WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sens. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) in introducing the Streamlining EIDL Act to improve the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) application process for small businesses and to fight fraud in the program.

“Louisiana’s small businesses contend with enough adversity as it is. They don’t need bureaucracy to make it harder to get straight answers on their EIDL applications or to combat fraud. I’m thankful to work with Sens. Risch and Hickenlooper to improve the EIDL program so that small businesses can get back to investing in their communities,” said Kennedy.

“Small businesses in Idaho have struggled to get meaningful answers on their EIDL applications from the SBA. They’ve been forced to submit the same document multiple times, received vague and ambiguous responses from the agency, and in some cases, had to contend with fraudsters submitting false applications on their behalf. Small businesses deserve a program that actually functions the way it should, and the Streamlining EIDL Act will go a long way to fix the flaws in the EIDL application process and make these disaster loans accessible to small businesses,” said Risch.        

“Economic Injury Disaster Loans have been a lifeline for small businesses throughout the pandemic. This bill will help businesses stay open and prevent fraud, a win-win,” said Hickenlooper.

Applicants to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) EIDL program often experience a lag in the application process because of slow and unorganized review procedures. Applicants also have to contend with fraudulent applications submitted in their names.

The Streamlining EIDL Act would:

  • Impose deadlines on the EIDL program application process,
  • Require the SBA to conduct a comprehensive review of the process for submitting EIDL applications,
  • Direct the SBA to submit a report to Congress detailing steps it has taken to correct how it has handled identity theft cases, and
  • Require the SBA to report how it has recovered improper payments and how it is reconciling previous identity theft allegations with newly filed identity theft allegations.

Sens. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.) also cosponsored the legislation.

Text of the Streamlining EIDL Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Impact Act to study the impact of RSV, which can be serious for infants and older adults.  

“RSV causes tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year. When young children get sick, their parents often struggle to balance caring for their kids at home and meeting goals at work. I introduced the RSV Impact Act to give us insight into how we can better protect against this illness and help families recover from it,” said Kennedy. 

RSV leads to mild symptoms for most individuals who contract it, but the virus can seriously impact infants and the elderly in particular. Annually in the U.S., RSV leads to nearly 2.1 million outpatient visits and 58,000 hospitalizations for children under five years old.

Parents have reported high stress levels, poor health and lost productivity at work as a result of caring for children who contract RSV.

The RSV Impact Act would require the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to study RSV transmission in schools and day cares and the impact this virus has on the domestic economy, particularly on parents who have to miss work. The bill would require the Academy to send a report of its findings to Congress. 

Text of the RSV Impact Act is available here.

Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced and asked the Senate to pass the Protecting the American Taxpayer and Medicare Act, which would protect Medicare and other mandatory spending programs from planned sequestrations without raising the federal debt limit. Sen. Wyden (D-Ore.) blocked the bill’s passage.

“Americans depend on Medicare, especially while we’re still recovering from the pandemic. This bill would protect Medicare and other crucial programs from harmful cuts without enabling Pres. Biden’s Build Back Broker agenda. If Democrats want to raise the debt ceiling to fund trillions of dollars in extra spending while inflation is ravaging American families, they can do it themselves,” said Kennedy.

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have cosponsored the legislation.

The Protecting the American Taxpayer and Medicare Act would:

  • Delay the planned two percent Medicare sequester payment reductions that are scheduled to begin on Jan. 1, 2022.
  • Waive Congress’s Pay-As-You-Go rule until 2023, which would prevent sequestration for all mandatory spending programs in 2022. This includes cuts to agricultural programs like Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage.
  • Continue the three percent increase to Medicare physicians through Dec. 31, 2022 to help providers care for patients in the wake of the pandemic.
  • Delay reductions in Medicare payments to clinical laboratory fees through Dec. 31, 2022 to preserve access to testing and laboratory services.
  • Delay the implementation of the Medicare radiation oncology model through Dec. 31, 2022 to ensure access to care for cancer patients.
  • Provide $45 million in savings to the Medicare Improvement Fund, for a total balance of $101 million.

Failure to waive the Pay-As-You-Go rule would result in $9.4 billion in cuts to Medicare hospital providers in 2022. Cuts to Medicare overall would be $36 billion, or a four percent reduction.

