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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today that the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration will award a $4.2 million grant to improve port infrastructure at the West Calcasieu Port in Sulphur, Louisiana.

This grant will fund the construction of a bulkhead and crane pad for loading and unloading barges at the West Calcasieu Port.  The Department of Commerce estimates that this project will create 400 jobs.  This improvement project will enhance the port’s resiliency to natural disasters, support private investment and drive economic development in the region.

“The West Calcasieu Port Facility plays an important role in the commercial activity along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, including barge fleeting and marine construction,” said Senator Kennedy. This EDA grant is an important investment in Louisiana’s economy that will help create more jobs in a growing industry.”

“The Trump Administration is working hard to fulfill its commitment to rebuild communities devastated by natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “These improvements will boost the Port’s capacity to serve the critical maritime transportation needs in the region and to boost job growth in the local community.”

 

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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), advanced the FSGG FY2020 Appropriations bill today that prioritizes federal agencies and programs that will promote consumer privacy, reunite people with lost savings bonds and save taxpayer dollars.  

The FSGG subcommittee appropriates funds for a diverse group of federal government departments and agencies such as the Executive Office of the President, the Department of the Treasury, the federal judiciary, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The FY2020 FSGG appropriations bill includes a provision to reunite approximately $24 billion in unclaimed savings bonds with their bondholders.  These bonds are currently sitting in the U.S. Treasury. Sen. Kennedy’s provision will require the U.S. Treasury to digitize the records of the unclaimed property, which will make it easier for Americans to search for and redeem their bonds. The full Appropriations Committee will consider the bill on Thursday.

“This Committee has a responsibility to the taxpayers to ensure each and every dollar is spent wisely.  I am proud to say we accomplish that with this bill,” said Sen. Kennedy. “We provide the resources necessary to return $24 billion in lost savings bonds to their rightful owners, repair crumbling buildings before they have to be replaced and pursue unpaid taxes that prevent us from lowering the deficit.”

Sen. Kennedy chairing FSGG subcommittee markup on Tuesday

Bill Highlights:

Department of Treasury – The bill provides $12.87 billion for the Treasury Department, which is $105 million more than the enacted level.

  • Treasury Departmental Offices – $223 million for Departmental Offices, an increase of $9 million above the FY2019 enacted level. Additional funds will allow the Department to manage a growing caseload associated with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, invest in information technology improvements, and hire additional staff to conduct economic analysis of tax regulatory actions. 
    • Savings Bonds: $25 million to digitize unclaimed savings bonds records.
    • Treasury Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI) – $167.7 million for TFI, which combats terrorism financing and administers economic and trade sanctions through its Office of Foreign Assets Control. The FY2020 amount is $8.7 million above the enacted level and is $1 million more than the President’s budget request.
    • Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – $11.414 billion for the IRS, including $200 million more than the FY2019 enacted level for enforcement activities to address the tax gap.
      • In addition, to ensure accountability and transparency, the bill includes:
        • A prohibition on IRS funds for bonuses or to rehire former employees unless employee conduct and tax compliance is given consideration;
        • A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs;
        • A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target individuals for exercising their First Amendment rights;

 

Executive Office of the President (EOP) – $717 million for EOP.  The bill maintains the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) and Drug-Free Communities (DFC) programs within the Office of National Drug Control Policy.  The bill provides $280 million for the HIDTA program to combat heroin and prescription opioid abuse and $100 million for the DFC program.

Judiciary – $7.418 billion in discretionary funding for the federal judiciary, which is $166 million above the FY2019 enacted level.  This will provide sufficient funding for federal court activities, including timely and efficient processing of federal cases, court security, and defender services.

District of Columbia – $673 million in federal payments to the District of Columbia. Within this amount, the bill provides resources for public safety and security costs, and supports the District of Columbia court system and offender supervision program.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) – $274 million for the CFTC, which is $6 million above the FY2019 level and $10 million below the FY2020 budget request. 

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – $339 million for the FCC, which is offset by regulatory fees and equal to the enacted level.  The bill also provides $132.5 million for the spectrum auctions program.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – $312.3 million for the FTC, which is $2.6 million more than the FY2019 enacted level and equal to the FY2020 budget request.

General Services Administration (GSA) – The bill allows GSA to spend $9.83 billion out of the Federal Buildings Fund, an increase of $546 million compared to the FY2019 enacted level.  This level will provide funding for rent payments for privately-owned office space leased by the government, and operations and maintenance costs for buildings owned by federal government agencies across the nation. Of this amount, the bill provides $446 million for construction.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – $1.767 billion for the SEC, which is $10 million more than the budget request and includes $11 million for the potential relocation of the SEC’s New York Regional Office.  This appropriation is fully offset by fees.

