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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced an amendment to S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, that makes it easier for consumers to protect their credit and fix mistakes in the wake of the Equifax security breach.

The amendment tasks the Big Three credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and Transunion – with developing an online portal for consumers to check their credit reports and credit scores for free.  Consumers would be able to easily freeze their credit if they find suspicious activity.  They also would be able to find and fix mistakes as well as opt out of having their data shared or sold to third parties.

“The Equifax security breach impacted nearly 150 million people.  The credit reporting agencies know what you’re buying and what you owe on your mortgage.  The least they can do is help you protect yourself from identity thieves,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “This online portal will allow you to look at your credit report 50 times a day if you want to.  It will also allow you to freeze your credit if you suspect someone’s stolen your credit card.”

“Credit reporting agencies operate totally in the dark. They sell personal data about consumers, often get it wrong or leave it exposed to hacks, and then charge people to fix the agencies’ mistakes,” said Senator Schatz. “Our legislation would give consumers control of their own personal information and hold reporting agencies accountable for their own mistakes.”

 

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WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators John Kennedy (R-LA) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and U.S. Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) today announced St. Bernard Port, Harbor and Terminal District in Chalmette is receiving a U.S. Transportation Department TIGER grant of $13 million towards the reconstruction of the Chalmette Slip, which was constructed in 1907 and is the only deep-draft calm water slip on the Lower Mississippi. 

“This is great news not just for St. Bernard Parish but for the entire region,” said Sen. Kennedy. “With its location on the Lower Mississippi River, the Chalmette Slip is a gateway to the rest of the nation. The Chalmette Slip also is 111 years old, and its age is showing. One of the wharves is condemned; another is obsolete and unsafe. We need these improvements to create jobs and opportunities.”

“This is great news for New Orleans and Louisiana workers,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This grant will go a long way toward sorely needed improvements.”

“This is great news for St. Bernard Parish, the region and maritime traffic on the River,” said Rep. Scalise. “I applaud the Trump administration for understanding how important and necessary these improvements are to improve maritime commerce on the Lower Mississippi, benefiting not just South Louisiana but the entire country.”

“TIGER grants are direct federal investments in projects that will improve our surface transportation at the national, regional or local level,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

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“It is time to swing the pendulum back towards simple, sensible regulations.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate this morning about the need to unburden community banks and credit unions from the weight of unfair regulations through the S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act.  Sen. Kennedy also offered an amendment to help consumers take charge of their credit reports and credit scores.

S. 2155 seeks to stop the damage that the Dodd-Frank law is inflicting on community banks and credit unions that are being punished for the 2008 financial crisis even though they were not responsible for it.  Dodd-Frank has driven community banks and credit unions out of business, made it difficult for many people to have checking accounts and stifled small business loans.  In Louisiana, Dodd-Frank has created banking deserts that are sending people to payday lenders and pawn shops for simple financial transactions.

Sen. Kennedy worked with Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) to ensure that S.2155 goes even further in protecting consumers by addressing the problems with credit reports revealed by the Equifax security breach.  Their bipartisan amendment tasks the Big Three credit reporting agencies with creating a website for consumers to get free access to their credit information and easily opt out of third parties obtaining that data.

Click here or the photo below to watch Sen. Kennedy’s full speech. 

Dodd-Frank Damage: “It’s been almost eight years since Dodd-Frank took effect.  In that time, well over 1,700 community banks have consolidated, merged, or shut their doors forever.  That’s an average of one every three days.  In my state of Louisiana, out-of-control compliance costs have led to banks boarding up their windows.  That means that now, in at least 15 communities, folks do not have access to a bank or a credit union.”

Small Banks Help Communities: “Studies have shown that when a bank branch shuts its doors, on average, the number of small business loans made in that community falls by 13%.  The experts say that neighborhoods can take more than eight years to recover.  Now, multiply that by the 10,000 branches that have closed across this country and the figure is breathtaking.  It doesn’t take an economist to see that the ultimate costs of Dodd-Frank on our communities have been job losses and economic decline.”

