Americans across the country this week voiced their concerns over a new mandate under President Obama’s health care law that would force religious organizations — including Catholic hospitals, schools, and charities — to participate in coverage of medical services that violate their religious beliefs, or pay massive fines. Sen. Portman sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday calling on the Department of Justice to halt the mandate, stating that government shouldn’t force religious groups to comply with bureaucratic edicts that violate their faith.

A number of faith-based organizations, along with more than 16,000 individual Ohioans, have contacted Senator Portman’s office regarding the HHS mandate.  One such group, the Sisters of Charity Health System in Cleveland, publicly urged the Administration to halt the new mandate in a Columbus Dispatch letter to the editor that ran the morning of Vice President Biden’s visit to Columbus.

Portman held a meeting Thursday with Ohio’s congressional delegation and Major General Deborah Ashenhurst, the Adjutant General of the Ohio National Guard, to proactively prepare for a potential BRAC (base realignment and closure) process and prevent painful repercussions to Ohio’s Air National Guard. Portman will continue to fight to ensure Ohio’s interests are well-protected in future discussions.

On Monday, Portman sent a letter with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) to Cass Sunstein, the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget (OIRA), urging the Administration to ensure that EPA complies with legal standards of scientific integrity as it finalizes a new report on hydraulic fracturing. Because the results of the study could have major implications on the natural gas industry and on state and federal regulations, Portman is calling on OIRA to designate EPA’s report as a “highly influential scientific assessment,” which will require a more thorough and transparent peer review process.

Reports have shown that Ohio’s Marcellus and Utica Shale formations could provide a massive economic boom to eastern Ohio and create hundreds of thousands of news jobs in natural gas production.

Following a December ruling by a federal appeals court that hamstrings the ability of the U.S. to fight back against cheap Chinese imports, Portman urged leadership in the House and the Senate to expedite legislation that would clarify that the Commerce Department can impose tariffs and other duties against Chinese imports that benefit from illegal export subsidies. Portman continues to push his colleagues to ensure that Ohio workers and families have protection against unfair trade practices from countries such as China. As U.S. Trade Representative, Portman initiated the first-ever legal case to be litigated and won against China before the World Trade Organization because of China's unfair treatment of U.S.-made auto parts.

On Monday, Portman voted for the 2012 Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization, saying he was glad to work with the Ohio congressional delegation to secure language that could boost jobs and economic growth in southwest Ohio. Due to Portman’s efforts, southwest Ohio is in a better position to be selected as a site for the research and testing of unmanned aircraft systems, which would further solidify Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and southwest Ohio’s role in the future of unmanned aircraft, benefitting local businesses and the highly trained workers both inside and outside of the fence at Wright-Patt.  

Portman held a breakfast on Tuesday to welcome his 2012 spring intern class to Washington, D.C. The internship program offers college-age students an exciting introduction to the U.S. Senate and the inner workings of a Senate office. Students who wish to apply for a summer internship should visit Senator Portman’s website to fill out an application.

Today, Portman visited southern Ohio to highlight his fight against drug abuse and drug trafficking in the region and to discuss his efforts to find a path forward on Piketon’s American Centrifuge Project, which would strengthen the area’s economy. Early in the afternoon, Portman held a meeting in Portsmouth with local, state, and federal law enforcement officers to discuss how his recent work to obtain a federal designation of Adams and Scioto Counties as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTAs) is helping the area. Portman then headed to Piketon and spoke with local business leaders, elected officials, community leaders, and plant employees regarding the ongoing fight to advance ACP despite the Obama Administration’s failure to issue the conditional loan guarantee.

Legislators set to fight for Ohio guard bases

WASHINGTON — Sen. Rob Portman and other members of the Ohio delegation said they would push back hard against proposed defense cuts that could cost 1,000 jobs in the state and dramatically trim operations at Air National Guard bases.


“The Air Force has made their preliminary decision on this,” said Portman, R-Ohio. “(But) Congress can reverse it.”

Portman said the delegation would work to mobilize local business and community groups, so they can make a compelling case for any targeted facility. And they would put together an “inventory” of the state’s military installations, highlighting the benefits of Ohio’s facilities to Defense Department officials.

Portman also said he planned to begin drafting BRAC legislation that would ensure National Guard input into the process.

