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.
Watch Kennedy’s comments here.
MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today spoke with Fox News’s Bill Hemmer regarding critical race theory following the National Education Association’s statement of support for teaching critical race theory in public schools.
Kennedy’s key quotes include:
“Critical race theory teaches that America is totally screwed. We need to just tear it down and start over.
“Critical race theory teaches that the primary reason that America was founded was to maintain white supremacy. Not freedom, not rule of law, not equal opportunity, not personal responsibility, but white supremacy.”
. . .
“In my judgment, critical race theory is cynical, ahistorical, sophomoric, insipid and dumb as a bag of hair.
“America is not a racist country . . . most Americans, black and white, think a whole lot more about character than they do about race. They believe in equality. And most Americans understand that, to a bear, we all taste like chicken.”
. . .
“America is not perfect, but we’re good. We caught the disease of slavery, but we beat it back, and it’s something we work on every day.”
. . .
“I’ve listened to the testimony of the nominees by President Biden. These folks are radical. They all believe in critical race theory. Ask Attorney General Garland. I asked him if he thought the Department of Justice—during his committee testimony—was inherently racist. He wouldn’t answer. That was my answer.”
Video of Kennedy’s comments is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) today called on Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler to ensure the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) will continue enforcing the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act when companies refuse to open their records to inspection.
“We write to request your assurance that the unprecedented replacement of the members of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) by the Commission will not cause a change or delay in policy with respect to the audits of issuers based in foreign countries, including the People’s Republic of China (‘China’),” the senators wrote.
“As you know, the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act (P.L. 116-222) was enacted on December 18, 2020. This landmark law will protect the interests of hardworking American investors by ensuring that foreign companies traded in America are subject to the same independent audit requirements that apply to American companies. In particular, this law is critical to safeguarding Americans’ savings from being invested in entities based in China that pose unacceptable risk under U.S. law,” the senators continued.
“On May 13, 2021, the PCAOB proposed Rule 6100, Board Determinations Under the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act. The proposed rule would provide a framework to guide the PCAOB in carrying out the responsibilities under the Act, and was publicly supported by four board members at the time of its proposal. Ultimately, the proposed rule represents the first step toward fairly enforcing U.S. law to protect American investors. However, since the rule was proposed, the Commission announced the removal of the Chairman of the PCAOB and its intent to seek candidates for all five board positions,” the senators continued.
The senators asked Gensler whether the SEC will appoint new PCAOB board members who will faithfully implement the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act and whether the SEC expects any delay in the implementation of the Act as a result of the PCAOB’s change in leadership. The senators also inquired whether the SEC took into account the previous PCAOB leaders’ positions on the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act before it removed them from the board.
“We urge that the Commission and PCAOB continue the critical work of implementing the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act without delay,” the senators concluded.
Last December, President Trump signed into law Kennedy’s Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act. The law protects American investors by prohibiting securities of a company from being listed on any of the U.S. securities exchanges if the company has failed to comply with the PCAOB’s audits for three years in a row. It also requires public companies to disclose whether they are owned or controlled by a foreign government, including China’s communist government.
This week, the Senate unanimously passed the Accelerating Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act. The bill would put additional pressure on China by requiring foreign companies to comply with PCAOB audits within two consecutive years instead of three. The bill would also apply the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act to Chinese companies that use audit firms in Taiwan or Singapore and do not comply with PCAOB inspections because of Chinese law.
The letter is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and 47 other Republican senators today condemned the Justice Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ attempt to impose unprecedented restrictions on the use of stabilizing braces on firearms.
“We write to express our grave concern regarding the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives’ (ATF) Proposed Rule 2021R-08 . . . the way the proposed rule is written makes clear that ATF intends to bring the most common uses of the most widely possessed stabilizing braces within the purview of the [National Firearms Act of 1934]. Doing so would turn millions of law-abiding Americans into criminals overnight, and would constitute the largest executive branch-imposed gun registration and confiscation scheme in American history,” the senators wrote.
“To one unfamiliar with stabilizing braces, ATF’s proposed rule and the accompanying regulatory analysis suggest that these braces are dangerous alterations to firearms designed to help criminals evade federal law. Nothing could be further from the truth, and ATF knows that. After all, it has repeatedly blessed their design, manufacture, sale, and use. . . . Having fostered this vibrant market in which millions of law-abiding Americans have participated, ATF now suddenly changes course. Its proposed rule would yank the rug out from under those law-abiding Americans. . . . If ATF proceeds as it proposes, virtually all stabilizing brace-equipped pistols in circulation will become contraband,” continued the senators.
“A crime wave is sweeping America. These aren’t broken-windows crimes; they are violent crimes like murder, assault, and robbery. But rather than cracking down on the criminals who are turning America’s cities into warzones, ATF and the Department of Justice have decided to go after law-abiding gun owners . . . This is plain wrong. The proposed rule is worse than merely abdicating your responsibility to protect Americans from criminals; you’re threatening to turn law-abiding Americans into criminals by imposing the largest executive branch-initiated gun registration and confiscation program in American history. We urge you to turn back. Correct this mistake and withdraw the proposed rule,” the senators concluded.
