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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today thanked Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler for granting 31 exemptions that will protect Louisiana’s small refineries from financial devastation. 

At issue are hardship waivers – called Small Refinery Exemptions – that give small refineries in Louisiana the ability to remain competitive against larger companies and further President Donald Trump’s initiative for the U.S. to be energy independent.  The waivers free refineries from biofuel blending requirements that are unaffordable.

“These exemptions are necessary to keep small refineries in business and protect tens of thousands of jobs across the U.S.,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Louisiana can only help this country achieve energy independence if our refineries are allowed to thrive.  These exemptions are a huge win, not just for the industry, but for workers and families across Louisiana.” 

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today 31 Health and Human Services grants totaling $5.1 million for communities across Louisiana.

These grants will help fund Louisiana health centers that provide integrated behavioral health services such as prevention or treatment for mental health conditions and opioid addictions.

“Mental health is a growing concern across the country.  It affects the young and old, rich and poor, and if left untreated, it can ruin lives and devastate families,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “These grants will equip health centers across Louisiana to provide life-saving mental health services.”

 

Organization Name

City

Amount Of Award

New Orleans Health Department

New Orleans

$167,000

Excelth Inc.

New Orleans

$167,000

Rapides Primary Health Care Center, Inc.

Alexandria

$167,000

Southeast Community Health Systems

Greensburg

$167,000

Capitol City Family Health Center, Inc., Dba Care South

Baton Rouge

$167,000

Out-Patient Medical Center

Natchitoches

$167,000

St. Gabriel Health Clinic, Inc.

Saint Gabriel

$167,000

SWLA Center For Health Services

Lake Charles

$167,000

Southwest Louisiana Primary Health Care Ctr, Inc.

Opelousas

$167,000

David Raines Community Health Center, Inc.

Shreveport

$167,000

Primary Health Services Center

Monroe

$167,000

Teche Action Board Inc.

Franklin

$167,000

Innis Community Health Center, Inc.

Innis

$167,000

Access Health Louisiana

Luling

$167,000

Tensas Community Health Center, Inc.

Saint Joseph

$167,000

Primary Care Providers For A Healthy Feliciana

Clinton

$167,000

Jefferson Community Health Care Centers, Inc.

Avondale

$167,000

Morehouse Community Medical Centers, Inc

Bastrop

$167,000

Winn Community Health Center, Inc

Winnfield

$167,000

St. Thomas Community Health Center, Inc.

New Orleans

$167,000

Hospital Service District No. 1-A Of The Parish Of Richland

Delhi

$167,000

Marillac Community Health Centers

New Orleans

$167,000

CASSE Dental Health Institute

Mansfield

$167,000

Common Ground Health Clinic

New Orleans

$154,830

MQVN Community Development Corp

New Orleans

$167,000

New Orleans Aids Task Force

New Orleans

$167,000

Odyssey House Louisiana, Inc.

New Orleans

$167,000

HIV/AIDS Alliance For Region Two Inc

Baton Rouge

$167,000

Priority Health Care

Marrero

$167,000

Start Corporation

Houma

$167,000

Iberia Comprehensive Community Health Center

New Iberia

$167,000

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Cory Booker’s (D-N.J.) bill, the Rebuilding Small Businesses After Disasters Act.  This legislation would help ensure families continue to have access to certain Small Business Administration (SBA) loans soon after a disaster. 

This legislation would prevent specific SBA disaster loans from decreasing from $25,000 to $14,000.  In 2015, a provision in the Recovery Improvements for Small Entities After Disaster Act temporarily increased loan limits for physical disaster loans.  This legislation will extend the provision for another three years.

“Disasters like Hurricane Katrina leave properties in ruin,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Extending this provision will provide families with the resources they need to rebuild their businesses and their homes immediately after a disaster.  It puts the appropriate financial resources into the pockets of our homeowners and business owners.”

“Even though nearly a decade has passed since Superstorm Sandy ravaged New Jersey and much of the East Coast, New Jersey families and communities remember all too well the massive devastation it caused,” said Sen. Booker.  “This bipartisan bill ensures that disaster victims in New Jersey and across the country will continue to have access to the assistance they need as they rebuild their homes, small businesses and local economies.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) filed the Jurists United to Stop Trafficking Imitation Child Exploitation Act of 2019 (the JUSTICE Act of 2019) Thursday to prohibit the importation of child sex dolls that appeal to sexual predators. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) is filing a companion bill in the House.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry worked with Sen. Kennedy on the legislation after receiving reports of law enforcement officials finding the dolls during their investigations involving the sexual abuse of children.  Some dolls can be programmed to mimic the reactions of rape victims, allowing predators to practice sick behavior.  Last year, Amazon discovered the dolls for sale by third party vendors on its website.

Under the JUSTICE Act of 2019, violators will face up to five years in prison for a first offense.  Repeat offenders could be imprisoned for up to 10 years.

