law-abiding gun owners and does nothing to curb rising crime. GOA is proud to support the Stop Harassing Owners of Rifles Act, which will protect millions of gun owners, halt these anti-gun infringements, and restore liberty,” said Gun Owners of America’s Director of Federal Affairs Aidan Johnston.

“The NRA is proud to stand with Sen. Marshall and support the Stop Harassing Owners of Rifles Today (SHORT) Act. Given the ATF’s most recent assault on the Second Amendment, this important legislation will protect the right of law-abiding Americans to choose the firearm that best suits their needs while eliminating an outdated and onerous taxing and registration scheme. If passed, American gun owners will no longer have to fear the unconstitutional and arbitrary reinterpretations of the law by unelected, anti-gun bureaucrats,” said Jason Ouimet, Executive Director for NRA Institute for Federal Affairs.

Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Mike Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), John Thune (R-S.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) are also original cosponsors of this bill.

Full text of the SHORT Act is available here

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Require Employees To Uniformly Return Now (RETURN) Act, which would require that teleworking Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees return to in-office work in order to remedy the growing backlog of unresolved tax returns.

“IRS employees continue to work from home in the face of an enormous tax return backlog and crippling inflation. My RETURN Act would ensure that these employees get back to the office so the IRS can finally get hardworking Americans their tax refunds,” said Kennedy.

The IRS is facing a backlog of more than 8 million tax returns from 2021. Prior to widespread teleworking, the backlog was approximately 1 million.

The IRS claims the backlog is partially due to the pandemic, which forced IRS employees to work from home. Ninety-one percent of the agency—totaling 72,403 IRS employees—teleworked in Fiscal Year 2021, despite mounting logistical shortcomings like increased hold times. Callers in 2022, for example, waited an average of 29 minutes to speak to an agent, up from 23 minutes in 2021. Additionally, Americans made 173 million phone calls to the IRS in 2022, but only 13 percent of callers actually reached an IRS representative.

This backlog persists despite a recent allocation of $80 billion to the IRS to hire additional agents. 

The RETURN Act would require all IRS employees teleworking due to pandemic precautions to return to full-time, in-office work until the IRS Commissioner determines the backlog is resolved.

The bill would maintain telework options that existed for select circumstances prior to the pandemic and allow a five-day grace period after enactment to allow employees to transition back to the office.

Text of the RETURN Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $4,245,102 in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster aid grant for Louisiana.

“Hurricane Laura devastated the Lake Charles area. I’m thankful that this $4.2 million will help the Calcasieu school community recover from hurricane damage to the Pupil Appraisal campus,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $4,245,102 to the Calcasieu Parish School Board for repairs to the Pupil Appraisal campus related to Hurricane Laura.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $2,894,206 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster aid grants for Louisiana.

“I’m grateful this $2.9 million will help fund New Orleans and Baton Rouge’s recovery from hurricane damage that our communities suffered,” said Kennedy. 

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $1,459,464 to the Dixie Electric Membership Corporation for infrastructure repairs related to Hurricane Delta.
  • $1,434,742 to New Orleans Sewerage and Water for permanent restoration costs related to Hurricane Ida.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss) and dozens of other senators in introducing the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. This legislation would permanently stop the flow of federal funding for abortion by replacing the current restrictions with a single, government-wide standard that bars federal tax dollars from financing abortions.

“Politicians and bureaucrats have no business directing American tax dollars to fund abortion on demand. This bill offers a simple, lasting way to respect American taxpayers and protect unborn children,” said Kennedy.

“Most Americans do not want their hard-earned tax dollars being used for abortion-on-demand, but our current patchwork of regulations has brought years of uncertainty. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would simplify federal rules, ensuring that American tax dollars are never used for the destruction of innocent, unborn life,” said Wicker.

For more than 40 years, an inconsistent and haphazard set of policies has regulated federal funding for abortion. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would permanently restrict funding for elective abortion and elective abortion coverage. The bill would also protect current restrictions that the Hyde Amendment provides.

Full text of the bill is here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and a bipartisan group of colleagues in introducing legislation to help first responders, police and 9-1-1 personnel cope with traumatic stress. The Fighting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Act of 2023 would establish mental health programs for those who provide life-saving services and often experience long-term mental health effects as a result.

“America’s first responders deserve our respect, our gratitude and our support. The Fighting PTSD Act would equip first responders with the resources they need to care for their own health while they serve Louisiana communities,” said Kennedy.

“In times of crisis, we count on first responders and dispatchers to deliver life-saving aid—often at their own exposure to tremendous risk. Beyond the physical scars, this essential service can also take a mental and emotional toll. This bill takes an essential step toward ensuring that the brave individuals who respond in critical situations have access to mental health services needed to manage stress, stay healthy and continue to serve our communities,” said Grassley.

Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) are also cosponsoring the bill. 

The full bill text is available here