Delivering Results for Ohio
Portman has consistently fought to ensure that that promises made to the Piketon community regarding the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant are kept. In 2017, Portman visited the plant twice, first in June, and then again in September with Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, who agreed with Portman that having a domestic capability to enrich uranium is a national security issue and that he is willing to re-evaluate after the Obama administration’s decision to end the domestic uranium enrichment demonstration program.
Protecting Our Environment
Senator Portman introduced the Restore Our Parks Act, bipartisan legislation that would help address the nearly $12 billion backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects at the National Park Service (NPS). The bill, which has been praised by key stakeholders, would establish the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” from existing unobligated revenues the government receives from on and offshore energy development to fund deferred maintenance projects at NPS sites across the country. Notably, the measure would help tackle the more than $100 million maintenance backlog at Ohio’s eight national park sites. The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved Senator Portman’s Restore Our Parks Act in October 2018 by a strong, bipartisan vote of 19-4 and now awaits action by the full Senate.
As co-chair of the International Conservation Caucus, Portman has worked to protect our natural resources and wildlife both at home and abroad. The Senate passed Portman’s Defending Economic Livelihoods and Threatened Animals (DELTA) Act in December 2018. This legislation encourages the U.S. to develop a strategy to protect the Okavango River Delta in Southern Africa. The president signed it into law on December 21, 2018.
In January 2019, the president signed into law Senator Portman’s bipartisan legislation, the Tropical Forest Conservation Act, to reauthorize a program that has saved more than 67 million acres of tropical forest by allowing developing countries that meet certain criteria to be relieved of debt owed to the United States in exchange for their conservation efforts. In addition, this legislation expands these efforts to coral reef ecosystems. To date, the TFCA program has sequestered 56 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of taking 11.8 million cars off the road.
The public lands package, signed into law in March 2019, included two pieces of legislation Senator Portman authored to protect our natural resources. The first, the Migratory Birds of the Americas Conservation Act, helps sustain over 380 species of migratory birds that face threats to their health and habitats. The second is legislation Senator Portman authored to provide greater funding certainty to the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, which spans more than 110 miles between New Philadelphia and Cleveland, and ensure it can continue to draw investment, and support local jobs, tourism and economic development in northeast Ohio.
A Leader in Energy
Senator Portman has been a strong advocate for a comprehensive energy strategy while also protecting our environment. He has continually worked to keep Ohio’s energy sector competitive while promoting energy efficiency.
Senator Portman has also been a leader in the decontamination and decommissioning efforts at the former gaseous diffusion plant at the Piketon site. He has consistently worked to secure funding needed to maintain current employment levels to cleanup at the site. In February 2018, Senator Portman announced during a visit with key stakeholders that he had secured a commitment from DOE to clean up the existing landfills and plumes at the plant.
In January 2019, Senator Portman announced the Department of Energy’s intent to invest $115 million over the next three years, potentially resulting in 60 initial jobs, to produce a cascade of 16 centrifuges at the former American Centrifuge Project in Piketon to demonstrate the production of high assay low enriched uranium (HALEU). This followed a commitment that Senator Portman secured from Energy Secretary Rick Perry to re-evaluate the Obama administration’s decision to end the domestic uranium enrichment demonstration program in Piketon – known as the American Centrifuge Plant.
In March 2017, the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee approved the bipartisan energy efficiency legislation Portman introduced with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (ESIC). The measure contains important energy efficiency policy reforms that will strengthen the economy and reduce pollution without any new taxes or mandates. Components of the bill were signed into law by President Obama in April 2015 and are already helping individuals and companies use less energy, creating jobs, and reducing emissions. Taken together, these bipartisan reforms include common-sense initiatives that will create nearly 200,000 new jobs, save consumers $16.2 billion annually in reduced energy costs, and reduce carbon emissions equivalent to taking 22 million cars off the road.
In April 2017, Portman introduced the Carbon Capture Improvement Act, which would help power plants and industrial facilities finance the purchase and installation of carbon capture and storage equipment, allowing states like Ohio to continue to utilize our natural resources while protecting our environment at the same time. Specifically, this bill would allow businesses to use private activity bonds (PABs) issued by local or state governments to finance a carbon capture project, storing carbon dioxide that would have otherwise been emitted into the atmosphere.
Portman has consistently fought to ensure that that promises made to the Piketon community regarding the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant are kept. In 2017, Portman visited the plant twice, first in June, and then again in September with Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, who agreed with Portman that having a domestic capability to enrich uranium is a national security issue and that he is willing to re-evaluate after the Obama administration’s decision to end the domestic uranium enrichment demonstration program. In February 2018, Portman announced that he had secured a commitment from DOE to clean up the existing landfills and plumes at the plant. In September 2018, Portman announced that President Trump signed into law funding legislation that included $26.8 million above the FY 2018 bipartisan funding agreement and $60 million above the president’s budget request to fully fund cleanup at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, Ohio. In January 2019, Portman announced U.S. Department of Energy’s intent to invest $115 million over the next three years, potentially resulting in 60 initial jobs.
Fighting for Better, More Affordable Health Care
Senator Portman continues to fight for a better health care system that lowers the cost of coverage, provides access to quality care, and protects the most vulnerable in our society. Health care costs are still too high, and as a result Ohio families and small businesses continue to see their premiums and deductibles increase.
Portman was an active voice in the health care debate, consistently advocating for a solution that would both repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with a more workable system that lowers costs, increases access to care, and protects the most vulnerable. He fought for Ohio priorities, including adding to the Senate replacement bill an unprecedented $45 billion in new resources for opioid treatment and $100 billion to help low-income Americans get high-quality, affordable health care. He also worked to ensure that those on expanded Medicaid continue to have good health care options under a new system, whether it’s under the current Medicaid structure or affordable health care options on the private market. He continues to work to stabilize the insurance markets and ensure that Ohioans have access to affordable health care.
