Media

Kennedy and Edwards meet with Collins, ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards today met with Sens. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) to discuss federal disaster aid for Louisiana in order to help the state recover from Hurricanes Ida, Nicholas, Laura, Delta and Zeta. 

“Our people are desperate, and we have to help them. It’s that simple. The fact that Louisiana stands strong in the wreckage of category 4 storms doesn’t mean we should stand alone. Our state sends a lot of tax dollars to Washington, and Louisianians need a little help now. I’m thankful that Sens. Shelby and Collins took the time today for the governor and me to outline Louisiana’s needs for the Senate Appropriations Committee,” said Kennedy. 

Kennedy and Edwards meet with Shelby, ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Shelby is the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Collins is the lead Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Kennedy has noted that one of the greatest needs Louisianians have following Hurricane Ida is long-term housing.

 

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and fellow senators in calling on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell to delay a government plan that would hike Louisianians’ flood insurance premiums.

“We write to urgently request that you delay the new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Flood Insurance [Program] (NFIP) rating system known as Risk Rating 2.0, which is scheduled to go into effect for new policies on October 1, 2021. . . . we have serious concerns [about how] the program has thus far been constructed, presented and begun to be implemented and more significantly troubled by reports that nearly 80% of policyholders will see premium increases nationwide,” the senators wrote.

“It is our understanding that internal analysis shows that FEMA estimates roughly 900,000 policyholders, or nearly 20% of all policyholders, will drop out of the program over the next 10 years in large part due to unaffordable premiums under Risk Rating 2.0. In light of this information, we are extremely concerned about the administration’s decision to proceed forward with the implementation of this program without first determining an alternative that avoids the prospect that hundreds of thousands of families will be inclined to forfeit flood insurance on their homes,” the senators explained.

“We are entering the height of hurricane season, and tens of thousands of Americans have already faced destruction of their homes and livelihoods by Hurricane Ida alone. Tragically, this historic storm led to at least 84 deaths and caused tens of billions in unmet needs and property damage,” the senators continued.

The senators expressed several other concerns about Risk Rating 2.0, including the likelihood that NFIP providers would be overburdened with the responsibility of learning a new, untested rating system and the possibility that the NFIP’s reputation could suffer, hurting the integrity and long-term solvency of the program.

“Given these uncertainties, we request that you delay implementation of Risk Rating 2.0 immediately in order to provide time for full Congressional oversight, coordination and correct and transparent implementation,” the senators concluded.

Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) also signed the letter.

Kennedy has consistently opposed Risk Rating 2.0:

  • On August 5, 2021, Kennedy wrote to FEMA asking questions about the transparency, affordability and efficiency of Risk Rating 2.0.
  • On June 17, 2021, Kennedy questioned David Maurstad, Senior Executive of the NFIP at FEMA, about Risk Rating 2.0.
  • On June 7, 2021, Kennedy introduced the Flood Insurance Fairness Act to stop the Biden administration from unilaterally making changes to the National Flood Insurance Program that would raise premiums for Louisianians affected by flooding.
  • On April 16, 2021, Kennedy wrote to Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) of the Senate Banking Committee, requesting a hearing to examine Risk Rating 2.0.

Kennedy has also introduced legislation to extend the National Flood Insurance Program for one year, to Sept. 30, 2022. Without that extension, the NFIP will expire at the end of this month. Kennedy’s efforts to extend the NFIP in 2018 and 2019 both became law.

The letter is available here.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today wrote to AT&T Chief Executive Officer John Stankey condemning AT&T’s failure to maintain its network in Louisiana when Hurricane Ida hit.  

“I write to you today regarding AT&T’s failure to maintain network operations during Hurricane Ida, including the emergency first responder call systems that so many parishes and cities rely on that AT&T exclusively serves. As you know, on Sunday, August 29th, Hurricane Ida made landfall in southeast Louisiana as a Category 4 storm. When Hurricane Ida hit, AT&T’s network—including the First Responder Network (FirstNet)—failed. Countless Louisianans were left without the ability to complete calls or send texts,” wrote Kennedy.

