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WASHINGTON — Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced the Bear Protection Act to protect bears from poaching and torture. 

 

“For years, legal loopholes have allowed the abuse and trade of wild bears to continue. I’m proud to partner with my friend Senator Booker to help prevent the slaughter and sale of innocent creatures through a commonsense solution,” said Kennedy.

 

“North American black bears are under threat from poachers and smugglers who supply the global trade in bear parts and products,” Senator Booker said. “This bipartisan legislation will help to conserve bears, deter bear poaching, and facilitate prosecution of illegal bear traders.”

 

Bears are often targeted for their bile and gallbladders, which some believe have medicinal value. The bill would impose criminal penalties on anyone who imports or exports bear viscera or products said to contain bear viscera. The legislation would not otherwise affect the state regulation of bear populations or the lawful hunting of bears under state law.

 

The bill would also direct the Secretary of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative to continue discussions with certain countries in order to protect bears. These countries include those that are party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora as well as other countries that are leading importers, exporters or consumers of bear viscera.

 

“We shouldn’t be killing rhinos for their horns, elephants for their tusks, or bears for their bladders,” said Wayne Pacelle, founder of Animal Wellness Action. “Wildlife trafficking is one of the greatest threats to rare species throughout the world, and the Bear Protection Act is a lever to protect several species of bears from reckless and unwarranted commerce in their parts. We are immensely grateful to Senators Kennedy and Booker for leading this legislative initiative.”

WASHINGTON — Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today attended the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony for former New Orleans Saints star Steve Gleason. 

 

“I am so honored to see Steve Gleason receive the Congressional Gold Medal for his tireless work advocating for ALS patients. He holds a special place in the heart of every Louisianians, not only for his on-field heroics, but for his work raising support and assistance for those battling ALS. Steve is an inspiration to millions of Americans, and I can’t think of anyone who deserves this honor more.” said Kennedy.

 

After being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2011, Gleason became a prominent advocate for people living with ALS and helped raise almost $10 million to provide assistance for ALS patients. In addition, Gleason helped gather support for the Steve Gleason Act of 2015 and the Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act of 2017, which are now helping equip ALS patients with speech-generating devices.

 

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress. It requires the approval of two-thirds of both the House and Senate and the signature of the President. To date, only 163 institutions, people, or events have been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

 

Alongside Sens. Cassidy, Cantwell, and Murray, Sen. Kennedy was an original cosponsor of the Stephen Michael Gleason Congressional Gold Medal Act last Congress. The bill was officially signed into law by President Trump on January 3, 2019.

WASHINGTON — Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) has sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai requesting that the chairman update him on any progress made on FCC auction plans and compensation proposals for satellite companies operating within the C-Band.

 

“As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) works to clear C-Band Spectrum through a public auction, I write to request that you keep me apprised of any and all developments in respect to the FCC’s auction plans and subsequent auction schedule. Additionally, I also ask that I be given notice of any proposal the FCC considers in regards to compensation for the satellite companies currently operating within the C-Band,” said Kennedy.

 

At present, foreign satellite companies are operating within the C-Band, a part of the spectrum that the FCC is attempting to set aside for future 5G wireless use. Spectrum refers to electromagnetic waves that wireless devices use to deliver voice, text, video and other wireless communications. C-Band represents a portion of the spectrum that cable operators and broadcasters use for satellite reception of network programming. C-Band, however, is necessary for building a robust 5G network.

 

The FCC recently considered allowing foreign satellite companies to sell the spectrum within the C-Band. Those private sales could have deprived the American taxpayers of information and revenue from such sales.

 

Read the full letter here.

Sen. John Kennedy Chairs Senate Judiciary Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) chaired this year’s first meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee to hear from nominees for the federal bench. The nominees included U.S. Attorney David Joseph, who is nominated to be an Alexandria-based judge for the U.S. District Court for the Western District in Louisiana.

Mr. Joseph has done a wonderful job as U.S. Attorney. He’s worked for big and small law firms. He’s clerked for a member of the Louisiana Supreme Court. He’s served our country and served it well,” said Sen. Kennedy. During his tenure as U.S. attorney, Mr. Joseph has proven himself to be serious and mature. He’s demonstrated that he can strike abalance between applying the rule of the law and realizing that people are human. I have every confidence that he’ll do the same if confirmed as a federal judge.

