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WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today issued the following statement in response to President Biden’s announced budget. 

“America’s debt is already economic quicksand, and President Biden’s budget would mire us deeper in that pit by spending more than ever before. With inflation on the rise and the economy re-opened, the Biden administration thinks now is the time to spend trillions of dollars on liberal pet projects while undercutting our national defense. America’s rivals are watching for any sign of weakness, and President Biden’s budget spells out ‘sucker’ in semaphore. If the president wants to strangle a strong economy and saddle the next generation of Americans with crippling debt, his budget follows the right recipe,” said Kennedy. 

Biden today released a planned budget for fiscal year 2022. The budget plan includes a 16 percent increase in domestic spending but only increases defense spending by 1.7 percent, a rate that is effectively a funding cut since it does not keep up with inflation.

The U.S. national debt already totals more than $28 trillion.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today issued the following statement in response to the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) estimated cost of Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) Endless Frontier Act, which would increase the U.S. deficit by $53.5 billion over the 2021-2031 period.

The $53.5 billion is emergency spending, which waives the requirement that Congress find a way to pay for the funds as it spends them. There is no offset for this spending. In addition, the bill would authorize another $191 billion in future spending.

“America doesn’t have the money to pay for the Endless Spending Act, so here’s what this deficit spending means: Senate Democrats are asking their colleagues to borrow money from China to fund projects that add precious little to our military defense or economic competitiveness against China.

“Democrats are asking us to open the door to sinking another $190 billion deeper in debt to China. Democrats voted down the Republican amendment that would block the Treasury from sending U.S. dollars straight to genocidal regimes like China. This bill isn’t anti-China, but it is pro-spending. This bill would do the Chinese Communist Party a favor by further crippling American taxpayers with debt owned by China. China is a bad actor, and this is a bad bill,” said Kennedy. 

Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today remembered Louisiana’s Gov. Buddy Roemer on the Senate floor.

Key excerpts include:

“I want to just spend a few minutes today saying goodbye to a friend. Louisiana weeps right now. Governor Charles E. Roemer III passed away last week. He went by ‘Buddy.’ He served our state from 1988 to 1992. Before that, he served a number of terms in Congress.

. . .

Buddy was one of the first real intellectual governors that we ever had in Louisiana. I’m not putting down our other governors, I’m not, because all of our governors have been intelligent, just like in your state. You don’t rise to that position without being intelligent. But Buddy truly believed in the power of ideas. And he truly believed in the worth of education.”

. . .

“When he became governor, we had a $7 billion budget; we had a $1 billion deficit. That’s what he was left with. Roemer balanced the budget. Wasn’t easy, but he did it.”

“And then he implemented fiscal reforms that dramatically, totally, changed our way of budgeting in Louisiana for generations to come, because of Buddy’s efforts.”

 . . .

“I’m going to really miss Buddy. All he ever wanted to do was change Louisiana. And he did. He wasn’t reelected, but he did. But Buddy always understood—this was his barometer of success. He used to tell me, ‘Kennedy, here’s how you know when you’re doing a good job: If you’re making the right people mad.’ He used to say, ‘If nobody’s mad at you, and if the wrong people like what you’re doing, you’re not doing your job.’” 

Watch Kennedy question NIAID Director Fauci here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today questioned National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci about whether U.S. grant money could have funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan.

Key exchanges from the Appropriations subcommittee include:

Kennedy: “Dr. Fauci, I believe you have testified that you didn’t give any money to the Wuhan lab to conduct gain-of-function research. Is that right?”

Fauci: “That is correct.”

. . .

Kennedy: “How do you know they didn’t lie to you and use the money for gain-of-function research anyway?”

Fauci: “Well, we’ve seen the results of the experiments that were done and that were published—and that the viruses that they studied are on public data bases now. So, none of that was gain-of-function, so—"

Kennedy: “How do you know that they didn’t do the research and not put it on their website? 

Fauci: “There’s no way of guaranteeing that, but in our experience with grantees, including Chinese grantees, which we have had interactions with for a very long period of time, they are very competent, trustworthy scientists.”

. . . 

Kennedy: “You think all the scientists have told the truth in terms of the origin of the Wuhan virus and not been influenced by the Communist Party of China, do you?” 

Fauci: “I don’t have enough insight into the Communist Party in China to know the interactions between them and the scientists, sir.”

. . .

Kennedy: “Here’s where I’m getting at: You gave them money, and you said, ‘Don’t do gain-of-function research.’”

Fauci: “Correct.”

Kennedy: “And they said, ‘We won’t.’”

Fauci: “Correct.”

Kennedy: “And you have no way of knowing whether they did or not, except you trust them. Is that right?”

Fauci: “Well, we generally always trust the grantee to do what they say, and you look at the results—”

Kennedy: “Have you ever had a grantee lie to you?”

Fauci: “I cannot guarantee that a grantee has not lied to us because you never know.”

Kennedy: “Can we agree that if you took President Xi Jinping and turned him upside down and shook him, the World Health Organization would fall out of his pocket?”

