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WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), together with Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Reps. Clay Higgins (R-La.), Steve Scalise (R-La.), Mike Johnson (R-La.), Garret Graves (R-La.) and Ralph Abraham (R-La.), today asked President Donald Trump to request supplemental disaster funds to help Louisiana recover from extensive hurricane damage caused by this season’s storms.

“We ask that you request emergency appropriations for the many Federal agencies with experience in long-term disaster recovery who are standing by and well-equipped to provide relief to families in Louisiana and take action to protect life and property ahead of the next disaster. These include the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Economic Development Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, and emergency appropriations for federal highways. Finally, we ask that you take into consideration the cumulative impact of this hurricane season on Louisiana and use your authority under Sec. 1232 of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act to approve an increase in the Federal cost-share for Hurricanes Laura, Delta, and Zeta. Louisiana has borne the brunt of this exceptionally destructive season, and we believe these actions will allow Louisiana to recover in the most efficient manner possible,” wrote the lawmakers.

This year, five categorized storms struck Louisiana, affecting all 64 parishes. The most powerful of these storms, Hurricane Laura, hit southwest Louisiana as a Category 4 storm and is one of the strongest storms to make landfall in American history. Hurricane Laura alone caused an estimated $14 billion in damages to homes, businesses, and infrastructure. Hurricane Delta added to the damage when it made landfall in the same area just 42 days later. 

The letter is available here.

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La) gave a speech honoring Diane Deaton, a weather forecaster in Baton Rouge, who announced she will retire after 37 years on the job.

Ms. Deaton has worked for WAFB-TV, serving on both 9News This Morning and on Early Edition. She is also widely known for her humanitarian work in Baton Rouge, having built homes for Habitat for Humanity, tutored first and second-graders, and visited young patients at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.

“I’m glad to hear that Diane will not be leaving our great state—I want to emphasize that—she is going to retire in Louisiana. And I hope she enjoys every moment, every single moment, she gets to sleep in after December 18. No one can argue, no fair-minded person can argue, that she hasn’t earned a rest, even though her familiar weather casts will be sorely missed in a state that takes more than our fair share of beatings from Mother Nature,” said Kennedy.

“I thank you for the chance to honor Diane Deaton for all of her hard work on behalf of everyone who relies on WAFB-TV for news, and for everyone in Louisiana and Baton Rouge whom her volunteer work has touched—and that numbers in the hundreds of thousands. Diane, may the years ahead bring as much joy to you as you have brought to our state and our community. God bless you,” concluded Kennedy.

Video of the speech is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced legislation to streamline the forgiveness process for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $100,000 or less.  

“The Paycheck Protection Program has been a lifeline for Louisiana small businesses to keep serving our state and keep their workers on payroll. These job creators are supporting America’s economic recovery, and simplifying the PPP loan forgiveness process supports them,” said Kennedy.

Currently, PPP loan borrowers of $50,000 or less are eligible for streamlined forgiveness. This bill would help small businesses by raising the ceiling to $100,000, provided that the borrower signs and submits a simple attestation form to the lender. The borrower would need to keep its paperwork for three years for auditing purposes, as the bill would still allow the Small Business Administration (SBA) to examine the loans.

Kennedy’s bill would also require the SBA Administrator, in coordination with the Treasury Secretary, to provide and certify onlinecalculators that are free and easy to use in order to support lenders and small businesses as they estimate loan forgiveness amounts on PPP forms.

The bill text is available here.

WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives today passed Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Chris Van Hollen’s (D-Md.) bill to protect American investors and their savings from foreign companies that operate on U.S. stock exchanges while refusing to submit to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) oversight. The Senate passed the bill unanimously in May.

“Communist China is right now using U.S. stock exchanges to exploit American workers and families—people who put their retirement and college savings in public companies. U.S. policy is letting China flout rules that American companies play by, and it’s dangerous. Today, the House joined the Senate in rejecting a toxic status quo. I’m thankful to Sen. Van Hollen and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for supporting this commonsense solution to a threat that’s never been more urgent. President Trump has led the way in calling Chinese Communist dishonesty to account, and I’m glad to see this bill head to his desk,” said Kennedy.

