Apr 16 2021
MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), member of the Senate Banking Committee, wrote to committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), calling for a hearing to examine Risk Rating 2.0, a new rating system under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
“The NFIP is the primary source of flood insurance coverage for residential properties in the United States. Five million families depend on the NFIP. Risk Rating 2.0 will bring the biggest change to NFIP insurance premiums since the NFIP program began, including rate increases and mandating new policies. I have serious concerns about Louisiana families being able to afford flood insurance under the proposed Risk Rating 2.0. The NFIP only makes sense if homeowners can afford it,” wrote Kennedy.
“Since the end of FY 2017, Congress has enacted 16 short-term NFIP reauthorizations with the expectation that Congress would consider reform. That time is now. Congress should oversee and debate any changes to the program, especially substantial changes to the program such as Risk Rating 2.0,” continued Kennedy.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is bypassing Congress to initiate Risk Rating 2.0, which is scheduled to go into effect for new 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.
Kennedy requested FEMA Deputy Associate Administrator of Insurance and Mitigation and Senior Executive of NFIP, David Maurstad, testify before the committee.
The full text of the letter is available here.
Kennedy, Paul call for investigation of Planned Parenthood affiliates for violating PPP eligibility, failure to return loans
Apr 16 2021
MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), member of the Senate Small Business Committee, today joined Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and other Republican committee members in urging Attorney General Merrick Garland, Small Business Administration (SBA) Inspector General Mike Ware and SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman to investigate Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s (PPFA) unlawful participation in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
In May of 2020, the SBA notified a number of Planned Parenthood affiliates that they had wrongfully applied for 38 PPP loans totaling more than $80 million. SBA determined that these local affiliates were ineligible for the loans under the applicable affiliation rules and that the loans PPFA received should be returned.
“On March 23, 2021, SBA provided the Senate Small Business Committee with an updated dataset on all PPP loans as of March 14, 2021. This data revealed that, not only have most of the PPFA affiliates not returned their PPP funds, as requested by SBA, but two have applied for and been approved for a second draw loan, with full knowledge of their ineligibility,” the senators wrote.
“. . . earlier this week SBA released updated data indicating that even more PPFA affiliates have been approved for PPP loans in the last month. According to the most recent SBA data, at least one additional PPFA affiliate was approved for a second draw loan since March 15, 2021. Additionally, another PPFA affiliate recently applied for and was approved for a first draw loan, despite the fact that the entity had previously returned its loan after SBA determined it was ineligible for PPP,” the senators continued.
Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Roger Marshall (R- Kan.) also signed the letters.
On May 19, 2020, the SBA determined that local affiliates of PPFA were ineligible for PPP loans under the applicable affiliation rules and size standards and that the loans they received should be returned. The SBA cited the control PPFA exercised over its local affiliates in a number of different areas, such as medical standards, affiliate patient transfers and an accreditation review process administered every three years as evidence of an affiliated organizational structure.
Given that PPFA has nearly 16,000 employees nationwide, the SBA determined that these PPFA affiliates were ineligible for PPP and requested that each of the 38 affiliates return the $80 million in PPP funds they wrongfully received.
The letter to Garland is available here.
The letter to Ware is available here.
The letter to Guzman is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) in introducing the Protect Funding for Women’s Health Care Act, which would prevent any taxpayer dollars from going to the nation’s single largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, while protecting federal funding for women’s health care services. The bill comes at a time when the Biden administration looks to reverse a rule that prevents Title X funds from going to abortion providers.
“America is home to many health care providers that deliver essential medical services to women, but Planned Parenthood is not one of them. Planned Parenthood remains more concerned with ending unborn lives than protecting vulnerable women. The Protect Funding for Women’s Health Care Act would allow women’s health care providers to continue providing crucial care and make sure that Louisiana taxpayers aren’t bankrolling America’s largest abortion mill against their will,” said Kennedy.
“We must always fight to protect the most vulnerable of our society, the unborn. Sadly, President Biden is working to reverse a rule from the previous administration that prevented taxpayer money from going toward abortion providers. Iowans should not be forced to fund organizations like Planned Parenthood, the nation’s single largest provider of abortions, and this legislation will help put an end to this practice and redirect those funds to eligible women’s health care providers,” said Ernst.
