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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.) applauded the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Barry Ashe for U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana.  

“Barry is well-qualified to serve as a U.S. District Judge in Louisiana, and I know he’s ready to get to work,” said Sen. Kennedy. “I congratulate Barry on his confirmation.  He brings an impressive amount of legal experience to the bench.  I know he will serve well.”

“Mr. Ashe’s qualifications and professionalism made him an obvious choice for this position,” said Dr. Cassidy. “I want to congratulate Barry and his family, and I’m certain he will do well in his new role.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement today on the death of U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.):

“I think it was Abraham Lincoln who said every man is born an original, but, sadly, most men die copies.  John McCain was born an original and died an original.  He was frank.  He was passionate.  He was tough as a boot.  He loved his family, his country and the U.S. Senate.  I will never forget his many kindnesses to me when I first joined the Senate.  America has lost a favorite son.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) bill, S.2896 the Justice Against Corruption on K Street Act, also known as the JACK Act, passed the U.S. Senate today.  The JACK Act requires lobbyists to disclose if they have ever been convicted of bribery, extortion, embezzlement, illegal kickbacks, tax evasion or money laundering in their lobbying disclosure and registration forms. 

The bill’s title refers to Jack Abramoff, who didn’t have to disclose his prison sentence for public bribery and other crimes when he re-registered as a lobbyist last year.  The JACK Act will ensure that members of the public know who is representing them in Washington.

“This idea is simple: If you have been convicted of a felony like bribery, extortion, embezzlement or tax evasion, you should have to disclose that when registering to become a lobbyist.  Corrupt lobbyists need to be brought into the sunlight, especially if they’re wearing $6,000 suits purchased with the money from prior misdeeds,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Political leaders and businesses need to know the backgrounds of those who are trying to influence public policy.  These corrupt lobbyists are the worst kind of swamp creatures, and they need a one-way ticket out of Washington.”

“I was proud to work with my dear friend Sen. Kennedy on this bipartisan, commonsense legislation that will ensure businesses know who is representing them in Washington, D.C.  Currently, lobbyists don’t need to disclose if they have been convicted of bribery, extortion, embezzlement, illegal kickbacks, tax evasion or money laundering when they register to become a lobbyist, or to the businesses they could be representing and the Congressional offices they could be meeting with.  That’s absurd.  This legislation will ensure that felons have to be upfront about their past,” Sen. Manchin said. 

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Appropriations Committee, announced today that the Livingston Parish School Board will receive $11,019,050.42 from FEMA to help build a new Denham Springs Elementary School.  The previous school was damaged beyond repair by the 2016 flooding.

“Livingston Parish was ground zero for the 2016 flooding,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Grants like these will help us rebuild our communities and help us become more resilient than ever before.” 

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Appropriations Committee, announced today that four of his amendments were adopted into H.R.6157, the Minibus Appropriations bill, which cleared the Senate.  The amendments tackle the waste of taxpayer dollars by forcing the Department of Labor to address the increased number of improper payments and by halting the award of defense contracts to companies with delinquent tax bills.

The minibus includes funding for the departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.  The Senate has now passed nine of 12 spending bills, containing 90% of discretionary spending for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019.

“This package is one of the many reasons why I joined my colleagues earlier this year in calling for the cancelation of August recess.  We need to help American taxpayers thrive,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “We can reduce the deficit simply by spending taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars wisely.  We need to have a zero tolerance policy on improper payments, and we need to stop rewarding contractors who refuse to pay their taxes.”

Sen. Kennedy Amendments:

  • Stopping fraud and waste
    • Department of Labor programs have a growing problem of paying workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits to people who shouldn’t receive them.
    • In Fiscal Year 2017, the Department of Labor made $4.1 billion in improper payments.
    • Some of these payments are simply because government employees goofed and paid people too much.
    • We need to get a handle on this escalating problem.
    • This amendment will force the Department of Labor to develop a plan to reduce these overpayments.
  • Not rewarding contractors who fail to pay their taxes
    • Companies are winning federal contracts even though they’re not paying their IRS bills.
    • DTM Corporation received $137 million in contracts from the U.S. Department of Defense despite owing $5.2 million in taxes.
    • Next year’s deficit is projected to top $1 trillion.
    • We cannot afford to reward contractors with big contracts when they’re not paying their taxes.
    • This amendment will prohibit defense contractors who are delinquent on their taxes from receiving federal contracts.
  • Withholding taxpayer dollars from Iran
    • Iran is allowing terrorism to flourish, endangering America’s long-term national security.
    • Iran sent weapons to conflicts in Yemen and Syria in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions.
    • We should not financially support Iran.
    • This amendment prohibits any Department of Defense funds from being used to aid Iran.
  • Preventing suicides
    • The Senate agreed to increase funding for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline from $7.198 million to $10 million.
    • Suicide rates in Louisiana have increased nearly 30% since 1999.
    • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential help 24 hours a day.
    • The Senate voted 95-0 Tuesday in favor of this amendment.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.) issued the following statements after the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Peter Strasser to be U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana.  The nomination now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