“The failure of AT&T’s network impacted people from all across the state, with at least four parishes reporting 911 systems being down. When Louisianans tried to make calls to 911 the calls couldn’t be completed. When loved ones tried to contact family and friends they couldn’t. Residents even lacked the ability to send and receive life-saving updates. This is unacceptable, especially when contrasted with widespread reports of competitor networks faring better,” Kennedy continued.

“It is my understanding that AT&T is the service provider for all 911 call centers in Louisiana. Further, it is my understanding that AT&T was awarded a 25-year, $6.5 billion contract to build and maintain a nationwide network for public safety—FirstNet. . . . FirstNet promised to absolutely ensure communications services for first responders during the most serious and unprecedented disasters. Unfortunately, emergency calls didn’t make it to first responders and there is widespread acknowledgment from government officials and emergency responders that much of the call routing technology they rely on is antiquated and in need of replacement or upgrade,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy asked AT&T why its network suffered greater outages than its competitors, how much money AT&T invested in deploying and expanding FirstNet coverage in Louisiana over the past five years and what AT&T is doing to improve its network resiliency, among other questions.

“It will be weeks before a full assessment of Hurricane Ida’s damage will be available. However, what we do know is that when Louisiana needed AT&T most, AT&T failed,” Kennedy concluded.

Text of the letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) in introducing the Filing Relief for Natural Disasters Act to provide relief for taxpayers in states that have issued state-level disaster declarations. Currently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has the authority to postpone tax filing deadlines following a presidentially-declared federal disaster, but not following the declaration of a state-level emergency.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) also cosponsored the legislation.

“It seems like Louisianians have been hit with all the storms nature has to offer, and we need all the help we can get to recover, and that includes extensions for filing taxes. Since Louisiana can’t always rely on Washington to get us the relief we need when we need it, this bill would make sure that Louisianians get the tax extensions necessary for rebuilding after our state declares a natural disaster. I’m thankful to partner with Sen. Cortez Masto on this effort,” said Kennedy.

“Nevadans shouldn’t be denied tax relief after experiencing wildfires just because the state doesn’t receive a federally recognized disaster declaration. Nevadans across the state have been affected by major wildfires in the west, and my legislation would ensure that any taxpayer feeling the impact of a natural disaster can access vital tax relief so our communities are able to recover,” said Cortez Masto.

 “When disaster strikes, Marylanders need immediate financial flexibility to rebuild and recover. This legislation will help ensure that—even when a federal disaster has not been declared. I’ll be working with my colleagues to pass this common-sense, bipartisan bill,” said Senator Van Hollen.

The Filing Relief for Natural Disasters Act would allow the governor of a state or territory to extend a federal tax filing deadline following a state-declared emergency or disaster instead of waiting for a federally-declared disaster. This means that states would have the ability to provide tax relief independent of the federal government’s involvement in an emergency or natural disaster.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Extension Act of 2021 to extend the program for one year, to Sept. 30, 2022. Without that extension, the NFIP will expire at the end of this month.

Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) are original cosponsors of the legislation.

“Louisiana families need the NFIP to rebuild their homes and businesses after destructive floods. The wreckage from Hurricane Ida is a powerful reminder of just how much Louisianians, and families throughout the country, desperately depend on flood insurance to protect their greatest investments. It’s vital that we extend this program by another year as Tropical Storm Nicholas is expected to bring significant flooding on the heels of Hurricane Ida,” said Kennedy.

More than 5 million families and businesses depend on the NFIP, including roughly 500,000 in Louisiana.

Text of the NFIP Extension Act of 2021 is available here.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today asked Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Deanne Bennett Criswell to extend the September 12th deadline of the Critical Needs Assistance (CNA) program in the wake of Hurricane Ida.

Hurricane Ida left many Louisianians without the means to apply for aid. The hurricane caused more than 1 million people to lose power, and electricity still has not been restored in many homes. 

“Without a deadline extension, residents will not be able to apply for and receive vital aid related to urgent needs as a result of Hurricane Ida—this includes financial assistance for food, water, medicines and temporary housing,” Kennedy wrote.

CNA offers financial assistance to individuals displaced from their homes and have immediate need for critical supplies such as food, water, medicine, fuel and other essentials. The program issues a one-time $500 payment per eligible household. 

