Media

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) in introducing the Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act of 2021, which would improve the transparency of online platforms, strengthen consumers’ options when a data breach occurs and ensure companies comply with privacy policies that protect consumers.

“It’s common sense that people have a right to data privacy, and that right does not evaporate when someone logs on to their social media profile. Social media companies have a duty to protect their users’ data and to offer quick solutions when a breach occurs. The Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act would strengthen users’ control over their own data and better protect their privacy,” said Kennedy. 

For too long companies have profited off of Americans’ online data while consumers have been left in the dark. This legislation will protect and empower consumers by allowing them to make choices about how companies use their data and inform them of how they can protect personal information,” said Klobuchar.

Social media and other online platforms routinely capture users’ behavior and personal information, which they then use to help advertisers or other third parties target those users.

The Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act of 2021 would:

  • Give consumers the right to opt out and keep their information private by disabling data tracking and collection,
  • Provide users greater access to and control over their data,
  • Require terms of service agreements to be in plain language,
  • Ensure users have the ability to see what information about them has already been collected and shared,
  • Mandate that users be notified of a breach of their information within 72 hours,
  • Offer remedies for users when a breach occurs, and
  • Require that online platforms have a privacy program in place.

Watch Kennedy’s speech here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today spoke on the Senate floor against the Biden administration’s plan to facilitate raising flood insurance premiums in a way that could make it more difficult for Louisianians to afford flood insurance for their homes.

Key comments include:

“President Biden, at the worst possible time, is about to raise the insurance premiums for every flood insurance policyholder in America—or almost all of them. So much for not hurting the middle class. So much for not taxing the working people.”

“We insure through our National Flood Insurance Program—which once again is the almost exclusive source of flood insurance for the American people—we insure about 5 million people. About 500,000 of those people are in my state, Louisiana.”

“Now, this is all a very clever way to raise everybody’s premiums. As best I can tell, about 80 percent of the people in my state, who have to have flood insurance, are going to see their rates go up. And FEMA’s probably going to start by doing a little bit the first year, and they’re going to say, ‘See, we told you that wasn’t going to hurt.’ But then they’re going to do it the second year, and the third year, and the fourth year, and the fifth year and the sixth year.”

“President Biden’s FEMA is just going to drop this on us. And it’s not just Louisiana. Now, this does involve Louisiana. I mean last year, my people, we got hit by two major storms, we got hit—like a lot of states—by an ice storm. Right now, south Louisiana, a big portion of it’s under water. We just got hit with between eight and 20 inches of rain. And we have people flooding who are not even near a body of water. And I promise you, Mr. President, if you get eight to 20 inches of rain in a short period of time, you’re going to flood. I don’t care if you’re in the desert. I don’t care if you’re on Pike’s Peak. You’re going to flood. The water’s got to go somewhere.”

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) released the following statement on Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) 1,445 page (and climbing) Endless Frontier Act.

“Based on conversations with the Budget Committee, the cost of Sen. Schumer’s Endless Frontier Act is now up to $250 billion. That’s $250,000,000,000.

“At some point, we’re going to run out of digits.”

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced a bill that would require Senate confirmation of the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that Americans have to have trust in the qualifications and independence of the CDC and that the office should never be politicized. This agency has a budget of billions, and its policies affect America’s health and economy directly. No one elects the CDC Director, and it’s clear that the people need to have more oversight of the position through their representatives in Congress,” said Kennedy.

Text of the bill is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) again urged President Biden to provide supplemental disaster relief for southwest Louisiana. The region is currently experiencing flash flooding even as recovery efforts from last year’s historic hurricane season are ongoing. 

“I still don’t know why bad things happen to the good people of Louisiana, but I know they didn’t deserve the wrath of Hurricane Laura or Delta, and they don’t deserve the flooding being dumped on them this week. Southwest Louisiana has shown us its strength, and it is past time for the Biden administration to show them they’re not in this alone. President Biden needs to stop ignoring our calls for help and put resources to work in Lake Charles and the areas that are still recovering from Mother Nature’s heavy hand,” Kennedy said. 

“I ask that President Biden provide emergency disaster appropriations to unleash the full resources of the federal government on behalf of families in Louisiana and to take action to protect life and property ahead of the next disaster. Our people desperately need these resources, and the federal government must not stand in the way,” he added.

“These include the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as other programs provided by the Economic Development Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Coast Guard, and emergency appropriations for federal highways,” wrote Kennedy. 

The letter is available here.

Background:

Last year, five categorized storms hit Louisiana, affecting all 64 parishes. Hurricane Laura hit southwest Louisiana as a Category 4 storm and is one of the strongest storms to make landfall in American history. Hurricane Laura was the most expensive weather event of 2020, causing an estimated $19 billion in damages. Hurricane Delta added to the damage when it made landfall in the same area 42 days later.

  • Kennedy wrote to Senate leadership, Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), in September to request that the Senate consider emergency supplemental aid to help Louisiana residents recover from Hurricane Laura.
  • Kennedy wrote to President Trump in December for supplemental disaster funds to help Louisiana recover from extensive hurricane damage caused by the 2020 season’s storms.
  • Kennedy has repeatedly pressed the White House for the disaster relief that Lake Charles and the surrounding areas need.
  • Today, Kennedy criticized FEMA for trying to raise flood insurance premiums on Louisiana residents without explaining how those decisions have been made. FEMA is bypassing Congress to initiate Risk Rating 2.0, which is scheduled to go into effect for new National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies on Oct. 1, 2021. New rates for existing NFIP policyholders will go into effect on April 1, 2022. This 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 and Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) introduced 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.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and 16 other senators in announcing a resolution condemning Hamas’s attacks against Israel and reaffirming the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel and Israel’s right to take whatever means are necessary to stop the murder of its citizens and foreign nationals residing in that country.

