WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives today passed Sen. John Kennedy’s (R-La.) DUMP Opioids Act, which would allow everyone in a community to use drop boxes at VA medical centers to dispose of unused controlled substance prescription medications. The Senate passed Kennedy’s legislation in April, and the bill now heads to the president’s desk.
“Giving communities a way to safely get unneeded opioids off the street is a crucial step in combating the opioid epidemic. The House has taken a simple, lifesaving step, and I’m thankful to Dr. Miller-Meeks for championing this bill. I hope that President Biden signs this commonsense, compassionate bill very soon. The opioid crisis hurts families in Louisiana and around the country every day, and the DUMP Opioids Act gives everyone a key tool to make our communities safer and healthier,” said Kennedy.
Beginning in 2022, certain VA medical centers will be approved to have drop boxes that veterans can use every day to drop off unused medications, and the DUMP Opioids Act would make those drop boxes accessible to their entire communities. The bill instructs the VA Secretary to designate times that the public can dispose of prescriptions at the drop boxes and allows the secretary to carry out public information campaigns to highlight those times.
Text of the DUMP Opioids Act is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Tourism District Protection Act to combat crime in areas in which tourism represents a key segment of the economy.
“The pandemic lockdowns took revenue away from Louisianians who live in tourism-dependent areas, and now crime is rising across the country. The Tourism District Protection Act would empower police in tourist areas to combat crime so that Americans can visit our country’s iconic locations without fear of getting mugged or attacked,” said Kennedy.
The Tourism District Protection Act would modify existing Justice Department law enforcement programs so that state and local law enforcement may use available funds to fight crime in places that rely on tourism. Programs include:
- The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, which awards grants to state and local authorities to hire community policing professionals; develop and test innovative policing strategies; and provide training and technical assistance to community members, local government leaders and all levels of law enforcement.
- The Emergency Federal Law Enforcement Assistance Program, which provides funds to help state and local law enforcement during emergencies.
- The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, which provides state and local governments with funding to support a variety of programs including, but not limited to, law enforcement.
“The ‘Tourism District Protection Act’ authored by Senator John Kennedy is important legislation as it provides urgently needed public safety resources that not only benefit tourists but also improve the quality of life for all residents in communities that surround these cities. Tourism-dependent regions have experienced critical revenue declines during pandemic restrictions which left them financially devastated and with diminished capacity to fund law enforcement efforts in response to surging violent crime. Funds authorized through this legislation will serve as a foundation for prosperity, growth, and citizen safety by enabling tourist destination cities to implement strategies and bolster law enforcement initiatives to address violent crime,” said President of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, Inc., Rafael C. Goyeneche III.
Text of the Tourism District Protection Act is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Louisiana’s congressional delegation in urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to prioritize Louisiana’s request for supplemental disaster relief in response to Hurricanes Laura and Delta.
“Today marks 328 days since the disaster, and as we approach the one-year anniversary of these devastating storms, we are hopeful that OMB will acknowledge the extreme need for supplemental disaster relief and issue a formal request. We respectfully urge you to expedite Louisiana’s request for supplemental disaster relief. The federal government must provide the thousands of severely impacted Americans in Southwest Louisiana with a real recovery. Our offices look forward to working with you to accomplish this mission,” the lawmakers wrote.
Last week, Kennedy introduced the Gulf Coast Hurricane Aid Act of 2021. The bill would provide $1.1 billion in disaster relief to Louisianians recovering from last year’s hurricanes. To pay for the aid, Kennedy proposed using revenue from the Federal Communications Commission’s spectrum auction last year, allowing the government to provide the aid without needing to borrow money or add to the deficit. The Senate blocked the bill’s passage.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Reps. Clay Higgins (R-La.), Steve Scalise (R-La.), Garret Graves (R-La.), Mike Johnson (R-La.), Julia Letlow (R-La.) and Troy Carter (D-La.) also signed the letter.
“For the past year and a half, weather disasters in Louisiana have painted a fantastic impression of hell. Since the Senate blocked my $1.1 billion disaster relief bill last week, it’s clearer than ever that the Biden administration must prioritize getting relief to southwest Louisiana by sending a formal request to Congress. Louisianians are tough, but they’re tired, and they need help,” said Kennedy.
“It’s been over a year and our constituents, especially those in Lake Charles, are still suffering from the storms of 2020. Relief has taken too long. We’re working together as our congressional delegation to push the administration to support disaster relief for Southwest Louisiana,” said Cassidy.
“It’s been nearly one year since Hurricanes Laura and Delta devastated Southwest Louisiana, and our region continues to face extreme recovery needs. We are beyond the time for consideration. Southwest Louisiana needs help now. The entire Louisiana congressional delegation is united on this effort, but we need executive branch support to advance long-term recovery resources,” said Higgins.
“Hurricanes Laura and Delta brought widespread devastation to Southwest Louisiana last fall, and thousands of residents are still picking up the pieces nearly one year later. As we head into the more active months of hurricane season, it’s imperative that additional supplemental disaster relief be delivered to Southwest Louisiana quickly so our communities can get back on their feet and make real progress toward a full recovery,” said Scalise.