Kennedy Protects Consumers: “I’ve been working closely with my colleague, Sen. Schatz, on a bipartisan amendment to protect consumers.  Americans shouldn’t have to spend months fighting to correct inaccurate information on their credit report when they didn’t consent to have it collected in the first place.  They shouldn’t be penalized because a credit reporting agency like Equifax can’t keep their data safe.  Our proposal would require that the “Big Three” credit reporting agencies work together to create an online portal that gives consumers free access to their credit report and credit score.”

Sensible Regulations: “I believe that it’s time to swing the pendulum back towards simple, sensible regulations, and the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act is a vital step in the right direction.  Dodd-Frank was like using a sledgehammer to go after a gnat.  All this reform package is suggesting is that we should try a flyswatter.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement today after the Louisiana Legislature’s special session collapsed in an early sine die:

“I commend House Republicans for saving Louisiana families from Gov. Edwards’ tax increases.  This special session was a missed opportunity for meaningful budget reforms, and the fault lies with Gov. Edwards and Democrats for refusing to fully embrace those basic budget reforms,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “House Republicans worked diligently and sincerely toward a compromise but in the end had to stand on principles of fiscal responsibility.  I commend them for doing so.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement today on Gov. John Bel Edwards’ special session:

“The state of Louisiana just paid $400,000 to out-of-state artists to turn stainless steel washers into a sculpture at the University Medical Center in New Orleans.  With spending priorities like that, it’s no wonder Gov. Edwards and Democrats are trying to swipe the pay raises and bonuses that Congress’ federal tax reform put into Louisiana families’ pockets,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “In this special session, they are gutting sensible spending reform proposals beyond recognition, are pushing to increase income taxes yet again and are attempting to unravel the income tax cuts accomplished by Congress.  That’s not ‘compromise’ or ‘bipartisanship.’  That’s absurdity.  When you’re spending $400,000 on a sculpture by out-of-state artists while standing at the edge of a so-called fiscal cliff, your budget crisis is just smoke and mirrors.  Louisiana doesn’t have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. I hope conservatives in the Legislature will stand up and protect the pocketbooks of hard-working Louisiana families.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) urged Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to fly the flags at state buildings in Louisiana at half-mast Friday to honor the late Rev. Billy Graham.  Below is the text of the letter sent to Gov. Edwards:

March 1, 2018

 

The Honorable John Bel Edwards

Governor

State of Louisiana

P.O. Box 94004

Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804

Dear Governor Edwards:

            The flags at federal government buildings will fly at half-mast Friday in honor of the late Rev. Billy Graham.  I respectfully request that the flags at state buildings in Louisiana also fly at half-mast Friday as the Rev. Graham is laid to rest in a coffin built by Louisiana inmates.

            I make this request not because the Rev. Graham was a man of faith, although he was a man of tremendous faith.  Rather, I make this request because the Rev. Graham was America’s conscience for generations of Americans and citizens of the world.  He broadened religious freedom across the globe, encouraged the integration of Little Rock Central High School and upheld America as a bastion of peace and democracy.  He was this nation’s greatest, unpaid ambassador.

So great was the Rev. Graham’s influence that he lied in honor this week in the U.S. Capitol.  He was one of only four private citizens given that great honor.  The last was civil rights leader Rosa Parks.

A fitting tribute would be to lower the state’s flags Friday in honor of this great American.

Thank you, Governor, for your consideration of this request.  

Sincerely,

  

John Kennedy

                                                            United States Senator

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Stop Trafficking in Fentanyl Act.  Doctors typically prescribe fentanyl – a synthetic opioid – in small quantities to terminally ill patients who are in tremendous pain.  Unfortunately, drug traffickers are giving this highly lethal drug to drug abusers, resulting in overdoses and deaths.  Representatives Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) introduced the House version of the bill earlier this Congress. 

Drug traffickers and dealers are mixing fentanyl with heroin to increase its potency, creating an often lethal combination that is causing a skyrocketing of preventable deaths, with more Americans dying in 2016 of a drug overdose than in any previous year.

The Stop Trafficking in Fentanyl Act amends the Controlled Substances Act to reduce the amount of fentanyl needed to invoke the most serious trafficking penalties for an individual trafficking or illegally manufacturing the drug.  Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin and can be lethal even in amounts as small as a grain of sand.  