“We agreed as a delegation we would work toward that goal,” Portman said.

(“Legislators set to fight for Ohio guard bases” by Deirdre Shesgreen. The Mansfield News Journal. February 10, 2012.)


Contingent from Ohio lobbies for fighter wing

As the Pentagon gears up for budget cuts, much of Ohio's congressional delegation turned out Thursday to show support for maintaining military bases in Ohio, including the 180th Fighter Wing at Toledo Express Airport.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) said the 180th and its F16s have bipartisan support.

"We'll wait and see what they come up with," Mr. Portman said. "We don't have any sense yet from the Air Force. Yesterday in my discussions with them they did not indicate that they had made any decisions with regard to the 180th but again, they're doing a terrific job. We've got really great personnel, great assets. It's an important, valuable part of our military. So we're going to fight hard for it."

(“Contingent from Ohio lobbies for fighter wing” by Tom Troy. The Toledo Blade. February 10, 2012.)


Dispatch Highlights Portman’s Fight Against HHS Mandate

The economy might be morphing from a hurdle into a talking point for President Barack Obama’s re-election, Vice President Joe Biden signaled to Ohio newspaper executives yesterday in Columbus.

Biden made no mention of another issue — the administration’s decision to require that health-care coverage at religiously-affiliated organizations such as Catholic Church-run hospitals, charities and universities include payments for contraceptives.

The ruling, part of Obama’s implementation of the broader federal health-care law, sparked vigorous objections from numerous Catholic officials, congressional Republicans and GOP presidential candidates, who argue that it’s an impingement on the First Amendment and goes against Catholic beliefs.

On Monday, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder, calling on the Department of Justice to halt the mandate because it violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. A spokesman for Portman said the senator has not received a response from Holder.

Biden, a Catholic, was among those who warned that “the mandate would be seen as a government intrusion on religious institutions” and might alienate Catholics in battleground states, according to a report from Bloomberg.

(“Economy buoyed by ‘fabric of this country,’ Biden says” by Joe Vardon. The Columbus Dispatch. February 10, 2012.)


Senators back area in fight against subsidized imports

Miami Valley companies and heavy industry throughout Ohio need a fast legislative fix to a U.S. Appeals Court ruling that hamstrings the ability to fight back against subsidized imports, said Sens. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, and Rob Portman, a Republican, in a message Wednesday to their fellow legislators.

In a letter addressed to House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada…Portman urged them to provide “swift consideration of legislation to allow our government to defend American industries against unfairly subsidized imports.”

In all, the senators said, more than 20 Ohio companies have asked for relief because of subsidized Chinese imports that undermined their businesses.

Said Portman: “Congress should work to ensure that Ohio workers and families have protection against unfair trade practices from countries such as China.”

(“Senators back area in fight against subsidized imports” by Steve Bennish. The Dayton Daily News. February 8, 2012.)


Senate GOP fights contraceptive rule

Senate Republicans late Tuesday stepped up their assault on the White House’s politically volatile contraceptive coverage mandate, vowing to find some way of striking it if the administration didn’t roll back the rules itself.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) sent Attorney General Eric Holder a letter asking him to advise HHS to block the contraceptives coverage rule on the grounds that it violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. "The HHS mandate violates RFRA because it punishes religious employers who decline to participate in coverage of certain medical services — in particular, sterilization and contraception — that contract their faith-based commitments," he wrote.

(“Senate GOP fights contraceptive rule” by Joanne Kenen. Politico. February 7, 2012.)


Line-Item Veto Bill Still Advancing in House as Earmark Prohibition Stalls

Advocates of a targeted approach to spending restraint will probably chalk up a victory Wednesday when the House considers a bill that would give the president authority to delete individual items from spending legislation with Congress’ approval.

The legislation would allow the president to ask Congress to rescind specific spending provisions from appropriations laws after enactment, with a guarantee of a vote. The bill would allow expedited consideration of the proposed rescissions without amendments or the possibility of a filibuster in the Senate.


Rob Portman , R-Ohio, a cosponsor of the Senate bill, said he is encouraged, not least because President Obama lent his support to the House bill this week.

