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WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) in introducing the Natural Gas Export Expansion Act, which would remove regulatory bottlenecks that discourage the liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade and increase LNG exports to the more than 160 countries in the World Trade Organization.

“LNG exports sustain Louisiana jobs, promote America’s energy independence and reduce global emissions. We should make it easier, not harder, to export American LNG to countries that need it. Louisiana is the nation’s number one exporter of liquefied natural gas, but we’re taking a beating at the hands of our own president. The Natural Gas Export Expansion Act would combat President Biden’s war on energy jobs by reducing unnecessary restrictions on LNG export permits,” said Kennedy. 

“Thanks to the United States’ development and use of natural gas, America leads the world in reducing carbon emissions. While many choose to protest and ignore the critical role of natural gas in our energy future, Congress must do its part to continue advancing America’s energy renaissance. Increasing LNG exports will not only continue to lower energy costs for consumers and increase America’s energy security—while at the same time reducing emissions and improving air quality in the United States—but will also strengthen our international relationships around the globe and help bring these same climate benefits to the world,” said Cruz.

Despite the pandemic, American LNG exports reached all-time highs in November and December 2020, and the U.S. remains a net exporter of natural gas. The U.S. also exported LNG to a record 38 countries.

The review process for an application to export LNG to non-Free Trade Agreement (FTA) countries can take years. While the previous administration greatly reduced the processing time for non-FTA permits, Congress must provide greater certainty and help ensure that the review process is not arbitrarily lengthened.

The U.S. has one of the lowest flaring intensity levels in the world, and methane emissions from U.S. natural gas production have decreased nearly 25 percent since 1990—all while natural gas production grew more than 70 percent.

A 2019 Department of Energy report conducted by the National Energy Technology Lab concluded that American LNG exports resulted in reduced emissions abroad.

The Natural Gas Export Expansion Act would:

  • Amend the Natural Gas Act to expedite non-FTA export permits. This would ensure applications for exporting LNG to certain non-FTA countries would be treated the same as applications for exporting LNG to FTA countries and would be “deemed to be consistent with the public interest.”
  • Retain current law for restricted nations. Any nation subject to sanctions or trade restrictions is specifically excluded, and the president or Congress can specifically exclude any nation from expedited approval.

The bill text is available here.

Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – The Senate voted today on Sen. John Kennedy’s (R-La.) amendment to ensure that Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) assistance cannot go to individuals found guilty of felony rioting within the last two years. For the third time, Senate Democrats voted down the measure.

“Without order, there can be no justice. Felony rioting destroys businesses and kills jobs. It should be punished, not rewarded. We shouldn’t be taking resources away from hardworking small business owners and giving those taxpayer dollars to criminals who have been duly convicted of felony rioting. What we allow is what will continue, and you either approve of violent rioting or you don’t,” said Kennedy.

By mid-April of 2020, lockdowns and capacity restrictions had either temporarily or permanently reduced the number of small businesses in operation by 44 percent.

Violent protests and riots then further damaged small businesses already struggling under the pandemic. One in 20 U.S. protests between May 26 and Sept. 5 involved rioting, looting and similar violence, resulting in 47 fatalities. During the summer of 2020, riots caused over $1 billion in damage to cities across the country, making that time the most expensive period of riots in America’s history.

“My amendment is very simple. It says that if you were one of those rioters, and you have received due process, you have been convicted by a court of law of competent jurisdiction and you have been adjudged to have committed a felony with respect to the riot or civil disorder, in the past two years, that you cannot participate in the PPP program. We already have that law at the SBA for disaster loans. This would extend it to the PPP program,” explained Kennedy on the floor.

“This is the third time I’ve brought this amendment. The third time. . . . It would be a lot more intellectually honest if my colleagues who oppose my amendment said, ‘Look, we just don’t think that if you rioted you should be punished with respect to the PPP program.’ That’s what a ‘no’ vote is saying,” Kennedy concluded.

Under the Trump Administration, individuals who have been arrested or convicted of a felony in the last year, or who were convicted of financial assistance fraud in the last five years, were deemed ineligible for PPP loans.

The Biden Administration discontinued this safeguard so that individuals with prior non-fraud felony convictions are now able to access PPP funds.

Our laws already prohibit the SBA from making disaster loans to anyone who has been convicted of a felony in connection with a riot or civil disorder in the past year. However, this prohibition does not extend to the Paycheck Protection Program.