Some senators want to tie Medicare protections to a measure increasing the debt ceiling by a fixed dollar amount, even though Senate Democrats can address the debt ceiling themselves through the reconciliation process. Kennedy’s legislation would protect Medicare from sequestrations without also raising the debt ceiling.

Text of the Protecting the American Taxpayer and Medicare Act is available here.

Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $78,692,355 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Louisiana to address damage caused by Hurricanes Laura, Delta and Ida.   

“Louisianians have suffered so much as a result of destructive hurricanes the last year and a half. They’ve remained strong and resilient like always, but they still need help, and this $78.7 million will help us recover from some of the enormous costs we’ve had to bear,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $34,621,295 to the Jefferson Davis Electric Cooperative for emergency protective measures related to Hurricane Laura.
  • $8,572,317 to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for emergency protective measures related to Hurricane Laura.
  • $7,747,884 to the Louisiana Department of Military for emergency protective measures related to Hurricane Ida.
  • $7,446,887 to St. John the Baptist Parish for debris removal related to Hurricane Ida.
  • $6,523,262 to the Calcasieu Parish School Board for management costs related to Hurricane Laura. 
  • $5,009,266 for Public Assistance debris removal of debris caused by Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles.
  • $3,609,555 to remove debris caused by Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles.
  • $3,579,725 to the Lafayette Parish Consolidated Government for permanent work repairs to the Lafayette Utilities System, which was damaged by Hurricane Delta.
  • $1,582,164 to the Society of the Roman Catholic Church of the Diocese of Lake Charles for temporary facilities related to Hurricane Laura.

WASHINGTON – The Senate today passed a bipartisan resolution to nullify President Biden’s vaccine mandate on private employees with support from Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.). All other Senate Republicans as well as Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voted in favor of the resolution.

The resolution would invalidate the mandate under the Congressional Review Act, which is the official Congressional process for eliminating an executive branch rule.

“Vaccines can be a blessing, but Pres. Biden’s vaccine mandate is a major threat to every American’s liberty. The president’s power grab contradicts his earlier promise that he wouldn’t impose such a mandate. I’m proud to help reverse this bureaucratic overreach and hope the House follows suit soon,” said Kennedy. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a rule to officially mandate vaccination requirements for employees at private businesses with more than 100 employees. The rule would affect more than 80 million Americans. 

The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to overturn certain federal agency regulations and actions through a joint resolution of disapproval. If such a joint resolution is approved by both houses of Congress and signed by the president, or if Congress successfully overrides a presidential veto, the rule at issue becomes invalid.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and every Republican member of the committee urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to withdraw his memo directing the FBI to investigate parents, making it clear that federal law enforcement does not equate concerned parents with domestic terrorists.

“In light of a disturbing new revelation about the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division following your directive, we call on you to withdraw your October 4 memorandum and make abundantly clear through words and actions that no arm of the government, including the offices under your command, may be used to chill criticism of local government officials,” the senators wrote.

“Parents and other citizens who get impassioned at school-board meetings are not domestic terrorists. You may believe that, but too many people involved in this issue seem to think harsh words can be criminalized. Getting the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division involved in the matter only makes this worse—dramatically worse. Therefore, we call on you to work with us in coming to a resolution on this matter,” the senators concluded.

The full letter is available here.

Kennedy, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and the nine other Republican Judiciary Committee members also wrote a letter to Garland on Oct. 7 condemning his Oct. 4 memo and demanding that the DOJ not threaten parents’ free speech.

Watch Kennedy’s Oct. 27 questioning of Garland about his memo here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) penned this op-ed for Roll Call outlining how nuclear power can serve as a clean, powerful energy source that can help America defend against China’s authoritarian advance.

“Louisianians are facing rising energy prices at the same time as falling temperatures this winter. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is pursuing policies that would further cripple the U.S. energy industry and the economy that depends on it, like flirting with shuttering the Line 5 pipeline.

“Our chief executive wants to shackle America with climate commitments that could make life unnecessarily hard for Americans struggling to pay energy bills under record inflation. At the same time, China, led by Xi Jinping—who, along with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, didn’t even bother to attend the recent Glasgow climate summit—continues to churn out carbon emissions that surpass those of the entire developed world, and Beijing’s authoritarian regime is gunning to outpace our economy.