“Millions of American families rely on modest investments to retire, send their kids to college, and weather financial emergencies. But many have been cheated out of their money after investing in seemingly-legitimate Chinese companies that are not held to the same standards as other publicly listed companies. This bill rights that wrong, ensuring that all companies on the U.S. exchanges abide by the same rules. I’ve been proud to work with Senator Kennedy on this bipartisan legislation, and I’m glad to see it pass the House with such strong support. I urge the President to sign this bill into law immediately,” said Van Hollen.

The Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act prohibits securities of a company from being listed on any of the U.S. securities exchanges if the company has failed to comply with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s (PCAOB) audits for three years in a row.

The bill would also require public companies to disclose whether they are owned or controlled by a foreign government, including China’s communist government. 

Many Americans invest in U.S. stock exchanges as part of their retirement and college savings, and dishonest companies operating on the exchanges put Americans at risk, as Luckin Coffee did. This legislation protects the interest of hardworking American investors by ensuring that foreign companies traded in America are subject to the same independent audit requirements that apply to their competitors in America and other countries.

“ASA applauds Senators Kennedy and Van Hollen, and congressional leaders on both sides of the aisles, for coming together to protect American investors and retirement savers from fraudulent companies controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). For far too long, the CCP has exploited American investors to finance its cyber army, its technology-driven elimination of civil liberties, its human rights abuses, and its destruction of the environment,” said American Securities Association CEO Chris Iacovella. 

Background:

Congress established the PCAOB to inspect audits of public companies, ensuring the information companies provide to the public is accurate, independent and trustworthy.

Currently, China’s communist government refuses to allow the PCAOB to inspect audits of companies registered in China and Hong Kong. Such companies represent a keen risk to American investors as nearly 11 percent of all securities class action lawsuits in 2011 were brought against Chinese-owned companies accused of misrepresenting themselves in financial documents.

According to the SEC, 224 U.S.-listed companies are located in countries where there are obstacles to PCAOB inspections. These companies have a combined market capitalization of more than $1.8 trillion.

In the last 10 years, the number of Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges has increased significantly, as those firms take advantage of the capital available in America.

The bill text is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) welcomed news that an estimated $39 million is headed to repair Interstate 20 in Caddo and Bossier Parishes after the lawmakers worked to help secure funding for the project.

“Louisianians and our roads take a lot of hits from Mother Nature, so we can’t afford to stop investing in infrastructure at home. I’m glad to see this $39 million reinvested in the road that the hardworking people of Caddo and Bossier use to build our state’s economy and care for their communities,” said Kennedy.

"Infrastructure investment has been one of my top priorities since I was elected to Congress. I’m very pleased to see that federal funding we secured will now dramatically improve the condition of I-20. This reconstruction will be a great blessing to the thousands of citizens who travel across north Louisiana every day, and we look forward to its completion,” said Johnson.

Background: 

The majority of the Interstate 20 project is funded by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Performance Program. The program, established under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, allows the federal government to cover up to 90 percent of the cost of certain interstate highway projects

Kennedy and Johnson supported the continuing resolution, signed into law by President Trump on Oct. 1, 2020, that extended the FAST Act beyond its original expiration date of Sept. 30, 2020.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced legislation to protect jobs and drilling opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico and the conservation efforts they fund. Sens. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) are original cosponsors of the Conservation Funding Protection Act.

The Conservation Funding Protection Act would ensure that American oil producers would retain access to critical energy reservoirs on the Outer Continental Shelf. That energy production funds conservation, coastal restoration, hurricane preparedness, wetland mitigation and public land maintenance.

