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WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) today introduced the Safe Schools Act to use any unspent COVID relief funds provided through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund for school security measures. Schools in Louisiana and across the country could use money from the program to harden their facilities against safety threats.

“We need to keep our kids and teachers safe, and we know what works. The federal government already has $150 billion that local communities can use to protect students with security officers, school perimeters, mental health resources and more. The Safe Schools Act would use those resources to make our schools safer now,” said Kennedy.

“While we made some progress in previous legislation to make our schools stronger, harder, and safer, certainly there is more that can and must be done immediately to protect kids. What happened in Uvalde was a horrific tragedy. While many have been quick to play politics, one thing we can all agree on is that Congress must act to harden schools. For these reasons, I am introducing this legislation that allows the abundance of unused COVID relief dollars to be allocated to secure schools in Kansas and throughout the nation,” said Marshall.

$150 billion of the $189.5 billion provided to schools through this fund remain unspent. Under current law, states can obligate and spend this money through the end of 2024.

The Safe Schools Act would allow schools to use this funding to hire and retain armed school resource officers.

In addition, schools could use the money to provide:

  • locks, 
  • security cameras and systems,
  • fencing, 
  • violence-prevention programs,
  • anonymous reporting systems,
  • threat assessment and intervention teams,
  • training for school officials to respond to mental health crises,
  • technology to quickly notify local law enforcement during an emergency,
  • entry control measures for school campuses and
  • other safety measures.

Text of the bill is available here.

 

 

 

 

WASHINGTON—Sen. John Kennedy today announced $14.8 million in grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for coastal restoration projects in Louisiana. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is awarding the grants in response to the hurricane damage that impacted the state in 2021.

“These investments will help make our communities more resilient against future storms by caring for Louisiana’s coastal wetlands in Terrebonne and Plaquemines Parishes,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy’s ongoing support for coastal resilience was a key factor in securing this funding.

The grants will fund the following:

  • $5,025,037 to the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority for the "Bayou Grand Cheniere Marsh Creation" project.
  • $5,455,744 to the Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government for the "Installing a Living Shoreline on Lake Chien" project.
  • $4,280,518 to the town of Dularge in Terrebonne Parish for the "Increasing Community Resilience through Restoration of Dularge Marsh" project.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $40,698,890 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants in disaster aid for Louisiana.

“This $40 million will help Louisiana communities recover from Hurricanes Laura, Ida and Zeta and other storms that have damaged our state,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $15,650,998 to New Orleans Sewage and Water for system repairs as a result of Hurricane Katrina.
  • $1,363,908 to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for debris removal operations as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $2,488,047 to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for debris removal operations as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $11,291,912 to the LA Department of Transportation and Development for debris removal operations as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $1,350,197 to Cameron Parish for management costs as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $1,151,772 to Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District as a result of Hurricane Zeta.
  • $1,142,730 to the Southwest Louisiana Hospital Association for emergency protective measures as a result of the Severe Winter Storm.
  • $1,290,531 to East Baton Rouge Parish for debris removal as a result of the Severe Winter Storm.
  • $3,812,573 to Terrebonne Parish School Board for emergency protective measures as a result of Hurricane Ida.
  • $1,156,222 to Plaquemine Parish School Board for emergency protective measures as a result of Hurricane Ida.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) and 45 other senators in sending a letter to Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) pledging their unwavering support for pro-life protections writ large and for the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer funding for abortion.

“We write to express our unwavering support for the Hyde Amendment and all other longstanding pro-life protections. For more than 45 years, the Hyde Amendment has ensured that taxpayer dollars are not used to fund abortions, saving the lives of nearly 2.5 million preborn children. As you know, the Hyde Amendment is supported by both a substantial majority of the American public and a bipartisan majority of sitting United States Senators, and was most recently signed into law by President Biden in Public Law 117-103,” the senators wrote.

“Nevertheless, President Biden's budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 once again proposes to eliminate the Hyde Amendment and other existing pro-life protections, while also increasing taxpayer funding for the abortion industry at home and abroad, including through massive funding increases for the Title X family planning program,” they continued.