Portman’s bipartisan Improving Access to Behavioral Health Information Technology Act that helps behavioral health care providers – like psychologists and psychiatric hospitals – adopt electronic health records was signed into law by President Trump in October 2018. Psychologists and other behavioral health specialists that are working to combat the opioid epidemic have largely been left behind in the national shift towards utilizing electronic health records and other health IT. This initiative provides incentives for behavioral health care providers to adopt health IT to help bridge this gap and improve the coordination and quality of care for Americans with mental health, addiction, and other behavioral health care needs.
The bipartisan opioids law also included Portman’s Enhancing Access to Addiction Treatment Act, which will support medical schools and residency programs that train students and residents in addiction medicine. Increasing the number of physicians who can prescribe buprenorphine will help promote greater access to treatment in Ohio. There are eight medical schools in Ohio and each will now be better able to prepare students who are entering the medical profession with the training to help individuals struggling with addiction.
Enabling All Ohioans to Reach Their God-Given Potential
Portman continues to work to ensure that all Ohioans can succeed by removing barriers that would have impeded Habitat for Humanity’s work to provide affordable housing to low-income families and help those with a criminal record from becoming productive members of society.
On December 21, 2018, the president signed into law Portman’s bipartisan legislation to reauthorize and strengthen the Second Chance Act, a law that supports state and local reentry programs to reduce recidivism. Then-Congressman Portman originally authored the Second Chance Act with the late-Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, and it was signed into law in 2008. Since 2009, more than 850 Second Chance Act grant awards have been made to government agencies and nonprofit organizations from 49 states for reentry programs serving adults and juveniles. As of June 2018, more than 164,000 individuals have participated in these programs. In total, Ohio has received more than $39 million in Second Chance Act grants since 2009, which includes funds to assist Ohioans re-entering the community with services such as job training, drug rehabilitation, case management and mental health treatment.
Having volunteered and participated in dozens of builds for more than 20 years, Portman is a longtime supporter of Habitat for Humanity, which helps provide affordable housing to low-income families. In August 2017, following his successful “Buckeye Build” in 2016, Portman returned to Cleveland to participate in another build and volunteered again on his birthday in December 2017 and 2018. Portman is also using his platform as a U.S. Senator to help Habitat assist families throughout Ohio and the country. Portman’s Housing Opportunities Made Easier (HOME) Act, legislation designed to ensure that Habitat for Humanity affiliates and other organizations can receive donated appraisals on the homes they build, was signed into law on May 24, 2018.
Other Portman Accomplishments
In addition to helping lead efforts to reform our broken tax code, continuing his work to combat addiction, working to end human and sex trafficking, bolstering the national defense, and protecting our environment, Portman has also been a leader on other issues.
In April 2017, Portman voted to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Portman made his decision to support his nomination after meeting with him in February. In 2018, Portman voted to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court. Portman gave various speeches on the Senate floor in support of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination and introduced him at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He also released two videos highlighting his support for Kavanaugh. In addition to confirming Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, the Senate has voted to confirm 30 circuit judges and 53 district court judges.
Senator Portman authored a number of other bills what were signed into law by President Trump, including:
In June 2018, Portman introduced legislation with 26 other Senators called the Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act, which requires that children and their parents remain together during their legal proceedings.
The president signed into law legislation Portman authored – the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience (IDEA) Act – which is designed to improve citizens’ interaction with the federal government online, while reducing the cost of assistance from federal agencies. Portman attended the White House signing ceremony on December 20, 2018.
Portman’s bill honoring Lawrence Eugene “Larry” Doby, the first African American to play in the American League, with the Congressional Gold Medal for his career and contributions to the American civil rights movement passed the Senate in December 2018 and is set to become law. Doby joined the Cleveland Indians in 1947. He was the first African-American player to hit a home run in a World Series game, led the American League in home runs twice, and was voted to seven All-Star teams.
Portman has consistently fought for Ohio workers in the face of unfair foreign trade. Portman has testified a number of times at the International Trade Commission on behalf of Ohio steel workers and washing machine manufacturers. In 2015, Senator Portman’s Leveling the Playing Field Act was signed into law. This legislation allows American companies to bring, and win, trade cases much more easily to ensure that foreign companies who seek to violate our trade laws our held accountable. That same year, Senator Portman’s Enforce and Protect Act, was also signed into law. This legislation ensures better enforcement when American companies win trade cases.
Senator Portman is a technology policy leader. Last Congress, he had two bills signed into law to help improve cybersecurity in the federal government. His Hack DHS Act created a program at DHS to reward individuals who identify vulnerabilities in DHS’ cyber defense, and his Public-Private Cybersecurity Cooperation Act creates the process by which those vulnerabilities are reported.
Recently, Senator Portman launched the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus to ensure responsible deliberation about the promises and pitfalls of AI in Congress. Since then he has introduced six pieces of AI legislation, including bills to ensure the United States maintains it competitive edge over China with enhance AI research and development, the federal government uses AI in a responsible way. In 2019, his bipartisan Deepfake Report Act passed the Senate which directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct an annual study of deepfakes and other types of similar content. It is the first deepfake-related bill to pass a chamber of Congress.
In 2018, Senator Portman and his casework team opened 3,259 cases (as of 12/12/18) to help Ohioans in need. 2,910, or 89.29 percent, of those cases were closed favorably. Throughout his time in the Senate, Portman and his team have opened a total 23,547 cases and have closed 19,684, or 83.59 percent, of those cases favorably.