“Louisianians and other energy producers help keep America running and keep America safe. If Americans aren’t allowed to use U.S. resources to fuel our economy, we’ll be dependent on nations that don’t share our values and that even oppose our interests. We can’t afford to lose the energy independence our country has earned, the Louisiana jobs that make it possible or the coastland conservation that it funds,” said Kennedy.

“The Conservation Funding Protection Act is important to help ensure Mississippians continue to have access to well-paying jobs, while also continuing to provide the state with oil and natural gas revenues for vital conservation projects in Mississippi and on a national level,” Hyde-Smith said.

“Many Louisiana families depend on energy production and the jobs it produces. This bill keeps the Gulf open for business and ensures these workers won’t be threatened by radical environmental agendas,” said Cassidy.

“The preservation of energy production in the Gulf of Mexico is vital to the economic and national security of the United States. Not only does offshore drilling employ thousands of Americans and help fuel our economy and energy needs, but it contributes millions of dollars to environmental conservation projects on land and reduces our reliance on foreign powers. I am proud to support this legislation to ensure that that United States remains a global leader in energy production for years to come,” said Cruz.

“Ensuring continued access to energy resources in the Gulf of Mexico is critical to funding conservation efforts and important storm mitigation projects along the Texas coast. This bill would help keep us from a return to the days of relying on our adversaries to meet our energy needs,” said Cornyn. 

“The Gulf of Mexico’s bountiful natural resources have been a cornerstone in the resurgence of American energy independence. Revenues generated from federal leases have also supported a multitude of critical conservation and restoration projects along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The Conservation Funding Protection Act would guarantee our valuable resources are managed responsibly and that states can continue to invest in projects that will sustain their coastlines for generations to come,” said Wicker.

In order to ensure that the Gulf region can steward the shelf’s resources, the Conservation Funding Protection Act would require at least two area-wide lease sales per year on available acreage in the Western and Central Gulf of Mexico. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act currently directs the Secretary of Interior to establish a schedule for lease sales on the Outer Continental Shelf but does not mandate the number of lease sales the department is required to hold.

This bill would maintain all current environmental laws and ensure that the Department of Interior conducts the environmental reviews required by law within clear time frames. The legislation does not alter environmental regulations for lease sales, rig operations or exploration.

Background:

With the recent extension of a drilling moratorium off Florida waters lasting until 2032, there is growing concern that access to leasing opportunities on the Outer Continental Shelf could evaporate, at great cost to American jobs and energy independence.

Some projections estimate that a permitting ban on natural gas and oil leasing and development projects on federal lands and waters—such as the Outer Continental Shelf—would result in the loss of nearly 1 million oil and gas related jobs within the first 12 to 24 months of the ban. Louisiana is home to 48,000 of those jobs. Such a ban would decrease offshore oil production by 44 percent and natural gas production by 68 percent within the next decade.

Support for this legislation includes the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, American Petroleum Institute, National Ocean Industries Association, International Association of Drilling Contractors, Consumer Energy Alliance, International Association for Geophysical Chemistry, Petroleum Equipment and Service Association and others.

We applaud Senators Kennedy and Hyde-Smith for introducing this bill that will protect so many benefits for the Gulf region. The Conservation Funding Protection Act is critical to protecting existing energy production in the Gulf of Mexico and the livelihoods of thousands of hardworking citizens across the Gulf coast. Oil and gas leasing and production in the Gulf of Mexico is also the primary source of funding for conservation projects across the country, and, importantly, for Louisiana's hurricane protection systems and coastal restoration efforts,” said Tyler Gray, Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association President.

“The Conservation Funding Protection Act is critical for maintaining energy development in the Gulf of Mexico, the primary revenue driver for America’s largest federal conservation program. Royalties from offshore oil and natural gas development fund most of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, supporting and protecting national parks and wildlife habitat. Continued support for oil and natural gas production on federal lands and waters is imperative for maintaining these vital conservation programs,” said Lem Smith, American Petroleum Institute Vice President of Upstream Policy.