“We urge you to start where we finished by making a baseline commitment to maintain the same pro-life protections that were included in Public Law 117-103, and to eschew any taxpayer-funded giveaways that benefit the multi-billion-dollar abortion industry. The American people, born and preborn, deserve nothing less,” concluded the lawmakers.

The letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $16,225,731 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants in disaster aid for Louisiana.

“This $16 million in FEMA aid will help Lafourche and St. Tammany Parishes pay for repairs and recovery our communities needed in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $7,138,235 to Lafourche Parish for facility repairs related to Hurricane Ida.
  • $7,993,224 to St. Tammany Parish for right-of-way debris removal related to Hurricane Ida.
  • $1,094,271 to St. Tammany Parish for right-of-way debris monitoring related to Hurricane Ida.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) penned this op-ed for National Review. Below are key excerpts from the piece explaining why Congress should pass the Homeland and Cyber Threat (HACT) Act to help combat cyberpredators and give cyberattack victims the right to seek monetary compensation.

“Foreign cyberattacks hurt everyday Americans, and those victims need a way to get justice from foreign governments that sponsor the criminal attackers. U.S. law already allows victims of international terrorism to sue foreign states that sponsor terrorist attacks, but the law deprives cyberattack victims of a similar recourse—and America’s enemies know it.

“ Long before Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, he was making Russia a haven for cybercriminals. Not only does the Kremlin provide safe harbor for these criminals, but Russian intelligence agencies sometimes even employ them. This arrangement allows Russian hackers to launch cyberattacks on Americans while the Russian government maintains plausible deniability.

“Last May, foreign hackers with likely ties to Russia struck again. They hit the Colonial Pipeline by cutting the company off from its own data until it paid a $4.4 million ransom to restore access.”

. . .

“Firms such as the Colonial Pipeline and JBS eventually recovered from these cyberattacks, but small businesses are more vulnerable. Main-street shops don’t have the financial resources or the cybersecurity systems that big companies enjoy. That makes them prime targets for digital terrorists.”

. . .

“Americans need an effective way to seek justice and compensation from the foreign governments that aid cyberterrorists. That’s why Congress should pass the Homeland and Cyber Threat (HACT) Act.

“The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act became law in 1976, long before the days of the Internet, and the HACT Act would bring the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act in line with modern technology. The HACT Act would give American citizens the right to seek monetary compensation for damages suffered and hold foreign officials, employees, and agents accountable for sponsoring cyberterrorism. Companies and individual Americans who have had their private data hacked would have a path to justice from the people responsible for their pain. By imposing a cost on the foreign regimes that launch these attacks, the bill would help deter future cyberterrorism.”

. . .

“If American citizens are already able to sue foreign governments for contributing to terrorism, why shouldn’t they be able to sue governments that help cyberpredators violate their privacy and steal their data?

“The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act needs an update. Americans have already suffered too much at the hands of foreign cybercriminals.”

The op-ed is available here.

NEW ORLEANS – Sen. John Kennedy today gathered with local, state and federal officials on the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier in New Orleans to recognize the completion of the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System. Kennedy was instrumental in reducing the federal debt the state of Louisiana owes on the storm barrier by $1.3 billion.

Louisianians are the toughest people I know. After enduring five hurricanes in the past two years, we know well that you can never be too prepared—that’s why this investment is so important. Without the deal we worked out to reduce the interest Louisiana was paying for this crucial project, the taxpayers of my state would have been forced to foot the bill for an extra $1.3 billion. Our people need more hurricane protection and less debt, and today we celebrate both of those successes,” said Kennedy.

In 2022, the US Army Corps of Engineers completed the 130-mile Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System and turned it over to the state to operate and maintain.

