John Kennedy

Sen. John Kennedy says things have come to a head between the he and the budget office, as Louisiana seeks answers on distributing money for Restore Louisiana

WASHINGTON – Sen. John N. Kennedy indicated he may join in litigation against the federal government if the holdup continues for homeowners HUD rejected for flood benefits after the 2016.

Sen. Kennedy, R-La, said in a conference call Friday he remains optimistic that federal officials will reach a settlement couple of weeks.  

He met one-on-one Friday with President Donald Trump for a 90-minute lunch meeting at the White House to discuss the HUD benefits stalemate and other issues.   

Sen. Kennedy gave the federal Office on Budget Management’s acting director Russell Vought an April 16 deadline for an answer on whether the delay complies with the directive of Congress, which passed legislation last September to release the funds after the DOB fix.

Vought asked for a one-month window, but Sen. Kennedy said he demanded two weeks. He said he would consider Vought’s answer “no” if he does not receive an explanation by the deadline.

“I told him we’re tired of being screwed around with,” Sen. Kennedy said.

The Louisiana congressional delegation previously focused on HUD for the holdup on $250 million of the $1.2 billion disaster relief package which had been held back because of the DOB provision. The money remains in a Baton Rouge Bank, he said. 

He and the President discussed the flood for about 20 minutes of their meeting, but the U.S. Senator/former state treasurer did not offer many details of the conversation.

“President Trump knew exactly what I was talking about, he knew the background and was aware of flooding in north and south Louisiana,” Sen. Kennedy said. “He’s been briefed, he’s been to Louisiana many times and he loves the state.

“I made my case and gave him my best arguments,” he said. “He’s very frank, not scared to make a decision and I think I have a pretty good feeling what he’s going to do.”

Sen. Kennedy said he would leave it to the President Trump and the OMB to announce the final decision. He said the President directed him to work out details with the OMB.

Sen. Kennedy doubts the OMB agrees with his interpretation, but he wants a straight answer.

He does not believe HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson implemented the delay.

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