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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) led a bipartisan group of Senators in sending a letter to President Donald Trump today ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s visit to Washington D.C.  The letter implores President Trump to use his meeting with the prime minister as an opportunity to discuss India’s discriminatory policies against foreign religious and humanitarian organizations. 

Sens. Blunt, Crapo, Lankford, and Klobuchar signed on to Sen. Kennedy’s letter encouraging the president to make it clear to Prime Minister Modi that human rights and religious liberty remain a top priority.

“Over the past few years, the Indian government has made it difficult – if not impossible - for religious and humanitarian organizations to get funding to their charitable operations in India.  Many of these organizations are simply trying to meet the basic needs of the citizens of India.  Compassion International even had to leave India.  This humanitarian aid organization had helped feed and provide health care to children in India for nearly 50 years.  Now thousands of innocent children will be left without this critical support,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Discriminating against foreign organizations that help the citizens of India is counterproductive, and it needs to change.  I ask that President Trump address this serious issue with Prime Minister Modi during his upcoming trip to Washington.”

Below is the text of the letter.

June 23, 2017

 

The Honorable Donald J. Trump

President of the United States

The White House

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear Mr. President:

Thank you for your commitment to protecting and advancing religious liberty around the world. You have made it clear that protecting religious freedom deserves our constant vigilance. We agree that our support for democracy requires persistent efforts to support and advocate for religious liberty around the world.

We are particularly concerned about violations of religious liberty in India.  India is the world’s largest democracy and therefore holds a position of importance on the world stage, making the ongoing violations even more disturbing. Despite India’s size and religious diversity, violations of religious liberty have existed for years. 

Every year, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) releases a report outlining the state of religious freedom across the world.  India has consistently remained a “Tier 2” country, meaning that USCIRF believes it requires close monitoring based on evidence of violations of religious freedom.  These include violence, discrimination, and forced conversions, as well as harassment and intimidation.

Of significant concern is India’s recent use of its Foreign Contributions Regulations Act (FCRA) to target humanitarian and religious organizations.  Any foreign religious organizations, including missionaries, working in India must comply with this law.  In 2011, the Indian Parliament amended FCRA to allow the government to block funds for foreign organizations that conduct any “activities detrimental to the national interest.”

The Indian government has since used this broad provision to target foreign humanitarian and religious organizations that serve the Indian people, such as Compassion International that was forced to leave India and the 145,000 Indian children it served. Other organizations that have come under scrutiny include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Amnesty International, and Greenpeace. Other evangelical Christian organizations, such as the Southern Baptist Convention, have also faced discrimination of various kinds. The number of organizations that have lost their licenses has exceeded 10,000 since Prime Minister Modi took office.

Based on these troubling developments, we ask that you make religious liberty a top priority when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the United States this month.  We request that you use the United States’ strong, longstanding relationship with India to encourage Prime Minister Modi to alleviate the discrimination against these organizations, particularly religious-based aid groups, and to take steps to advance religious liberty for all of India’s citizens.

The United States has served as an example of religious liberty for the entire world ever since its founding.  These principles underlie the essence of what it means to be American.  Even more importantly, the freedom to practice one’s own religious beliefs underlies the essence of what it means to be human and live in a democracy.  We encourage you to bring these violations to Prime Minister Modi’s attention and continue to work to protect religious liberty across the globe.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

______________________________                        ______________________________

John Kennedy                                                             Roy Blunt

United States Senator                                                 United States Senator

 

 

______________________________                        ______________________________

Mike Crapo                                                                 James Lankford

United States Senator                                                 United States Senator

 

 

______________________________           

Amy Klobuchar                                                         

United States Senator                                                

                                               

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement on the severe weather in Louisiana:

“Severe weather is nothing new in Louisiana, and we sometimes downplay the seriousness of storms like this.  A young child was hit by flying debris in Alabama today and killed.  I urge everyone to remain calm and stay safe as Tropical Storm Cindy approaches our state.  Monitor local radio and TV for updates and emergency information.  If you have to be on the road, give yourself a little extra time to get where you’re going,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “What matters right now is keeping your family safe.”