Thanks to a provision that Kennedy negotiated into a federal spending bill, the Corps of Engineers agreed to accept, without interest, Louisiana's cost share loan payment for the storm protection system that encircles the New Orleans area. The state of Louisiana must simply repay the remaining unpaid principal balance by Sept. 30, 2023. This provision eliminates $1.3 billion of debt that Louisiana would have otherwise owed to the Corps.

 

Watch Kennedy’s remarks here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today spoke on the Senate floor about the burden Louisiana families and workers are suffering as a result of record-high inflation and gas prices.  

Kennedy’s comments included:

“Many of my people, Mr. President, are struggling. President Biden took office on January 20 of last year. So, what are we, we’re in day 490 of Build Back Better? From where many of people sit, nothing’s been built, and nothing is back, and nothing is better.

“There’s not a more appropriate example of that than the cost of living: inflation. When President Biden took office, the cost of gasoline in my state was $2—$2—a gallon. It's between $4.15 and $4.25 right now. 

“And it’s not just gasoline, Mr. President. I mean, I don’t need to tell you: A dozen eggs now cost $2.52. Ground beef is $5.41. A pound of chicken is $4.10.

“The price of oil, the price of gasoline, affects so much in terms of our economy. I mean, most of our food, our clothes, our plastics, the things we use every day are delivered by air, by van, by tanker—all of which use gasoline. Pharmaceuticals are affected by the price of oil.

“I don’t think it’s any secret that the Biden administration is trying to disrupt the production of oil in America. I think that’s just a fact. We see it in the president canceling leases on federal lands in the Gulf of Mexico and ANWR. We see it from the difficult regulatory environment for oil and gas producers.”

. . .

“Now, President Biden has said he has no control over the price of oil, and, therefore, the price of gasoline.

“But, Mr. President, you can't have regulatory control over the drilling, the transporting, the storage, the refining, the trading, and the taxation of oil—as the president does—and say you have no control over the price of the commodity. I mean, that’s just not true.”

. . .

“Here’s his energy policy: wind, solar, and wishful thinking. It’s just not realistic. And, among other things, it is hurting our country—it’s hurting my people of Louisiana desperately because of the rise in gasoline prices.”

. . .

“The good people in Louisiana, they just can’t afford it. And my people deserve better.

“Now, what’s the answer? Here’s my opinion: We’ve got to stop spending. The Federal Reserve has got to be given a chance to do its job. The United States Congress has a budget that we have set for the United States of America. We need to live within our budget. Except for defense spending, we need to freeze spending. We need to freeze it and give the Federal Reserve a chance to get this inflation under control.”

Watch Kennedy’s full remarks here.

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $3,666,416.57 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants in disaster aid for Louisiana.

“This $3.7 million will help the Kenner community after it cleared debris and began recovery when Hurricane Ida dealt our state an incredible blow,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $3,194,860 to the city of Kenner for debris removal related to Hurricane Ida.
  • $448,126 to the city of Kenner for debris monitoring related to Hurricane Ida.
  • $23,431 to the city of Kenner for tipping fees related to Hurricane Ida.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced an extension of his 2019 legislation, Rebuilding Small Businesses After Disasters Act. The new bill extends the law and makes permanent provisions that will help homeowners and small businesses access certain U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans.

The original Recovery Improvements for Small Entities (RISE) After Disaster Act of 2015, which the Rebuilding Small Businesses After Disasters Act of 2019 extended, allows borrowers to obtain a physical disaster loan for up to $25,000 without pledging any collateral for three years. The previous loan limit was $14,000. Kennedy’s 2019 bill became law but is set to expire in Nov. 2022.

“Disasters like hurricanes and flooding can leave Louisiana properties in ruin, and my bill would ensure that families have quick access to the funds they need to rebuild,” said Kennedy.

Physical disaster loans help businesses, homeowners and others rebuild damaged property in declared disaster areas.

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) study showed that Kennedy’s 2019 bill saved the government money. According to the study, the GAO “reviewed more than 20 years of loan data and found that the loans approved before the change in collateral requirements had higher default rates than the loans approved after the change.”

Text of the proposed bill is available here.