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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) filed the Ending the Fentanyl Crisis Act of 2019 today to ensure that sentencing penalties for trafficking fentanyl reflect the deadliness of the drug.  This legislation marks a major step toward addressing the nation’s opioid epidemic.

The bill reduces the amount of fentanyl that drug traffickers and dealers must be caught with in order for mandatory sentencing minimums to apply.  Under current sentencing guidelines, a trafficker with two grams of fentanyl is treated the same as a trafficker with five grams of heroin even though fentanyl is 50 times deadlier than heroin.

“The opioid crisis kills more than 175 Americans every single day.  Fentanyl and fentanyl analogues play a huge role in our drug epidemic.  All it takes is an amount of fentanyl weighing less than a sprinkle of sugar to kill someone,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Our sentencing laws have to reflect the potency of this drug in order for us to get it off the streets.”

“Fentanyl is one of the most dangerous drugs there is.  It killed nearly 30,000 Americans last year and has been a driving force behind the opioid crisis in the United States.  But while the epidemic has spiraled, our drug laws have been stuck in the past.  This bill will make sure, when it comes to opioid distribution and trafficking, the punishment fits the crime,” said Sen. Cotton.

“Fentanyl is fueling mass suicide,” said Sen. Sasse. “Too many of our friends, family, and neighbors are dying deaths of despair.  While families, schools, and churches are on the frontlines, there’s an important role for lawmakers: we need to give law enforcement the tools they need to put fentanyl traffickers behind bars.” 

“Fentanyl is deadly, and it is killing Americans every single day,” said Sen. Blackburn. “It’s time the punishment fit the crime for these drug traffickers.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) co-sponsored the Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act today to end the spiraling cost of prescription drugs.  The legislation increases patients’ access to cheaper, generic drugs by limiting tactics that reduce competition among drug companies.  The proposal will not infringe on patient rights or stifle industry innovation.

Currently, major drug companies abuse the patent system to prevent potential competitors from introducing more affordable alternatives.  The result is higher prices at the pharmacy counter. 

“We pay, in America, about $1,500 for every man, woman and child every year for pharmaceutical drugs.  Other countries pay $750.  For senior citizens on fixed incomes, this is unconscionable,” said Sen. Kennedy. “This legislation is one way we can make prescription drugs more affordable.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), filed the BE SAFE ACT of 2019 to improve emergency evacuation routes in rural areas by creating an up to $100 million competitive grant program for work on roads and bridges.

The legislation directs the secretary of transportation to establish the program for projects that would improve emergency evacuation routes though 1.) the construction of state and local connector roads that facilitate access to broader thoroughfares and 2.) the improvement or expansion of existing roads and bridges.

“Louisianans need reliable routes to get out of harm’s way when a natural disaster like a hurricane approaches.  We all know how bad Louisiana’s bridges and roads are.  Our infrastructure has been sadly neglected,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Rather than forcing rural and small communities to wait for the state’s investment, this legislation will empower them to improve evacuation routes.  This will be a huge help to residents in financially challenged communities.”

“Alabamians know all too well that extreme weather can strike at any time – especially now with hurricane season upon us,” said Senator Jones.  “And while it is crucial that communities get the disaster relief they need after the fact, it is important that folks can better prepare for natural disasters and to help make our communities safer so we can reduce the impact and cost of inevitable severe weather.  This bill will help make Alabamians safer, while also improving our aging roadways in rural communities that badly need infrastructure investment.”

“When a hurricane evacuation is declared, hours can mean the difference between life and death,” said Dr. Cassidy.  “This legislation keeps Louisiana families safe, giving rural communities the resources needed to improve evacuation routes and save lives.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) today filed the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act to allow news publishers, including the struggling newspaper industry, to collectively negotiate with digital platforms such as Google and Facebook for the preservation of quality journalism.

At issue is the development of an uneven playing field for the delivery of news content.  The majority of Americans now get their news from Google or Facebook.  Those social media giants decide what news their users read – whether it’s clickbait, “fake” news or quality news stories.  Those companies also control most digital advertising revenue.

Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Klobuchar’s bill will suspend federal and state antitrust laws for 48 months while the negotiations are ongoing.

“At the heart of this bill is helping newspapers survive amid shrinking circulations and massive layoffs.  Google and Facebook now control the news kingdom.  They’ve pitted themselves against newspapers in a David-and-Goliath battle in which newspapers don’t have a stone to throw much less a slingshot to put it in.  The readers are the true losers as newsrooms empty out across this country,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Google and Facebook aren’t just companies.  They’re countries.  We can’t allow them to bully newspapers out of business.”