Fauci: “I don’t think I can answer that question, sir. I’m sorry.”  

Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats today voted down Sen. John Kennedy’s (R-La.) amendment to the Endless Frontier Act. The amendment, S.Amdt. 1710, would prohibit allocations of special drawing rights at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from going to state sponsors of terrorism and those guilty of genocide without congressional approval.

“Stopping taxpayer money from flowing to dictators and genocidal leaders like Xi Jinping is a no-brainer. This is one of the simplest, most honorable votes we’ll take this year. I can’t see any reason that anyone with America’s best interests at heart would have a problem voting to require Congress to sign off before the Treasury sends U.S. dollars to dictators,” said Kennedy ahead of the vote.

“The International Monetary Fund issues special drawing rights, and a special drawing right is like a crypto coin: It’s not worth anything. It’s only worth something if you exchange it for real money. And the Biden administration decided to encourage the IMF to issue all these crypto coins, and guess what they’re all doing? They’re bringing the crypto coins to the United States of America and saying, ‘We want dollars! Give me dollars for the crypto coin!’” Kennedy explained on the floor.

“But we don’t have any dollars in our checking account, so we have to go borrow the money. There’s no free lunch, and you don’t get one now. All my bill would do [is] say we’re not going to issue special drawing rights to perpetrators of genocide or state sponsors of terrorism. In other words, no China, no free money to China, no free money to Syria and no free money to Iran. It is ludicrous for us to be borrowing money to give dollars to exchange for crypto coins to China or Syria or Iran,” concluded Kennedy.

Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) co-sponsored this amendment.

Kennedy’s amendment is available here

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the No Red and Blue Banks Act, which would prohibit the federal government from entering contracts with banks that discriminate against lawful businesses based solely on social policy considerations. 

“If banks want to become political actors and impose their policy positions on Americans, they shouldn’t get to rake in taxpayer dollars from government contracts. The No Red and Blue Banks Act would block banks that discriminate based on their own political values from profiting off federal contracts,” said Kennedy.

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) is an original co-sponsor of this legislation.

Background:

  • On March 22, 2018, Citigroup announced new guidelines imposing three extralegal requirements on gun sales made by its partner businesses. The guidelines force businesses to adopt background check requirements, restrict the sale of firearms for individuals under 21 years of age and refrain from selling bump stocks or high-capacity magazines. 
  • A few weeks later, Bank of America followed suit and announced that it would be winding down its business dealings with companies that manufacture semi-automatic rifles.
  • In both announcements, these banks cited social concerns about gun violence as motivation to take action.
  • These banks took action to restrict legal commercial activity, above and beyond the limitations on gun and accessory sales that Congress has already imposed. 
  • Citigroup and Bank of America were among the “systemically important banks” granted bailouts during the Great Recession, totaling more than $812.3 billion taxpayer dollars. 
  • Citigroup is the world’s largest issuer of credit cards, with nearly $500 billion in annual purchases. The bank serves 100 million customers in 19 markets. 
  • Bank of America has more than 47 million customers and a retail footprint that reaches 80% of the United States.

Text of the No Red and Blue Banks Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $5,906,127 in funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for structure elevation and acquisition in Lafayette and St. Tammany Parishes. 

“The recent flooding in Louisiana reminds us how important investing in elevation projects is for our state. I am grateful that FEMA is fully funding these improvements,” said Kennedy. 

FEMA will grant $3,420,195 to Lafayette Parish for the elevation of seven structures and the acquisition of seven structures. Seven structures will be removed from areas of historic flooding, and the first floor of each elevation project will be raised to mitigate flood risk.

In addition, FEMA will allocate $2,485,932 to St. Tammany Parish for the elevation of 10 structures.

FEMA is funding 100 percent of both projects because all properties in view fall into the severe repetitive loss category. These grants are pursuant to the National Flood Insurance Act.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and other Republican senators in introducing a resolution condemning hatred and violence against Jews, denouncing anti-Israel rhetoric from elected officials and the media and reaffirming that Jews must be treated with dignity and respect.

“Some say that being anti-Israel doesn’t mean being anti-Semitic, but the two often go hand-in-hand. Since Hamas started lobbing rockets at Israel, we have seen anti-Semites commit numerous acts of violence against Jews in America and abroad. The individuals whose irresponsible words have added to this cloud of hate have no excuse. Israel is America’s ally, and Jewish Americans have played a significant role in making America the great, diverse nation that we are today. We must continue to stand against anti-Semitism,” said Kennedy.

“The sickening rise in anti-Semitic attacks in the United States and around the world must end, along with the hateful anti-Israel rhetoric from politicians and the media that inspires the violence. We must ensure that Jewish people receive the full protection of law owed to them as citizens of the United States,” said Hawley.

Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) co-sponsored the resolution.

The resolution has also received support from the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Family Research Council.