“I feel as though it’s a balanced approach, that it’s constitutional, and with the administration’s support we have a good likelihood of getting it through the Senate,” said Portman, who pushed for passage of line-item veto legislation when he served as President George W. Bush’s budget chief.

(“Line-Item Veto Bill Still Advancing in House as Earmark Prohibition Stalls” by Paul Krawzak. CQ. February 7, 2012.)


Into The Loopholes

Not long ago, General Electric became the emblem of corporate tax avoidance. The New York Times reported that in 2010, the company reaped $14.2 billion in profits worldwide, $5.1 billion coming from its American operations. And the federal taxes the company paid? Zero. The revelation triggered calls for repairing a corporate tax code brimming with special breaks, subsidies and shelters, resulting in varying treatment for industries and sectors across the economy.

…U.S. Sen. Rob Portman has been one persistent voice about the need for change. The Ohio Republican told a Washington gathering last week that he has in mind introducing a reform bill in the coming weeks that would feature bipartisan support. He understands the difficulty in getting anything so substantial accomplished in this election year. He also recognizes the imperative.

For Portman, the primary concern is the country’s competitiveness. He correctly notes that the United States has one of the highest corporate tax rates — 35 percent.

Portman proposes lowering the tax rate to 25 percent. He also would bring application of the tax in line with other countries, paying foreign taxes on foreign profits. In addition, he would address the many and bewildering tax preferences.

That approach doesn’t please everyone, many companies wanting a lower rate and the tax preferences. Yet it is the path to a more efficient and effective tax system, and a more competitive posture for the country, both outcomes highlighting why Rob Portman is right about moving sooner rather than later to make the repairs.

(“Into The Loopholes” by Editorial Board. The Akron Beacon Journal. February 6, 2012.)


Senators press White House to intervene in ‘fracking’ fight

A pair of senators is urging the White House Office of Management and Budget not to let the Environmental Protection Agency sully the reputation of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” the controversial natural-gas drilling method.

Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) are asking OMB’s regulatory chief to ensure that EPA “reaches sound and well-supported scientific conclusions” when finalizing an explosive draft report that linked fracking to groundwater contamination in a Wyoming region.

“A false-positive link between hydraulic fracturing and groundwater contamination could form the basis for costly new regulation,” they write in a letter sent Monday to Cass Sunstein, who heads OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

“Unwarranted regulation of hydraulic fracturing could have substantial economic impact on the natural gas industry, the consumers and businesses that rely on it, and the millions of jobs that it directly or indirectly supports,” the senators add.

(“Senators press White House to intervene in ‘fracking’ fight” by Ben Geman. The Hill. February 6, 2012.)


Portman plans Newark office hours Wednesday

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Rob Portman's staff will conduct office hours in Licking County at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at Licking County Library, 101 W. Main St., Newark.

During this time, constituents will have the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns with a district representative who will provide their feedback to the senator.

No appointments are necessary. For more information, call John Campbell at (614) 469-6774.

(“Portman plans Newark office hours Wednesday” by Staff Reporter. The Newark Advocate. February 7, 2012.)


Ohio U.S. Senator tells Attorney General to stop unlawful HHS violation of religious liberty

“The government shouldn’t force religious groups to comply with bureaucratic edicts that violate their faith.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) today (February 6, 2012) sent a 4-page letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling on the Department of Justice to halt a new mandate under President Obama’s health care law that will force religious organizations — including Catholic hospitals, schools, and charities — to participate in coverage of medical services that violate their religious beliefs, or pay massive fines.  Portman contends in the letter that the mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, a bipartisan law signed by President Clinton.  The letter calls on Attorney General Holder to enforce that law and order HHS to withdraw its regulation.

(“Ohio U.S. Senator tells Attorney General to stop unlawful HHS violation of religious liberty” by Staff Reporter. Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. February 6, 2012.)

GOP assails Reid on budget punt

Republicans pounced on Majority Leader Harry Reid’s remarks Friday that Democrats won’t bring a budget up for a vote  in the Senate this year, accusing him of favoring political expediency over fiscal responsibility.

Because of Reid’s decision, “Washington has reached a new low,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who served as President George W. Bush’s budget director.

(“GOP assails Reid on budget punt” by Scott Wong. Politico. February 3, 2012.)