WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) sent a letter to New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu this morning urging the mayor to comply with federal immigration law.
“On March 27, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he was urging all states and local jurisdictions to comply with federal immigration laws,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Unless changes are made, the city of New Orleans could be ineligible for important Department of Justice grants. These grants support law enforcement and justice programs that the people of New Orleans rely on and sorely need, especially in light of the rampant crime in our city. I urge Mayor Landrieu to take immediate steps to comply.”
Text of the letter:
March 30, 2017
The Honorable Mitchell J. Landrieu
Mayor of New Orleans
1300 Perdido Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70112
VIA EMAIL, FACSIMILE, AND U.S. MAIL
Dear Mayor Landrieu:
On March 27, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he was urging all states and local jurisdictions to comply with all federal laws, including 8 U.S.C. Section 1373. Attorney General Sessions also said he will require state and local jurisdictions seeking or applying for Department of Justice grants to certify compliance with Section 1373 as a condition for receiving them. Section 1373, as you know, prohibits state and local policies that restrict communication to the federal government about any individual's immigration status. It prohibits so-called “sanctuary cities.” Additionally, Attorney General Sessions has previously criticized cities that refuse to honor immigration detainer requests.
The Attorney General's announcement follows President Trump's Executive Order, titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” This order stated that jurisdictions “that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary [of Homeland Security].”
The City of New Orleans is a sanctuary jurisdiction and is not in compliance with Section 1373. On February 28, 2016, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) issued a policy that prohibits police from disclosing information on immigration status to federal officials, except in certain situations. The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General has noted that New Orleans policy “presents concerns” and “unless the understanding of NOPD's employees is that they are not prohibited or restricted from sharing immigration status information with ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], the policy would be inconsistent with Section 1373.” Unless changes are made, the City of New Orleans could be ineligible for important Department of Justice grants.
These grants are substantial. In Fiscal Year 2016, the Office of Justice Programs in the Department of Justice made nearly 3,000 grants, totaling $3.9 billion to states, counties, cities, and other local governments. Closer to home, Orleans Parish received $2.9 million in Department of Justice grants during Fiscal Year 2016 and $9.4 million in Fiscal Year 2015. These grants support law enforcement and justice programs that the people of New Orleans rely on and sorely need, especially in light of the rampant crime in our city. Justice Department grants to our city included grants for comprehensive law enforcement strategies, programs for justice and mental health, an anti-human trafficking task force, a sexual assault kit initiative, and a youth violence prevention team. Retaining the current policies of the New Orleans Police Department about reporting immigration status and any other refusal by city officials to cooperate in enforcing federal immigration law puts future funding at risk. Additionally, Attorney General Sessions also mentioned the possibility of “clawing back” grant monies that have already been awarded.
You have stated publically that the New Orleans Police Department “will not be coerced into joining Trump's deportation army.” I respect your personal feelings on illegal immigration but you must comply with federal law unless Congress sees fit to change that law.
Please take immediate steps to comply with federal immigration laws, including Section 1373, and preserve this important funding that improves the lives of citizens of New Orleans and keeps them safe.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) Issues Statement On Delay In Selecting Contractor For Flood Recovery Management
Mar 27 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement today on the state's selection of a contractor to manage the $1.6 billion recovery program for victims of the March and August flooding.
“The Division of Administration and the committee Gov. Edwards put in charge of the recovery have once again turned in a Three Stooges-like performance. The legal opinion they relied on, done by an attorney (and former state senator) whose son worked for one of the contract bidders, has now resulted in even further delay in getting money that the U.S. Congress appropriated seven months ago into the hands of our people. Anyone who knows a law book from a Sears and Roebuck catalog can see that Sen. Larry Bankston has a conflict. The appearance of impropriety, and the delay, makes it that much harder for us in Congress to convince our colleagues to appropriate more taxpayer money to help our flood victims,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Members of Congress and their staff read newspapers too. And the stench they have been reading about hurts our cause mightily.”
Mar 22 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee resumed its questioning of U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) asked Judge Gorsuch about his past opinions, judicial precedent, and the Third Amendment to the United States Constitution. To watch Sen. Kennedy's questioning from day two of the hearing, click below:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate to honor Louisiana law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty, including East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Sgt. Shawn Anderson.
