May 28 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the flood stage of the Mississippi River breaking nearly century-old records, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to call members in Thursday for a vote on renewing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Without action, the program will expire Friday.
“River levels are breaking records set during the Great Flood of 1927. This is not a time to let the National Flood Insurance Program lapse. Millions of families depend on the NFIP to protect their homes and businesses. We’re under unprecedented threat from flooding, and hurricane season is upon us,” said Sen. Kennedy. “If House members cannot pass a simple NFIP extension, then they need to get back to Washington. The American people need Congress to do its job.”
In addition to the four-month extension in the disaster supplemental bill, Sen. Kennedy offered a two-week program extension. The Senate passed both measures, but they are stalled in the House because of a House member’s objection.
WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) filed a package of bills Thursday that will address many of the loopholes in the U.S. immigration system.
As part of the package, Sen. Kennedy re-introduced a bill to end the State Department’s diversity visa lottery program. This program currently distributes 50,000 visas every year at random with no consideration of employment, family relation or need. According to reports, at least six terror-linked foreigners have entered the U.S. through this program.
Sen. Kennedy also introduced legislation that will make the penalty for overstaying a visa the same as the penalty for illegally entering the country. The penalty would be a criminal misdemeanor subject to a fine of up to $3,000, imprisonment up to one year or both. Nearly 50% of illegal immigration stems from visa overstays, and there is currently no criminal penalty addressing this violation
Finally, Sen. Kennedy joined Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.) in introducing the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act. This legislation will ban sanctuary city policies that forbid local law enforcement officials from complying with federal immigration laws. The legislation will also deny sanctuary cities taxpayer-backed federal grant money until they make changes to their dangerous policies.
“We need effective immigration laws that look like they were designed on purpose,” said Sen. Kennedy. “This package of bills contains simple solutions to ongoing issues with our immigration system in the United States. Our immigration system is at a breaking point, and it’s about time we take action.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today voted in favor of extending the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) until Sept. 30. The extension was included as part of the disaster relief bill, H.R. 2157. This extension comes as bipartisan efforts are underway to reform the program for Louisiana’s homeowners.
Absent Congressional action, the National Flood Insurance Program was set to expire on May 31. More than five million NFIP policies are in force across the U.S. In Louisiana, the number of policies totals about 500,000.
“It was important to me that we address the National Flood Insurance Program before we adjourned for the Memorial Day recess. Flood insurance is too important to families across Louisiana for us to allow it to lapse,” said Sen. Kennedy. “The next step is to tackle much-needed reforms that will make the program more sustainable while keeping it affordable.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today the Senate’s passage of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED Act). Sen. Kennedy is a cosponsor of the legislation.
Last year Americans received approximately 26 billion robocalls, a quarter of which were illegal. The TRACED Act gives the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) more to time to catch scammers who ignore telemarketing restrictions and increases the penalties for those who are caught.
The legislation also pushes carriers to use call authentication technology to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers’ phones.
“Robocalls are a nuisance and an intrusion into family dinners, jobs, weddings, graduations and ballet recitals,” said Sen. Kennedy. “The TRACED Act equips the FCC to take action against robocallers who repeatedly flout the law and disrupt our daily lives.”
May 22 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today filed the Medical Billing Fairness Act to discourage health care facilities from using out-of-network providers and saddling patients with unaffordable medical bills in nonemergency situations.
The bill builds on efforts by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), and others to address a frustrating problem for patients across the U.S. A study by the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Missouri-Kansas City found that one in 10 new mothers received an out-of-network bill for childbirth expenses not covered by insurance. This problem most often occurs when a hospital uses contract medical providers such as anesthesiologists.
Sen. Kennedy’s bill requires hospitals to give patients the opportunity to opt for in-network care only when scheduling appointments, such as childbirth.
“The last thing on your mind when you’re welcoming a new baby into the world is whether everyone in the delivery room will be covered by your insurance. One mother got a $1,600 bill because the anesthesiologist on call the day she delivered wasn’t on the hospital’s staff. Now, he didn’t just wander into the delivery room. Hospitals save money by putting specialists on contract rather than on payroll. The savings to the hospital show up in the patient’s mailbox as an out-of-network expense not covered by insurance,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Patients don’t deserve to be hit with surprise medical bills, especially when they schedule a procedure in advance.”
May 17 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.), chairman and ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, asked 20 agencies under the subcommittee’s jurisdiction to disclose in writing how often they’re booking first class air travel.
“Ensuring that taxpayers’ hard-earned money is well-spent is one of our most important responsibilities as members of the Appropriations Committee,” write Sens. Kennedy and Coons. “Accordingly, we are deeply concerned by frivolous and wasteful spending on premium-class airline tickets for government employees.”
Under the Federal Travel Regulation, most federal employees are prohibited from purchasing first class and business class tickets for work travel. The letters requested information and records on business air travel from the last two quarters of fiscal year 2019 to ensure federal employees aren’t using taxpayer money to purchase luxury flights.
An example of the senators’ full letter is below.
