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WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $9,263,291 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants in disaster aid for Louisiana.

“Louisiana is still rebuilding from Hurricanes Katrina, Laura and Zeta. This $9.3 million will help us recover from storms that hit our parishes and families hard,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following: 

  • $3,509,048 to the Society of Holy Family School for new construction due to damage from Hurricane Katrina.
  • $1,938,382 to the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury for emergency protective measures following Hurricane Laura.
  • $3,815,861 to Jefferson Parish for debris removal related to Hurricane Zeta.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sens. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and 29 other senators in a bipartisan push to protect a key U.S. military and diplomatic post in the Middle East. The group of senators penned a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin urging that the United States Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem remain an officer of three-star rank and not be downgraded.

“Given continued regional volatility, steadfast high-level U.S. leadership and engagement to support peace and stability in Israel and the West Bank remain in the national security interest of the United States,” Kennedy and his colleagues wrote.

The letter comes after it was reported earlier this month that the Pentagon is considering downgrading the position to colonel, which Kennedy and his colleagues warn may undermine U.S. leadership, credibility and communication in a historically volatile region.

The full letter with its specific requests is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) penned this op-ed for The Farmerville Gazette. Below is the full text of the article, which explains how Pres. Biden’s energy policy is financially burdensome for Louisianians:

Most Louisianians get up every day, go to work, obey the law, pay their taxes, and try to save a little money for retirement while living in the greatest country in all of human history. But Louisianians are struggling under the Biden administration’s war on American energy.

President Biden took office on January 20 of last year, which means that America is now 17 months into “Build Back Better.” From where Louisianians sit, though, nothing has been built, nothing is back, and nothing is better. Inflation and gas prices are still soaring, and wages haven’t caught up. At the start of the president’s term, Louisianians paid about $2 for a gallon of gas. Today, the price is roughly $4.45. That means moms are forking out close to $90 to fill up their minivans. It’s not just gasoline that’s breaking household budgets. A dozen eggs now costs more than $2.50. Ground beef is way above $5 per pound, and chicken is over $4 per pound. The list goes on, and it’s connected to energy prices. Much of our food, clothing, pharmaceuticals, and other basic goods arrive in our stores by air, truck, or tanker — all of which run on fossil fuel. As a result, Biden’s constant attacks on the oil and gas industry aren’t just forcing oil prices higher — they’re stoking inflation across Louisiana’s economy.

President Biden has canceled leases on federal lands in the Gulf of Mexico when Louisianians could be drilling there and helping recover America’s energy independence. President Biden has also created new strict regulations on oil and gas producers that could make it nearly impossible to open new pipelines in America.

What’s even more curious to me is that, despite the Biden administration’s claims that it is kneecapping America’s oil production for so-called environmental reasons, the White House insists that the U.S. must purchase foreign oil from countries that bring that fuel to our shores in tankers. Those tankers use 2,000 gallons of fuel and emit eight tons of carbon dioxide into the environment every hour. This White House is beyond tone deaf.

Now, President Biden has said he has no control over the price of oil or gasoline. But it’s clear that you can’t have regulatory control over the drilling, transport, storage, refining, trading and taxation of oil — as the president does — and claim to have no control over the price of gas. That’s just not true, and people of Louisiana know it.

Here’s what most people in our state see: The Biden administration has crashed their 401k’s and increased their bills by $5,200 a year. Louisianians understand that that is a rotten deal built on bad liberal policies.

President Biden’s energy agenda depends on “wind, solar and wishful thinking” and is causing much of these prices to skyrocket. Whether they’re at the grocery store or gas pump, the people of Louisiana are struggling under a president whose policies ignore Middle America. Louisianians deserve better. Americans deserve better. So, I’ll keep fighting for better.

The op-ed is available here.

WASHINGTON—Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today announced $47,374,642 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in disaster aid grants for Louisiana. 

“Hurricanes Ida and Laura hit our state hard, and I’m glad to see that this $47 million is going towards the costs of recovery efforts,” said Kennedy. 

The grants will fund the following:

  • $14,834,300 to the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury for management costs as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $3,053,770 to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for emergency protective measures as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $3,445,213 to the Jefferson Davis Electric Cooperative Inc. for permanent work restoration as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $1,521,458 to the town of Iowa as a result of Hurricane Laura. 
  • $1,583,565 to the city of Monroe for debris removal as a result of Hurricane Laura. 
  • $1,207,953 to the city of Monroe for debris removal as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $1,417,506 to Cameron Parish for emergency protective measures as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $3,821,874 to Livingston Parish for debris removal operations as a result of Hurricane Ida.
  • $2,306,411 to the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office for emergency protective measures as a result of Hurricane Ida. 
  • $11,668,385 to Livingston Parish for debris removal as a result of Hurricane Ida.
  • $2,514,207 to the city of Covington for debris removal as a result of Hurricane Ida.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Rep. Troy Carter (D-La.) have asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to extend the August 2023 deadline for the city of New Orleans to use the $2 billion of FEMA public assistance it received in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The money focuses on repairing roads and pipes damaged by the historic storm.

