January 04, 2013
Although many lament just how broken things can be in Washington, I have remained focused on results and addressing the issues I hear about from everyday Ohioans, from law enforcement concerned about human trafficking in Toledo, to families worried about prescription drug abuse in Southern Ohio, to National Guardsmen and their families in Mansfield, and to Ohio’s many small businessmen and women. My efforts have focused on helping Ohioans, ensuring that our taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, promoting pro-growth policies, and protecting our national defense.
As a freshman Senator in the minority party, my team and I have been able to achieve a lot. Here is a rundown of our legislative accomplishments that were ultimately signed into law by the President this past year:
Promoting Energy Efficiency
Important provisions from the bipartisan Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S.1000) I introduced with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in May 2011 to help the country save money by using less energy were enacted as part of The American Energy Manufacturing Technical Corrections Act (H.R. 6582), PL: 112-210. Read more about it here: Columbus Dispatch, The Hill
I successfully advocated for the following measures that were enacted as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013:
- $136 million to procure future M1A2 Abrams tank upgrades. This funding will ensure sufficient production at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC) in Lima, Ohio through 2014 and potentially longer dependent upon our success with Foreign Military Sales. Read more about it here: Lima News
- $150 million in funding to allow the Department of Energy (DOE) to continue its two-year American Centrifuge research, development, and demonstration program. This program is designed to help develop U.S. enrichment technology in Piketon, Ohio capable of meeting vital national security, nonproliferation, and energy security needs while also enhancing taxpayer protections. Read more about it here: Portsmouth Daily Times, Chillicothe Gazette, Highland County Press
- The establishment of a National Commission to evaluate and determine the best force structure of the Air Force to help protect our National Guard assets in Ohio. This will allow an independent commission to recommend a structure for the Congress to consider and avoid irreversible cuts proposed by the Administration that would negatively affect Ohio and operational readiness and long-term costs. The bill also includes a requirement for the Air Force to maintain an additional 32 aircraft to fulfill intra-theater airlift missions, like those performed by the 179th Airlift Wing in Mansfield, Ohio. Read more about it here: Mansfield News Journal
- Expands educational opportunities for defense industry employees at the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base outside Dayton, Ohio. At no expense to the taxpayer, this provision will enable more industry employees to attend and benefit from the advanced education at AFIT and further utilize this premier educational institution. Read more about it here: Journal News
- Directs the Department of Defense (DoD) to coordinate with FAA and NASA to conduct joint research and find solutions to challenges associated with the integration of Unmanned Air Systems in the National Airspace System. Effective coordination will ensure that enhance safety measures and permit the research and development done at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to effectively continue. Read more about it here: Journal News
- The bipartisan End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act (S.2234) I introduced with Senator Blumenthal in March 2012 that strengthens existing protections against human trafficking, which will ensure that overseas government contracts, paid for by taxpayer dollars, operate in a manner consistent with our deeply-held values as a nation. Read more about it here: Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Dispatch
- Expands the Marine Corps Embassy Security Guard (MCESG) program in light of the tragic events in Benghazi, Libya to help increase the number of Marines assigned to diplomatic missions worldwide by directing the Secretary of Defense to develop a plan to increase the size of the program by up to 1,000 Marines to meet State Department requirements. Read more about it here: Dayton Daily News, Army Times
- Directs DoD to establish a plan to standardize educational transcripts issued to separating veterans to make sure their transition to civilian life is as seamless as possible. The provision will help Ohio community colleges that brought this issue to my attention but also help our veterans to ensure they receive appropriate academic credits for their honorable training. Read more about it here: Dayton Daily News
- Transfers seven acres of federal land to the Village of Lordstown. This is land that the Army no longer needs and holds significant economic development promise for the Village of Lordstown and the Mahoning Valley.
- Directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy to conduct a study on domestic assets which can support defense hypersonic test and evaluation activities for the near and far term. The study could facilitate greater utilization of hypersonic assets at NASA Glenn Research Center’s Plum Brook Station as opposed to DoD building new, identical capabilities at DoD sites.
- Directs DoD to perform a review of their specialized degree-granting programs in engineering, science, and management to ensure institutions, like the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, are being utilized to their fullest potential in producing highly-educated military and civilian leaders who perform and manage the Department’s technology program.