“How can America pursue wise climate policies without hamstringing our economy in the face of a predatory China? If someone asked the president or some of my colleagues in Congress what they think the solution to climate change is, many of them would respond, ‘Renewable energy.’ It seems curious and inconsistent, then, that so many of them shun nuclear energy when it’s a safe, carbon-free option that yields enormous amounts of electricity. Wisdom and data suggest that America needs an all-of-the-above approach to energy, one that includes renewables, fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

“Nuclear energy is so clean that all the waste America’s commercial nuclear industry ever produced can fit into a single football field to a depth of fewer than 10 yards. It’s also incredibly efficient. It takes more than 3 million solar panels or more than 430 wind turbines—and the acres of land needed to host them—to produce the same amount of power as the average nuclear plant.

“Some may think nuclear energy’s advantages aren’t worth the risk. But Homer Simpson doesn’t run America’s power plants, and the industry has continuously evolved to make plants safer and more efficient.

“Small modular reactors, for example, are part of a promising new generation of advanced reactors that can automatically avoid overheating. These nuclear fission devices, which can be manufactured in a plant and brought to a site for installation, have a smaller physical footprint, and they produce less nuclear waste because they get more output from nuclear fuel. Some of these reactors are only about twice the length of the average school bus, while a traditional nuclear plant is roughly the size of Central Park. 

“The innovation doesn’t stop with small modular reactors. MIT researchers are planning to build a reactor that would generate energy the same way the sun does—through nuclear fusion. Compared with traditional fission plants, the waste produced during nuclear fusion is less radioactive, and the raw ingredients that fuel fusion are more abundant than uranium. 

“Fossil fuels, of course, are still a key part of America’s success. America’s economy is the largest in the world, and it can’t run without oil and gas. Eighty percent of America’s energy is from fossil fuels. Those resources support millions of U.S. jobs, and those jobs help make energy affordable for all Americans.

“Nuclear power adds to our country’s legacy of affordable, sustainable energy. Anyone who wants to grow America’s economy and safeguard the environment shouldn’t overlook the power of the atom. If nuclear energy doesn’t play a leading role in the U.S. energy portfolio, we will find it hard to maintain our place as a global leader because China’s polluting authoritarian regime is positioning itself to take over the global economy.

“Without safe, efficient fuel options like nuclear energy to power America through the 21st century, the world could quickly become a darker, dirtier place. People on both ends of the political spectrum should be able to see this threat and agree that nuclear energy must be part of any serious solution.”

The op-ed is available here.

WASHINGTON— Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) today introduced the Chemical Tax Repeal Act to eliminate the Superfund Tax that President Biden’s infrastructure package has imposed on job creators in Louisiana and elsewhere.

“The fake infrastructure bill was drafted to raise taxes on and kill jobs in Louisiana specifically. Its Superfund Tax will increase taxes on our petrochemical industry by $1.3 billion, and that’s going to endanger good jobs at a time when inflation is already ravaging Louisiana families. This tax is unfair and unwise, and we need to pass the Chemical Tax Repeal Act to stop this tax before it starts hammering Louisiana’s economy,” said Kennedy.

“With this administration, the cruelty is the point. At a time when President Biden’s inflation and supply chain crises are burdening Americans, the Superfund Tax contained in the infrastructure package will only lead to increased overhead costs for manufacturers and skyrocketing prices for everyday household items. It’s crucial we pass the Chemical Tax Repeal Act to defend hardworking American families and job creators from paying the price for the historic, out-of-control spending in Washington,” said Cruz.

This tax targets Louisiana’s petrochemical industry directly. These manufacturers will pay an estimated $1.3 billion in new taxes over 10 years, or $130 million a year—second only to Texas.

The newly-signed law increases the Superfund Tax to twice its prior levels. It imposes roughly $14.5 billion in taxes on 42 different chemicals, critical minerals and metallic elements that are the building blocks of common household items such as plastics, rubber, concrete, soap, lightbulbs and electronics.

