MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today urged President Biden to stop the implementation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Risk Rating (RR) 2.0, a plan that enacts the biggest change in history to the way the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) calculates flood insurance premiums. RR 2.0 significantly raises flood insurance premiums on Louisianians who depend on the NFIP to protect their homes from natural disasters.

These higher rates began on Oct. 1, 2021 for new NFIP policies, and the rate changes will take effect for existing policyholders this April 1, 2022.

“As you know, many Americans’ greatest investment is their home. . . .  Although RR 2.0’s purpose is to address the sustainability of the NFIP, the program is only effective if families that depend on the program can afford its premiums. Despite the concern many stakeholders and Members of Congress have voiced, FEMA has continued to rollout RR 2.0, implementing Phase I of rate hikes to new policies. Phase I is just the tip of the iceberg,” Kennedy wrote.

“FEMA is implementing RR 2.0 unilaterally—without consulting Congress. These changes amount to the biggest change to how the NFIP calculates premiums since its inception in 1968. FEMA branded these changes as ‘equitable,’ but they hurt hardworking, low- and middle-income Americans the most by threatening to devalue their most important asset—their home. It’s unthinkable that FEMA seems to be taking deliberate action to make flood insurance less affordable in the wake of the devastating hurricanes that have recently ravaged coastal states like Louisiana,” continued Kennedy.

“Alongside many of my Senate colleagues, I have worked diligently and in a bipartisan manner to propose reforms to the NFIP program. Without proper Congressional oversight, FEMA’s sweeping change in the program is putting millions of Americans in danger of losing their homes and businesses. In light of this, I am asking you to halt FEMA’s effort to fully implement RR 2.0. As president, you have the authority to rein in FEMA’s end-run around Congress, and I urge you to do that in order to protect the vulnerable homes and businesses that belong to millions of Americans,” Kennedy concluded.

Text of the letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in introducing the Cutting Rampant Access to Crack Kits (CRACK) Act of 2022 to block American Rescue Plan Act dollars from funding the purchase and distribution of drug pipes to drug users.

“The Biden administration wants to spend millions of dollars helping drug users smoke crack and meth, but there is no safe way to smoke these dangerous drugs. Sooner or later, these drugs kill people. Why wouldn’t the president spend this money to help people get off crack and meth or to stop these drugs from crossing the border into our country in the first place? I’m grateful to partner with Sen. Rubio to make sure taxpayer dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act don’t end up funding crack pipes,” said Kennedy.

The Department of Health and Human Services originally explained that the Harm Reduction Program, which the American Rescue Plan Act funds, would help provide drug users with pipes to smoke crack cocaine, crystal methamphetamine and “any illicit substance.”

Text of the CRACK Act of 2022 is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) today introduced the Chimp Sanctuary Act to prohibit the housing of chimpanzees at any installation of the Department of the Air Force. The Chimp Sanctuary Act would ensure all chimps housed at Department of the Air Force installations are safely transported to Chimp Haven, a sanctuary for more than 300 chimps in Louisiana.

“The federal government is still housing chimps no longer involved in research, which costs American taxpayers money and deprives these social creatures of a happier home. The Chimp Sanctuary Act would save American tax dollars and give these chimps a better quality of life,” said Kennedy.

“For years, 34 chimpanzees—that are no longer needed for government research—have been held on the Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico in clear violation of the CHIMP Act. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Senator Kennedy in order to right this wrong and help safely transport these chimps to Chimp Haven where they can be properly cared for and live full, healthy lives,” said Duckworth.

At Chimp Haven, chimps would enjoy a high quality of life and receive excellent care from the veterinary and behavioral teams there. Chimps at the sanctuary experience large social groups and a natural environment that stimulates their minds and helps them recover from the sometimes traumatic time they spent in laboratories.

This Nov. 4, Kennedy sent a letter to Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Francis Collins urging the NIH to comply with the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act, which requires the NIH to send all federally-owned chimps no longer needed for research to Chimp Haven.

Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) also cosponsored the bill.

Text of the Chimp Sanctuary Act is available here.

Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today discussed rising crime in the U.S. Below are key excerpts from Kennedy’s remarks.

“ . . . there’s no question that crime has increased in America: homicides, shootings, armed robbery, carjackings.”

. . .

“Many of our cities have become some of the world’s largest outdoor shooting ranges. I think it’s appropriate to ask why. And I don’t mean to wax too philosophical here, but I believe in free will, and I think most Americans do as well. . . . you’re responsible for your actions.

There are a number of reasons for the increase in our crime rate, but I think part of it is our public leadership. . . . We have many leaders in our communities today who believe, deep down, that, if a criminal commits a crime, it’s really not the criminal’s fault—it’s the fault of an unfair world. And many of these same people believe that punishment, prisons and cops make it worse. And I do not believe that any free society can order a civilized culture without accepting the concept of free will and responsibility.

“And, until our public leaders in many of our communities give up their motto of ‘see no evil, hear no evil, and prosecute no evil,’ we’re not going to see an improvement. Final point: I think President Biden has tolerated a lot of this.

Video of Kennedy’s comments is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and more than 30 other senators in committing to blocking any nuclear agreement with Iran that President Biden fails to submit to the Senate for approval.