“As sick as it is, these anatomically correct dolls are made to look like young children.  They’re disgusting.  They are clearly a training kit for pedophiles,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “The United Kingdom has banned the importation of these dolls, but the United States currently has no law prohibiting them.  We need to act swiftly to ban them.”

“I want to applaud Senator Kennedy for introducing this important, common-sense legislation,” said Rep. Duncan.  “The JUSTICE Act will provide an important tool for law enforcement as they crack down on sex traffickers. I look forward to working with Senator Kennedy, my friend Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, and hopefully House Democrats as we push this common-sense bill through to the President’s desk.”

 

“Protecting children is critical to a successful society. As someone on the front lines in the battle against child predators, I appreciate this legislation and know it will help make our communities safer. I hope Congress swiftly passes this much-needed public safety measure by Senator Kennedy and Representative Duncan,” said Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is finalizing the delivery of $1.2 billion in disaster mitigation funding to Louisiana.  Congress originally appropriated this funding in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.

“The people of Louisiana are no strangers to disasters, and this funding will help mitigate the destruction that disasters can cause,” said Sen. Kennedy. “I hope that HUD will work swiftly to allow our state to use this money on important disaster mitigation projects that will help protect our homes, families and businesses from future storms.” 

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement after voting against the Senate’s budget legislation:

“The United States is already $22 trillion in debt, and that number keeps climbing every second,” said Sen. Kennedy. “I could not in good conscience vote to support this irresponsible spending habit.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) filed the Unclaimed Savings Bond Act (USB Act) today that will give states access to records on billions of dollars in matured, unredeemed savings bonds sitting in the U.S. Treasury. The records will allow states to reunite the bonds with bondholders by putting names and addresses into their Unclaimed Property databases.  More than $25 billion in matured, unredeemed savings bonds are in the U.S. Treasury.

The legislation builds upon Sen. Kennedy’s work involving unredeemed savings bonds.  As state treasurer, he fought to get bonds dating from the 1940s and 1950s redeemed to the state so heirs could claim them.  Cosponsors include U.S. Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.).

“A lot of savings bonds were purchased over the years and lost.  That doesn’t mean they can’t be redeemed.  The federal government has the names, addresses and serial numbers for the bonds.  The federal government just would rather use that money than release the information needed to redeem the bonds,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Your grandmother didn’t want the money to sit in the Treasury when she bought that savings bond for you.  By allowing states access to the records, we can make it easy for people to search for unredeemed savings bonds.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today that the Department of Transportation (DOT) awarded a $7.1 million grant to the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport to improve runway safety

“The Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport is one of the largest airports in Louisiana, and this grant will equip the airport to continue to safely and efficiently serve the folks traveling through Baton Rouge,” said Sen. Kennedy.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) today urged the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to use their new authorities to lower the pharmaceutical industries’ excessive production of opioids. 

Kennedy and Durbin’s bill, the Opioid Quota Reform Act of 2018, was signed into law as part of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act.  This legislation granted the DEA new authority over opioid production by requiring opioid quotas to be adjusted to reflect diversion, overdose deaths and public health. 

Between 1993 and 2015, the DEA allowed production quotas on various painkillers to increase at a startling rate. Since then, billions of opioids have been prescribed and sold around the nation fueling the current opioid epidemic.

“Recent reporting from the Washington Post revealed that the pharmaceutical industry flooded every corner of the country with 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills between 2006 and 2012 — egregious volumes of painkiller production that was undertaken with DEA approval and awareness,” the Senators wrote.  “While we appreciate the initial steps taken in recent years to reduce the aggregate production quotas for schedule II opioids, we remain concerned that they are still far too high.  Approximately thirteen billion opioid doses were put on the market in 2017 — enough for every adult American to have at least a three-week prescription of painkillers.” 

 

The full text of the letter is available here and below:

 

Dear Acting Administrator Dhillon:

As our nation confronts the worst drug overdose epidemic in its history, we write to urge the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to tackle the opioid crisis by utilizing new authorities that Congress provided to establish more sensible opioid production quotas for 2020.  Section 3282 of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (P.L. 115-271) strengthened DEA’s statutory quota-setting authority by enhancing transparency and requiring opioid quotas to be adjusted to reflect diversion, overdose deaths, and public health.  As the bipartisan authors of that section, we strongly encourage you to use this new authority to rein in the pharmaceutical industry’s incessant demand for excessive levels of opioid production. 

 We have previously shared our deep concern that, between 1993 and 2015, DEA allowed aggregate production quotas for oxycodone to increase 39-fold, hydrocodone to increase 12-fold, hydromorphone to increase 23-fold, and fentanyl to increase 25-fold.  Recent reporting from the Washington Post revealed that the pharmaceutical industry flooded every corner of the country with 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills between 2006 and 2012—egregious volumes of painkiller production that was undertaken with DEA approval and awareness. 

