WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Rep. Julia Letlow (R-La.) today urged Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough to explain and reconsider the VA’s decision to close the VA hospital in Alexandria. The VA failed to consult with Kennedy or Letlow before announcing its plan to make changes to VA medical facilities in Louisiana.
“Your report for restructuring includes an estimated $2 trillion infrastructure overhaul and recommends closing 17 medical centers in 12 states without clear guidelines on direct replacements,” said Kennedy and Letlow.
“Most alarmingly, your recommendations include closing the VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Alexandria, Louisiana, and a complete rebuild of the Shreveport VAMC. According to your report, the justification for the closure of the Alexandria VAMC is based on calculations that the enrolled veteran population across Central Louisiana (CenLa) will decrease from 39,600 to 39,312 in 2029, a difference of only 288 enrollees over 10 years,” the lawmakers explained.
“As this report is considered by Congress and others, we urge you to reconsider the closure of the Alexandria VAMC. This facility is critical for veterans across Louisiana and the detrimental effects of its closure would be immeasurable,” Kennedy and Letlow wrote.
Kennedy and Letlow asked McDonough to provide information including the VA’s assessment criteria for closing and rebuilding the facilities in Louisiana.
They also requested a comprehensive explanation of how the VA will maintain care for veterans who depend on the Alexandria VAMC after the medical center’s closure.
“Louisiana veterans deserve clear-cut answers explaining how any changes will affect their access to life saving care,” they concluded.
The letter is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) penned this op-ed for the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association Industry Report. Below are key excerpts from the piece, which outlines how President Biden’s war on oil and gas is hurting Louisianians.
“President Biden promised to ‘end fossil fuel,’ and he spent much of 2021 crusading against an industry that sustains more than 300,000 Louisiana jobs, funds coastal restoration, and ensures Louisianians can keep their cars running and heaters on. Oil and gas are essential for our state and our country, and I’m going to do everything I can to stop President Biden from keeping his promise.”
. . .
“The White House’s assault on reliable energy has helped drive up energy prices for Louisianians who just want to drive to work and heat their homes. In November, the average cost per gallon of regular gas in the U.S. hit a seven-year high. As of December 2021, Louisianians paid $3 per gallon of gas.”
. . .
“Boosting Louisiana’s LNG exports would create jobs here and lessen our European allies’ dependence on Russian energy, all while reducing emissions. In the first three months of 2021, America supplied almost a quarter of Europe’s LNG imports, making the U.S. Europe’s top supplier of LNG at that time. To reap more of these benefits for us and our allies, I helped introduce the Small Scale LNG Access Act to make exporting easier for small LNG producers and the Natural Gas Export Expansion Act to cut unnecessary regulations that limit the LNG trade.”
. . .
“Our state provides America with almost a tenth of its oil and gas. In return, President Biden has targeted Louisiana’s economy. His war on fossil fuels is fatuous and naïve. It has also landed a gut punch to our workers and American consumers. I will never let the White House’s anti-energy agenda go unchallenged.”
The op-ed is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) released the following statement in response to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) proposed plan to close the VA medical facility in Alexandria.
“Louisiana veterans have served our country courageously, and the VA’s plan to shut down Alexandria’s hospital is unacceptable. No one from the VA reached out to me about this proposal, and I’ve already reached out to the VA Secretary to make it clear that our veterans deserve the best care and most consideration—and that doesn’t involve leaving them with fewer care options.”
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $26,512,478 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants in disaster aid for Louisiana.
“Major floods and storms have taken a toll on our state, and Louisiana families are still recovering. This $26.5 million will provide help in Louisiana’s struggle to rebuild,” said Kennedy.
The FEMA aid will fund the following:
- $8,589,563 to the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness for state management costs related to Hurricane Ida.
- $7,128,875 to the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury for emergency protective measures related to Hurricane Laura.
- $6,233,201 to Washington Parish for debris removal related to Hurricane Ida.
- $1,708,106 to Gonzalez, La., for debris removal and monitoring related to Hurricane Ida.
- $1,579,980 to Jefferson Parish for debris removal related to Hurricane Ida.
- $1,272,753 for an improved project at Baker High School, which severe storms and flooding damaged in 2016.
Kennedy, Republicans to Biden: An Iran agreement without broad congressional support will not survive
Mar 14 2022
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined 48 other Senate Republicans in condemning a deal the Biden administration is reportedly finalizing with Iran to lift sanctions in exchange for reentering President Barack Obama’s failed deal with Tehran. The White House has moved forward with an agreement that would reportedly lessen restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and weaken sanctions. The Biden administration is pursuing the deal without seeking congressional approval.
“According to press reports, the Biden Administration may soon conclude an agreement with Iran to provide substantial sanctions relief in exchange for merely short-term limitations on Iran’s nuclear program.
“By every indication, the Biden Administration appears to have given away the store. The administration appears to have agreed to lift sanctions that were not even placed on Iran for its nuclear activities in the first place, but instead because of its ongoing support for terrorism and its gross abuses of human rights. The nuclear limitations in this new deal appear to be significantly less restrictive than the 2015 nuclear deal, which was itself too weak, and will sharply undermine U.S. leverage to secure an actually ‘longer and stronger’ deal. What is more, the deal appears likely to deepen Iran’s financial and security relationship with Moscow and Beijing, including through arms sales.