The Protect Funding for Women’s Health Care Act prohibits taxpayer dollars from going to Planned Parenthood. Instead, the bill redirects those funds to other eligible women’s health care providers and ensures there is no reduction in federal funding for women’s health services.
Specifically, the Protect Funding for Women’s Health Care Act would:
- Prohibit the federal funding of Planned Parenthood Federation of America or any of its affiliate organizations.
- Forbid Planned Parenthood from being eligible for any federal dollars, including through mandatory expenditures or unobligated funding of individual agencies.
- Protect federal funding for health services for women, including diagnostic laboratory and radiology services, well-child care, prenatal and postnatal care, immunizations, cervical and breast cancer screenings and more.
- Prevent reduction in overall federal funding available to support women’s health.
Kennedy previously introduced the Pregnant Women Health and Safety Act and the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, which protect vulnerable women and children in the womb.
Text of the Protect Funding for Women’s Health Care Act is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Ending Pricey Insulin Act to address skyrocketing insulin prices. Three insulin producers control 99 percent of the U.S. market, and the price of the drug tripled between 2002 and 2013 alone.
The Ending Pricey Insulin Act would make the price of insulin more affordable for Louisianians and Americans living with diabetes. Kennedy moved to have the Senate pass the legislation by unanimous consent today, but lawmakers blocked his motion. The Senate could vote on the bill at a later date.
“The free market works wonders when it is truly free, but not when a few drug giants collude to hurt patients. These soaring prices have real consequences for Louisiana’s insulin users. I introduced the Ending Pricey Insulin Act to help give millions of Americans access to this crucial drug, and I hope my fellow lawmakers will help bring a little logic back to the distorted insulin market,” said Kennedy.
The Ending Pricey Insulin Act would cap the out-of-pocket costs of insulin to $50 for a 30-day supply for individuals enrolled in all health plans. The legislation would cover uninsured people as well. Programs covered under the bill include Medicare, Medicaid, high deductible health plans, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, veterans health plans and TriCare plans.
The Ending Pricey Insulin Act also includes a retroactive clause that ensures any out-of-pocket cost above $50 that an individual pays after the bill’s enactment will be reimbursed.
More than 500,000 Louisianians suffer from diabetes, and an estimated 30,000 Louisianians receive a diabetes diagnosis each year. Nationwide, 34 million Americans have diabetes, and more than 7 million depend on insulin.
Some diabetes patients have sued the largest insulin makers, accusing them of charging consumers a higher price than what they charge industry middlemen. In 1996, a one-month supply of Humalog insulin cost $21. By 2019, that price had soared to $275—a 1,200 percent increase.
The Trump administration allowed Medicare Part D drug plans to offer insulin at a $35 copay and also issued an executive order blocking federal funds from going to health centers that over-charge patients for insulin. The Biden administration froze this order.
Text of the Ending Pricey Insulin Act is available here.
Apr 13 2021
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today urged U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to abandon the department’s plan to allocate $650 billion in special drawing rights (SDR) to foreign countries through the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Currently, Yellen plans to make the allocation without consent from Congress.
“I am concerned that an SDR allocation will not support low-income countries and instead will support dictators, China, and other adversaries, all while burdening the American taxpayer. Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Hassan Rouhani, Bashar al-Assad, Nicolás Maduro, and the Burmese generals are all lined up to get hundreds of millions and, in some cases, billions from the Treasury Department,” wrote Kennedy.
Under the proposed SDR allocation, the world’s leading economies would receive $426 billion—well over half—of the allocation. Rich and middle-income nations would receive $126 billion, while low-income countries would receive only $21 billion—or 3%—of the allocation. China alone would receive more aid than all the low-income countries combined.
“Additionally, I am deeply concerned that this allocation will benefit hostile governments and our adversaries. Under the proposal, Iran, a country heavily sanctioned by the United States for its illicit nuclear activity, would receive $3.5 billion in aid. China would receive $22 billion in aid. Russia will get $18 billion . . . Despite claims that the U.S. can refuse to buy SDRs from dictators, this type of blanket allocation will allow any dictator whose country receives SDRs to exchange them for hard currencies by simply channeling the exchange through a third country,” explained Kennedy.
Not only would the money flow to enemy regimes, the U.S. will have to borrow the money that it would have to lend to these nations.
“In other words, America will have to borrow from Peter at home to pay Paul overseas: American workers and families will be on the hook for making up the difference between the interest rate the United States would have to pay to borrow this money by issuing perpetual bonds,” said Kennedy.