Small Business Administration (SBA) – $876 million for the SBA to provide assistance to small businesses, expand the economy, and increase job growth for unemployed and underemployed Americans.  The bill fully funds the disaster loans program at $177 million.  The bill also funds several valuable programs, including $131 million for Small Business Development Centers, $31 million for microloan technical assistance, and $14.2 million for veterans outreach programs.

Other Oversight, Accountability, and Noteworthy Provisions:

  • Maintains current levels of pay for the Vice President and other senior political appointees;
  • A prohibition on funding for grants or contracts to tax cheats and companies with felony criminal convictions—and new provisions to ensure compliance with these provisions;
  • A prohibition against the use of funds to paint portraits of federal employees, including the President, Vice President, Cabinet Members and Members of Congress;
  • A requirement that agency inspectors general have timely access to agency documents and records;
  • A requirement that all departments and agencies link contracts that provide award fees to successful acquisition outcomes, and prohibit the use of funds to pay for award or incentive fees for contractors with below satisfactory performance; and
  • A new requirement that provides transparency into advertising produced or disseminated at U.S. taxpayer expense.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) went to the Senate floor Thursday to warn against creating a system that puts the federal government – instead of states – in charge of elections.  Sen. Kennedy said the U.S. already is successfully addressing election security concerns.

States received $380 million before the 2018 midterm elections to shore up the security of their systems.  Even though they only spent a fraction of the money ahead of the elections, there were no successful security breaches.  The Senate has passed bills that would make it a federal crime to hack an election system and that would bar anyone who interferes or attempts to interfere in elections from entering the U.S.  The proposals are pending in the House.

“This country started out as a self-reliant, tax-adverse union of states.  States insisted on running their own elections, and it’s worked,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Russia tried to interfere in the last presidential election.  It’s true.  They did it.  They didn’t change a single vote.  What makes our elections safe is there are multiple layers that would have to be hacked.  If we nationalize our elections, we’re going to living in a world designed by the Post Office.”  

Click here or the photo below to watch Sen. Kennedy’s floor speech:

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), the only member of the Louisiana Congressional delegation to serve on the Senate Appropriations Committee, this week voted to advance the FY2020 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, which invests in the U.S. military and supports defense programs that are essential to our national security.

The Department of Defense Appropriations Act includes a 3.1% pay raise for members of the U.S. military and funding to support medical research for ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, ALS, muscular dystrophy and fibrous dysplasia.

Sen. Kennedy also helped secure funding for B-52 modernization.  Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier stations over half of the U.S. fleet of B-52 bombers. 

“Funding our defense and military is absolutely essential to keeping our country safe,” said Sen. Kennedy. “I was proud to vote in approval of this integral investment into U.S. national security.  I’m especially happy to see some of that investment go toward projects back home like the modernization of B-52 bombers at Barksdale Air Force Base.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today announced $2.6 million in Health and Human Services grants for community health centers in New Orleans, Port Sulphur, Franklin and Winnfield.

The grants for $650,000 each were awarded to Baptist Community Health Services, Plaquemines Parish Hospital Service District Number One, Teche Action Clinic and the Winn Community Health Center.

“Our community health care centers are the backbone of our underserved communities in Louisiana.  These grants will support the centers in their work to provide vital medical services to families across the state,” said Sen. Kennedy.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today that the city of New Orleans will receive $41.6 million from FEMA to ensure better waste water management during bad weather.  The grant completes $150 million in funding for the project.

“The biggest threat to any water system is a loss of power during extreme weather,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “This grant is the final piece of funding needed to ensure the drainage, water and sewerage systems in New Orleans and parts of Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes have an adequate, independent power source.”  

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Bill Cassidy M.D. (R-La.) today announced that the National Science Foundation awarded a new Regional Class Research Vessel to the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) and the University of Southern Mississippi.  The boat, along with two others, will be built by Louisiana workers.

The vessel will be designed with state-of-the-art technology that will allow researchers to create detailed seafloor maps, monitor algae blooms, study shifting ocean chemistry, observe coastal changes and much more.

The National Science Foundation awarded three research vessels to coastal universities and research consortiums to study the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts.  The other two vessels were awarded to Oregon State University and a research consortium led by the University of Rhode Island.  All three vessels will be built in Louisiana by the Gulf Island Shipyards LLC in Houma.  They are scheduled to be completed in 2023.

