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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.

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.

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.”

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—

(1)

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.