The SDR loans also come with a high risk of the receivers not repaying them. In fact, the countries have no obligation or deadline for paying the loans back. Nothing prevents a foreign government from redeeming SDRs at the U.S.-subsidized rate of 0.05 percent and then turning that cash around to reinvest in the 10-year Treasury bond, which offers payouts around 1.7 percent.
The full text of the letter is available here.
Kennedy’s exchange with Yellen on March 24 is available here.
MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) penned this letter to the editor, originally published in the Ouachita Citizen, highlighting the crucial work of Louisiana linemen and calling for them to be formally recognized as first responders.
“Though we notice them most during emergencies, linemen are at work every day to maintain the power lines that keep northeast Louisiana’s lights on and homes heated and cooled.”
. . .
“These men and women work around live wires on a routine basis. They serve during hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters, so the lineman’s job is one of the riskiest around. Linemen are not just technicians: They are first responders. Louisiana has witnessed linemen’s bravery time and time again.
“Last year, after Hurricanes Laura, Delta, and Zeta hammered Louisiana, linemen were first on the scene to repair downed lines. During this February’s historic winter storm, linemen again rose to the challenge as first responders.”
. . .
“With that in mind, I just introduced the Linemen Legacy Act to legally qualify linemen as first responders.”
MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) has been named one of the top 10 most effective Republican senators of the 116th Congress, according to the Center for Effective Lawmaking’s Legislative Effectiveness Scores.
“It is a privilege to represent Louisianians in the U.S. Senate. Our people work hard, and they deserve representatives who go to the mat on their behalf. I’ll keep fighting for legislation that makes Louisiana voices heard in Washington, brings jobs to our state, defends the unborn and protects our constitutional rights,” said Kennedy.
The Center for Effective Lawmaking considers 15 different indicators when calculating its scores, including the number of bills each lawmaker introduces, how far each bill advances in the legislative process and the significance of each bill. Kennedy introduced 65 bills in the 116th Congress, all of them “substantive” according to the report.
Three of Kennedy’s bills were signed into law by President Trump, including the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, the Rebuilding Small Businesses After Disasters Act and the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2019. The Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act protects Americans from bad actors like the Chinese Communist Party by requiring companies operating on U.S. stock exchanges to prove they are not owned or controlled by foreign governments.
The Center for Effective Lawmaking also named Kennedy one of the “top performers in multiple policy areas,” including commerce, education and trade issues.
MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $42,796,369 in grant funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support routine immunization and vaccines for Louisiana children.
“The pandemic has made it difficult for some parents to vaccinate their children against diseases like mumps, measles, rubella, chickenpox and tetanus. This funding from HHS will help ensure that Louisiana’s kids have access to the routine vaccines that keep them safe and keep everyone in our communities healthy,” said Kennedy.
MADISONVILLE, La. — Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and other senators in introducing the Keep China Out of Solar Energy Act, which prohibits federal funds from purchasing solar panels manufactured or assembled in Communist China, specifically focusing on Xinjiang province, which is known for its use of forced labor.
“The Chinese Communist Party is guilty of monstrous human rights violations, and the regime’s cruelty is on full display in Xinjiang, where Uyghurs are suffering in Communist prison camps. Reports indicate Beijing relies on forced labor in Xinjiang to make solar panels—and other products—many of which it sells to the U.S. Americans should have no hand in funding the CCP’s atrocities, and the Keep China Out of Solar Energy Act would ensure that our federal dollars don’t fund the Communist Party, or any of its affiliated entities, through the purchase of solar panels,” said Kennedy.
“No taxpayer dollars should be used to prop up the Communist Party of China, which is committing a genocide against the Uyghurs under General Secretary Xi’s direction, continues to threaten our ally Taiwan and strip basic rights from Hong Kongers. Reports show that many solar companies rely on materials and labor from Communist China’s Xinjiang province, which is known for forced labor and horrific abuse of the Uyghurs. My Keep China Out of Solar Energy Act, which prohibits the use of federal funds to buy solar panels from Communist China, sends a clear message to General Secretary Xi that the United States will not turn a blind eye to his genocide and human rights abuses,” said Scott.