“The administration has thus far refused to commit to submit a new Iran deal to the Senate for ratification as a treaty, as per its constitutional obligation, or for review under statutory requirements that passed on a bipartisan basis in response to the 2015 deal. Additionally, despite earlier promises to the contrary, the administration has failed to adequately consult with Congress.
“Republicans have made it clear: We would be willing and eager to support an Iran policy that completely blocks Iran’s path to a nuclear weapons capability, constrains Iran’s ballistic missile program, and confronts Iran’s support for terrorism. But if the administration agrees to a deal that fails to achieve these objectives or makes achieving them more difficult, Republicans will do everything in our power to reverse it. Unless Iran ceases its support for terrorism, we will oppose removing and seek to reimpose any terrorism-related sanctions. And we will force the Senate to vote on any Administration effort to do so.
“We strongly urge the administration, our Democrat colleagues, and the international community to learn the lessons of the very recent past. A major agreement that does not have strong bipartisan support in Congress will not survive.”
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in introducing the Flood Insurance Pricing Transparency Act to help policyholders in Louisiana understand how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) calculates flood insurance costs.
“Louisianians need flood insurance, but the Biden administration’s Risk Rating 2.0 regime is making it unaffordable. The Flood Insurance Pricing Transparency Act would shed light on how FEMA sets flood insurance prices so that Louisiana families can better protect their biggest investments—their homes,” said Kennedy.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is the primary source of flood insurance coverage for residential properties in the U.S. FEMA is implementing Risk Rating 2.0, a plan that enacts the biggest change in history to the way NFIP calculates flood insurance premiums. Risk Rating 2.0 significantly raises flood insurance premiums on Louisianians who depend on NFIP to protect their homes from natural disasters.
The Flood Insurance Pricing Transparency Act would require FEMA to make public the formulas FEMA uses to calculate mitigation credits under Risk Rating 2.0.
The bill would also require FEMA to release a toolkit that policyholders could use to estimate the cost of flood insurance for new construction.
- This Feb. 14, Kennedy urged President Joe Biden to stop the implementation of Risk Rating 2.0.
- On Sept. 22, 2021, Kennedy pressed FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell to delay the implementation of Risk Rating 2.0.
- On June 17, 2021, Kennedy questioned FEMA official David Maurstad about Risk Rating 2.0 at a Senate Banking Committee hearing.
- On June 7, 2021, Kennedy introduced the Flood Insurance Fairness Act to stop the Biden administration from unilaterally making changes to NFIP, including Risk Rating 2.0.
- On April 15, 2021, Kennedy called on Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to hold a hearing to examine Risk Rating 2.0.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and more than 35 other senators in calling on President Joe Biden to work with U.S. allies to expedite the transfer of airpower, air defense systems and other combat and support capabilities to Ukraine.
“While we commend the lethal aid that your Administration has sent to Ukraine thus far, we strongly disagree with your decision to delay and deny Poland the option to transfer fighter jets to Ukraine. . . . We implore you to direct your Department of Defense to facilitate the transfer of aircraft, air defense systems, and other capabilities by and through our NATO partners immediately,” wrote the senators.
“Today, Russia’s assault is trained on the Ukrainian people, public infrastructure, farms, hospitals, daycares, places of work, and even their homes. The Ukrainian military is in dire need of more lethal aid today to defend the foundations of their country that will allow it to function in the future. We cannot allow Putin to gain an advantage because of a failure to provide the Ukrainians with needed weaponry, ammunition, communications equipment, and medical supplies,” they concluded.
The letter is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today authored an amendment to the upcoming federal government funding bill that would deliver $2.5 billion in disaster aid to Louisiana.
Housing aid for Hurricanes Laura and Delta would total $600 million, with $1.4 billion in housing aid for Hurricane Ida recovery. The amendment would also provide $500 million in funding to rebuild vital ports that the storms damaged.
“Our state took gut punches from a string of storms, and our people still need help. This $2.5 billion would address major housing needs in southwest Louisiana and communities across the state. Louisianians are hardworking, but they’re hurting. They shouldn’t face rebuilding after these historic hurricanes alone. The White House knows that and has failed to act,” said Kennedy.
The White House has failed to send Congress a formal request for disaster aid, without which Senate Democrats are not expected to approve additional disaster funding.
Kennedy fought for nearly $600 million in disaster relief to be included in the short-term funding bill that became law after passing the Senate on Sept. 30, 2021. The legislation also extended the National Flood Insurance Program without raising the debt limit. This law provided $595 million to Louisiana.
He also spoke on the Senate floor ahead of the most recent funding extension to urge Congress not to forget Louisianians’ need for disaster relief aid in the upcoming government funding deal.
Kennedy is the only member of the Louisiana delegation who sits on an appropriations committee.
On Aug. 2, 2021, Kennedy offered an amendment to the Senate’s infrastructure bill providing $1.1 billion in disaster relief to Louisianians recovering from Hurricanes Laura, Delta and Zeta. The Senate blocked the amendment.