Below are some helpful tips, information, and guidelines, provided by FEMA, on how to stay safe and informed over the next several days.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Storm Cindy will approach the coast of southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas late today or tonight and then move inland over southeastern Texas or Louisiana on Thursday.  Very heavy rain totaling 6 to 9 inches, with isolated amounts of 12 inches, bring a high risk of reaching excessive levels and producing life threatening flash floods along the central Gulf Coast.  Tropical storm warnings are in effect for San Luis Pass, Texas, to the Alabama-Florida border, including metropolitan New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.  History shows that storm tracks can change quickly and unexpectedly.  

A FEMA liaison officer is deployed to the emergency operations center in Louisiana to help coordinate any requests for federal assistance.  Additionally, FEMA incident management assistance teams are deployed to the Louisiana and Arkansas state emergency operations centers to support response activities and ensure there are no unmet needs.

FEMA encourages individuals and families in the affected areas to continue to monitor local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information, and to follow the instructions of state, tribal and local officials.  Only enter areas that have sustained damage after local officials have said it is safe to do so.

If you have a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood policy, you may be eligible for reimbursement of actions taken to protect your property.  Call your insurance agent to find out more.

To file a flood insurance claim under the NFIP, contact your insurance agent immediately.  You can also call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) – select option 2 – to learn more about your policy, and be directed to the appropriate claims resource.  Within 24 to 48 hours, an adjuster will call you to schedule an appointment.

Download the FEMA mobile app to set up alerts for the latest weather updates, shelter information, disaster resources, preparedness information, and safety tips, in English and in Spanish.  The app provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and recovery centers, disaster survival tips, and weather alerts from the National Weather Service.  The app also enables users to receive push notifications reminding them to take important steps to prepare their homes and families for disasters.  

Preparedness

  • We urge all individuals to monitor NOAA Weather Radio and their local news for updates and directions provided by their local officials.  
  • Be familiar with evacuation routes, have a communications plan, keep a battery-powered radio handy and have a plan for your pets.  Visit www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov to learn more about these and other preparedness tips for tropical storms.
  • Tropical storms have the potential for tornado formation.  If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately in the center of a small interior room (closet, interior hallway) on the lowest level of a sturdy building.  Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside.
  • There is the potential for flooding with this storm.  Driving through a flooded area can be extremely hazardous and almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles.  When in your car, look out for flooding in low-lying areas, at bridges and at highway dips.  As little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
  • If you encounter flood waters, don’t attempt to pass through water – TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN.  Don’t drive or walk through flood waters.  It only takes a small amount of water to move people or vehicles.
  • Get to know the terms used to identify tropical storms and discuss with your family what to do if a watch or warning is issued.
  • Tropical Storm Watch is issued when tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 39 MPH or higher poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.
  • Tropical Storm Warning is issued when sustained winds of 39 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less.

 

  • Get to know the terms used to identify floods and discuss with your family what to do if a flood watch or warning is issued.

o   A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding.

o   A Flood Warning is issued when flooding is imminent or occurring.

o   A Flash Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flash flooding.

o   A Flash Flood Warning is issued when flash flooding is imminent or occurring.

o   A Flash Flood Emergency is issued when severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage from a flash flood is imminent or ongoing.

o   A River Flood Watch is issued when river flooding is possible at one or more forecast points along a river.

o   A River Flood Warning is issued when river flooding is occurring or imminent at one or more forecast points along a river.

If you have any questions, please contact FEMA’s Congressional Affairs Division at (202) 646-4500.

Download the FEMA App to locate and get directions to open shelters across the state, and receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States.

Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blogwww.twitter.com/femawww.facebook.com/fema and www.youtube.com/fema.  The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) released the following statement after a deal was reached between the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. sugar growers on addressing Mexico’s illegal dumping of sugar.