“Without honest and trusted journalists reporting around the world and here at home, what is out of sight truly becomes out of mind — but we’re seeing more and more independent and local news outlets close as ‘fake news’ rises,” said Sen. Klobuchar.  “It’s more important than ever that we protect the free press and establish an even playing field for negotiation with online platforms.  Our bipartisan legislation will improve the quality and accessibility of reporting and ensure that journalists are able to continue their critical work.”

 

In Sen. Kennedy’s home state, the bill is supported by multiple newspapers.  News Media Alliance, a nonprofit organization representing more than 2,000 news organizations, also is an advocate of the legislation.

“The Advocate and the Louisiana Press Association thank Sen. Kennedy for sponsoring this bill. Local newspapers compete on an uneven field with internet giants. This bill would allow us to negotiate for more fairness,” said Dan Shea, publisher of The Advocate.

“We are thrilled that two bipartisan leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee have championed this legislation, which speaks to its widely understood importance,” said News Media Alliance president & CEO David Chavern.  “We are grateful to Senators Kennedy and Klobuchar for their commitment to quality journalism and we look forward to news publishers soon having the ability to negotiate with the platforms that currently control who sees our content.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today a grant for $4.5 million from the Department of Transportation for improvements at Lafayette Regional Airport.

The grant will fund the reconstruction of the airport apron, the area of the airport where aircrafts are parked, loaded, unloaded and fueled.

“The Lafayette airport is an important transportation hub for South Central Louisiana,” said Sen. Kennedy. “This grant is a great investment into the functionality of the airport, improving operations and commerce at the airport.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today that President Donald Trump has signed his two-week National Flood Insurance Program extension into law. Without Sen. Kennedy’s legislation, the NFIP would have expired today at midnight.

“This is a short-term solution, but it is sorely needed.  I want to thank the president for swiftly signing this legislation into law,” said Sen. Kennedy. “With the Mississippi River at historic levels and hurricane season starting this weekend, we cannot afford to let the National Flood Insurance Program lapse.  Millions of people across America depend on the NFIP.  This extension will give a lot of families peace of mind.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy’s (R-La.) legislation to extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for two weeks passed in the U.S. House of Representatives today through a unanimous consent agreement.  The NFIP was set to expire on Friday at midnight.

“The NFIP is a safety net for millions of Americans, and we could not afford to let it lapse,” said Sen. Kennedy. “This is another short-term fix, but it buys us two weeks to keep the program functioning until we can pass a longer extension.  We need to pass the disaster supplemental package as soon as possible to ensure the NFIP’s viability as we enter hurricane season.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Jim Carroll, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, met with local leaders in New Orleans today to discuss Louisiana’s opioid addiction problem.

Opioids contribute to the deaths of hundreds of people across Louisiana every year.  In 2017, more than half of opioid-related deaths were in the parishes of Orleans, Jefferson, St. Tammany and East Baton Rouge.

“Opioid addiction kills 70,000 people a year in the U.S.  It’s destroying families, ruining careers and cutting lives short.  It’s not an exaggeration to say addiction is a crisis in this country,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Director Carroll is on the front lines of the battle against opioid addiction, and I’m so thankful that he took the time to come to Louisiana and talk to local leaders.  We’re working on solutions, including holding China’s feet to the fire on stopping the flow of illicit fentanyl to this country.  This is an epidemic that we can cure.”

“Communities large and small across Louisiana have been devastated by the crisis of addiction in America,” U.S. Drug Czar Jim Carroll said. “As part of the Trump Administration’s whole-of-government approach, we are bringing together those on the front lines of this fight to ensure our efforts are effective in tackling this crisis. I appreciate Sen. Kennedy’s invitation to see firsthand the issue affecting so many people in Louisiana.  I commend Senator Kennedy’s leadership on this issue and his commitment to curbing illicit drug use, cracking down on the flow of these deadly drugs coming into our country, and getting those struggling with addiction the help they need.  It was a pleasure to be with him today and learn more about the tremendous work being done here at the state and local level to save American lives.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement today in response to special counsel Robert Mueller’s public statement:

“I’ve said from the beginning that if Mr. Mueller had something he still needed to say, then he should say it in front of Congress and the American people,” said Sen. Kennedy. “I agree with him that his report speaks for itself.   Most Americans who wanted to read the report have read it, and they have drawn their own conclusions.  Congress needs to move on and accept Mueller’s findings once and for all.  Now it’s time for Congress to do its job serving the American people.” 

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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.

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