Text of today’s amendment is available here.
- On Feb. 18, Kennedy joined the Louisiana congressional delegation in urging leaders on the Senate and House Appropriations Committees to dedicate additional disaster recovery funds for Louisiana.
- On Feb. 16, the Senate Small Business Committee passed the Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act, which would allow rural homeowners, renters and small businesses to access disaster relief more easily in the wake of a natural disaster. Kennedy helped introduce the bill.
- On Oct. 19, 2021, the Senate passed the State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act, which Kennedy helped introduce. The bill would allow state governments to use unspent pandemic relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund to provide relief for natural disaster victims and to invest in infrastructure needs. The bill is waiting for a vote in the House.
- On July 21, 2021, Kennedy joined Louisiana’s congressional delegation in urging the Office of Management and Budget to prioritize Louisiana’s request for supplemental disaster relief.
- On July 15, 2021, Kennedy introduced and asked the Senate to pass the Gulf Coast Hurricane Aid Act of 2021. The bill would provide $1.1 billion in disaster relief to Louisianians recovering from historic storms. The Senate blocked the bill’s passage.
- On May 18, 2021, Kennedy urged President Biden to provide supplemental disaster relief for southwest Louisiana.
- On Sept. 4, 2020, Kennedy wrote to Senate leadership, Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), to request that the Senate consider emergency supplemental aid to help Louisiana residents recover from Hurricane Laura.
Kennedy leads Louisiana delegation in urging Biden to speed disaster relief to Louisiana by resolving HUD, FEMA red tape
Mar 10 2022
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today led Louisiana’s congressional delegation in urging President Joe Biden to expedite disaster relief for Louisiana by removing a bureaucratic hurdle that has kept disaster aid that Congress set aside for Louisiana from reaching the state.
“The people of Louisiana were hit by 18 months of unprecedented disasters. . . . Congress responded by providing $5 billion in disaster relief aid through the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) program administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs (HUD),” the lawmakers wrote.
“It is our understanding that nearly $3 billion of the $5 billion set aside for disaster relief for natural disasters in 2020 and 2021, including Hurricanes Laura, Delta, and Ida, is sitting untouched at HUD. The delay in allocating these funds is attributed to an expired data-sharing agreement between HUD and FEMA that significantly impairs FEMA’s ability to share damage assessments with HUD,” they continued.
“Unfortunately, without a solution in sight, Louisiana families are left paying the price for bureaucratic red tape. These funds are the lifeline our people need to get back on their feet and address the dire housing situation caused by these storms. We humbly request that you direct HUD and FEMA to quickly forge a data-sharing agreement between the two agencies,” they concluded.
The lawmakers also directed the letter to Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell.
The letter is available here.
Watch Kennedy’s remarks here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced his opposition to the government funding bill, which totals $1.5 trillion but provides no disaster relief to Louisiana. Kennedy introduced an amendment to provide $2.5 billion in disaster aid to Louisiana, but the Senate blocked the amendment.
“In 2020, Hurricane Laura hit Louisiana. Then Hurricane Marco hit us. Then Hurricane Delta hit us. Then Hurricane Zeta. Then Hurricane Ida, all in a period of two years. Those storms caused $150 billion in damage. My amendment, and Sen. Cassidy’s amendment, would appropriate $2.5 billion in disaster aid to Louisiana. That would include $600 million for housing aid for Hurricanes Laura and Delta, $1.4 billion in housing aid for Hurricane Ida. The amendment would also provide for $500 million in funding to rebuild Louisiana ports.
“I’m mindful of the fact, Madame President, that we should make sure this aid is paid for. I would remind everyone that, through the heroic efforts of Sen. Schatz and Sen. Cantwell, in which I played a small part, that we forced our FCC not to give away the C-Band to our telecommunications industry, and instead auctioned it out, in which case it brought in $81 billion. And I think we can spare a little bit of that for people who lost their homes and businesses through no fault of their own,” said Kennedy.
The funding bill’s misguided provisions and spending include, but are not limited to:
- $286 million for Planned Parenthood and up to $200 million to promote abortions abroad.
- $3.2 billion in subsidies for green energy and $78.3 million for green initiatives at the Department of Agriculture.
- $172 million for disaster relief for other countries.
- $9.5 million to support “diversity, equity and inclusion” at the United States Agency for International Development and $4 million to establish an Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the State Department.
- $220 million for the Kennedy Center and the National Gallery of Art.
- $45 million for great apes living in central Africa and Indonesia.
- No provisions to halt implementation of Risk Rating 2.0, a Federal Emergency Management Agency plan that raises flood insurance premiums on Louisianians.
The White House has failed to send Congress a formal request for Louisiana disaster aid, without which Senate Democrats are not expected to approve additional disaster funding.
In response, Kennedy introduced an amendment to this FY2022 funding bill that would deliver $2.5 billion in disaster aid to Louisiana.
Kennedy also fought for nearly $600 million in disaster relief to be included in the short-term funding bill that became law after passing the Senate on Sept. 30, 2021. This law provided $595 million to Louisiana.
Video of Kennedy’s comments is available here.