I hope you and your family had a happy Thanksgiving holiday last week. I’m thankful to have been able to spend time with Wendy and our kids. Thanksgiving is a wonderful tradition, and it’s an important time to stop and reflect on the many reasons to be thankful each year.
As your U.S. Senator, I’m incredibly grateful for Louisiana common sense and for the opportunity to bring more of that common sense to Washington every day. It’s that common sense that helps me fight against policies like the Washington exemption from Obamacare, potentially massive increases to flood insurance premiums, and runaway government spending. I’ll continue to fight against these policies, and for things like improving our state’s infrastructure, flood protection, a better education for our younger generation, and more good-paying jobs.
Please continue reading below to learn more about my efforts on issues important to you, and about some of the ways I’ve been working to bring that Louisiana common-sense to the U.S. Senate.
United States Senator
Highlights from the past month (click the hyperlinks for more information):
Forcing Washington to Live Under Obamacare, Too
I've been hearing from folks throughout Louisiana who are losing healthcare coverage they liked and seeing rates skyrocket under new policies. Unfortunately these stories don’t seem to be exceptions – they’re the norm.
But while families across the country are struggling under Obamacare, Washingon gets a special exemption from part of it. Since we’ve learned of this “fix”, I’ve been fighting to stop it from happening by writing legislation to end the Washington exemption, including introducing legislation that would require all Members of Congress, staff, the President, Vice President, and all political appointees in the Administration to purchase their health insurance on the Obamacare Exchange without the help of taxpayer-funded subsidies. Click here to read more about my legislation.
Washington needs to hear your stories so we can finally fix the problems we’ve been seeing under Obamacare. If you have a story you'd like to share, please visit this link.
Click here to watch my recent interview on CNN’s Crossfire.
A Water Resources Bill to Benefit Louisiana
As the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, I’ve made the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) a top priority because it’s one of the single most significant pieces of legislation for Louisiana that we’ll vote on this year. We have the opportunity to reform the Corps of Engineers, streamline flood protection projects, finally get Morganza moving, and improve our waterways and infrastructure all in one bill. This is a huge benefit to the entire nation that is estimated to create up to 500,000 new jobs. Click here to learn more about WRDA and its benefits for Louisiana, and stay tuned for updates as we work to reconcile the House and Senate bills to have a complete bill, hopefully soon.
A Breakthrough for VA Clinics in Lafayette, Lake Charles
Bureaucratic errors last year threw the construction of VA clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles into jeopardy. Both would actually be nearing completion already, but the VA’s mistakes delayed them significantly.
Much to my dismay, we learned that the VA hosted a pair of extravagant training conferences in Orlando that cost taxpayers $6.1 million – far more than building and maintaining the clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles would have cost. If the VA has the money to throw lavish parties for bureaucrats, surely they can find funding for clinics promised to Louisiana veterans. Click here to read my letter to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs demanding an explanation.
It’s absolutely crucial for Louisiana veterans to have both of these clinics. The House of Representatives Veterans Committee recently passed legislation to finally move forward with these two clinics – a huge breakthrough. I’ll be offering it up for unanimous consent in the Senate as soon as possible. Click here to read more.
Helping Future Victims of Investment Fraud
The Stanford Ponzi scheme devastated many Louisiana families who invested their hard-earned savings in good faith that it would be there for them when they retire. People who invest their money with a protected investment firm need to have the confidence that our financial system won’t allow for this type of fraud, but there are far too many loopholes leaving investors unprotected. I’ve introduced a bipartisan bill to fix a key problem. Click here to read more.
Louisiana Officials Must Take Action on EBT Card Fraud
I'm really happy that state officials have accepted my strong suggestion to disqualify food stamp beneficiaries who broke the law – committed theft and fraud – during an electronic benefits outage in Northwest Louisiana. I still think these folks should be criminally prosecuted in egregious cases, and that’s not happening yet. I look forward to meeting with these officials in Baton Rouge and further discussing the efforts to prevent fraud and abuse within our state’s welfare system.
Since the rollout of the Obamacare exchanges on October 1st, many folks across Louisiana have tragically lost the coverage they liked, seen their premiums skyrocket, and are finding it hard to enroll in any new policies. The law’s incredibly low success rate for Louisiana means that for every one person enrolled in the federally facilitated exchange, 240 Louisianians had their health care policy cancelled and access to their doctor diminished.
But the truth is that folks in Louisiana aren’t alone. In fact, millions more Americans have lost their original health insurance than have enrolled in the exchanges so far.
I want to know if those who enrolled were previously uninsured, or if they are people who had their current health care policy cancelled because of Obamacare. So I’m asking U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to provide a report to Congress on the Obamacare exchange enrollment numbers. Click here to read my request.
It’s clear this rollout has been a trainwreck and something needs to be done. But first we need to know who’s getting coverage and who’s losing it. We need more information about what is going on with the law now before we can move forward.
I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on health care and any other issues important to you. If you have a story about losing your healthcare coverage or facing higher premiums, please share it here.
Arguably one of the biggest culprits for the failures in our financial system is the Federal Reserve. In recent years, the Fed has doled out trillions of dollars to failing financial companies – with little clear economic success and imposing enormous costs to our financial system.
In order to prevent future failures by the Fed, we must determine exactly how it operates and why it picks certain winner and loser companies to bail out. That’s why I’m an original co-sponsor of a bill that would conduct an audit of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and the Federal Reserve banks.
Unfortunately President Obama’s nominee to be chairman of the Fed, Doctor Janet Yellen, disagrees with us. I had the opportunity to ask her myself when she came before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee last week. She insisted that the Fed is already transparent enough without an audit. I think that’s hogwash. Click here to watch my questions and her answers.
