NEW ORLEANS — La. Sen. John Kennedy met with President Donald Trump Friday in a one-on-one meeting to discuss an administrative stall preventing thousands of Louisiana flood victims from accessing money in a federal relief fund.
After massive floods in 2016 around Baton Rouge, up to 6,000 residents requested loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. But because federal law at the time prohibited residents from receiving both a disaster loan and a disaster grant, they were locked out of a federal disaster grant program aimed at helping rebuild.
The use of both grants and loans from the federal government has been labeled the "duplication of benefits" issue.
“I had lunch with the president today to talk about the duplication of benefits’ issue that is impacting so many Louisiana families,” Kennedy said. “We talked for an hour and a half. President Trump loves Louisiana, and he wants to help."
Congress changed the law that lead to the issue in October, but the Trump administration had not provided legal guidelines for how the new law should be implemented.
In the meantime, millions of dollars remain in limbo.
"I’m hopeful that the president is going to take steps to resolve this problem," Kennedy said. "In the end, if it’s not the answer I want, then I intend to join as a plaintiff in the litigation against the federal government for violating Congress’ legislative intent in producing a solution. The people of Louisiana deserve the disaster relief they were promised.”
Kennedy says he’s hopeful after his meeting with the president. He expects a decision within weeks.