April 20, 2012
On Monday, Senator Portman voted against the President’s “Buffett Tax” gimmick, noting that it does not actually address Washington’s out of control deficits and debt and instead serves as a distraction from real pro-growth policies that would provide businesses the economic climate needed to create jobs. Instead of promoting further tax gimmicks, Portman is developing a bipartisan legislative proposal to overhaul the corporate tax code, bringing the top rate down from 35 to 25 percent on a revenue-neutral basis by reducing tax preferences and moving us to a territorial system. In conjunction with individual tax reform, Portman’s plan will increase revenues by spurring growth and job creation, paving the way to a true American jobs recovery. Portman also spoke on the Senate floor, joined Jenna Lee on Fox News and wrote an op-ed in Politico exposing the politics involved with the “Buffett Tax” and supporting real tax reform.
Portman’s column this week focused on his legislation that experts say could help lower Medicare costs by helping seniors get and stay healthy. The Medicare “Better Health Rewards” program, modeled after the Cleveland Clinic wellness program, is a 100 percent voluntary program designed to help Medicare beneficiaries get and stay healthy by giving participating seniors achievable goals, a plan to reach them and incentives to keep motivated.
Portman co-sponsored an amendment on Tuesday allowing Guardsmen and Reservists employed at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to return to their jobs after they return from being called to active duty. Currently, the jobs of all other non-military public and private sector employees called up to duty are protected under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). This amendment would require TSA to comply with USERRA.
Portman, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, attended a hearing on Tuesday and questioned the panel on the future of Air Force science and technology.
On Wednesday, Portman delivered remarks at the Budget Committee hearing on the 2013 budget proposal, lamenting yet another year in the Senate without voting on a budget and calling on the Senate to stop abdicating its responsibility.
Portman, alongside Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), delivered remarks Thursday at the Aspen Institute’s congressional briefing on retirement savings. As members of the House, both Portman and Cardin worked together to enact legislation that has expanded and improved retirement security for millions of Americans.
Senators Portman and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced bipartisan legislation on Thursday to prevent Asian carp and other invasive species from entering the Great Lakes. The Stop Invasive Species Act requires the speedy creation of an action plan to block Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes through a number of rivers and tributaries across the Great Lakes region.
On Thursday, Senators Portman and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to take up their bipartisan Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (ESIC) as quickly as possible. The Shaheen-Portman bill would establish a national energy efficiency strategy to increase the use of existing energy efficiency technologies in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors of our economy.
This Monday, Portman will discuss how to create an environment that will enable Ohio and American manufacturers to be more competitive when he delivers remarks at the groundbreaking of Timken Company’s $225 million expansion at its Faircrest Steel Plant in Ohio. Portman will join Timken officials, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, and U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs at the event.
GOP derails Senate 'Buffett Tax’
Senate Republicans derailed a Democratic "Buffett rule" bill Monday…
Republicans called the measure a divisive Democratic distraction from the nation's real problems that would not address the economy's real woes.
Republicans said the bill underscored an effort by Obama and Democrats to scapegoat the wealthy with a gimmick that would accomplish nothing.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, called the measure a proposal "that no one can credibly argue will create a single job."
(“GOP derails Senate 'Buffett Tax” by Alan Fram. Bloomberg Businessweek. April 16, 2012.)
Senate voteless ‘markup’ may be another blow to Bowles-Simpson
A decision by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) to present the recommendations of President Obama’s fiscal commission in committee but not to bring them to a vote shows how far Congress remains from producing a debt "grand bargain," supporters and critics of the fiscal commission said Wednesday.
The fiscal commission report, authored by former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) evoked hopes of a grand bargain when it received bipartisan support of 12 of 18 commission members in 2010.
It has since been all downhill for the Bowles-Simpson report, which recommends the politically difficult steps of raising taxes through tax reform and cutting entitlement benefits.
…former Bush budget director Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) also argued that Bowles-Simpson should be the starting point for an open amendment process.
(“Senate voteless ‘markup’ may be another blow to Bowles-Simpson” by Erik Wasson. The Hill. April 18, 2012.)
Sponsors of bipartisan Energy Efficiency Senate bill urge leaders to schedule vote
Sponsors of a bipartisan energy-efficiency bill urged Senate leaders to schedule a vote soon on their measure, which they say is the only energy legislation with a chance of becoming law this year.
Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) say their bill sidesteps contentious debates over how Americans should power their homes to focus on broadly supported measures aimed at helping them save energy.
"While there remains disagreement on how best to fix our supply side energy problem, there is consensus that efficiency is the cheapest and fastest way to start reducing demand for the energy we currently use," the co-sponsors wrote…
The Shaheen-Portman bill, S. 1000, passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in September on an 18-3 vote, and it has a bipartisan House companion in the form of similar legislation from Reps. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah), H.R. 4017.