“For the last two and a half years, U.S. sugar growers have been getting the short end of the cane because Mexico has not been adhering to its end of the agreement from 2014.  I am pleased to see that under our new administration the U.S. government is finally cracking down on lousy trade deals that don’t live up to the promises that were made,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “This agreement will help make sure that Louisiana sugar cane farmers and millers get a fairer price for their product.”

“Louisiana’s Congressional sugar champions are entirely aware of the importance of our 223-year-old sugarcane industry in the state’s economy and heritage and we thank them for their diligent support during our trade dispute with Mexico.  They understand our farmers and millers can compete with any farm or mill in the world but realize our producers can’t compete against governments who prop up inefficient industries.  We are cautiously optimistic the administration will manage sugar policy effectively and not allow Mexico to adversely affect the market with unfair trade practices,” said Jim Simon, manager of the American Sugar Cane League.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), issued the following statement today on the horrific attack at the Republican congressional baseball practice.  Majority Whip Steve Scalise, one House aide, and three Capitol Police officers were injured.

“Steve is a good friend, and my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Hating people because you disagree with them is wrong.  It is un-Christian, it is un-American, and it has gotten worse.  My thoughts right now are with Steve, his family, the aide who was shot, and the Capitol Police officers.  It is just a bad day for America.”

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today introduced comprehensive, bipartisan legislation to extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for six years while making much needed reforms to address the waste and abuse in the program.  Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) have signed on as original cosponsors.

The legislation, entitled “The Sustainable, Affordable, Fair, and Efficient (SAFE) National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2017,” protects policyholders from excessive rate hikes, prevents a program lapse that could shake local economies and reauthorizes the NFIP for six years.  On Sept. 30, 2017, the NFIP will expire; only Congress can reauthorize the program.

“More than five million Americans depend on this vital program to protect their homes and businesses.  This is an essential program, not just for Louisiana, but for the entire U.S,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “We have to ensure that families and businesses in flood-prone areas are protected.  This bill will reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program while making common sense reforms to maintain its solvency.”

“Americans deserve a National Flood Insurance Program that is sustainable for taxpayers, affordable for homeowners, and accountable to everyone,” said Sen. Menendez.  “If we want a more sustainable system, the answer isn’t to slam homeowners with even higher premiums.  This legislation puts the lessons we learned after Superstorm Sandy into action, levels the playing field for policyholders, and attacks the NFIP’s rampant waste and abuse to create real savings and greater investment in mitigation and resiliency efforts to make our residents and communities safer.”

“The National Flood Insurance Program is vitally important to my home state of Florida, which is a major contributor to the system,” said Sen. Rubio.  “This bill helps ensure long-term stability, while providing much needed reforms to protect the program’s policyholders.  It is past time for the federal government to take a more proactive approach in addressing the underlying risk affecting flood prone communities.  I am proud to have worked with this bipartisan group to make our National Flood Insurance Program more viable, sustainable and accountable.”

“It's time to come together to pass a long-term, bipartisan NFIP reauthorization that makes much-needed reforms to the flood insurance program,” said Sen. Warren.  “Our bill will make changes that extend affordable flood insurance protection to everyone who needs it and that places more emphasis on better flood mapping, prevention, and resiliency."

“Policyholders in Mississippi and around the country know the National Flood Insurance Program needs to be reformed.  This legislation is a solid starting point to make the program more affordable and accountable.  We want to return emphasis on flood control infrastructure, and fully recognize the physical and financial protections gained from these cost-shared investments,” said Sen. Cochran, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  “I look forward to working to pass bipartisan reforms that offer better flood protection and more effective coverage for homeowners, businesses, and communities.”

“From Ellicott City to the Eastern Shore, flooding impacts communities across Maryland,” said Sen. Van Hollen.  “We need to reform the National Flood Insurance Program to ensure that families and businesses have the affordable coverage they need, our flood maps are based on the most update-to-date science, and the NFIP program has long-term stability for communities across the country.”