“Please join me in saying a prayer for these law enforcement officers and their families. They were sons, they were fathers who will miss out on birthdays, holidays and graduations,” said Sen. Kennedy. “They were men who sacrificed their lives so we can sleep a little bit better. Let us also pray for an end to the violence. We've had enough flashing blue lights lighting up the dark nights in Louisiana.”
Mar 21 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement today on former U.S. Rep. John Fleming's appointment as deputy assistant secretary for health technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“I congratulate Dr. Fleming on his appointment to the Department of Health and Human Services,” said Sen. Kennedy. “President Trump and Secretary Price have made a wise decision in adding John to the administration. John is a skilled physician who can help strike a balance between advancing health care through technology and not crippling our medical professionals with regulatory costs and paperwork. He's also a good guy and was a terrific Congressman.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today in the Senate Judiciary Committee, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court:
“When I am evaluating candidates for judicial positions, I'm looking for a judge, not someone blinded by ideology. I'm not interested in people who want to use the judiciary to advance their personal policy goals. I want them to apply the law as it is, as best they understand it, not try to reshape the law as they wish it to be,” said Sen. Kennedy. “I also want a person who is intellectually curious, earnest is his desire to rule fairly, and willing to fight for his view of justice - sort of a cross between Socrates and Dirty Harry. I believe Judge Gorsuch is that person.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson came to an agreement this week on important policy changes that will give homeowners and business owners impacted by the March floods in Louisiana more time to recover and rebuild.
HUD has agreed to extend the deadline for homeowners and business owners to receive reimbursement for rebuilding work. Sen. Kennedy also secured a commitment that HUD will begin the process of advising mortgage lenders about the Mortgage Insurance for Disaster Victims program and will extend the deadline for application.
“I want to thank Secretary Carson for his common sense and compassion on issues that are so important to Louisiana,” said Sen. Kennedy. “This flexibility is needed because it took time to put funding programs in place, and it takes time to recover from such a tremendous disaster. Louisianians impacted by this terrible flooding need all the help we can give them. This flooding was unprecedented.”
“Those affected by the flooding last March will continue to have the resources they need to get back on their feet,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.). “The entire Louisiana delegation will continue to work with Secretary Carson and the rest of the administration to help Louisiana families rebuild, recover and prosper.”
The Louisiana delegation has been working with Gov. John Bel Edwards to ensure that flood victims receive the assistance they need to rebuild. State and federal officials representing Louisiana have made flood relief a priority in conversations with the Trump administration. Last month, staff members of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee visited Louisiana to see the damage firsthand.
Full text of Sen. Kennedy's letter follows:
March 3, 2017
The Honorable Ben Carson
Office of the Secretary
Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th St. SW
Washington, D.C. 20410
Dear Secretary Carson:
Congratulations on your confirmation as the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It was a privilege to participate in your confirmation hearing in the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, and I am very much looking forward to working with you on issues important to Louisiana.
I write to you today regarding the ongoing recovery from the historic flooding that devastated so many communities in Louisiana last year. Out of 64 parishes across the state, 56 parishes received federal emergency disaster declarations due to the major flooding events that occurred in March and August of 2016. The American taxpayers have always been generous to Louisiana in the aftermath of major disasters, and these flooding events are no different. Congress appropriated a total of $1.6 billion in disaster recovery Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to assist Louisiana. These funds will help repair and rebuild homes, businesses, and schools, and ultimately give thousands of Louisianans their futures back.
As you and I discussed during your confirmation process, several legislative and regulatory hurdles are preventing Louisiana families from rebuilding their homes and fully recovering from this disaster. Your ongoing help could directly expedite relief for those 193,000 families negatively impacted from the misinterpretation of several federal regulations.