Groups against the Superfund tax include the National Taxpayers Union, Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Freedom Works and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

Text of the Chemical Tax Repeal Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) today introduced the Patient Advocate Tracker Act to increase transparency and accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for veterans who report concerns they experience with VA health care services.

“Veterans have risked their lives on behalf of our country, and they deserve efficient, effective health care from the VA. The Patient Advocate Tracker Act would ensure the VA is more transparent and responsive to American service members by allowing them to file and track the status of their complaints. Bureaucracy shouldn’t keep veterans in the dark,” said Kennedy.  

Our veterans have given so much to defend our freedoms, and I’m proud to join Senator Kennedy in introducing this bill that takes important steps toward making sure we have a transparent VA system that works for our veterans. Not only do we need to work to ensure every veteran has timely and effective access to care, we also must ensure that when there is an issue with their care, their concerns are addressed promptly and transparently,” Warnock said.

Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) introduced the bill in the House of Representatives.

“The Patient Advocate Tracker Act is commonsense legislation that will make the VA more transparent and cause less frustrations for our veterans. Veterans deserve the best healthcare possible, and when they receive subpar care, they need to be able to easily report complaints to their patient advocate, track it and get the best outcome possible. This bill will simplify the process and help them track their complaint,” said McClain.

The VA uses the patient advocate tracking system (PATS) to track and report complaints from veterans. The Patient Advocate Tracker Act would allow veterans to access PATS in order to file complaints and view the status of those health care concerns, including interim and final actions that the VA has taken to resolve issues facing individual veterans. 

By granting veterans access to PATS, VA employees could more effectively route veterans’ concerns to the appropriate department within the VA, avoiding unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles.  

Text of the Patient Advocate Tracker Act is available here.

Watch Kennedy’s exchange with Yellen here.

WASHINGTON—Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today asked U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen about the danger of increasing America’s debt through Democrats’ tax and spending bill and about how much debt is too much for the American economy to bear. Yellen’s assertion that the spending bill is paid for contradicts estimates from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Wharton budget model.

Key excerpts from the Senate Banking Committee hearing are below:

Kennedy: “I would be remiss if I didn't point out that, in my opinion, there is no fair-minded person in the Milky Way who believes the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better bill are not going to require the American people to incur substantial debt. And here's my question, and I'm looking for a number: How much, in the Biden administration's opinion, is too much debt? At what point, as you incur debt, will the Biden administration say, ‘Okay, that's it. We can't borrow any more, or it’s going to hurt the American people’?”

Yellen: “First of all, I want to say that I disagree with your assessment of Build Back Better. It is fully paid for or even more than fully paid for, and CBO just completed a comprehensive review of it, in which they found essentially the same thing. . . . we're accustomed to looking at debt-to-GDP ratios. And using those kinds of metrics and looking around the world, many economists have found that debt-to-GDP ratios of 100 or more tend to be associated with significant problems.”

Kennedy: “Are we at 100 or more?”

Yellen: “We are, but we are in very different times. . . .”

Kennedy: “I'm going to run out of time. Let me ask you this, Madam Chair, quickly. You gave a great speech back in September of 2019. . . . This is what you said—I'm going to quote. I thought this was such a wise statement. You said the former Fed Chair said she is not worried about the debt-to-gross-domestic-product ratio in the United States right now. But added, and I quote, ‘I’m worried about the trajectory of where it's going. It’s not stable. We’re not living within our means right now. Debt is going to escalate, and that’s going to create problems down the road. . . .’ Now, that was when the debt was $17 trillion. It’s $29 trillion. You're going to add trillions more through the Build Back Better. Why is that not true today?”

Yellen: “I want to repeat again, Build Back Better is fully paid for and will not add to the debt or to deficits. In fact, we plan to reduce it.” 

Kennedy: “You and I just don't agree on that.”

The Penn Wharton budget model estimates that the Build Back Better Act would increase government spending by $2.1 trillion and drive the U.S. deficit up by $274 billion. The model also predicts that the bill’s spending spree would decrease the U.S. GDP in the long term and that the bill’s real cost would be closer to $4.6 trillion if its temporary programs become permanent.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates an even greater deficit of $367 billion.

Video of the exchange is available here.