                                      

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WASHINGTON, D.C. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) asked the State Department to maintain maximum economic and diplomatic pressure until six CITGO employees detained in Venezuela are allowed to return home. The employees, two of whom have connections to Lake Charles, recently were released from prison but still aren’t allowed to leave Venezuela.

U.S. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) joined Sen. Kennedy in sending a letter to Pompeo. The text is below.

“What these men have endured is horrific. They are political pawns in a high-stakes, international game,” said Sen. Kennedy. “They’ve missed enough holidays and birthdays with their families in the U.S. It’s time to bring them home.”

The Honorable Michael R. Pompeo Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20320 Dear Secretary Pompeo,

We write to express our support for ongoing efforts to secure the release of Americans held hostage or unlawfully detained in many rogue nations such as Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria and others. As the administration continues to successfully craft policy and solutions, we write to express our steadfast commitment to securing the release of Gustavo Cardenas, Jose Angel Pereira, Jorge Toledo, Tomeu Vadell, Alirio Zambrano, and Jose Luis Zambrano, otherwise known as the CITGO 6, from their unjust detainment in Venezuela.

As you know, the CITGO 6 have suffered from over two years of inhumane detainment conditions and lack of due process. They have experienced significant health hardships as a direct result of their treatment by the oppressive Maduro regime and others who support them. Imprisoned in an overcrowded basement for two years with limited access to sufficient nutrition, exercise, or medical treatment, the men are reported to have suffered severe weight loss and significant physical pain. Although their recent transfer to house arrest is a promising development, we believe it is crucial

the Administration maintain maximum economic and diplomatic pressure in order to secure their full release and return.

We realize there are competing equities at play in Venezuela and we strongly support the Administration’s commitment to securing free and fair elections in Venezuela; however, it must be made clear to all stakeholders that American citizens must be released and not made political pawns by anyone or any group. Therefore, we urge the Administration to use every tool at its disposal to help these Americans. American national interests and citizens must come first. We will continue to support efforts to maintain diplomatic and economic pressure on the illegitimate Maduro regime in Venezuela and secure the release of the CITGO 6.

Sincerely, /s/

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WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 to reauthorize a program that has provided billions of dollars to help domestic violence and sexual assault victims. 

The Violence Against Women Act expired in February.  U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced legislation to reauthorize it and ensure the continuation of programs that prevent and respond to domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes.  

“Some of my colleagues in the Senate are trying to inject the issue of gun control into this bill.  We shouldn’t turn this into a political statement,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “We need to do everything we can to help domestic violence victims.  We shouldn’t make them pawns in partisan, political games.  We need to reauthorize this program to protect women.”

Click here to watch Sen. Kennedy’s full statement.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (FSGG), today announced the bipartisan approval of the annual spending package. 

“The American taxpayers entrust Congress with their hard-earned dollars, and it’s up to us to ensure we are spending it well.  Increasing defense spending, extending the flood insurance program and giving a raise to our troops are all important ways we are working to put Louisianans and Americans first,” said Sen. Kennedy. 

Here are some of the highlights: 