“It’s been almost a year since Hurricanes Laura and Delta made landfall in Southwest Louisiana. To watch hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer funds go toward paying people to not work, bailing out private pensions, funding a bridge in New York, building a tunnel in California, or targeting EPA grants for environmental justice—and nothing for the 2020 hurricanes and natural disasters—is disgusting. To make matters worse, Congress rejected multiple amendments by our delegation to target disaster recovery funds for Louisiana and others impacted by the 2020 hurricanes. I appreciate the delegation coming together to push this long-overdue need for those impacted by multiple hurricanes last year. We look forward to working with the Biden Administration, and our state and local leaders to offer a hand up to those truly in need,” said Graves.
“As Louisiana braces for another hurricane season, many of our citizens who were devastated by last year’s historic storms are still recovering. With the first anniversary of Hurricanes Laura and Delta fast approaching, it is imperative that the Biden Administration issue a formal request for disaster relief to Congress, and I join my Louisiana colleagues in urging this action immediately,” said Johnson.
“After a devastating year that has brought hurricanes, floods and freezes, it is infuriating that the people of southwest Louisiana are still waiting on answers from the federal government. This assistance is crucial for people to be able to recover and rebuild and our delegation is united to ensure that the administration makes this a top priority,” said Letlow.
“We are in the middle of the 2021 hurricane season, yet our communities have not recovered from disasters that occurred less than a year ago. The people of South Louisiana need assistance to both mediate the uncertainty of another deadly hurricane, and to support the long-term recovery process. I am confident the Biden Administration will work with us to get resources to those in need. I stand ready with my colleagues in the Louisiana delegation to work together to garner much-needed disaster relief. While I don’t represent this area, when disaster strikes we are one Louisiana,” said Carter.
The letter is available here.
Kennedy, Cruz, colleagues demand answers from Biden administration on excluding funding for fossil fuel projects
Jul 21 2021
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) in writing to Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young to express concern over the Biden administration’s decision to stop the Army Corps of Engineers from funding projects that facilitate fossil fuel transportation.
The Biden administration’s plan is particularly damaging for Louisiana because it could target anything that moves through waterways or ports, not just the oil and gas products that also travel via waterways.
The appendix to the Army Corps of Engineers FY 2022 budget states that one of the Corps’ key objectives is not to fund “work that directly subsidizes fossil fuels including work that lowers the cost of production, lowers the cost of consumption, or raises the revenues retained by producers of fossil fuels.”
“This policy goes far beyond establishing priorities through the budget process and is instead an attempt to unilaterally usurp the law making powers of the Legislative Branch. Congress has not given the Executive Branch the authority to categorically exclude an entire industry from eligibility for congressionally authorized federal projects. Instead, within the last decade, Congress repeatedly recognized the critical role of fossil fuels in our nation’s commerce by dedicating federal funds specifically to ports that transport a significant amount of petroleum products, natural gas, or coal,” the senators wrote.
“Fossil fuels and its related products are a commodity commonly transported as waterborne commerce on federal waterways. For example, petroleum and petroleum products comprised 42 percent of all commodities transported as waterborne commerce in 2019. It defies reason that Congress would permit categorically excluding a commodity that is so closely tied to the economic advancement of the United States, as well as its national security,” the senators continued.
“The fossil fuel industry is responsible for millions of American jobs, and the oil and gas industry alone supports nearly 8 percent or $1.7 trillion of the U.S. GDP and helps lower the U.S. trade deficit by billions of dollars. Not only do fossil fuels help provide heat and electricity in our homes and fuel to power our vehicles, but they are also used to make the products we rely on daily, including everything from smartphones and clothing to PPE and medicines. The decision to exclude fossil fuels from commercial navigation projects, especially if applied to other modes of transportation, could have significant ramifications for the United States economy, including a detrimental rise in the price of everyday consumer goods,” the senators continued.
The senators asked Young to:
- Provide a complete list of every instance the FY 2022 budget includes language that prohibits funding or subsidies for fossil fuels.
- Define “directly subsidize fossil fuels” and explain whether the language in the budget would ban funding for federal projects that are indirectly connected to fossil fuels.
- Explain whether the Biden administration intends to ban funding for other modes of transportation of fossil fuels, including highway projects, air transportation projects and railway projects.
- Clarify how prohibiting funding for projects that lower the cost of fossil fuel consumption will benefit Americans.
Text of the letter is available here.
MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in introducing a resolution supporting the Cuban people as they lead historic protests against the Cuban communist regime. The resolution highlights the Cuban communist government’s long record of oppression against pro-democracy leaders, political opponents and civic movements.
“Cubans are risking their safety to demand freedom and the blessings that come with it. America must support Cubans in their historic struggle for liberty. To that end, Congress and President Biden should stand with the people of Cuba against its communist regime both now and in the coming days,” said Kennedy.
“The Cuban people are courageously standing up for their freedoms after 62 years of subjugation under a communist dictatorship. This is truly a historic moment, and one that as a Cuban American I’m proud to witness. The people of Cuba have made their voices clear. We must stand in support of the Cuban people’s ongoing efforts to live in a nation free from tyranny and censorship,” said Rubio.
