Rob’s Rundown: Week of June 20 – June 24, 2022
Senator Portman was back in Washington this week where he spoke on the Senate floor for the 16th consecutive session week regarding the situation in Ukraine. Portman urged the administration to send Ukraine more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS). He highlighted his meeting with members of the Ukrainian Parliament the week before and conveyed their emotional pleas for the U.S. to give more aid to Ukraine in its time of need. Portman also noted the Americans captured abroad and urged the administration to ensure their safety. A consistent voice for Ukraine, the administration has heeded bipartisan calls led by Portman for sanctions on trade, banking, energy, and tax, in addition to more lethal weaponry.
On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved Portman’s bipartisan legislation that would allow Americans to save more for retirement, help small businesses offer retirement plans, expand access for low-income Americans, and provide more certainty and flexibility during Americans’ retirement years. Portman also joined Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto to discuss the Biden administration’s call the suspend the federal gas tax, the need to expand American energy production, and the bipartisan gun safety legislation under consideration by the Senate.
At a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on Wednesday, Portman stressed the importance of Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) work to protect our communities from violent threats and technological hazards, while examining what resources and authorities FEMA requires to address worsening emergencies and disasters.
On Thursday, Portman pressed experts at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on the need to build trust in government through customer experience. Portman made it clear that this can start by fully implementing his bipartisan 21st Century IDEA Act, now law, which is designed to improve citizens’ interaction with the federal government online.
Later that evening, Portman voted for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which takes common-sense steps to improve access to mental health, protect America’s children, improve school safety, and reduce the threat of gun violence across our country while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
Finally, Senator Portman released a statement on the Supreme Court’s Dobbs Decision.
For a more detailed look at Senator Portman’s week, please see the following:
Monday, June 20, 2022
Wall Street Journal Editorial Highlights Portman Speech on Need to Provide Long-Range Artillery Weapons to Ukraine
In an editorial this weekend, The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board highlighted Senator Portman’s recent remarks on the Senate floor regarding the need for the U.S. to provide more and better artillery rocket systems to Ukraine.
The Journal specifically pointed to Portman’s speech on the Senate floor last week where he discussed the issue. During that speech, Portman noted the progress Russia is making in eastern Ukraine and said it is imperative that the United States step up to provide more and better capability to Ukraine to blunt Russia’s offensive.
Click here to read the entire editorial.
Tuesday, June 21, 2022
Portman, Shaheen, Grassley, Coons, Murphy Applaud U.S. Support for Three Seas Initiative to Increase Europe’s Independence from Russia
Senators Rob Portman, Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) issued the following bipartisan statement in response to the announcement of U.S. support for the Three Seas Initiative through the U.S. Development Finance Corporation at the Three Seas Summit in Riga, Latvia.
The Three Seas Initiative aims to improve connectivity among twelve European countries located between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas. The Three Seas Investment Fund supports the development of infrastructure in the energy, transport and telecommunications sectors. The U.S. Development Finance Corporation will support the fund with a loan of up to $300 million dollars focused on energy projects. This will enhance regional energy cooperation and connectivity that will help reduce countries’ dependence on Russian energy sources.
“Energy independence is one of the most pressing challenges facing Europe amid Putin’s unprovoked and illegal war against Ukraine. The Three Seas Initiative illustrates the importance of investing in critical regional cooperation to diversify energy sources, making Europe stronger, better connected and more resilient,” said the Senators. “We applaud the U.S.’ support for this initiative, which will empower our allies and partners to further develop reliable sources of energy and reduce their vulnerability to Putin’s manipulation and destabilization. And we support the initiative undertaken by members of the Three Seas Initiative to work together in identifying and responding to their shared challenges.”
NOTE: Senator Portman traveled to Romania in May to meet with Prime Minister Ciuca and other officials, where Portman was briefed on Romania’s efforts to increase its energy production over the coming years through nuclear energy. As its production increases, Romania has the potential to become an energy hub in Eastern Europe that can help wean its neighbors off Russian energy.
Portman, Blumenthal, Durbin, Grassley Urge Department of Defense to Send More Advanced Artillery Rocket Systems to Ukraine
Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman, Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, urging him to send more advanced artillery rocket systems and ammunition to Ukraine, as the systems are vital in Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s brutal invasion. The senators commended the decision by the Biden administration earlier this month to send M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine, but the administration has decided to only send four – a number the senators say is far too low, given the amount of artillery Russia has at their disposal. The senators encouraged Secretary Austin to send additional systems urgently, like HIMARS or the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), in order to level the playing field for Ukraine and allow them to halt Russian advances in the Donbas region and strengthen their counteroffensives in other parts of the country.