“Hurricane Katrina devastated our state, and Hurricanes Laura, Delta, Zeta and Ida have only slowed recovery and dealt their own blows. South Louisiana’s communities and economy need this $2 billion in FEMA aid to keep rebuilding what Katrina damaged, and I hope the agency gives the state an extension quickly,” said Kennedy.

The lawmakers cited the need for an extension.

“When Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast in August 2005 with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph, it killed 1,833 people. It took some 43 days after Katrina made landfall for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to pump the last of the floodwaters out of the city. Even a month later, up to 600,000 households were still displaced, and by the fall of 2006, less than half of the residents had returned,” they wrote.

“In the more recent years, New Orleans’ rebuilding has been challenged by the COVID pandemic and the unprecedented 2020 hurricane season that included Hurricanes Ida, Zeta, Barry, and Laura. . . . New Orleans’ need for an extension has been expected by FEMA for some time,” the lawmakers explained. 

The letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Ranking Member Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and their Republican colleagues on the Senate Banking Committee in requesting information regarding the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) proposed climate disclosure rule.

The rule would require publicly-traded companies to gather and report global warming data, though almost none of that information is material to a business’s finances.

This sweeping, close to 500-page proposed rule is unnecessary and inappropriate, exceeds the SEC’s mission and expertise, will harm consumers, workers, and the entire U.S. economy at a time when energy prices are skyrocketing, and hijacks the democratic process in determining U.S. climate policy,” wrote the senators.

“It is neither necessary nor appropriate for the SEC to promulgate securities regulations to address global warming. . . . In other words, to the extent climate change will have a material impact in any of these areas, companies are already legally required to disclose this information,” they explained.

The lawmakers noted that climate activists without a fiduciary duty to a company and its shareholders want this information to support their efforts to force their policy preferences on publicly-traded companies and the nation at large after failing to enact these policy changes through the legislative process. Resulting political pressure campaigns would then harm companies and their shareholders.

“Furthermore, the SEC’s sweeping proposed climate disclosure rule will impose enormous costs on the entire U.S. economy if it goes into effect. Coupled with Biden administration policies that have been hostile to traditional energy, the SEC’s proposed rule will discourage capital investment in oil, natural gas, and other energy industries at a time when inflation is at a 40-year high and energy prices are skyrocketing. It will also force significant job losses within one sector of the economy when it is not the proper role of the SEC to be directing capital allocation,” the senators continued.

The full letter with its specific requests for information is available here.

 

 

 

WASHINGTON—Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (FSGG), which has jurisdiction over the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), today raised concerns with Chairman Gary Gensler about privacy and national security threats that the Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT) poses.

“The most obvious and necessary step the SEC can take to is to eliminate the collection of all PII under the CAT. Collecting and storing PII serves no regulatory purpose, it’s unconstitutional, and the SEC’s ability to monitor potential risks in the equity market will not be diminished without PII,”explained the senators. 

The CAT is set to begin collecting the personal and financial information (PII) of every investor that trades on U.S. stock exchanges this July. It will be one of the largest databases of PII ever created.

Collecting the sensitive personal and financial information of individuals without any suspicion of wrongdoing is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Forcing broker-dealers to provide this information under threat of significant penalties compounds this unlawful government surveillance,” they continued. 

In October 2019, the Senate Banking Committee also learned that about 3,000 individuals will have full access to the PII collected by the CAT. The lawmakers note that this raises the possibility that employees of the SEC, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority or contractors working with the CAT could steal or misappropriate investor PII.

Background:

In April 2021, Kennedy introduced the Protecting Investors’ Personally Identifiable Information Act to prohibit the SEC from requiring that PII be collected under CAT reporting requirements.

FSGG ranking member Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.) also signed the letter.

The full letter is available here.

Watch Kennedy’s exchange here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today questioned witnesses in the Senate Banking Hearing about FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0 plan and why FEMA refuses to let Congress or other stakeholders see the algorithm that FEMA has implemented for flood insurance policyholders.

Risk Rating 2.0 enacted the biggest change in history to the way the National Flood Insurance Program (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.

Key comments from Kennedy’s questioning include:

Kennedy: “Dr. Van Doren, Mr. Theodorou, have either of your think tanks hired outside expertise to review the algorithm used by FEMA to set these new rates? Have either of you done that? . . . Why not?  . . . How do you know they’re accurate? You don’t know they’re accurate because FEMA won’t show them to you. If I refer to Milliman, I'm talking about a company—last year, had about $1.2 billion revenues, 4000 employees. They’re risk management experts. They represent large institutions, mostly insurance companies. Milliman designed this algorithm, did it not?”

Theodorou: “It's my understanding of that Milliman did. I have reviewed . . .”

Kennedy: “ . . . Who owns the algorithm? Does Milliman own it? Or does FEMA own it? You're both experts? Do you know?”

Theodorou: “I would say it's, it's the NFIP.”

Kennedy: “Do you know that for a fact?”