Text of the resolution is available here.
Watch Kennedy’s comments here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced and asked the Senate to pass the Gulf Coast Hurricane Aid Act of 2021. The bill would provide $1.1 billion in disaster relief to Louisianians recovering from Hurricanes Laura, Delta and Zeta. To pay for the aid, Kennedy proposed using revenue from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) spectrum auction last year. That would leave the government with no need to borrow money or add to the deficit. The Senate blocked the bill’s passage.
“I know this has been true for states besides Louisiana, but the last 18 months in Louisiana, from a weather perspective, has been a fantastic impression of hell. Today the Senate had an opportunity to send more than $1 billion to help Louisiana recover from historic hurricanes without charging taxpayers a dime, and it balked.
“The people of Louisiana—especially those in southwest Louisiana—have waited too long for the funds they need to rebuild their lives. My legislation would send them aid without adding one red cent to the U.S. debt.
“Louisiana Republicans and Democrats are united on this issue, and we desperately need Pres. Biden to send a request for this disaster aid to Congress. Today makes that fact clearer than ever,” said Kennedy.
The bill would have secured the relief funds from the proceeds of a historic FCC auction that Kennedy advocated for while he was the chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government last Congress. The funds would have helped Louisianians still recovering from last year’s storms, which caused billions of dollars of damage and destroyed or damaged more than 100,000 homes.
Kennedy was instrumental in convincing the FCC to conduct a public auction instead of a private sale of C-band spectrum. A private sale would have subsidized foreign companies, but the public auction put U.S. taxpayer interests first and raised more than $80 billion—making it the most profitable FCC auction in history.
Video of Kennedy’s comments today is available here.
Text of the Gulf Coast Hurricane Aid Act of 2021 is available here.
Kennedy introduces Don’t Push my Buttons Act to deny immunity to manipulative social media companies
Jul 13 2021
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Don’t Push My Buttons Act in response to social media platforms that track personal data to polarize and provoke online users. The bill would deny legal immunity under the Communications Act of 1934 to platforms that leverage user data to promote divisive content without permission from those users.
“Social media giants are using people’s data to manipulate them into spending more time on their sites, but the price is a more polarized America. It’s time to stop rewarding platforms that use their algorithms to target users with content that plays on individuals’ emotions without their consent. If these companies wield user data to foment division, they should not continue to enjoy such unfettered liability protections,” said Kennedy.
Many social media platforms collect data to identify their users’ “hot buttons”—divisive issues that create strong emotional responses or reactions. The companies then employ algorithms that intentionally show their users content designed to agitate them.
The Don’t Push my Buttons Act would narrow the scope of the liability limitation provided under Section 230 of the Communications Act, denying immunity to platforms that use algorithms to optimize engagement by pushing divisive content into users’ feeds.
Text of the Don’t Push My Buttons Act is available here.
Jul 12 2021
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today released the following statement on the ongoing protests in Cuba:
“Cubans are risking their safety to demand freedom and the blessings that come with it. These protests are about liberty, not Covid. America must support Cubans in their call for freedom, and President Biden should stand with the people of Cuba against its Communist regime now and in the coming days.”
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today released the following statement upon the passing of former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards:
“Becky and I are praying for former governor Edwin Edwards’s family during their time of deep loss. He lived a full life, and our hearts go out to his loved ones.”
Kennedy, Cassidy introduce Senate resolution congratulating Scripps National Spelling Bee champion Zaila Avant-garde
Jul 12 2021
WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) today introduced a Senate resolution congratulating Scripps National Spelling Bee champion Zaila Avant-garde.
“Becky and I are thrilled to see Zaila Avant-garde become Louisiana’s first champion of the National Spelling Bee. Our entire state is celebrating Zaila’s talent, hard work and win!” said Kennedy.
“Congratulations Zaila Avant-garde, Louisiana’s own–and first–Scripps National Spelling Bee champion. You’ve made our state proud,” said Cassidy.
Text of the full resolution is below:
Congratulating the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion Zaila Avant-garde.
Whereas Miss Zaila Avant-garde is a 14-year-old from Harvey, Louisiana;
Whereas Miss Zaila is the first winner from the state of Louisiana;
Whereas the Scripps National Spelling Bee is the largest and longest-running educational promotion in the United States and is administered by the E.W. Scripps Company and local sponsors, most of whom publish daily and weekly newspapers;
Whereas the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee began with competitors from across the United States, American Samoa, the Bahamas, Canada, Europe, Guam, Jamaica, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, each of whom had qualified for the contest by winning locally sponsored spelling bees;
Whereas Miss Zaila has become the first African-American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee;
Whereas Miss Zaila has spent most of her days spelling around 13,000 words per day, yet has still found time to become an accomplished basketball player that holds 3 Guinness book records;
Whereas Miss Zaila survived several rounds of fierce competition this year and won the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling murraya, and
Whereas the achievement of Miss Zaila brings an immense sense of pride to, her hometown of Harvey, and the entire State of Louisiana: Now, therefore, be it
That the Senate—
congratulates the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion Zaila Avant-garde.