The letter is available here.
Jun 22 2021
WASHINGTON – The Senate today passed Sen. John Kennedy’s (R-La.) Accelerating Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act. The bill would increase accountability for Chinese companies that refuse to submit to U.S. financial oversight and close a loophole that Chinese companies use to avoid such oversight.
“When foreign companies flout America’s security laws, they put Americans’ retirement plans and savings at risk. China is bent on exploiting American investors, so we need more accountability for foreign companies using American capital, and we need it now. I’m pleased to see the Senate take a huge step today by voting to give the SEC the ability to kick fraudulent Chinese companies off U.S. exchanges more quickly. I hope the House sends this common-sense bill to the president’s desk before foreign companies swindle more workers and families here at home,” said Kennedy.
Last December, President Trump signed into law Kennedy’s Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, which prohibits foreign companies from listing their securities on any of the U.S. exchanges if the company has failed to comply with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s (PCAOB) audits for three years in a row. The law protects the interest of hardworking American investors by ensuring that foreign companies traded in America are subject to the same independent audit requirements that apply to their competitors in America and other countries.
The Accelerating Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act would put additional pressure on China by requiring foreign companies to comply with PCAOB audits within two consecutive years instead of three. This would help remove fraudulent and non-compliant companies from U.S. exchanges more quickly.
The bill would also apply the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act to Chinese companies that use audit firms in Taiwan or Singapore and do not comply with PCAOB inspections because of Chinese law.
“ASA applauds the Senate for coming together once again and unanimously passing common sense legislation to protect the American people and end Communist China’s exploitation of our capital markets. We thank Senator Kennedy for his leadership in accelerating a timeline which now forces Chinese companies to comply with our audit and regulatory requirements much quicker, and we urge the House to swiftly move this bill to the President’s desk. A bipartisan Washington is finally waking up to the China threat and it’s time for Wall Street to do the same. U.S. exchanges must ensure American investor money is not used to finance Beijing’s egregious human rights abuses and genocide by immediately halting Chinese company IPOs and delisting every Chinese company from their exchange until those companies can prove they are NOT controlled by the CCP,” said American Securities Association CEO Chris Iacovella.
Congress established the PCAOB to inspect audits of public companies, ensuring the information companies provide to the public is accurate, independent and trustworthy.
Currently, China’s communist government refuses to allow the PCAOB to inspect audits of companies registered in China and Hong Kong. Such companies represent a keen risk to American investors as nearly 11 percent of all securities class action lawsuits in 2011 were brought against Chinese-owned companies accused of misrepresenting themselves in financial documents.
According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, 224 U.S.-listed companies are located in countries where there are obstacles to PCAOB inspections. These companies have a combined market capitalization of more than $1.8 trillion.
In the last 10 years, the number of Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges has increased significantly, as those firms take advantage of the capital available in America.
Text of the Accelerating Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Save Our Afghan Allies Act to protect Afghan translators and other allies who played a crucial role helping U.S. forces during the War in Afghanistan.
“America’s Afghan allies risked their lives and families to help American soldiers, and it’s unthinkable that the U.S. would leave them in the hands of the merciless Taliban. These brave Afghans have no safe haven in their homeland, and the least we can do is guarantee their protection in the U.S. I hope my colleagues join me in passing this bill to give sanctuary to our allies and their families,” said Kennedy.
The Save Our Afghan Allies Act would direct the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense to develop a plan to relocate and accept Afghan allies and their immediate families to the U.S. before the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from the country is completed.
Under the Special Immigrant Visa program, Afghans who helped the U.S. in Afghanistan for a period of at least two years can move to America with their immediate families. Thousands of applicants are still waiting for final visa approval but are running out of time as U.S. forces prepare to leave the country. The Taliban is known for murdering translators and their loved ones, and it already controls much of Afghanistan.
Text of the Save Our Afghan Allies Act is available here.
Jun 21 2021
WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) today introduced the National Flood Insurance Program Consultant Accountability Act of 2021 to protect homeowners from parties found guilty of fraud that involves property damage assessments.
“Vultures who prey on suffering Louisianians after a natural disaster have no business working with the National Flood Insurance Program or receiving taxpayer money. I’m proud to work with Sen. Menendez to protect Louisiana families from falling victim to fraudsters in the wake of hard-hitting storms,” said Kennedy.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable that many of the same bad actors who preyed on Sandy survivors after the storm devastated New Jersey continue to work with the National Flood Insurance Program. The current system makes it nearly impossible for the NFIP to fire engineering firms, lawyers, consultants and contractors who mishandle claims and defraud flood victims. I’m happy to work with Sen. Kennedy to right this wrong and increase accountability in the NFIP,” said Menendez.
The National Flood Insurance Program Consultant Accountability Act of 2021 would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fire consultants, contractors, law firms, engineering firms and other third parties involved in National Flood Insurance Program contracts if those parties deliberately mishandle claims in order to lower insurance reimbursements to homeowners following a disaster. Currently, FEMA can only fire individuals or entities that have a criminal conviction.
Text of the National Flood Insurance Program Consultant Accountability Act of 2021 is available here.