On Fox News, Portman Talks China Trade, Border Security, & the Ongoing Mueller Investigation

December 13, 2018 | Portman Difference

In an interview with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto yesterday afternoon, Senator Portman discussed the ongoing trade negotiations with China and how to hold the country accountable when it cheats on trade. He highlighted the need for a bipartisan agreement on tighter border security and discussed his hope for a resolution rather than a government shutdown. He also made clear we should allow Mueller to finish his investigation without any political interference. 

Excerpts of his interview can be found below and a video can be found here:



“When I was U.S. Trade Representative, we had our battles with China. We won some and lost some but I think you’re right, that things are going better. The last couple of weeks they’ve been better because we have a process now and we have one person in charge, and that’s the current USTR Bob Lighthizer. But second, you’re right to be skeptical because sometimes we hear announcements of great progress and then the reality doesn’t follow. I think it’s trust but verify. Overall, the market reacted properly by going up some today.” 


“Just follow up. We’re not the greatest on following through on being sure that the commitments are kept. Second, it has to be based on market conditions. So the fact that they’re saying they’re going to buy more soybeans should make us happy only because our soybeans, on a question of price and quality, are the best in the world. So yeah, we can trust that because it’s in their interest to buy our soybeans. 

“They had wisely put a lot of soybeans in and other commodities in storage. So they had the ability not to buy from us. Yeah, they bought some from other countries, but frankly, we’re still producing a quality at a price that makes it advantageous for them. That’s in all of our interests and generally speaking in trade, that’s when it works better. The market condition, generally, ends up being the thing that leads to a better result for both parties.” 


“The reality is, the Secure Fence Act in 2006, Democrats and Republicans supported it. More recently, in the appropriations process, senators on both sides of the aisle, including some that are now saying they can’t support a secure border, have voted for more funding for the border, so I think we sort of have to back up and say, ‘What’s the real issue here?’ Most Americans agree that we have to have a more secure border. Since 2006, by the way, we have built about 700 miles of fence or wall. This whole proposal would be about another 330 miles, as I see it. We still have a 2,000 mile border. Much of it would not have a wall. I agree, in some parts it doesn’t make sense to do it—in the Rio Grande Valley or Big Bend where you have these huge canyons—but it does makes sense to do it in places like Laredo, Texas, where you have an urban area. 

“I think we should be talking about the facts. In the past, Democrats have supported this kind of funding, we all want a secure border. We can do it in a way that is not a wall all across the border. That was never what the administration supported or has proposed and we need to do it in a smart way. I just think there’s a way forward here, I really do. If we get back to the facts and sort of get away from the rhetoric and the talking points.” 


“No, I think it’s more likely there will be a short-term continuing resolution, which is not good policy but I think that’s more likely. If we focus on what we’re all interested in, I hope, which is a secure border—by the way, not just for immigration, but also for drugs and trafficking—there’s a reason you want to have a secure southern border, then I think we can get there. If it’s about politics, then it’s much harder. We have to focus on the reality that our immigration system is broken and one part of it that’s broken is not having a secure border. There’s also another way to get at this, and I proposed this in past, but let’s do something on the DACA— young people who are here—in addition to the secure borders since there seems to be a bipartisan consensus around that.” 


“Look, I support Mueller getting to the bottom of it. Let’s let him follow the facts where they may lead but let’s get on with it. In other words, it’s been too long and that’s typical with these special counsels or independent counsels before this. So we need to wrap things up. I do think that would be good for the country to move forward. Yes, allow him to do his work without political interference but let’s wrap this up. We have to find out what the Russians did with regard to the 2016 elections and what we can do to prevent it from happening in the 2020 elections. To me, that is the core issue that was supposedly the start of this: how to keep the Russians from interfering in our democratic process.”