“We write to call attention to a range of obligations that your administration is statutorily mandated to fulfill in relation to Congressional oversight over any such agreement, and to ensure that your officials know we are committed to providing availability, assistance, and resources so you can fully meet these mandates. We also write to emphasize that we are committed to using the full range of options and leverage available to United States Senators to ensure that you meet those obligations, and that the implementation of any agreement will be severely if not terminally hampered if you do not,” the senators wrote.

The senators explained that any agreement that would seriously curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions would be able to secure ratification with the Senate’s support. They further argued that any agreement that’s not officially ratified by the Senate as a treaty could easily be reversed in the opening days of the next presidential administration, potentially as early as January 2025. 

“In the meantime, however, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 . . . mandates that your administration submit to Congress for evaluation, within 5 days after it is reached, any agreement related to the nuclear program with Iran, as well as all related documents and side deals. The submission of such materials then triggers a statutorily?defined review process, and includes the possibility of Congress blocking implementation of the agreement,” the senators continued.

The letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) in introducing the Ban IRS Biometrics Act to prohibit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from forcing taxpayers to submit biometric data such as facial scans to log in to accounts, access refunds or file taxes. The IRS previously attempted to implement this idea.

“Washington has no right to require Americans to upload facial or other biometric scans to the government. The IRS has a track record of targeting law-abiding citizens, and Americans have little confidence that the IRS will protect their information. I’m thankful to partner with Sen. Scott to safeguard the privacy of U.S. citizens against Big Brother’s intrusion,” said Kennedy. 

“The fact that the Biden administration would even consider requiring Americans to use facial recognition system just to file their taxes is both unsurprising and deeply concerning. I’m glad that Biden’s IRS finally listened to my warnings and reversed its horrible proposal—but we must ensure this disastrous idea is never entertained again. The safety of Americans’ personal information must ALWAYS be a priority, which is why I am introducing my Ban IRS Biometrics Act. I thank the cosponsors for joining me in this fight and I urge my colleagues to support this important bill,” said Scott.

Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) also cosponsored the bill.

Text of the Ban IRS Biometrics Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) has cosponsored the No People’s Liberation Army in Logistical Operations and Other Pertinent Humanitarian Operations Leading to Endangered Security (NO PLA LOOPHOLES) Act to close a loophole in U.S. law that allows the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) access to vital U.S. military training and expertise.

“The Chinese military is more than happy to take advantage of American altruism to boost its combat abilities, and we can’t allow Beijing’s ruthless regime to do that. The NO PLA LOOPHOLES Act would help ensure Communist China can’t exploit American military strengths to advance its oppressive, genocidal agenda,” said Kennedy.  

The NO PLA LOOPHOLES Act would prevent China from using a legal loophole to improve the PLA’s combat abilities. Under current law, the U.S. military cannot engage in military-to-military exchanges with the PLA in any way that would give the PLA access to vital U.S. military training and expertise. The law, however, permits U.S.-Chinese military cooperation on search-and-rescue and humanitarian missions and exercises. The PLA has gained access to traditional U.S. military training under the guise of engaging in these humanitarian exercises. 

The bill would ban this form of cooperation.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $119,937,456 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for south Louisiana to address damage caused by Hurricanes Laura and Ida.    

“South Louisianians are still reeling from the damage that Laura and Ida caused in our state. These funds will help Louisianians put the pieces back together,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $118,244,712 for the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury for debris removal related to damage caused by Hurricane Laura.
  • $1,692,744 to Jefferson Parish for state management costs related to Hurricane Ida.

Watch Kennedy’s remarks

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) spoke on the Senate floor to commemorate William Clifford Smith, a south Louisiana native and advocate for preserving Louisiana’s coast and wetlands, who passed away last Thursday.

Key excerpts from Kennedy’s speech include:

“I lost a good friend in Louisiana, and Louisiana lost a good friend, last week: Mr. Clifford Smith. Clifford happened to be a civil engineer, but he was so much more.”

. . .

“Clifford Smith was one of the first Louisianians, if not the first, to talk about the need for coastal restoration in my state. . . . He was on every board imaginable. When his church burned down in Houma, Clifford said, ‘I’ll be responsible for raising the money and rebuild the church.’ Took him five years—and he did it.”

. . .

“He was whip-smart. He was visionary. He was wise. He was very charming. . . . I miss Clifford. I’m going to miss him. . . . I went down to the funeral on Monday to say goodbye, but I wanted to say goodbye on the floor of the United States Senate and recognize my friend, and a Louisiana favorite son, William Clifford Smith.”

Video of Kennedy’s comments is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $14,649,618 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Louisiana to address damage caused by Hurricanes Laura and Ida.    

“Hurricanes Laura and Ida tore through Louisiana. Louisianians need help getting back on their feet after major disasters, and these funds will help us on the road to recovery,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $4,084,048 to the Society of the Roman Catholic of the Diocese of Lake Charles for Public Assistance emergency protective measures as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $2,499,359 to St. Charles Parish for emergency bulkhead repairs at Des Allemands related to damage caused by Hurricane Ida.
  • $2,424,658 to the Rapides Parish School Board for districtwide mold remediation related to damage caused by Hurricane Laura.
  • $2,403,915 to the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury for emergency protective measures as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $2,181,977 to the Office of Risk Management for permanent repairs to damage caused by Hurricane Laura.
  • $1,055,661 to the Office of Risk Management for permanent repairs to the McNeese University Track and Field buildings damaged by Hurricane Laura.