“I thank FEMA for their continued relief efforts, and I remain ready to work together to ensure Louisiana residents are getting the aid they need,” Kennedy concluded.

 Text of the letter is available here.

 

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) traveled to Houma, Thibodaux and LaPlace to visit with and deliver supplies to victims of Hurricane Ida. Kennedy also met with local officials and church leaders to discuss what help Louisianians need after the hurricane. 

“The destruction in south Louisiana is devastating. Churches and neighbors are helping meet immediate needs on the ground, but people are going to need housing in the long term. The role of government isn’t to run our lives—it’s to protect people and property, and that’s what we need help doing right now in Louisiana. The men and women I talked with here are tough, but I’ve never seen the kind of damage Hurricane Ida caused. I’ll keep hounding Washington to make sure communities like Houma, Thibodaux and LaPlace get the aid they need to get Louisianians back on their feet,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy delivered supplies and spent time hearing from Hurricane Ida victims in Houma, Thibodaux and LaPlace on Tuesday.

Kennedy recently conducted a helicopter tour of south Louisiana to see Hurricane Ida’s damage firsthand. 

Kennedy also wrote to President Biden to alert him to the need for urgent disaster relief for Louisiana and met with the president in person to discuss ways to help Louisiana recover.

Background on Kennedy’s response to historic hurricanes:

  • On August 2, Kennedy offered an amendment to the Senate’s infrastructure bill providing $1.1 billion in disaster relief to Louisianians recovering from Hurricanes Laura, Delta and Zeta. The Senate blocked the amendment
  • On July 15, Kennedy 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 historic storms. The Senate blocked the bill’s passage.
  • On May 19, Kennedy pressed HUD for answers about why the White House has been silent on providing disaster relief to southwest Louisiana.
  • On May 18, Kennedy again urged President Biden to provide supplemental disaster relief for southwest Louisiana.
  • On May 13, Kennedy helped introduce the Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act, which would allow rural homeowners, renters and small businesses to access disaster relief more easily in the wake of a natural disaster.
  • In September 2020, Kennedy wrote to Senate leadership, Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), to request that the Senate consider emergency supplemental aid to help Louisiana residents recover from Hurricane Laura.

BATON ROUGE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), together with Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Reps. Clay Higgins (R-La.), Steve Scalise (R-La.), Mike Johnson (R-La.), Garret Graves (R-La.), Julia Letlow (R-La.) and Troy Carter (D-La.), today wrote to President Joe Biden alerting him to the need for disaster relief funds to help Louisiana recover from historic storm damage.

“Hurricane Ida moved slowly through Louisiana causing catastrophic wind damage and flooding in numerous parishes and leaving nearly 1,000,000 people statewide without electricity, which experts say it will take weeks to restore. At this time, many communities remain without access to drinking water, food, gasoline, and basic needs, while temperatures remain in excess of 100 degrees,” the lawmakers wrote.

“The full extent of Louisiana’s damages have not yet been determined and will likely not be fully known until after immediate matters of public safety are addressed. Further, Hurricane Ida is not the only disaster to strike Louisiana in the past year. In fact, a record breaking five named storms—Cristóbal, Marco, Laura, Delta, and Zeta—hammered Louisiana within the past year resulting in dozens of lives lost and billions of dollars in damages,” the lawmakers continued.

The legislators pointed out that many communities across Southwest and Central Louisiana, such as Lake Charles, Lafayette, Leesville and Alexandria, among others, are still waiting for disaster funding from the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program.

“As such, we are writing you now to alert you to the need for Congress to provide emergency supplemental appropriations to address Hurricane Ida and the storms from last year, as was done following Hurricane Katrina. Without substantial and robust emergency appropriations from Congress to critical unmet needs accounts like the CDBG-DR program, Louisiana families will continue to languish as a result of these devastating storms,” the lawmakers continued.

The letter is available here.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, today urged U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to stop the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) from flowing to the Taliban terrorist group.

The Biden administration has been a proponent of the $650 billion allocation of special drawing rights (SDRs), which would send more than $400 million to Afghanistan. The IMF allocation is set for Aug. 23.