Theodorou: “I do not know that for a fact.”

Kennedy: “And you don’t know that for a fact because FEMA won't share this algorithm with anybody. They tell you, ‘If we show it to you, we’ve got to kill you.’ They won't even show it to Congress. But, yet, we're supposed to place blind trust in the federal government. What could possibly go wrong?

. . .

Kennedy: “ . . . they won't show anybody their algorithm. And, if you trust government, Mr. Theodorou, particularly on this program, you failed history class. Now, this is not right. I want to see this program fixed.” 

. . .

Kennedy: “Why does FEMA, Mr. Quinn, repeatedly keep hiring these lawyers and engineers who act like thieves? How much did U.S. Forensic make last year off of FEMA?”

Quinn: “I don't know, but I know they do very, very well, as does the Nielsen law firm. And they, they get paid quite well for perpetrating or supporting fraud, Sir.”

Kennedy: “And they get paid for not paying claims, not for paying them, right?”

Quinn: “That is correct.”

Kennedy: “Why does FEMA keep doing this?”

Quinn: “We have asked that question over and over. FEMA has told us that they do not have the ability to remove these fraudsters from the program. . . . I can't imagine the amount of wreckage that these organizations are doing in communities. I have personally lived through it. I've seen it in the bayous of Louisiana. I've seen it all over America.”

Dr. Peter Van Doren is a Senior Fellow at The Cato Institute.

Jerry Theodorou is the Director of the Finance, Insurance and Trade Policy Program at the R Street Institute.

Douglas Quinn is the Executive Director of the American Policyholder Association.

Background:

  • 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 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.

Watch Kennedy’s exchange here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and more than 20 other senators in introducing the Political Bias In Algorithm Sorting (BIAS) Emails Act. The legislation would prohibit email services like Google from using algorithms that are biased against conservatives while increasing transparency for political campaigns using these Big Tech platforms.

“The data show that Google has disregarded their consumers’ interests and targeted private communications to satisfy their own political preferences. This bias hurts Google’s users and erodes free speech on the platform. Our bill would require Big Tech platforms to submit transparency reports to make sure email service providers aren’t forcing their political bias onto unsuspecting users,” said Kennedy. 

The bill comes after a report from North Carolina State University found that nearly 70 percent of emails from Republican candidates were sent to spam email folders by Google from 2019 to 2020. Google sent fewer than one in 10 emails from Democrat candidates to spam folders during the same time. During that period, Outlook and Yahoo labeled Democrat emails as spam at a marginally higher rate than it did Republican emails.

The BIAS Emails Act would:

  • Prohibit large email platforms like Google’s Gmail from using filtering algorithms on emails sent from a political campaign unless the owner or user of the email account took action to apply a label such as spam. 
  • Require large email platforms to produce quarterly transparency reports noting several items including the number of instances in which emails from political campaigns—both Republican and Democrat campaigns—were flagged as spam.
  • Allow political campaigns to request a report on information specific to the individual political campaign including the total number of emails that reached the intended recipient’s primary inbox.
  • Require large email platforms to provide political campaigns best practices on steps the campaign can take to increase the number of emails reaching a recipient’s primary inbox. 

The bill text is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) has cosponsored the bipartisan Rural Hospital Support Act introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Bob Casey (D-Penn.). The legislation would prevent rural hospitals from closing by extending and modernizing critical federal programs to keep them financially stable.

The bill would permanently extend the Medicare-dependent Hospital and Low-Volume Hospital designations that are set to expire on October 1 of this year. Additionally, it would update the year that hospitals can base their operating costs from fiscal year 2012 to fiscal year 2016. Louisiana has as many as 48 small, rural hospitals that could benefit from this legislation.

“Rural Louisiana depends on our rural hospitals. The Rural Hospital Support Act would help provide reliable care and peace of mind to rural Louisianians and control costs for taxpayers,” said Kennedy.

“These programs bring a lot of value for rural residents and taxpayers. Small, rural hospitals offer good-quality health care at a cost that compares well with urban hospitals’ cost. Congress should extend the programs that help keep the doors open for rural Medicare beneficiaries,” said Grassley.

“Every American deserves reliable access to health care. Rural hospitals can be the difference between life and death in many parts of the U.S. Often, a rural hospital means not only safe, dependable access to health care and emergency health needs, but economic safety and stability for an entire community. This legislation takes an important step to maintain that lifeline, especially for older adults and lower income Americans. I will continue to work to bring federal funding to rural communities and make sure older Americans have the health care support they need no matter where they live,” said Casey.

The Rural Hospital Support Act is supported by the Louisiana Hospital Association, Beauregard Memorial Hospital (DeRidder, LA), LaSalle General Hospital (Jena, LA), Natchitoches Regional Medical Center (Natchitoches, LA), Abbeville General Hospital (Abbeville, LA), Franklin Medical Center (Winnsboro, LA), the Alliance for Rural Hospital Access, American Hospital Association and the National Rural Health Association

Text of the legislation is available here