There are several important requests that I would like to bring to your attention:
- I respectfully request you to grant a waiver of regulations under P.L. 114-223 and P.L. 114-254 to reduce the low-to-moderate-income (LMI) HUD requirement from 70 percent to 50 percent. I also ask that your agency continue to provide technical assistance to the State of Louisiana to work towards this request to allow CDBG dollars to benefit additional families. There is a precedent for this type of action since this waiver was granted for Louisiana after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
- I respectfully request that you extend, by one year, the limitation on reimbursement for eligible application costs for single and multi-family residential structures and nonresidential structures for rebuilding work completed during the first year after the date of the disaster. As I mentioned previously, the first major flooding event last year occurred in March 2016 and proper programming and funding was not in place in a timeframe that allowed eligible flood victims to participate. Extending this deadline will ensure that the state can develop suitable programs to encourage homeowners and businesses owners to rebuild as soon as possible without fear of missing their chance to receive assistance because of this regulation.
- Homeowners are facing significant delays in receiving portions of their National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) proceeds checks due to federal mortgage servicing guidelines. Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac are following Government-Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) servicing guidelines that are actually penalizing homeowners who choose to rebuild their homes themselves rather than hiring a third party, licensed contractor. The guidelines are forcing banks and mortgage companies that service these loans to require homeowners to hire a licensed contractor in order for the lender to release flood insurance funds. I would like to request that you examine this issue for a workable solution.
- Relief from the home-by-home environmental review requirement is a key priority to guarantee that as much disaster assistance funding as possible goes directly to flood victims. Site-by-site inspections in order to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review can generate costs as high as $3,500 per inspection and is unnecessary for the homes that do not need total reconstruction. It is important to realize that while this process was designed with good intentions, it does not allow for a whole lot of common sense. Allowing the flexibility to exempt an inspection for a structure where the rehabilitation work will not have an environmental impact will only improve the recovery process. I am aware that you cannot waive this requirement, and it would need a legislative fix. Please know that I look forward to addressing this issue in the Senate.
- I respectfully request that you work across government agencies with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address a critical duplication of benefits issue and work with SBA Administrator McMahon to alter the appropriate memorandum of understanding that will fix this problem. Many families are ineligible for CDBG funds because they accepted an SBA disaster loan in the weeks following the floods. I understand that the former HUD Secretary and SBA Administrator committed to working together to fix this issue.
- I respectfully request that you extend the application period for one year after the set expiration of the Mortgage Insurance for Disaster Victims (Section 203 (H)) program. Under current rules, anyone whose home has been destroyed or severely damaged in a presidentially declared disaster area is eligible to apply for mortgage insurance under this program. However, the borrower's application for mortgage insurance must be submitted to the lender within one year of the President's declaration of the disaster. This date is rapidly approaching for both disasters. I would encourage you to quickly extend the deadline to give the state as many venues for assistance and programming as possible.
I personally appreciate your attention to these serious requests and look forward to discussing common sense solutions so that bureaucracy does not impede the recovery process. Our country is lucky to have your leadership at HUD. Thank you for your service to America.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement today on State Police Col. Mike Edmonson's decision to retire:
“Col. Edmonson made the right decision in retiring, and I thank him for his service,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Unfortunately, his leadership had become a distraction during difficult times for Louisiana. I encourage the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's Office and the Division of Administration to continue their investigations into out-of-state travel by State Police so that much needed reforms can be made to safeguard taxpayer dollars.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today in the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) questioned Roy E. Wright, the Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, on why bad actors such as U.S. Forensic and attorney Gerald Nielsen continue to receive flood recovery dollars from the government.
“Victims of Louisiana flooding need to know that FEMA contracts aren't being awarded to companies and people with a history of ripping off impacted families. Unfortunately, players like U.S. Forensic and Gerald Nielsen continue to receive federal contracts despite their reprehensible actions being exposed. I will not stand for these companies stealing tax dollars from Louisiana families struggling to get back on their feet,” said Sen. Kennedy.
A federal judge accused U.S. Forensic of “reprehensible gamesmanship” for rewriting engineer reports to lower the amount of property damage that could be attributed to Superstorm Sandy. A judge also took Nielsen to task for violating discovery orders in a case brought by victims of Superstorm Sandy. Despite these accusations, Nielsen represents most of the major flood insurance companies handling claims from the March and August floods that hit Louisiana last year. U.S. Forensic can still participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.
Watch the video here.