The Shaheen-Portman bill would strengthen voluntary building codes, establish a revolving loan fund to aid efficiency improvements at manufacturing facilities, require the federal government to improve its efficiency and create other efficiency incentives. While those provisions have wide bipartisan support, the bill has had trouble gaining traction this session in a sharply polarized Congress where debates over energy policy have been especially intense.
(Sponsors of bipartisan Senate bill urge leaders to schedule vote by Nick Juliano. E&E News. April 19, 2012.)
Congressional Briefing On Retirement Security
Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) plan to reunite on retirement security legislation in a tough political environment, they announced April 19 at a congressional briefing.
“We fundamentally agree on where we ought to be—going forward”—in what is certain to be as difficult politically as it was when the two worked together as congressmen on retirement legislation in 2000, Portman said. Portman later referred to the Department of Labor's work on an expanded fiduciary rule as a potential hurdle to progress on retirement policy.
When Portman-Cardin retirement legislation was enacted as part of a 2001 tax bill, the nation was coming out of a recession, and it was difficult to make others see “that ultimately our economic growth is going to be dependent on savings and investment,” Portman said.
Recent savings and investment figures show the positive results of that legislation, he added. “U.S. retirement savings increased from $11.7 trillion in 2000 to the number I just got today—$17.9 trillion in 2011—despite the fact we just had a downturn, particularly in equity investments in the interim period.”
(“Congressional briefing on retirement security” by Florence Olsen. BNA. April 19, 2012.)
VA to hire 1,900 to meet mental health demands
DAYTON — The Department of Veteran Affairs is adding 1,900 psychologists, nurses and social workers, an acknowledgement that more mental health help is needed as troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Veterans and congressional leaders said the move was necessary because some of those returning home from combat face issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said veterans deserve “ample resources” to meet mental health needs.
“The post-traumatic stresses our veterans experience is a serious matter,” the lawmaker said in an email. “Unfortunately, many are left to carry that mental burden with them after life in the military.”
(“VA to hire 1,900 to meet mental health demands” by Barrie Barber. The Dayton Daily News. April 20, 2012.)
Ohio senator still fighting to save 179th Airlift Wing
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said Wednesday he also has serious concerns about the Obama administration's cost/benefit analysis for their proposal to cancel the C-27J program.
"The cancellation of this program could have a significant impact on the ability to support our forward deployed soldiers and may well cost taxpayers more," Portman said. "Furthermore, the Ohio Guardsmen of the 179th have a long and distinguished record of service to this country. To remove these fighting men and women from the force would be a serious miscalculation by the Administration for our national security."
Col. Gary McCue, commander of the 179th Airlift Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard said he was pleased with the efforts to save the base.
(“Ohio senator still fighting to save 179th Airlift Wing” by Lou Whitmire. Bucyrus Telegraph Forum. April 18, 2012.)
Veterans’ remains go unclaimed, unburied, sometimes for years
A new bill from Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, would instruct the Department of Veterans Affairs to work with veterans’ organizations to help find and identify the unclaimed remains of former service members, and, if they are eligible, to ensure their interment in national cemeteries.
Portman and Begich’s office predict bipartisan support for the bill, which they expect to pass with little resistance. A similar bill sponsored by Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, already has 38 co-sponsors. But a version that was introduced in the last Congress died in committee.
The Congressional Budget Office hasn’t researched the cost of the Senate bill yet. A representative from Portman’s office said the CBO suggested that the cost should be low, considering that the VA already sets aside money for burying eligible veterans in national cemeteries.
Another provision of both versions of the bill would instruct the VA to create a nationwide public database of missing remains to aid in their identification. Portman’s office added that the VA already keeps a database of veterans’ grave sites that could be adapted for accounting for missing remains, keeping costs down.
(“Veterans’ remains go unclaimed, unburied, sometimes for years” by Andy Matarrese. Belleville News Democrat. April 19, 2012.)
Portman Office Hours
AKRON: U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s staff will hold office hours from 10 to 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Summit County Executive Office, 175 S. Main St.
The hours are free and open to the public. No appointment is needed.
For information, call Portman’s district representative for Northeast Ohio, George Brown, at 216-522-1095.
(“Region briefs — April 16” by Staff Reporter. The Akron Beacon Journal. April 16, 2012.)
Portman staff to meet with public
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman's staff will meet with the public from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at Lima Public Library, 650 W. Market St.
Constituents can share their thoughts and concerns with a district representative who will provide feedback to the senator.
No appointments are necessary. For information, call Portman's district representative, Wes Fahrbach, at 419-259-3895.
(“Portman staff to meet with public” by Staff Reporter. The Lima News. April 14, 2012.)