“The outcome of Russia’s war against Ukraine will hinge on how firmly the West supports Ukrainian forces,” said the senators. “Following the incredible defeat of early Russian attempts to topple Ukraine’s elected government and seize the entire nation, battlefield needs have understandably evolved and we must be nimble in meeting these changing needs. As a result, we ask that you urgently provide a significant number of additional artillery rocket systems to Ukraine.”
You can view the full letter here.
GOP Senators Send Letter to President Biden Expressing Concern Over Tariff Moratorium on Imported Solar Panels
President Biden’s Decision Rewards China and Their Unfair Trade Practices, While Hurting U.S. Workers
Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman led a group of fellow GOP senators in sending a letter to President Biden, expressing their concern over the president’s decision to impose a two-year tariff moratorium on imported solar panels – which the senators argue increases our dependence on China, rewards unfair trade practices, harms U.S. workers, and represents an executive branch overreach. The president’s decision also undermines an ongoing investigation by the Department of Commerce into efforts by Chinese solar companies to circumvent our Antidumping and Countervailing Duty (AD/CVD) orders against Chinese-made solar cells and modules by moving manufacturing to countries like Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
“Already the United States is over-reliant on China for solar power. Currently, 80 percent of our solar panels come from China or Chinese companies, and this reliance is not market-based. China has used a variety of anti-free market practices, such as industrial subsidies, to come to dominate the solar sector. This is why the United States imposed anti-dumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) orders on unfairly traded solar panel imports from China as early as 2012. It is also why the Department of Commerce is actively investigating circumvention of those AD/CVD orders by solar panel producers and exporters in Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The unprecedented and sweeping tariff moratorium prioritizes foreign solar panels over those made in the United States. We cannot afford to trade dependence on Russian energy for that of Chinese solar panels. It is counter to the national interest to rely on our adversaries for our energy needs,” wrote the senators.
“…we are disappointed that the climate change agenda has proven to be an effective means to pre-empt and nullify the legitimate claims of U.S. workers and industry before they can be fully considered through the ongoing investigation by your Department of Commerce. To honor those claims, we urge you to end the self-imposed emergency declaration and let the Commerce Department investigation proceed unimpeded so as not to further increase our economic reliance on China,” continued the senators.
Along with Portman, senators joining the letter include Senators Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Mike Braun (R-IN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Ted Cruz (R-TX).
You can view the full letter here.
On Senate Floor, Portman Highlights Ukrainian Victory in Black Sea, Sheds Light on Americans Captured, NATO Expansion, and Warns of High Stakes in Russia’s War on Democracy
This evening, U.S. Senator Rob Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor in support of Ukraine for the 16th consecutive week while the Senate has been in session. Portman urged the administration – as outlined in his bipartisan letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin – to send Ukraine more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS). He highlighted his meeting with members of the Ukrainian Parliament, the Rada, and conveyed their emotional pleas for the U.S. to give more aid to Ukraine in its time of need. Portman also noted the Americans captured abroad and urged the administration to ensure their safety.
As co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, Senator Portman has met numerous times with Ukrainian officials, gone to Ukraine seven times, and has been a staunch ally in their defense of their homeland and democracy. A consistent voice for Ukraine, the administration has heeded bipartisan calls led by Portman for sanctions on trade, banking, energy, and tax, in addition to more lethal weaponry. Senator Portman will continue his support for Ukraine as media coverage has fallen, and commended allies for their continued support.
A video of his remarks can be found here.
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Portman, Coons Introduce Legislation to Advance Trade Negotiations with the United Kingdom
The SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP Act Builds on the Unique History of Partnership Between U.S. and UK to Grant New Presidential Authority on Future Trade Agreement
U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Chris Coons (D-DE), co-founders and co-chairs of the Senate UK Trade Caucus, today introduced the Securing Privileged Economic, Commercial, Investment, And Legal Rights to Ensure Longstanding Atlantic Trade and Investment Opportunities and Nurture Security, Happiness, Innovation, and Prosperity Act, or the SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP Act. The new legislation would give the president five years to take advantage of “fast-track” authority, and secure an up-or-down vote in Congress on any comprehensive trade agreement negotiated with the United Kingdom.