While we appreciate the initial steps taken in recent years to reduce the aggregate production quotas for schedule II opioids, we remain concerned that they are still far too high.  Approximately thirteen billion opioid doses were put on the market in 2017—enough for every adult American to have at least a three-week prescription of painkillers.  As powerful painkillers are aggressively marketed and prescribed at high rates, this sheer volume of available opioids heightens the risk for illicit diversion and abuse.  For example, four in five new heroin users first began their addiction with prescription painkillers.

We have written on several occasions urging DEA to exercise its statutory quota authority to serve as the gatekeeper for how many opioids are allowed to be sold legally each year in the United States.  As DEA proposes and finalizes the schedule II opioid production quotas for 2020, we urge you to apply DEA’s new authorities to prevent and limit opioid diversion due to excessively high production levels.  Thank you for your commitment to addressing the opioid epidemic.  We look forward to our continued engagement on this issue.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) sent a letter Wednesday to U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton expressing security concerns about the collection of personally identifiable information (PII) for the Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT) database.  U.S. Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) joined Sen. Kennedy in sending this letter.

The CAT is a data management platform that tracks all trade information from broker-deals, trading venues, retail investments and stock exchanges.  The CAT collects personally indefinable information (PII) of every American with money in the stock market, which makes the database an attractive target for foreign cyber-attacks.

Put simply, the costs of storing the PII of millions of Americans in the CAT and exposing it to Chinese hackers far outweighs any benefit to the SEC in overseeing the equity markets,” wrote the senators. “A hack of this database that leads to identity theft would also diminish the SEC’s reputation and its credibility in the eyes of the public – especially given this opportunity to reverse course.”

The full text of the letter is below:

 

July 24, 2019

 

The Honorable Jay Clayton
Chairman
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
100 F Street, NE
Washington, D.C. 20549

Dear Chairman Clayton:

We write to you regarding the national security risk China poses to all American investors because of the planned collection of their personally identifiable information (PII) by the Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT) database. The CAT is a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) creation that requires broker-dealers, trading venues and stock exchanges to report all trade information and retail investor information to a single database. Given the aggressive nature of the Chinese Communist Party’s cyber agenda and the risk this presents to the American people, we are asking the Commission to prohibit the collection of any retail investor PII by the CAT. While we support the SEC using the CAT to conduct market surveillance using non-retail investor information, we are worried that including the PII of every American with money in the stock market will create an easy target for China’s cyber-attack initiatives. 

Nine years have passed since the CAT was conceived, and Americans views on data collection have changed dramatically. Americans have become increasingly concerned about the risks cyberthreats pose to their sensitive personal and financial information and are very worried about identity theft. Massive breaches at government agencies and numerous U.S. companies by China over the last decade have demonstrated that no entity is immune from their attacks.

Intelligence officials recently highlighted, in stark terms, the threat that cybercriminals pose.  In its January 2019 “Worldwide Threat Assessment,” the U.S. intelligence community noted that state actors “increasingly use cyber operations to threaten both minds and machines in an expanding number of ways – to steal information, to influence our citizens, or to disrupt critical infrastructure.” The report called out China in particular, stating that it “remains the most active strategic competitor responsible for cyber espionage against the U.S. Government, corporations, and allies.” Another report described China’s cyber command as “fully institutionalized” within the Communist Party, employing more than 100,000 soldiers charged with carrying out operations against the U.S. government, its companies, and its people.

China’s attacks on American interests illustrate how active their cyber soldiers have become. Just last year, China stole a National Security Agency hacking tool, EternalBlue, to use against “the U.S. where it is most vulnerable.” The Chinese are widely believed to be behind the hacking of over 20 million personnel records at the Office of Personnel Management in 2015, the theft of the PII of thousands of U.S. Navy personnel, the recent attacks shutting down essential services in American cities around the country, and several breaches of private sector company databases in recent years. Intelligence officials have warned that China’s cyber activity has risen in recent months and the Chinese cyber division is targeting critical infrastructure in the financial sector, among others.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested that one goal of China’s attacks is to use the sensitive information of susceptible Americans to recruit them to act as double agents against the U.S.

These brazen efforts are part of China’s long-term strategy to undermine America’s economic and military standing in the world. A single database that includes the PII of every American investor would be a target too tempting to ignore. Chinese hackers could use this information to manipulate or disrupt our equity markets, trade stocks based upon material nonpublic information, steal entire portfolios and sell them on the dark web, or blackmail American citizens. We cannot allow any of those outcomes.

Put simply, the costs of storing the PII of millions of Americans in the CAT and exposing it to Chinese hackers far outweighs any benefit to the SEC in overseeing the equity markets. A hack of this database that leads to identity theft would also diminish the SEC’s reputation and its credibility in the eyes of the public – especially given this opportunity to reverse course.

We call on the SEC to put the security of the American people first and end its policy of putting the PII of every American saver and retiree into the largest single database of market-sensitive information in history.

We believe you will agree that the national security risks posed by China and other foreign adversaries are too great to ignore, and we believe the SEC should take the steps necessary to safeguard our markets and protect millions of American investors from the threats posed by cybercriminals.

Sincerely,

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