“What drug traffickers are creating with fentanyl is devilishly deadly.  They’re playing Russian Roulette with people’s lives by mixing heroin with a drug that is even more deadly than heroin itself,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Drug addicts don’t even realize the fentanyl is there because it looks just like heroin.  We are at war in this country with opioid addiction.  This bill puts us one step closer to winning that war and protecting our citizens.”

“Without action, these overdose figures are only going to get worse,” Rep. Rooney said. “Under the current law, the threshold amount to invoke penalties is not appropriate with the strength of the drug.  Individuals who are trafficking and profiting off fentanyl need to be adequately prosecuted in the hopes of stopping the alarming rising rate of fatal overdoses.  The time is now to update our laws to get this incredibly dangerous synthetic drug off of the streets.”

“We are losing too many of our friends, neighbors and relatives to this destructive drug epidemic.  I am proud to join a bipartisan group of my colleagues in introducing this important legislation that will help get fentanyl off the street.  We must respond to this crisis from all sides by improving coordination to reduce the number of drugs available, while also increasing and expanding access to treatment for those who are suffering,” said Rep. Ryan.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate this afternoon to recognize the career of longtime New Orleans TV host Sally-Ann Roberts.   Sally-Ann Roberts retired today after working for WWL-TV in New Orleans for the past 41 years and spending the last 26 years anchoring the morning show.

“For the past 26 years, Sally-Ann was as much a part of the morning routine in New Orleans as eggs and beignets.  Sally-Ann is an icon, and I don’t use that word lightly.  She’s had an extraordinary career as a broadcast journalist, and I know she’s excited about what comes next.  She will truly be missed,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Audience members like me are just grateful that she devoted such a lengthy chapter of her life to Louisiana and the great city of New Orleans.”

Click the image below or click the link here to watch Sen. Kennedy’s full remarks.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) helped introduce Senate Joint Resolution 53 today honoring the Rev. Billy Graham after his passing at age 99.  The resolution passed this afternoon.  Earlier in the day, Sen. Kennedy paid his final respects to the Rev. Graham at the U.S. Capitol.

During his lifetime, the Rev. Graham preached to nearly 215 million people across 185 countries and territories and across six continents.  He provided spiritual counsel to presidents, prayed for our military and fought for racial integration.  His most powerful contribution, however, was boldly proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ to anybody who would listen.  

“The Lord truly blessed us by allowing the Rev. Graham to share his message for nearly a century.  As a young man, I was privileged to hear that message at one of the Rev. Graham’s great crusades in Baton Rouge,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “His message was simple: The only path to eternal salvation is through Jesus Christ.  The Rev. Graham lived out the Gospel message through his actions, his books, television broadcasts and speeches.  In troubled times of war and political unrest, he soothed us with reminders about God’s forgiveness and peace. I have every confidence that our Father will greet Rev. Graham with those cherished words from Matthew that we all long to hear:  ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’.”

The Senate Joint Resolution honors a remarkable life and extends sympathies to the Rev. Graham’s family.

Sen. Kennedy with the Rev. Billy Graham’s son, the Rev. Franklin Graham

 

Background Information

Senator John Kennedy joined Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), Senator Cory Gardener (R-CO), Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), Senator James Lankford (R-OK), Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Senator David Perdue (R-GA), Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), Senator John Thune (R-SD), Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS).

 JOINT RESOLUTION 

Honoring the life of William ‘‘Billy’’ F. Graham, Jr. 