Kennedy’s amendment would prohibit the SBA from providing PPP loans to anyone who has been convicted of a felony during or in connection with a riot or civil disorder that occurred during the past two years.

Democrats blocked similar amendments from Kennedy in February and March of this year.

The text of Kennedy’s amendment is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) acting chairman, Allison Herren Lee, to provide updates to Congress on the implementation of the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act.

“Legislation rarely moves through both chambers of Congress in as unanimous and bipartisan a fashion as the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act did. As you move to implement the remainder of the law, I ask that you provide Congress with updates on how the Commission intends to do so and when you plan for the law to be fully implemented. It is time to demand honesty of all companies on U.S. exchanges. That means that foreign companies comply with our laws or be forced off our exchanges,” wrote Kennedy.

The Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act protects American investors and their savings from foreign companies that operate on U.S. stock exchanges but refuse to submit to SEC oversight. The law is tailored to address challenges the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) has regulating Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges because China denies the PCAOB access. 

The Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act also mandates several enhanced disclosure requirements. Companies must report whether a foreign government controls them, whether officials of the Chinese Communist Party serve on their board and whether government entities own any share in the company. The purpose of these and other disclosure requirements is to make relevant information about publicly traded firms explicit and easily accessible to investors.

The letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in reintroducing the Preventing Small Business Administration (SBA) Assistance from Going to China Act, which would stop the SBA from assisting companies with significant Chinese ownership.

“China preys on America’s commitment to our small businesses, siphoning financial support away from American employers and workers. I’m proud to join Sen. Rubio in introducing the Preventing Small Business Administration Assistance from Going to China Act to block companies with significant Chinese ownership from getting loans and guarantees from the SBA,” said Kennedy.

“American businesses are no stranger to the wide range of strategies Chinese firms use to starve out their competition. Exploiting taxpayer-subsidized SBA programs designed to boost our small businesses is among the most egregious. This legislation would ensure that U.S. tax dollars aren’t giving Chinese firms an unfair advantage over American small businesses,” said Rubio.

Because the SBA can provide assistance to any qualifying small business that is legally operating in the U.S., firms that are owned by or affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party are able to exploit the system and receive benefits at the expense of American taxpayers. This legislation would prevent SBA loans and guarantees from aiding small businesses that are headquartered in China or that have at least a quarter of their voting stock owned by Chinese investors. 

Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) will introduce companion legislation in the House.

The bill text is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced a resolution honoring the career and contributions of retired New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

“Drew Brees is forever a Saint and a Louisiana hero. His refusal to be beaten on and off the field has inspired a city and state through tough times. On the 20th anniversary of Brees’s success as an NFL quarterback, I join countless Louisianians in honoring this Super Bowl champion,” said Kennedy.

Brees’s two-decade career with the National Football League (NFL) includes 15 years as a New Orleans Saint. Brees holds the record for most career passing yards of any NFL quarterback and the most career completions in the league. He led the Saints to victory in Super Bowl XLIV in 2010. Brees earned the title of Super Bowl XLIV’s Most Valuable Player then, and he remains an MVP in the heart of every Saints fan.

The resolution text is available here.

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Empowering Immigration Courts Act, the Terrorist Deportation Act, the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act and the Criminal Alien Removal Clarification Act to empower immigration courts and make dangerous aliens deportable. 

“The Biden administration’s reckless policies are openly inviting gangs and cartels to flock to the border, so it’s more urgent than ever that we ensure dangerous people can’t find cover in American communities. When common sense is anything but common, these bills would make alien terrorists, gang members and other criminals subject to deportation. Families and children deserve to know that their leaders aren’t turning a blind eye to predators and lawbreakers who found their way onto U.S. soil,” Kennedy said.

The Empowering Immigration Courts Act would authorize immigration judges to impose a fine for contempt of court that is the same amount, $1,000, as the fine written in the criminal code. 

The Terrorist Deportation Act would make any immigrant identified in the terrorist screening database, with the exception of permanent residents, deportable. 

The Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act would make any immigrant who is a member of a criminal gang or has participated in gang activities deportable.

The Criminal Alien Removal Clarification Act would make any immigrant who has committed a felony or two misdemeanors deportable. Current law only includes certain felonies, such as aggravated felonies, and other specific crimes. 