“As one of our oldest trading partners, resuming trade talks with the United Kingdom is a no brainer. We are close allies and trading partners and a trade agreement would strengthen our relationship and economic competitiveness, especially with respect to non-market economies,” said Senator Portman. “We need to get back into the business of expanding trading relationships around the world so we can export more American-made products and create jobs here at home. Reaching a bilateral trade agreement with the United Kingdom will benefit U.S. workers and businesses and strengthen the economic and security ties between our two countries.”
The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2020, set high standards in areas of labor rights, environmental protection, digital trade, and intellectual property rights, and the SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP Act encourages the executive branch to build on those standards in negotiations with the UK. As the bill notes, the robust labor and environmental protections enforced in both countries would reduce the risk of businesses offshoring operations to take advantage of laxer regulations and ensure that U.S. workers and companies can compete on a level playing field.
While the UK government has recently moved to override the Northern Ireland Protocol, which sets the post-Brexit trade rules in Northern Ireland, the SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP Act emphasizes that any U.S.-UK trade agreement must uphold peace and stability in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Portman Delivers Opening Remarks at Senate Finance Committee Mark-up to Consider Cardin-Portman Retirement Savings Legislation
Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) delivered the following opening remarks at a Senate Finance Committee markup of bipartisan retirement security legislation he authored with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD). The Cardin-Portman legislation, Retirement Security and Savings Act (S.1770), would allow people to save more for retirement, help small businesses offer retirement plans, expand access for low-income Americans, and provide more certainty and flexibility during Americans’ retirement years, ensuring the opportunity for all to have dignity in their retirement years. This is the senators’ fourth and final retirement savings legislation introduced together. Senator Portman pointed out that not only does the Cardin-Portman legislation have strong bipartisan support, but also bicameral support. In March, the House passed Neal-Brady legislation, Securing a Strong Retirement Act, by a vote of 414-5 – which has significant overlap with the Cardin-Portman bill.
A video of Senator Portman’s opening statement can be found here.
Portman, Durbin Meet With U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink
Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), Co-Chairs of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, met with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink to discuss the latest events regarding Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine. They also discussed how the Senate can continue to better support our ally through military, economic, and humanitarian assistance.
“Russia has brought horrible destruction and devastation to Ukraine, but so many Ukrainians are fighting valiantly. It was great to meet with Ambassador Brink and Senator Durbin today to hear about what she is seeing on the ground and how we can better assist our diplomats in-country and Ukrainians defending their homeland,” said Portman. “Ambassador Brink’s presence in Ukraine is vital to working closely with our allies and partners in Ukraine and in the region, and to ensure effective oversight of the significant military, economic and humanitarian assistance that the United States is providing to Ukraine. I am thankful that we were able to move her nomination through the Senate rapidly so that she could start her important work expeditiously."
Senators Portman and Cardin Hail Unanimous Senate Finance Committee Passage of Bipartisan Retirement Security Legislation
Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Ben Cardin (D-MD) hailed the unanimous passage of their bipartisan retirement security legislation, S. 1770, the Retirement Security and Savings Act, in the Senate Finance Committee. The legislation, which passed 28-0, would allow people to save more for retirement, help small businesses offer retirement plans, expand access for low-income Americans, and provide more certainty and flexibility during Americans’ retirement years, ensuring the opportunity for all to have a dignity in their retirement years. This legislation is the senators’ fourth and final retirement savings legislation introduced together. The Cardin-Portman legislation not only has strong bipartisan support, but also bicameral support. In March, the House passed Neal-Brady legislation, Securing a Strong Retirement Act, by a vote of 414-5 – which has significant overlap with the Cardin-Portman bill.
“Today’s unanimous committee vote is another important step in strengthening Americans’ retirement security. At a time when bipartisanship is hard to come by, I am grateful the Senate Finance Committee voted unanimously to make it easier for Americans to save for their retirement.,” said Senator Portman. “As the economy deals with the effects of the worst inflation in nearly 40 years, working families need all the help they can get when it comes to saving for the next chapter in their lives and Congress is one step closer to making that possible after today. I would like to thank Senator Ben Cardin for his long-time partnership in this effort and look forward to working with him and all my colleagues to ensure that this legislation is signed into law by the end of the year.”