Sen. Kennedy spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate this afternoon about “The Sustainable, Affordable, Fair, and Efficient (SAFE) National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2017.” Click the photo below to watch his speech.

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) returned Sunday from an official overseas trip to Belgium, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, and France with members of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

During the trip, Sen. Kennedy met with the heads of state, including presidents and defense ministers, in several countries to emphasize the importance of all members of NATO committing to an adequate level of defense spending given the global terrorism climate and heightened tensions with Russia and North Korea.  He also used the trip as an opportunity to promote Louisiana as an economic development leader.

“Louisiana is blessed with an abundance of natural resources.  In addition to being a leader in oil and natural gas production, our state produces high-quality agriculture and manufactured products.  As such, during this trip I focused specifically on selling Louisiana and our products to the countries that we visited,” said Sen. Kennedy.   “It's more important than ever to maintain strong economic ties with our allies overseas; that's why part of our mission for the trip was to discuss trade with the various heads of state with whom we met.”

Sen. Kennedy met with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, Lithuanian Minister of Defense Raimundas Karoblis, Speaker of the Seimas Viktoras Pranckietis, Estonian Minister of Defense Margus Tsahkna, Republic of Finland President Sauli Niinisto, Finnish Minister of Defense Jussi Niinisto and Finnish Speaker of Parliament Maria Lohela as well as NATO officials during the seven-day trip.  The visit followed President Trump's meeting in Belgium with members of NATO.

“The fight against terrorism is a collective fight.  The September 11 attacks awakened us to the monsters we are facing, and incidents like the bombing in Manchester and the attack in London shows that the monsters continue to seep into our communities,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “The U.S. is a tremendous supporter of NATO, but the members of NATO need to do their part by committing to robust spending on defense.”

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Senator Kennedy and the Congressional delegation in Estonia meeting with Foreign Minister Sven Mikser, Defense Minister Hannes Hanso, and members of the United States military stationed in Estonia

Sen. Kennedy – along with Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Chairman of the Senate Health Education, Labor and Pension Committee; Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee; Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies; and Reps. Steny Hoyer, (D-Md.), the House Minority Whip; and Dr. Phil Roe, (R-Tenn.), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs – asked leaders to comply with the 2014 Wales Summit Declaration.  This declaration encouraged NATO members to spend at least 2% of their gross domestic product on defense.  Many NATO members are failing to meet this threshold and are years away from achieving the 2%.

“This was a productive trip as we were able to have serious conversations with presidents and defense ministers about the need to enhance defense spending,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Defense spending by NATO members totals $918 billion, and the U.S. is paying $664 billion of that.  That's completely unfair to American taxpayers and families.  As a delegation, we stressed President Trump's message that it is of the utmost importance that members of NATO pay their fair share as we continue our fight against global, radical terrorism.”

The delegation began the trip in Brussels with a meeting at the NATO headquarters.  The next stop was in Lithuania and Estonia, where the delegation met top officials, including the U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania Anne Hall and Estonian Parliamentarians. More meetings with high-level leaders followed in Finland and France.

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) urged his colleagues in the U.S. Senate to pass S. 1256, the Ghost Army Soldier Bill.  This bill would award the Congressional Gold Medal to the 23rd Special Headquarters Troops and the 3133rd Signal Service Company from World War II.  Six of the members who served in these units are from Louisiana.  Sadly, only one of the six Louisiana heroes is alive today: Anderson B. Wilson of Slidell.  Sen. Kennedy called Mr. Wilson this morning to thank him for his service to our country.

“I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of the Ghost Army Soldier Bill.  This long overdue legislation will award a Congressional Gold Medal to the 23rd Special Headquarters Troops and the 3133rd Signal Service Company.  Without their dedication and fearless perseverance, Allied successes at the Battle of the Bulge and the final battles in Po Valley, Italy, would not have been possible,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Because of their bravery, up to 30,000 American soldiers were able to return home alive.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) has signed on to a bill that will support small local breweries across Louisiana.  The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2017 will help this budding industry, which includes 28 breweries in Louisiana, by cutting their costs.