Combating Drug Abuse
Two measures I introduced to combat drug abuse were enacted as part of the FDA Bill, S.3187, PL:112-144:
- My ID MEDS Act, S.2254, creates a national standard for states to exchange information from prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), giving states like Ohio a new tool in the fight against prescription drug abuse that is plaguing our communities. This idea came from a meeting with police officers in Portsmouth, Ohio.
- The FDA Bill also included my Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012, S.3190. Widely available and easy to purchase synthetic drugs have taken a dangerous toll on American families and communities, including in Ohio, and my amendment to ban these drugs at the federal level is critical to the efforts of federal and state authorities to combat this growing epidemic. By banning these substances at the federal level and authorizing the DEA to pursue the manufacturers of these drugs across state lines, passage of this measure is an important step in reversing this streak of devastating crimes. Read more about it here: Yahoo News
The bipartisan Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers (SMART) Act of 2011 (S.1718) I introduced with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) to help strengthen and protect Medicare beneficiaries and the Medicare Trust Fund by improving and increasing efficiency within the Medicare Secondary Payer system was enacted as part of H.R. 1845, the Medicare IVIG Access Act.
Protecting Ohio’s Waterways
The bipartisan Stop Invasive Species Act (S.2317) I introduced with Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to stop Asian carp from entering our waterways was enacted as part of the Transportation Bill, PL: 112 – 141. The Stop Invasive Species Act requires the expedited creation of an action plan by the Army Corps of Engineers to block Asian carp from entering Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes through a number of rivers and tributaries across the Great Lakes region. During this time of weak economic growth, we cannot afford to let this threat harm tourism, weaken the boating industry, or threaten the 100,000 fishing industry jobs in Ohio. Read more about it here: Toledo Blade, Cleveland Plain Dealer, AP
A measure I introduced to help the City of Findlay cope with flood protection in as cost-effective a way as possible was also enacted as part of the Transportation Bill, PL: 112 – 141. Findlay suffered one of its most damaging flood events in 2007, causing $50 million in damages while forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate and halting operations at Marathon Petroleum, Cooper Tire, and other area businesses. In 2008, the land was purchased using the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which prohibits the construction of flood walls or levees on purchased properties. Soon after, the Army Corps of Engineers notified the city that the land was needed for flood mitigation improvements and that to build around the land would increase costs by more than $3 million. My amendment will enable the city of Findlay to build a levee or other flood improvements on this land that was previously off-limits for its Blanchard River Flood Protection Project, saving the city unnecessary costs while keeping local residents and businesses safe. Read more about it here: Lima News, Findlay Courier
The bipartisan Veterans Missing In America Act of 2012 (S.2244) I introduced with Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) to enable the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to work with veterans groups to help determine whether unidentified or abandoned remains are those of veterans eligible for burial at a National Cemetery was enacted as part of the Dignified Burial and Other Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act (S. 3202). Ohioans initiated this effort and Ohio Congressmen Pat Tiberi (R-OH-12) and Steve Stivers (R-OH-15) took the lead in the House of Representatives. Read more about it here: Dayton Daily News, Cincinnati Examiner
S.2153, bipartisan trade legislation I worked on with Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) to protect American jobs and exports by ensuring the U.S. Commerce Department can continue to apply countervailing duties in cases involving non-market economy nations like China and Vietnam, was enacted as part of PL: 112 – 99.
Fighting for Fiscal Responsibility
This year, I also led Senate Republicans on several policy initiatives to restore fiscal responsibility and get our economy back on the right track:
- During the fiscal cliff discussions, I called on the Administration to rescind its Executive Order to raise salaries for Members of Congress during a time of record debt and deficits. This pay increase for Members of Congress was ultimately removed from the fiscal cliff agreement. Read more about it here: Roll Call, Cleveland Leader, NewsMax, Fox News
- I spearheaded a letter sent to President Obama in which 44 U.S. Senators underscored the need for any deficit reduction deal to ensure that the people’s elected representatives will continue to have a say over the nation’s debt limit. The Obama Administration’s initial offer in fiscal cliff negotiations gave the President unilateral power to raise the debt limit without any Congressional oversight. Read more about it here: Columbus Dispatch, Reuters, The Hill
Throughout the year, I continued to put pressure on HHS for its taxpayer-funded promotion of the President’s health care law. Read more about it here: National ReviewIn addition, we introduced and promoted over a dozen other bills that were not passed into law. I am proud of the good work our team accomplished on behalf of the Buckeye State.