On Fox News, Portman Discusses Retirement Legislation, Expanding American Energy Production, and Bipartisan Safer Communities Act
This afternoon, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) joined Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto to discuss the Biden administration’s call the suspend the federal gas tax and the bipartisan gun safety legislation, the Safer Communities Act. Senator Portman explained that the Safer Communities Act does not affect anyone who is a law-abiding citizen and protects the Second Amendment while providing more funding for mental health and community intervention programs. Portman was one of the original ten Republicans to support the original framework for this bill and will support its final passage when it comes to the Senate floor. Senator Portman also noted his bipartisan legislation that unanimously passed out of the Senate Finance Committee that would allow Americans to save more for retirement, help small businesses offer retirement plans, expand access for low-income Americans, and provide more certainty and flexibility during Americans’ retirement years.
A video can be found here.
Thursday, June 23, 2022
Portman Co-Chairs Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing, Presses State Department Energy Nominee on Russian Energy
This afternoon, U.S. Senator Rob Portman questioned The Honorable Geoffrey Pyatt, nominee to be the Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources, on the importance of countering Russian malign influence in Europe by promoting European energy security and independence. Senator Portman questioned Ambassador Pyatt on the Biden Administration’s refusal to sanction the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, as well as its recent decision to continue allowing U.S. financial institutions to process purchases of Russian energy. He also discussed the need for the United States to focus its energy policy on domestic production, instead of relying on foreign nations, like Venezuela, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
Portman Backs Bipartisan Legislation to Improve School Safety, Expand Mental Health Resources, Reduce the Threat of Gun Violence
U.S. Senator Rob Portman released the following statement after voting for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act:
“The Safer Communities Act takes common-sense steps to improve access to mental health, protect America’s children, improve school safety, and reduce the threat of gun violence across our country while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. The bill will provide additional resources to make our schools and communities safer and address mental health issues that are the root cause of many of the shootings in our country. Today’s Senate action is further proof that both parties can work together to make progress on difficult issues.
The bipartisan legislation includes:
Investment in Children and Family Mental Health Services
- National expansion of community behavioral health center model; major investments to increase access to mental health and suicide prevention programs; and other support services available in the community, including crisis and trauma intervention and recovery.
Funding for School-Based Mental Health and Supportive Services
- More than $1 Billion to increase funding for Safe and Healthy Student Programs
- $50 Million to improve and expand Academic Enrichment and Youth Development
- $500 Million to expand School-Based Mental Health Services
- $500 Million to Increase School-Based Mental Health Professionals Pipeline
Funding for School Safety Resources
- $200 million for STOP School Violence safety programs to help institute safety measures in and around primary and secondary schools, support school violence prevention efforts, provide training to school personnel and students and provide school resource officers.
- Requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to provide guidance to states on how they can increase access to health care
Penalties for Straw Purchasing
- Cracks down on criminals who illegally traffic firearms to violent criminals, gangs, and drug trafficking organizations who present a serious threat to public safety, who are responsible for funneling illegal guns into our cities and across our southern border.
Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence
- Convicted domestic violence abusers who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature will be included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), individuals will be automatically removed in 5 years so long as they do not commit an additional violence offence.
Clarification of Definition of Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer
- Ensures gun dealers meet licensing requirements.
Support for State Crisis Intervention Orders
- $750 Million for crisis intervention programs to states and tribes to be used for mental health courts, drug courts, veteran’s courts and extreme risk protection orders.
- If a state chooses to use any of this funding to implement an extreme risk protection order program, they are required to meet strict and expansive due process, evidentiary, and standard of proof requirements as part of the process.
Under 21 Enhanced Review Process
- For buyers under 21 years of age, the legislation requires an investigative period not to exceed 10 business days to review juvenile and mental health records, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement.
Friday, June 24, 2022
Portman Statement on Supreme Court Decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization
Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) issued the following statement after the Supreme Court released its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization:
“Today’s ruling is consistent with my view that policy questions regarding abortion should be decided by the elected representatives of the people, not the Supreme Court. Through its ruling today, the Court made this clear. The states already play a significant role in abortion policy, but have been constrained by various Supreme Court rulings. Now the issue of abortion will be decided by the states and the elected representatives closest to the people.
“While abortion is a very sensitive and emotional issue with strong feelings on both sides, I think most Americans agree that human life is precious and should be protected wherever possible. To that end, we should do more to work together in a bipartisan manner to promote adoption, reduce the number of abortions, and provide support for pregnant women in difficult circumstances.”