Since the vessel will likely be too large to dock at LUMCON’s current facilities, LUMCON is planning to construct a new port in Houma.

As members of the research consortium, Louisiana State University and Tulane University will also be able to utilize the vessel.

“With the new technology available on this research vessel, scientists and researchers will have access to new data to help tackle the coastal issues we’re facing in Louisiana,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “The folks at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium are an excellent choice for this award, and this vessel is a great investment into protecting our coastline.”  

“Building these boats employs Louisiana skilled workers,” said Sen. Cassidy.  “Once built, data from these boats will protect coastlines and coastal ecosystems. This benefits all Americans.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) introduced the SFC Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019 today to allow active duty service members to sue the military for medical malpractice and negligence.

A Supreme Court decision in 1950 banned active duty service members from suing the military for medical malpractice or negligence, and this decision became known as the Feres Doctrine. This legislation will help overturn that decision.

Sgt. Richard Stayskal is the primary champion of this legislation.  In two separate appointments, Army doctors detected a cancerous tumor growing in Sgt. Stayskal’s lungs, but they did not initiate the proper treatment or make him aware of the tumor’s existence.  Under the Feres Doctrine, he cannot sue the military hospital that failed to inform him of his condition for medical malpractice.

 “We owe service men and women our utmost respect and the best care when they come home.  When medical malpractice or negligence occurs, patients have the right to sue their doctor, but the Feres Doctrine has stripped that right from members of the military.  This is an awful precedent, and I’m very grateful to Sgt. Richard Stayskal for bringing this issue to light,” said Sen. Kennedy. “This legislation will help to overturn this backwards precedent that hurts service members and their families.”

“For decades, the so-called Feres doctrine has denied our servicemembers their day in court when they are the victims of medical malpractice. It is slap in the face to the men and women who serve our country,” said Sen. Hirono. “The SFC Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019 will finally remove this stain on our country’s treatment of those in uniform. I am proud to introduce this important legislation with Senator Kennedy, and I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this long-overdue bill.”

“Thank you Senator Kennedy for introducing the SFC Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act,” said Sgt. Stayskal. “May your leadership inspire other members of Congress to support this important legislation.  Sponsoring this Bill proves your support of our Troops and their families.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The office of U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) will host three Service Academy days this month for students interested in learning more about the U.S. Service Academies.  The events will be in Monroe, Lafayette and New Orleans.

Representatives from West Point, the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, the Merchant Marine Academy, the Coast Guard Academy and local ROTC programs will be present.  This is an opportunity for students to discuss opportunities available at the academies, free college educations and commissioned officer slots.

“Our Service Academies train and educate some of the bravest men and women in this country,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “I have great respect for the students who decide to serve their country and dedicate themselves to learning at one of the academies.”

This event is free and geared towards high school students, parents and active duty members who are interested in learning more about the academies.

Service Academy Days:

Sept. 7, 2019

9 a.m.-12 p.m.

Cypress Room, Bayou Pointe Event Center

University of Louisiana at Monroe

1 Warhawk Way

Monroe, LA 71209

(Staff for Sen. Cassidy (R-La.), Rep. Abraham (R-La.) and Rep. Johnson (R-La.) will also be at this event.)

 

Sept. 21, 2019  

9 a.m.-12 p.m.

LITE Center

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

537 Cajundome Blvd.

Lafayette, LA 70506

(Staff for Sen. Cassidy (R-La.), Rep. Abraham (R-La.), Rep. Graves (R-La.), Rep. Higgins (R-La.) and Rep. Johnson (R-La.) will also be at this event.)

 

Sept. 28, 2019

9 a.m.-12 p.m.

Mary and William McCaffery Ballroom, University Center

Xavier University of Louisiana

1 Drexel Dr.

New Orleans, LA 70215

(Staff for Sen. Cassidy (R-La.), Rep. Graves (R-La.), Rep. Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Richmond (D-La.) will also be at this event.)

 

If you are interested in attending a service academy day, please RSVP to dana_brignac@kennedy.senate.gov.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today an $11.7 million Health and Human Services grant to help combat the opioid crisis in Louisiana.

This funding will help states and local governments track opioid data and support their work in preventing overdoses and saving lives.

“Louisiana lost more people to opioid deaths than to car accidents last year,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “The opioid crisis is ruining lives and hurting families.  This grant will help Louisiana officials track overdose data and then use that data to help save lives.”

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