Confirming a new Chairman is a huge opportunity to change the policy direction of the Fed – which would pay a huge roll in turning around our economic woes. As a member of the Senate Banking Committee, I’ll be voting against Dr. Yellen’s nomination this week. Her opposition to auditing the Fed is a big reason why, among others like not committing to ending “Too Big To Fail.”
We need a Fed Chairman who completely supports transparency and accountability in our monetary policy. And without that transparent leadership, this fight remains even more important.
Between the government shutdown and the failed rollout of the Obamacare exchange website, folks in Louisiana and across the country have expressed a lot of frustration with Washington – and rightly so.
But it’s important to keep fighting, and know that I’m working in Washington to make sure we get things right. From working to correct the crazy rate spikes for flood insurance to making sure Congress lives by the same Obamacare rules as the rest of America, I’m working every day to bring some much needed Louisiana common sense to Washington.
Please continue reading below to learn more about my efforts on issues important to you, and about some of the ways I’ve been working to bring Louisiana common-sense to the U.S. Senate.
United States Senator
Highlights from the past month (click the hyperlinks for more information):
Fighting the Washington Exemption from Obamacare
Last month I told you about the special exemption Washington gets from part of Obamacare. Since we’ve learned of this rule, I’ve been fighting to stop this from happening by writing legislation to end the Washington exemption, including introducing legislation that would require all Members of Congress, staff, the President, Vice President, and all political appointees in the Administration to purchase their health insurance on the Obamacare Exchange without the help of taxpayer-funded subsidies. Click here to read more about my legislation.
Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Democrats have blocked my legislation from coming to a vote in the Senate, but they won’t be able to block me forever. Also, I’ve introduced legislation to require each Congressional office to make public which staff they are exempting from the Obamacare exchanges. I’m also fighting OPM to release all correspondence they had with Congress about its illegal deal.
Click here to watch my recent interview on Fox News.
Introducing a Bipartisan Flood Insurance Fix
Without a change, flood insurance is simply going to be unaffordable for middle class families. Homeowners will literally have to turn in their keys and in some cases walk away from their homes. In coastal Louisiana, we’re on the tip of the spear and we’re experiencing this first. But this is not just a Louisiana issue – it’s going to affect folks across the country.
To try to fix this problem, I’ve joined with a group of U.S. Senators to introduce bipartisan legislation addressing rate spikes in national flood insurance costs. Click here to read about our legislation.
WRDA Passes in the House, Closer to Final Bill
This month the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA). WRDA is one of the single most significant pieces of legislation for Louisiana that we’ve voted on this year, and I look forward to working to get a final bill that includes our Senate provisions. We have the opportunity to reform the Corps of Engineers, streamline flood protection projects, finally get Morganza moving, and improve our waterways and infrastructure all in one bill. This is a huge benefit to our state, and I’ll be a part of the final negotiating team called the conference committee to reconcile the Senate version with the House version. Click here to read more.
Louisiana Voucher Program is about Students, not Quotas
The Justice Department’s lawsuit against Louisiana’s statewide voucher program is an outrageous attack on Louisiana parents and students. Instead of allowing parents to make one of their most important choices – where to send their kids to school – the federal government is stepping in and trapping some students in failing schools to meet quotas.
Education needs to be about giving all of our students the best possible opportunity, not about reaching federal quotas determined by some bureaucrat in Washington. Louisiana families deserve to hear some justification from the Justice Department. I joined a group of Senators in requesting just that. Click here to read our letter.
EBT Card Fraud in Louisiana Should Disqualify Recipients
Last month, a computer glitch essentially left welfare cards through the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program with no limit for a period of time. We later learned that several beneficiaries took advantage of that glitch and knowingly checked out grocery store items far above their legal limit – some stole hundreds of dollars’ worth in groceries.
This is absolutely a case of theft and fraud – especially against taxpayers. Additionally, it hurts the honest beneficiaries of that program who really need the help. I’ve been urging the Louisiana’s Attorney General and Secretary of Department of Children and Family Services to consider specific actions in response to this incidence and issue some significant consequences. This week they agreed to part of my requests. Click here to watch a video about this.
Upcoming Debate on Government Cell Phone Welfare Program
General Wesley Clark was in Louisiana last month promoting his support for Lifeline, the fraud-ridden free government cell phone program for welfare recipients. I’ve challenged him to a public debate on the program, and he’s accepted. I look forward to a public discussion with Gen. Clark about Lifeline and my efforts to end the waste, fraud, and abuse – as well as his motives for promoting the fraud-ridden free cellphone welfare program.
There are honest folks throughout Louisiana that benefit from the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program, which transfers welfare to beneficiaries through a debit card. However, earlier this month, a computer glitch essentially left the cards with no limit for a period of time – contrary to limits set by law. We later learned that several beneficiaries took advantage of that glitch and knowingly checked out grocery store items far above their legal limit. Literally, some stole hundreds of dollars’ worth in groceries in some cases.
This is absolutely a case of theft and fraud – especially against taxpayers. Additionally, it hurts the honest beneficiaries of that program who really need the help.
This week I sent a letter to Louisiana’s Attorney General and Secretary of Department of Children and Family Services asking that they consider three very strong, specific actions in response to this incidence and issue some significant consequence. 1.) Don’t allow reimbursements to the retailers who didn’t follow protocol; 2.) Disqualify any EBT beneficiary who knowingly stole groceries; and 3.) Consider prosecutions for theft and fraud cases. Click here to read more about my recommendations.
Click here to watch a recent news report from KTBS in Shreveport.
These are three very clear, specific suggestions that are completely justified under the law, and they would go a long way toward preventing this same situation from happening again in the future.