In recent weeks, Jewish people in the United States have been threatened, cursed at, spit on, burned and physically assaulted in nearly 200 documented attacks since the start of the most recent conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Kennedy previously joined his colleagues in introducing a resolution to stand with Israel and condemn the attacks by Hamas. Kennedy and more than 40 other senators also sent a letter to President Biden urging him to stand with Israel and stop negotiating with Iran concerning potential sanctions relief.

LAKE CHARLES, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today met with flood victims and disaster relief volunteers in Lafayette, Carencro and Lake Charles, La. The current flooding hits Louisiana after historic hurricanes struck the state last fall. 

“The most important things in life aren’t things—they’re people. The men and women of south Louisiana are again proving that Louisiana can pull through anything as long as we’re pulling together. It was an honor to visit their communities and hear their stories of strength today.

“After Hurricanes Laura and Delta and flooding from this historic rainfall, neighbors are again helping neighbors. But they still need help. I would support a presidential disaster declaration in the wake of these floods. Now, it’s time for the White House to show our people they’re not alone and move on getting supplemental disaster relief to Louisianians on the ground,” said Kennedy. 

Kennedy hears directly from flood victims in Carencro, La. 


 Kennedy speaks with Lafayette Parish residents whose homes were flooded when the Vermilion River and Coulee Mine rose.


Kennedy spoke with Louisianians from Lafayette and Vermilion Parishes whose homes suffered damage from the floods and met with Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory, Carencro Mayor Glenn Brasseaux, Duson Mayor Johnny Thibodeaux, Scott Mayor Jan-Scott Richard and Youngsville Mayor Ken Ritter in Lafayette. 

 Kennedy meets with disaster volunteers at Trinity Baptist Church in Lake Charles, La. 


Kennedy also met with Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter and disaster relief volunteers who have been helping victims on the ground in Lake Charles, La.

Background on requests for disaster relief:

Kennedy continues to support supplemental disaster relief for Louisiana as the state is still rebuilding after Hurricanes Laura and Delta and from this week’s flooding.

Once Congress receives a request for supplemental disaster aid from the White House, legislators can appropriate relief funds and send that bill to the president for his signature. The White House has not yet made a request for supplemental relief for Louisiana following the last year of hurricanes and flooding. 

  • On May 20, Kennedy spoke directly with Housing and Urban Development Secretary (HUD) Marcia Fudge about supplemental disaster relief for Louisiana. Fudge said she was personally supportive of the aid and would talk to the White House about when it might make the necessary request to Congress for that relief.
  • 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. His letter is here.
  • On May 18, Kennedy criticized FEMA for trying to raise flood insurance premiums for Louisiana residents without explaining how those decisions have been made. FEMA’s new rating system would change the way premium rates are calculated, potentially making flood insurance unaffordable for Louisiana families in flood-prone areas.
  • Last week, Kennedy helped introduce the Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act, which would allow rural homeowners, renters and small businesses to more easily access disaster relief in the wake of a natural disaster.
  • In December 2020, Kennedy wrote to President Trump for supplemental disaster funds to help Louisiana recover from extensive hurricane damage caused by the 2020 season’s storms.
  • 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.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today questioned Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge about the status of supplemental disaster relief for Louisiana in the wake of Hurricanes Laura and Delta and current historic flooding.

Watch Kennedy question HUD Secretary here.

Key exchanges include:

Kennedy: “Secretary Fudge, Louisiana, as you probably know, was hit by two massive hurricanes last year. The focal point was southwest Louisiana, but the hurricanes were devastating to central Louisiana, to northeast Louisiana. With respect to block grant disaster assistance . . . our entire Congressional delegation have repeatedly talked to the White House about getting an answer to our requests for the disaster relief. We have asked, we have begged, we have cajoled, we’ve sent fruit baskets. We haven’t sent over a personal pan pizza yet, but we are thinking about doing that to the White House. We just want an answer. Can you help me get an answer?

Fudge: “What I am saying as well, is that we are more than willing to support what is happening, but Congress needs to make that decision. Whatever decision Congress makes we are going to be supportive of. I stand ready.”

Kennedy: “As you know, customarily the way this works, the White House has to send a request to Congress. Has the president decided to send over that request, and if so, do you know when we’ll get it?

Fudge: “No, but I can ask.”

Fudge: “Well, I will find out, sir, because I think we need to do as much as we possibly can.”

Kennedy: “Okay, well I thank you for that, Madam Secretary. Let me be sure I understand: You are—you personally—on behalf of HUD are supportive of granting—of asking Congress—to give us the relief, is that right?

Fudge: “I personally, yes, but as you say, that’s not my decision to make.”

Kennedy: “I know. Have you talked to anyone at the White House about our request?”

Fudge: “I have not, but I will make sure that I do it right away.”

. . .

Kennedy: “Can you tell me when we’ll get an answer?”

Fudge: “I’m going to call today. Now, I don’t know when that answer will be, but as soon as I get answer, I will make sure that you get it right away.”

. . .

Kennedy: “Okay. If you could, Madam Secretary, if we could get an answer—my people deserve an answer.”

Fudge: “I will.”