“During our meeting last May, I urged you to halt your pursuit of approving Special Drawing Rights under the guise that an allocation would provide foreign aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. As I noted, the bulk of the funds from an SDR allocation would wrongly benefit G20 countries—the wealthiest economies in the world—while millions would go to our adversaries, state sponsors of terrorists, and countries that have perpetrated genocide. It is my understanding that Afghanistan, under the approved allocation, is expected to receive $450 million in SDRs, a portion of which is scheduled to arrive in Afghanistan by next week,” wrote Kennedy. 

“As the Taliban has seized power in Afghanistan, just two weeks before the U.S.’s troop withdrawal, it is clear these SDRs will fall into their hands. Not only that, but since the U.S.’s withdrawal in Afghanistan, many adversarial governments are poised to extend economic and diplomatic influence over Afghanistan. This is evident as both China and Russia have indicated they would formally recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan’s legitimate government,” Kennedy continued.

“The Biden Administration must not allow the Taliban to gain legitimacy in economic or diplomatic dealings with the U.S. or abroad.  The Taliban never intended to abide by the terms of the peace deal, and this administration should not bend to the false promises of the Taliban,” he explained.

“With this in mind, I urge you to block the nearly half a billion dollars that is headed to Afghanistan under the Taliban’s rule. Furthermore, I ask the Treasury Department and the IMF to end the use of SDRs as a means of foreign aid to countries like China, Iran, and Russia, who continue to support this terrorist regime,” Kennedy concluded.

Text of the letter is available here.

In March, Kennedy questioned Yellen on why the Biden administration is circumventing Congress to burden American taxpayers with SDRs that would go to regimes that oppress their citizens and actively oppose American interests, such as China and Russia.

In June, Kennedy  introduced the No Dollars for Dictators Act. The legislation would prohibit allocations of special drawing rights at the IMF from going to perpetrators of genocide and state sponsors of terrorism unless Congress authorizes the allocation.

Background

The IMF distributes special drawing rights according to each country’s economic standing in the global economy. That means the world’s wealthiest countries receive the most special drawing rights of all IMF members. 

The president’s justification for supporting the proposed allocation is to allow low-income countries to exchange their special drawing rights for currency to fund efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Under the proposed allocation, however, the countries with the 19 largest economies in the world would receive $426 billion—the bulk of the special drawing rights. The 24 poorest countries would receive only three percent of the allocation, or $21 billion. 

China alone would receive $22 billion in special drawing rights, which is more than the total that all of the poor countries combined would receive. Russia would receive $18 billion. In addition to sending billions of dollars to Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, the allocation would send billions in aid to Hassan Rouhani, Bashar al-Assad and Nicolas Maduro.

State sponsors of terrorism would also receive aid from the allocation President Biden has approved. Iran would receive $3.5 billion, and Syria would receive $900 million.

While some have claimed that special drawing rights offer the U.S. a no-cost way to assist poor countries, this is demonstrably false. This IMF allocation would require the U.S. to issue debt in order to cover the loans issued through special drawing rights. The U.S. would have to pay interest on that debt, and that interest would exceed any interest that the U.S. may receive on the loans it issues.

There is no requirement that countries that receive loans from the U.S. through special drawing rights ever repay the principal. As a result, the financial burden of these loans will fall on the U.S. taxpayer.

 


Watch Kennedy’s full statement here. 

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today released this statement about President Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. Key excerpts are below:

“I am so sorry that all of our American soldiers who fought so valiantly [in Afghanistan] had to witness what we all saw, and what we saw was stunning incompetence.”

“President Biden chose to withdraw from Afghanistan, but there's no reason it had to be so chaotic. We all saw it: The panic, the fear, the chaos, the abandonment of equipment, the scrambling to destroy unclassified documents and classified documents, thousands of Americans and our allies trapped behind Taliban lines, no plan for the refugees.”

“It was horrible, and this didn’t have to happen. The military and the intelligence community told President Biden that if he withdrew without a plan and too quickly, this was going to happen, but he did it anyway.”

“It was the biggest terrorist victory since 9/11, and Jihadists who want to hurt this country and its people all over the world are reinvigorated today. Our enemies—China and Russia—are laughing. And our veterans are crying, and I cry with them.”

Watch Kennedy’s full statement here.