  • A provision was included in the funding package to extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) until September, 30, 2020.  While reforms are still needed to protect the program’s longevity and affordability, the program will be available to help insure Louisiana homeowners in event of a disaster.
  • Each and every year, Louisiana families faithfully pay what taxes they owe to the federal government, while the federal government continues to be let off the hook for what they owe to Louisiana families.  The U.S. Treasury is sitting on nearly $26 billion in unclaimed savings bonds that belong to the American people.  Sen. Kennedy secured $25 million in funding for the U.S. Treasury Department to digitize and distribute records of unclaimed savings bonds. 
  • Sen. Kennedy included a provision in the funding bill that helps ensure that contractors who refuse to pay their taxes cannot bid for federal contracts until all delinquent taxes are paid in full.
  • Sen. Kennedy helped secure $1.4 billion in funding and protected President Trump’s transfer authorities to continue construction of the southern border wall.
  • In an attempt to protect the Mississippi River Delta wetlands, Senator Kennedy helped acquire $2 million to fund Roseau cane pest eradication research through the LSU AgCenter.
  • To ensure adequate seafood standards, the FDA will receive $15 million for seafood import inspections, as well as $5 million for a new Imported Seafood Safety Pilot Program.
  • Provisions were included to fully utilize all funds collected in the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) and Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF). The spending bill will provide $105 million for IWTF to fund projects on the inland waterways, while HMTF will receive $1.67 billion for the purpose of maintaining harbors.
  • As a significant industrial user of natural gas as well as a significant supplier of it, Louisiana will receive $7 million for carbon capture research for natural gas power systems. In addition, the spending package will allocate $4 million for research of this technology for use at industrial facilities, which may include developments in process equipment and chemistry, capture of process emissions, and systems integration.
  • As leading provider of Cybersecurity Education and Training Assistance Program for K thru 12 teachers and students, the Cyber Innovation Center will receive $4.3 million in funding for development.
  • The spending package contains a 3.1% pay raise for military personnel, which will be the largest military pay raise in nearly a decade. 
  • In an effort to sustain flood mitigation, the Army Corps of Engineers will receive an additional $650 million for the construction of flood-resistant infrastructure.
  • The spending package includes the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, which will improve retirement security by making it easier for small employers to sponsor a single retirement plan for their workers. The bill also encourages employees to increase their retirement savings annually through automatic increases into their 401(k) plans.
  • To make the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) less of an insider’s club that represents Wall Street instead of consumers, Sen. Kennedy pushed for a provision that caps board members’ compensation and places more distance between the board’s public representatives and their private sector ties. 
  • As chairman of the FSGG subcommittee, Sen. Kennedy included a provision in the funding bill that will prevent any agency under the subcommittee’s jurisdiction from signing onto public relations contracts over $5,000 without prior Congressional notification.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, today announced that a provision he authored to prevent tax cheaters from receiving federal contracts was included in the annual spending bill.

Starting in 2015, federal agencies were prohibited from awarding contracts to entities with seriously delinquent tax debts.  However, in April 2019, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported widespread noncompliance with this law.  GAO found that many federal contracting officers did not follow proper procedures or did not bother to ask, and many contractors simply lied.

Sen. Kennedy included a provision that will require entities bidding for federal contracts to secure an authenticated, tamper-proof document from the IRS and to submit it as part of their bid for the federal contract.

“There’s no point in writing laws if the bureaucracy refuses to enforce them,” said Sen. Kennedy. “My provision ensures that federal contractors who refuse to pay their taxes won’t get another red penny from American taxpayers.  The free ride is over for tax cheaters.”

This provision applies to entities with seriously delinquent tax debts.  It includes important exceptions for those who are disputing a tax assessment and those who have arranged an appropriate and legal payment plan with the IRS. 

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (FSGG), today announced he secured $25 million for the Treasury Department to digitize and distribute records of unclaimed U.S. savings bonds.  The funding will better help Treasury reunite approximately $26 billion in unclaimed savings bonds with their rightful owners.

Some states estimate that their residents have more than $1 billion in matured, unclaimed savings bonds.  Louisiana estimates that the amount owed to Louisiana residents tops $300 million. These bonds are currently sitting in the U.S. Treasury, but the department has taken little initiative to return the proceeds to their owners.  Many people are likely unaware that the bonds even exist because the paper bonds were lost over the years.

“This funding brings us one step closer to returning $26 billion in savings bonds to their rightful owners.  Each and every year, Louisiana families faithfully pay what they owe to the federal government, while the federal government continues to be let off the hook for what they owe Louisiana families,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “We are correcting a breathtaking hypocrisy by creating records to allow families to claim their bonds.”

Earlier this year, Sen. Kennedy secured a commitment from Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin that the Treasury Department would create an online tool that will allow individuals to verify against Treasury records if they have any unredeemed savings bonds dated after 1974. 

For the records on the older bonds dating back to World War II, Treasury will gather expert opinions and states’ input on how to digitize them.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today urged President Donald Trump to declassify the entire Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) record on former campaign aide Carter Page so that it can be released to the American people.

“The Inspector General report showed the FBI was willing to do anything in order to spy on Carter Page, including making 17 significant inaccuracies and omissions.  The American public deserves to know everything the FBI did,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “I’m asking President Trump to declassify the entire record so that Attorney General Barr and FBI Director Wray can release it to the American people.  If the FBI wants to continue the employment of rogue, politically-motivated agents, then let the public read the entire record.”

 

 

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