Text of the Empowering Immigration Courts Act is available here

Text of the Terrorist Deportation Act is available here

Text of the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act is available here

Text of the Criminal Alien Removal Clarification Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Supreme Court Transparency Act, which would increase public access to Supreme Court justices’ financial and ethics disclosures. It would provide the public with a level of transparency similar to that of the legislative branch. 

“The legislative branch makes a great deal of information publicly available to those who elect them. Supreme Court justices serve lifetime appointments and should provide a similar level of transparency to Americans as the lawmakers who serve at the Capitol. The Supreme Court Transparency Act would make it easier for Americans to access the Supreme Court justices’ disclosure reports. The public deserves to have great confidence in all its public servants, and my bill would strengthen that confidence by expanding transparency to every justice on the bench,” said Kennedy.  

It can take years for the public to gain access to requested public information from the Supreme Court, including the disclosure of various financial and ethics records.

This legislation would require the establishment of an internet database enabling public access to any ethics, personal finance or disclosure reports for Supreme Court justices required by federal law. It would also add the Supreme Court justices to the list of government officials who must comply with section 103(l) of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, which requires the prompt disclosure of certain real estate and securities transactions.

The bill text is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Association Health Plans Act, which would codify a Trump administration rule allowing small businesses, the self-employed and freelance workers to have expanded access to association health plans (AHP). 

 “AHPs lower health care costs and expand access to the larger insurance market for Americans who work for small businesses or are self-employed. Making AHPs more inclusive will give smaller employers the chance to access health benefits that were otherwise out of their reach. Ultimately, this bill would ensure more Louisiana workers and families have easier access to quality, affordable health care,” said Kennedy. 

AHPs allow smaller companies, the self-employed or freelance workers to group together to access the large-group insurance market, which covers approximately 180 million Americans. 

Associations are groups of employers that collaborate as a formal organization in order to access the large-group health insurance market. To qualify as an association, a group of employers must satisfy several conditions, including demonstrating that members share a commonality of interest and that members control the association.

Easing restrictions on AHPs will allow small employers to offer additional benefits to their employees, who may otherwise need to buy after-tax insurance coverage through the Obamacare marketplaces, rely on government programs or go without coverage entirely.

The bill text is available here

WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and other Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee today sent a letter urging Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to schedule a second hearing with Biden administration nominee Vanita Gupta, citing her misleading statements and incomplete answers to senators’ written questions. Gupta is nominated to become associate attorney general, the number three position at the Justice Department.

“While under oath, Vanita Gupta misled the Committee on at least four issues: (1) Her support for eliminating qualified immunity; (2) her support for decriminalizing all drugs; (3) her support for defunding the police; and (4) her death penalty record. Unfortunately, in her responses a week later to our written questions, Ms. Gupta was no more forthcoming. In some cases, she doubled down on her misleading statements from the hearing, and in others she refused to answer altogether. In ‘response’ to scores of our questions, she merely copied-and-pasted the same inapplicable, general statements for one question after another,” the senators wrote. 

“We urge you to immediately schedule a second hearing with Ms. Gupta so that she can answer for her misleading statements, and for her refusal to respond to our written questions,” they continued. 

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) also signed the letter. 

The letter is available here

WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) today sent a letter urging Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to withdraw her support for the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) plan to allocate new Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) without congressional approval. SDRs are backed by IMF member countries’ fiat currencies, the largest component being the American dollar.

“The proposed allocation of SDRs would be inappropriate, ineffective, and a wasteful use of taxpayer dollars that would end up benefiting repressive regimes and state-sponsors of terrorism. We strongly urge you to abandon your support for this proposal,” the senators wrote. 

As the members point out, foreign aid is generally appropriated by Congress—not by unilateral executive action. Allocating new SDRs would also be an ineffective method of providing foreign aid to low-income countries, as SDRs disproportionately benefit G20 countries. Moreover, beneficiaries would include America’s adversaries, which could take new SDRs and exchange them for U.S. dollars without conditions.

“In fact, over two-thirds of any allocation would go to G20 countries, which do not need assistance, and less than ten percent would reach poor countries. There is no rational economic justification for such a poorly targeted distribution of aid,” the senators continued. 

“An allocation would also directly benefit repressive regimes around the world, including U.S. adversaries and state-sponsors of terrorism, since all IMF members would receive SDRs. That means billions of dollars’ worth of SDRs would go to China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and Syria,” the senators concluded.  

The letter is available here.