The Keep China Out of Solar Energy Act requires:
- The Director of the Office of Management and Budget to develop standards and guidelines to prohibit federal funds from being used to purchase solar panels manufactured or assembled by entities with ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
- The Comptroller of the U.S. to submit to Congress a report on the amount of solar panels procured by federal departments and agencies from covered entities.
- The Director of the Office of Management and Budget to conduct an independent study of the domestic market of solar panel production and the global supply chain and workforce involved in solar panel production.
Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) also co-sponsored the legislation.
MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) authored this op-ed, originally published in the New York Post.
“Did you get to visit Paris before the virus shut down international travel? The architect who designed the Louvre’s iconic glass pyramid was actually an American—an Asian American named I.M. Pei. By the time of his death at age of 102, Pei had designed many famous buildings on US soil, including the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.
“Pei was one of millions of Asian Americans whose talents have helped make America an exceptional nation, made up of exceptional people who take advantage of all the opportunities our nation has to offer. President Joe Biden is absolutely right to denounce the recent attack in Atlanta, which took the lives of six Asian-American women, and he isn’t alone. The nation’s capital grieves with our Asian-American friends and neighbors.
“Sadly, however, Biden’s rhetoric in defense of the Asian-American community isn’t matched by respect for their right to enjoy the fruit of their gifts and grit. The Biden administration has shown, right out of the gate, a determination to stick its head in the sand, while America’s top universities actively discriminate against Asian Americans.
“Last year, the Department of Justice sued Yale University, claiming the school rejected many qualified Asian-American applicants on the basis of their race. The decision came two years after several Asian-American organizations filed a complaint with the DOJ and the Department of Education, accusing the New Haven Ivy of discrimination. Yet only a few weeks after Biden set up shop in the Oval Office, the DOJ withdrew its own lawsuit against Yale.
“Harvard University also seems bent on discriminating against Asian-American applicants. In 2014, Students for Fair Admissions sued Harvard, claiming the school was using an application system that reduces the number of Asian-American students through evaluations that are subjective and potentially racially biased.
“When Harvard considers an applicant, the admissions team often looks past objective indicators like grades and test scores to a student’s ‘personal ratings.’ These personal ratings claim to measure traits like ‘humor,’ ‘sensitivity,’ ‘helpfulness’ and ‘courage.’ The problem is that Harvard has consistently granted lower personal rating scores to Asian Americans than it has to white students and those of other ethnic groups.
“The judge in the Students for Fair Admissions’ lawsuit wrote that ‘the data demonstrates [sic] a statistically significant and negative relationship between Asian-American identity and the personal rating assigned by Harvard admissions officers, holding constant any reasonable set of observable characteristics.’
“It might sound smart for Harvard to look for well-rounded applicants—until you realize that these personal ratings aren’t just subjective, they’re subversive. The scores are value judgments that minimize the accomplishments of Asian Americans in particular.
“Harvard’s admissions scores work on a scale from 1 to 6. When it comes to the personal-ratings dimension of the application process, only 17.6 percent of Asian-Americans receive top scores of 1 or 2, compared with 21.3 percent of white applicants. In fact, Harvard gives Asian Americans the weakest personal ratings of any ethnic group.
“Harvard admissions officials have reportedly handed out these low scores without even interviewing some candidates in person. These officials admitted in 2013 that if the school only considered ‘academic achievement,’ then the class’ proportional Asian-American representation would have more than doubled.
“A federal judge ruled against the plaintiffs in 2019, notwithstanding her acknowledgment that Harvard grants lower personal rating scores to Asian-American applicants, and the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld that decision last November. But there’s still hope for justice for Asian-American students. The Supreme Court could take up the case, and the White House could defend the cause of meritocracy against Harvard’s racial discrimination.
“The DOJ has historically supported the Students for Fair Admissions lawsuit. The department filed a statement of interest in the case in 2018 and an amicus brief last year. If Biden is committed to fighting racial discrimination against Asian Americans, it’s not hard to see how countering racist policies within the privileged halls of Harvard—a school that receives federal dollars—must be part of that commitment.
“I.M. Pei graduated from Harvard in the 1940s. Who knows if the Cambridge, Mass., Ivy would even admit him today? That’s a shame, and it shouldn’t stand. The new president should contend for the rights of Asian Americans to be treated fairly by America’s schools. His Department of Justice should support, rather than ignore, their lawsuit against racial bias.”
The op-ed is available here.