May 16 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced two bills to prevent the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) from expiring at the end of May. One bill, the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2019, is a short-term extension until Sept. 30, 2019. The other bill, the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act, is an 18-month extension until Dec. 1, 2020.
“Hurricane season is just around the corner. Obviously, my preference is to extend the NFIP for 18 months to give families peace of mind. I’m going to give the Senate two options just to make sure the program doesn’t expire,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Too many people rely on the NFIP to protect their homes for it to lapse. We need to renew it, and then we need to get serious about reforms that will make the program more sustainable for the future.”
The National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2019 is similar to legislation that passed the U.S. House this week authorizing an extension until Sept. 30.
More than five million NFIP policies are in force across the U.S. In Louisiana, the number of policies totals about 500,000.
Since his election to the U.S. Senate, Sen. Kennedy has fought for much-needed reforms to the NFIP that will keep the program affordable while making it more cost-effective. His proposals have included limiting premium increases while addressing abuse among Write Your Own companies.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), chairman of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, today questioned Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Department of the Treasury, on releasing tax returns to Congress.
Click here or the photo below to watch the hearing.
Here is a transcript of their conversation:
Sen. Kennedy: “Do you think we should have a precedent, to put it in real-world terms, and I’ll put it in personal terms? Let’s say I’m interested in the IRS, and I’m interested in what kind of job it’s doing. So I think I’d like to see, as a United States Senator, some tax returns. Let me think. How about you send me all the tax returns from every candidate among my Democratic friends running for president of the United States. Now, I’m not interested in it for political reasons. I just want to study the IRS, and I think I’ll start with these returns. How much confidence do you think the American people will have in the Internal Revenue Service and the privacy concerns if we start doing that in this country?”
Secretary Mnuchin: “Well, Mr. Chairman, I think it would be very dangerous to provide you with those returns. I think it would also be very dangerous to provide you with returns of large Democrats or Republicans who make political gifts or leaders of industry or leaders of the labor union. Our concern is, and the Nixon Administration did try to weaponize the IRS, so as I’ve said, this is an unprecedented issue. It’s a very complicated issue. I take very seriously my obligation to follow the law, and that is why I consulted with the Department of Justice, and we will proceed on what is a very important issue to the American taxpayers.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) advanced the bipartisan Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act. The bill, introduced by Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and John Kennedy (R-La.) would help save millions of taxpayer dollars by curbing erroneous payments to deceased individuals.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains the most complete federal database of individuals who are reported to have died. However, only a small number of federal agencies have access to this official list, and most federal agencies rely on a slimmed down, incomplete and less timely version of the death information. In addition, most Inspectors General lack access to the complete death information. As a result, many federal agencies make erroneous payments to people who are actually deceased.
In the Senate, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Gary Peters (D-MI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Bipartisan companion legislation was also introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) and Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.).
“Taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be wasted on paying government benefits to dead people. We know the dead people aren’t cashing those checks. Their relatives are,” said Sen. Kennedy. “It’s just throwing hard-earned taxpayer money into the pockets of con artists. We can easily do something about that.”
“As government officials, one of our most important responsibilities is to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said Senator Carper. “That’s why, for years, I have worked across the aisle to assess federal government spending and eliminate billions of taxpayer dollars in waste, fraud and abuse. But there is still work to be done. With a little hard work and bipartisanship, we can take the common sense steps necessary to reduce improper payments and put these funds to better use for the American people.”
Key provisions in the bill include:
Allowing Federal Agencies Access to the Complete Death Database. Under current law, only federal agencies that directly manage programs making beneficiary payments have access to complete death data. The act allows all appropriate federal agencies to have access to the complete death data for program integrity purposes, as well as other needs such as public safety and health.
Requiring Use of Death Data to Curb Improper Payments. The act would require that federal agencies make appropriate use of the death data in order to curb improper payments.
Improving the Death Data. The legislation would establish procedures to ensure more accurate death data. For example, the bill requires the SSA to screen for “extremely elderly” individuals. This is in response to a 2015 Inspector General Report that identified 6.5 million individuals currently listed as being older than 112 years of age as still alive.
Organizations that supported the bill in 2018 included American Commitment, Americans for Tax Reform, Coalition to Reduce Spending, FreedomWorks, National Taxpayers Union, Project on Government Oversight, 60 Plus Association, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Taxpayers Protection Alliance.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today toured Sempra Energy’s LNG project in Cameron Parish with President Donald Trump and Louisiana’s congressional delegation. The project is an example of how Louisiana is a leader in LNG exports.
Sempra just completed construction on the first phase of a $10 billion facility that will eventually be able to meet the daily power needs of 8.5 million U.S. homes. Sempra is supported by the Port of Lake Charles, where 85% of the tonnage is energy cargo. President Trump recently signed executive orders that promise to further unleash American energy by removing burdensome regulations.
“The president’s visit to Cameron Parish allowed us to showcase Louisiana’s leading role in the energy industry. Sempra’s LNG facility created thousands of jobs and promises to power millions of homes,” said Sen. Kennedy. “President Trump recognizes the importance of the energy industry to the American economy. He’s sweeping away roadblocks that stand in the way of job growth. He is a true friend to the Louisiana energy industry.”