“Peter is a sound choice.  He has the experience needed to lead this office,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “He has dedicated his legal career to rooting out corruption and fraud.  I know he will be committed to prosecuting criminals and making our communities safer.  I’m happy to see his nomination move forward.”

“Mr. Strasser will make a great U.S. attorney for Louisiana’s eastern district and I look forward to him completing the confirmation process,” said Dr. Cassidy.  “His extensive experience and passion for public service will serve our state and country well.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced today that Lafayette Regional Airport will receive $10 million from the Federal Aviation Administration to help fund the construction of a new terminal.  This award will supplement an earlier $11.8 million grant that also provided funding for the new terminal. 

“This grant is not only an investment for Lafayette’s airport; this is an investment for the regional economy,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “The terminal construction project will improve the airport and promote more tourism and economic development for Acadiana.” 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – An amendment by U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) to increase funding for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by $2.8 million passed the Senate this afternoon.  The funds for the increase to $10 million will be reallocated from a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration account.  The amendment was made to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act.

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States.  The Centers for Disease Control reported that nearly 45,000 people took their lives in 2016.  From 1999 to 2016, suicide rates rose by nearly 30% in Louisiana.

“The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides a confidential lifesaving resource to those who truly need help,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “There needs to be a light in the dark for those going through a tough time.  The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides that light.  That’s why increasing funding for this lifeline is so important.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, introduced an amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill that will protect military reservists and the National Guard from furloughs during government shutdowns.  This amendment would give reserve forces the same work protections as active duty military members. 

Members of the National Guard and military reservists play an integral role in communities across the country.  They are often the first ones called in when natural disasters such as hurricanes, flooding, wildfires and tornadoes strike. 

“Active duty military members continue working during government shutdowns.  Members of the National Guard and other reserve units should receive the same protections,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Our men and women in uniform make tremendous sacrifices for our safety.  They shouldn’t be impacted by partisan bickering in Washington.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R. La.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) applauded the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) proposal to reduce production for nearly all Schedule II prescription opioids by an average of 10% for next year.  The DEA is responsible for establishing annual quotas determining the exact amount of each opioid drug that is permitted to be produced in the U.S. each year. 

After today’s announcement, three powerful, addictive painkillers are set to see a significant reduction from what was allowed on the market just three years prior: a 38% cut to oxycodone production over three years; a 48% cut to hydrocodone production over three years; and a 48% cut to fentanyl production over three years. 

In May, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed targeted, bipartisan legislation that will enhance DEA’s existing opioid quota-setting authority by improving transparency and enabling DEA to adjust quotas to prevent opioid diversion and abuse while ensuring an adequate supply for legitimate medical needs.  The Opioid Quota Reform Act of 2018 was introduced in March by Kennedy and Durbin, along with Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).  The legislation will complement and strengthen recent DEA regulations on opioid quota-setting.  The bill is now under consideration by the full Senate.

“This is a huge first step in fighting the battle against our country’s opioid epidemic,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “In Louisiana, overdose deaths increased by more than 14% from 2015-2016.  By reducing the amount of certain Schedule II prescription opioids, we can begin to stop the abuse before it starts.  However, there is still work to be done to stop the addiction cycle.  That’s why my bill with Sen. Durbin is so important; we need an across the board cut to the number of manufactured opioids.”

“In 2016, the pharmaceutical industry produced 14 billion opioid doses—enough for every adult in America to have a three week supply of opioids.  Now we are in the midst of an opioid addiction crisis.  We are losing 115 Americans each day from opioid overdoses – more than 42,000 a year,” said Sen. Durbin.  “There is a growing recognition that we need to take a serious look at how many of these pills are allowed to flood our markets and streets.  That is why I commend the DEA for taking steps—three years in a row—to reduce the number of opioids allowed to be produced in the U.S.  But our work is not done.  Opioid quota reform is needed so DEA can take important factors like diversion and abuse into account when setting quotas, rather than chasing the downstream consequences of this crisis.  And my bipartisan legislation with Senator Kennedy will allow DEA to do just that.  I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get our legislation across the finish line.”

 

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