 “For days, Iran and Hamas have been bombing the hell out of America’s only true friend in the Middle East—Israel. Palestinian terrorist groups continue to launch rockets targeting Israel. There’s no room for confusion: Israel has a right to defend itself against terrorism, and it is right for our ally to do so,” said Kennedy.

 “For decades, the people of Israel have endured unyielding attacks from terrorist groups, like Hamas, who wish to destroy the Jewish state and its people. Now, as thousands of rockets rain down, our resolve to stand with Israel must be stronger than ever. I want to be clear: no country, certainly not the United States, would tolerate attacks like these and not take whatever action is necessary to end them. As our great ally and the only shining example of democracy in the Middle East, Israel deserves our full support,” said Scott.

 The senators will introduce the resolution and ask for the Senate’s unanimous consent to pass it later this week.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), released the following statement upon the passing of Gov. Buddy Roemer.

“Louisiana weeps. Buddy was one of the most interesting people I have ever met. He was immeasurably talented. All he ever wanted to do was make Louisiana better, and he did. That meant making the right people mad, but he understood that. When I count my blessings, I count Buddy twice.

“More than anything, Buddy loved his family. Becky and I are honored to count his family and loved ones as our friends. We are so sad to lose this Louisiana warrior, and we are praying for everyone who was blessed to know and love him.”

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today questioned the cancellation of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I women’s golf regional in Baton Rouge, La. The NCAA scheduled this year’s tournament to occur at Louisiana State University’s University Club, but eventually canceled it, claiming that several inches of rainfall made the course “playable but not championship level.”

“The cancellation of the tournament is concerning for several reasons. First, there appear to have been multiple windows during the scheduled tournament when the athletes could have played. . . . Second, the players and their coaches were comfortable with the conditions and did not think they posed any risk to their safety. Third, the tournament has not been rescheduled,” wrote Kennedy. 

“This cancellation appears to be yet another example of how women’s sports are increasingly undervalued in this country. In Washington, D.C., ongoing efforts to undermine Title IX opportunities for women’s athletics would open competition to biological men who identify as women. The inaccurately named ‘Equality Act’ is one such effort. Our daughters and sisters must have opportunities equal to those of men to demonstrate their athletic ability without having their achievements diluted by unfair competition or mismanagement,” continued Kennedy.

“With all this in mind, I request a response detailing whether the NCAA is considering rescheduling the women’s tournament before the upcoming championship. If not, please detail what the NCAA will do to ensure female athletes do not face such an unfair result in the future,” Kennedy concluded.

The letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) Reform Act, which would expand the concealed-carry rights of qualified law enforcement officers.

“America’s police officers protect communities when they’re on- and off-duty. The LEOSA Reform Act would make Louisianians safer by expanding concealed-carry rights for off-duty and retired cops in public places—so brave officers can protect and serve without unnecessary red tape,” said Kennedy.

The bill builds on the original LEOSA of 2004, which gives qualified officers, whether active, retired or no longer working in law enforcement, the right to carry concealed firearms in any U.S. state or territory, regardless of state or local laws. However, the original legislation contains numerous exceptions, including bans on concealed-carry rights on certain state, local and federal government property.

The LEOSA Reform Act will expand the original bill by allowing qualified officers to carry their concealed firearms in the following locations:

  • State, local and private property otherwise open to the public,
  • National parks, and
  • Certain federal public access facilities.

The bill would also allow qualified officers to carry magazines that are not prohibited by federal law and to carry their concealed firearms in gun-free school zones. It would also alleviate other undue burdens on concealed-carry rights.

Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) have co-sponsored the LEOSA Reform Act.

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

The LEOSA Reform Act has support from numerous law enforcement organizations, including:

  1. The Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI
  2. The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association
  3. The National Association of Police Organizations
  4. The Fraternal Order of Police
  5. The Association of Former Agents of the United States Secret Service
  6. The FBI Agents Association
  7. The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
  8. The Sergeants Benevolent Association of the New York City Police Department
  9. The National Sheriffs Association
  10. The Port Authority Retired Police Association of New York and New Jersey
  11. The San Francisco Veteran Police Officers Association
  12. The ATF Association
  13. The FBI National Academy Associates
  14. San Jose Police Officers Association
  15. Air Marshal Association
  16. Peace Officers Research Association of California
  17. Association of Federal Narcotics Agents
  18. USAF Police Alumni Association
  19. International Union of Police Associations
  20. Retired Police Association of the State of New York
  21. United States Marshals Service Association
  22. Association of Former New Jersey State Troopers
  23. Major Cities Chiefs Association
  24. The International Association of Chiefs of Police
  25. The National District Attorneys Association

Text of the LEOSA Reform Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) in introducing 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.

“Natural disasters don’t discriminate: They destroy homes and affect lives in rural communities just as in big cities. The people of Louisiana experienced this firsthand during last year’s historic hurricane season. The Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act would make it easier for people in rural communities to access much-needed federal assistance to recover from natural disasters. We cannot allow bureaucracy to block or delay help to those who desperately need it,” said Kennedy.   

“Under the current system, disaster victims in rural communities have experienced significant delays in relief funding brought on by bureaucratic red tape. This bipartisan legislation aims to fix that. The Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act will make critical resources available for rural small businesses affected by natural disasters,” said Risch. 

Under current law, bureaucratic roadblocks prevent small businesses and homeowners in rural communities from accessing Small Business Administration (SBA) assistance following a natural disaster. This legislation creates a waiver at no cost to taxpayers allowing rural communities to more readily access and secure SBA disaster assistance in the case of a presidentially-declared disaster.

Co-sponsors of this bill include Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).

Reps. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.) and Jared Golden (D-Maine) introduced the Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act in the House.

Text of the Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act is available here.