The bill text is available here.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $449,983 in grant funding from the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) to support workforce training projects in three Louisiana cities.

“Louisiana’s workers are determined, and giving them more training options will support both their professional success and the health of communities in Baton Rouge, Thibodaux and New Orleans. It’s good to see this DRA funding focus on sectors that help our state thrive today and prepare for tomorrow,” said Kennedy.

Projects supported by this DRA funding include:

  • $150,000 to the University of Holy Cross, partnering with Delgado Community College, to provide scholarships for at least 10 professionals earning an accelerated bachelor of science degree focused on culinary studies.

  • $150,000 to Nicholls State University to provide enhanced cybersecurity training and support activities to up to 147 workers and to expand training capacity.

  • $149,983 to the Research Park Corporation to develop technology apprenticeship programs to train up to 48 individuals and meet the growing demand for technology workers in Louisiana.

WASHINGTON – Today Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced the Youth Mental Health Services Act to improve mental health services for students in primary and secondary schools.

“It’s a lot harder being a kid in 2020 than when I was growing up. Young people need helping hands and listening ears as they face new social and societal pressures. Kids deserve reliable access to high-quality mental health resources, and the Youth Mental Health Service Act would make it easier for them to get that support in their communities,” said Kennedy.

The Youth Mental Health Services Act would allow school districts to use Title IV funds authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act to put in place new mental health resources for students. The services would follow a model that gives students access to mental health resources in their communities rather than limiting access to schools, which reduces the stigma that often comes with receiving services in a school setting.

The bill also allows states to use their Title IV funds to improve existing mental health services. States would be able to use these funds to do any of the following:

  • promote best practices for mental health first aid, which helps people understand mental illness and supports intervention;
  • help improve and execute emergency planning, which schools often lack;
  • partner with local health agencies to improve the coordination of services; and
  • expand telehealth services through private providers.

The bill text is available here.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today announced $5,197,605 in grants for three health care centers in Louisiana.

“Louisiana medical workers keep slugging it out on the frontlines of this pandemic. I’m thankful—especially on this day—to see Health and Human Services support our health care heroes and the Louisianians they serve with this $5 million in grants,” said Kennedy.

The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded the following grants:

  • $1,994,884 to Southeast Community Health Systems, operating in East Baton Rouge, Livingston and Tangipahoa Parishes.
  • $1,944,826 to David Raines Community Health Center, Inc. operating in Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne and Webster Parishes.
  • $1,257,895 to Catahoula Parish Hospital District #2.

MADISONVILLE, La. –  Today Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) praised the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for issuing two final rules reducing burdensome regulations. The revisions modernize hazardous materials requirements that have negatively impacted shippers and manufacturers.

Louisiana’s shippers and manufacturers have struggled for years under regulations that are unclear and unfair. I’m glad to see DOT finalize rules that make it easier for these companies to operate efficiently, create jobs and plan for the future. Smart policies support economic growth while keeping communities safe, and that’s finally what’s going into effect here,” said Kennedy.

These final rules contribute to a safer workplace for individuals who produce or transport certain hazardous materials, and Kennedy has long advocated for these policy updates.

One of the rules finalizes specifications for rail tank cars carrying hazardous materials. It promotes enhanced safety specifications for cars carrying materials, such as chlorine, that are poisonous when inhaled.

A second rule will phase out by December 31, 2027 rail tank cars that are not properly equipped to transport such materials. This provides clarity and certainty to shipping firms planning to phase out older tank cars.

“We thank Sen. Kennedy for his commitment to safety and commend DOT for adopting standards that are supported by extensive research. With clear and uniform federal rules in place, chemical manufacturers can now have greater confidence that the tank cars they purchase or lease have a proven track record and will deliver safety benefits for many years to come,” said Chris Jahn, President and CEO of the American Chemistry Council.

Last year, Kennedy received the inaugural Rail Safety Advocate Award for his commitment to making railways safe and efficient.