Whereas William ‘‘Billy’’ F. Graham, Jr., was born on November 7, 1918, in Charlotte, North Carolina;

Whereas, in 1939, Reverend Graham was ordained by Peniel Baptist Church in Florida;

Whereas Reverend Graham studied at Florida Bible Institute and graduated from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, in 1943;

Whereas Reverend Graham married his wife of nearly 64 years, Ruth McCue Bell, in 1943;

Whereas Reverend Graham had 3 daughters, 2 sons, 19 grandchildren, and numerous great grandchildren;

Whereas, in 1950, Reverend Graham founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which is based in Charlotte, North Carolina;

Whereas Reverend Graham preached to nearly 215,000,000 individuals in more than 185 countries and territories on 6 continents;

Whereas Reverend Graham provided spiritual counsel for every President since Harry Truman;

Whereas Reverend Graham prayed with members of the Armed Forces in combat zones in South Korea and Vietnam;

Whereas Reverend Graham spoke against the communist Soviet Union, saying, ‘‘Communism has decided against God, against Christ, against the Bible, and against all religion.’’;

Whereas Reverend Graham—

(1) fought for racial integration;

(2) invited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to preach

with him in New York City in 1957; and

(3) bailed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., out of jail

when Dr. King was arrested for protesting segregation;

Whereas, following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Reverend Graham spoke words of hope and comfort to the people of the United States at the Washington National Cathedral;

Whereas Reverend Graham authored 34 books, including the bestselling autobiography, ‘‘Just as I Am’’, which began by discussing his early days on a dairy farm in North Carolina and continued through his career as a preacher and evangelist; and

Whereas Reverend Graham received numerous honors, including—

(1) the North Carolina Award for Public Service;

(2) the Presidential Medal of Freedom;

(3) the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award; and

(4) the Congressional Gold Medal: Now, therefore,

be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

That Congress—

(1) extends its sympathies to the family of William ‘‘Billy’’ F. Graham, Jr.; and

(2) honors—

(A) the life and ministry of Reverend Graham; and

(B) the contributions of Reverend Graham

to—

(i) the State of North Carolina;

                                   (ii) the United States of America; and

(iii) the moral and religious lives of millions of individuals.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) returned Sunday from a congressional delegation trip to Colombia and Puerto Rico with members of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.  Sen. Kennedy – along with Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), and Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) – met with Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos about eradicating the coca crop that is vital to the development of cocaine.  They also traveled to Puerto Rico, where they got a first-hand look at the recovery from Hurricane Maria.

“We have to use every outlet available to fight back and win the war on drugs.  This was an incredibly enlightening and productive mission,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “We must continue to work together with our allies and stop the plague of drug addiction and dependence.  Additionally, with President Santos, we discussed not only the important issue of Colombia’s pending admission to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), but also we spoke at length about the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.  With millions of refugees fleeing the failed socialist experiment, it is imperative that, as a nation, we continue to support countries seeking freedom from oppressive socialist regimes.

The trip began in Colombia, where the congressional delegation met with Santos, various cabinet ministers and U.S. officials to discuss regional security, defense, trade and bilateral cooperation. They visited the University of Antioquia Alzheimer's NIH Research Center in Medellin.  The group also conducted oversight of SOUTHCOM operations, a counter-narcotics, and U.S. partnership.

Sen. Kennedy received updates on counternarcotics operations by Lieutenant General Carlos Mario Jimenez, the Colombian Army G-3, Brigadier General Jorge Luis Vargas Valencia, the commander of Police component of Task Force Agamemnon II, and Brigadier General Jorge Enrique Mora Rangel, the commander of Colombian Army component of Task Force Agamemnon II.  Additional briefings about ongoing counternarcotics operations were conducted by the U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Kevin Whitaker, who was joined by representatives of the Economic, Political, Public Affairs, and International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Sections, as well as USAID, DEA, and the Defense Attaché Office. 

Sen. Kennedy and members of the delegation meeting with officials in Colombia discussing ongoing efforts to eradicate the coca crops. 

Sen. Kennedy and his wife, Becky, pictured above with Colombia President Santos.

Additionally, the group traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to review Hurricane Maria recovery efforts, meet with local government officials and visit a community hospital.  Sen. Kennedy was briefed by officials from FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services and Puerto Rican officials.

“While much progress has been made, there is still an incredible amount of work that needs to be done in Puerto Rico.  What I saw there reminded me too much of what New Orleans looked like in the weeks following Hurricane Katrina,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “We cannot forget that there are millions of American citizens who are still hurting just miles away from Florida.” 

Sen. Kennedy meeting with volunteers and officials in Puerto Rico.

Photograph taken of lingering damage to homes and structures in Puerto Rico.

 

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