On Fox News Radio, Portman Discusses Coronavirus Response & Bipartisan Resolution to Allow Remote Voting

March 26, 2020 | Portman Difference

In an interview with Fox News Radio’s Guy Benson Show yesterday, Senator Portman highlighted the importance of the federal government providing assistance to families and businesses that are suffering because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Yesterday, Portman supported the Senate passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act will help American families, workers, and employers large and small around the nation during this coronavirus pandemic. Portman was involved in the bipartisan task force negotiations that led to this legislation and delivered remarks on the Senate floor various times this week urging the Senate to come together on a bipartisan basis to get this important rescue package passed. The measure now awaits passage in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Portman also discussed his new bipartisan resolution he introduced to amend the Standing Rules of the Senate to allow senators to vote remotely during a national crisis. Specifically, during a national crisis that makes it impossible for the senators to vote in person, the resolution gives the Majority and Minority Leaders the joint authority to allow secure remote voting. Remote voting would then be allowed for up to 30 days. The Senate would have to vote to renew remote voting every 30 days.  

Excerpts of his interview can be found below and you can listen here. 

PORTMAN ON WORKING TO ENSURE THAT PEOPLE KEEP THEIR JOBS DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC: 

“The last thing we want is for people to leave work. We want people to stay at work if they have a job, if they have something to do. And by the way, there’s a number of provisions in this bill that will make that happen because you’ve got the SBA loans that effectively become grants if you use the money for payroll. In other words, it’s an employee retention loan that says 'here’s the money from the SBA, you can get it from your local bank, and if you use it for payroll, it’s forgiven.' Second, there is new legislation that actually House Republicans were very excited about and that I think is good, Kevin McCarthy may have talked about it, which is an incentive to have a tax credit for businesses. So businesses would have a tax credit for retaining employees. And then, of course, there are a lot of provisions in here that help to ensure that people who are struggling with their small business, or mid-size or large business, have access to lending and that’s the Exchange Stabilization Fund, so there are a number of things that would actually help to keep workers where they are, that’s a good thing. But for those who have fallen between the cracks, the others help to ensure that they can put food on the table and pay their car payment, and pay their rent and just keep afloat.” 

PORTMAN ON HIS BIPARTISAN SENATE RESOLUTION TO ALLOW REMOTE VOTING DURING NATIONAL CRISES: 

Guy, I totally agree with you and I’ve been for this for 25 years. Back when I was in the House of Representatives I supported legislation to do this. You know, fortunately we haven’t had any significant emergencies since then that required it. 9/11 would have been the closest I suppose, but I think when there is a true emergency, and obviously we’re facing one now, I think Congress needs to have its voice be heard. And that will require us, in some instances, not to be able to gather. Whether it’s a bioterrorist threat or whether it’s a viral infection like this or whether it’s some kind of other terrorist activity like we saw on 9/11, there will be times when we won’t be able to gather. And so my legislation, it’s very simple, it simply says that the leader of the House and the leader of the Senate, you know in our case it’s changing the Senate rules so it’s the Democrat Leader and the Republican Leader in the Senate would decide that an emergency exists, and then we would be able to have remote and secure, as you say, voting. We have the technology now to do that. By the way, 25 years ago we really didn’t have the good technology to do it, today we’re able to ensure that it is a secure means for us to identify who we are and to be able to vote and to ensure that the Article I branch, the legislative branch, is being heard. I think it’s very important. And by the way, after 30 days the full Senate would vote and the emergency would only continue if the full Senate decided it was appropriate. So it does have a check and balance in here at the point which the Senate has started remote voting, then they can vote after 30 days to extend it or not.”  

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