The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2017 (S.236) seeks to grow jobs and our economy by creating a fair, equitable and comprehensive tax structure for small and independent brewers.  Through the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2017, the beer industry will be able to create an additional $320 million in economic growth.  It is estimated by industry officials that more than 5,200 breweries in the United States would benefit from the passage of this bill and nearly 9,000 jobs would be added in the first 12-18 months.

“My primary focus as a U.S. senator is to retain and create jobs in Louisiana,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Louisiana has a unique culinary culture, and craft breweries are part of that from Mudbug Brewery in Thibodaux to Great Raft Brewing in Shreveport.  We need to do everything possible to help our small businesses grow and thrive.  As a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, I see the enormous, positive impact that small businesses have on our economy.”

“We are very grateful that Sen. Kennedy supports legislation to reduce the burdensome excise taxes that our brewery has to pay to the federal government.  Just the federal excise tax we pay annually amounts to almost $200,000 for my small business and that large tax expense simply limits our growth rate, no question about it,” said Andrew Godley with Parish Brewing Co.  “We already pay one of the top 10 excise tax rates in the nation here in Louisiana.   By supporting the reduction of federal excise tax on small brewers, Sen. Kennedy is supporting small, local manufacturing businesses and helping our industry grow and contribute economically to the state.”

“We've just gone through a bit of an expansion here at Bayou Teche Brewing, and, when this tax reform passes, we'll be able to afford to hire a few more folks to take full advantage of that new equipment we have just installed in our brewery,” said Karlos Knott with Bayou Teche Brewing.  “It will also help other Louisiana breweries and will help Louisiana continue to be the vibrant and fun place that both locals and tourists frequent.”

This bill reforms the federal excise tax structure on small breweries by: 

  • Reducing the federal excise tax to $3.50 per  barrel on the first 60,000 barrels and reducing the tax to $16 per barrel for production that exceeds 60,000 and capped off at 2 million.       
  • Reducing the federal excise tax to $16 per barrel on the first 6 million barrels for all other brewers.

Sen. Kennedy is a member of the Senate Bipartisan Small Brewers Caucus.  Earlier this year, he recognized Red River Brewing Company as the Small Business of the Day for National Small Business Week.  Red River began in a garage and became Shreveport's first brewery in more than 100 years.  Sen. Kennedy also publicly opposed state legislation that would have ended marketing agreements between public universities and breweries.  These agreements are financially beneficial to Louisiana's universities.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement today on Vice President Pence's trip to Louisiana:

“I am thrilled that Vice President Pence is taking the opportunity to visit Louisiana and see firsthand the negative impact of Obamacare on businesses,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Unfortunately, I was not able to accompany him because of important votes in Washington on behalf of our people in Louisiana.  I want to thank Vice President Pence for his invitation and wish him a warm welcome on behalf of all Louisianans.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement today on the proposed budget's impact on the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA):

“It's vital for Louisiana and other states along the Gulf of Mexico to continue to get a share of the federal revenue from offshore drilling.  That's why GOMESA exists; this money is used for critical coastal and wetlands restoration and preservation.  I fully support GOMESA and, after talking to many of my Senate colleagues, I'm confident that GOMESA will be preserved and will not be repealed.

“However, I want to be clear: I support Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney's goals of spending less, eliminating waste, reducing the deficit and paying off the national debt.  This proposed budget is the first step in crafting a final spending plan, and undoubtedly there will be changes to it.  Reasonable people can disagree, and obviously we disagree about the essentialness of GOMESA to Gulf states.  However, we agree that the federal government needs to curtail its spending.

“The truth is that the federal government wastes an enormous amount of taxpayer money and it needs to stop now.  The federal government is borrowing $4 billion a day to maintain its current spending levels.  My family would not survive if we just charged more and more each month to our credit card with no end in sight, and neither will this great country.”

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