Four Months of Delivering Results for Ohio
Since the beginning of the New Year, Senator Portman has been as active as ever in his efforts to deliver results for Ohioans. Portman, sticking to his mantra of getting things done for the people he represents, has worked to help Ohioans struggling with addiction, help put an end to the horrific crime of human trafficking, increase energy efficiency, create jobs and boost wages for Ohio workers and much more. Here’s a look at how Senator Portman has delivered for Ohioans over the past four months:
Creating Jobs & Delivering Results for Ohio Workers. Portman’s top priority in the Senate continues to be boosting Ohio jobs and the economy. That is why Portman, who has a lengthy record of delivering results for Ohio workers, has worked to expand markets for Ohio products and combat unfair trade practices that hurt Ohio workers. Moreover, Portman has worked to create a more friendly tax environment and help Ohio workers keep their hard-earned pensions.
- Recently, the Senate passed Portman’s bipartisan energy efficiency bill with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), legislation they had worked on for five years. As Portman has detailed on the Senate floor, the Portman-Shaheen bill will help create nearly 200,000 jobs while reducing carbon emissions equivalent to taking 20 million cars off the road. This is a victory for consumers, for our economy, and for the environment, and it's been hailed as an historic achievement. The measure is supported by more than 260 businesses, associations and advocacy groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers, the Sierra Club, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Alliance to Save Energy.
- In February -- along with his Leveling the Playing Field Act signed into law last year -- Portman’s ENFORCCE Act was signed into law. This bipartisan measure will help American manufacturers by cracking down on foreign countries from illegally importing goods and evading our trade laws.
- In addition, the president has signed into law Portman legislation that help combat the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and make clear that if another country wants close economic ties with the United States, they cannot support efforts to weaken Israel’s economy.
- Portman has led the fight, along with Senator Brown, to take on China on behalf of Ohio paper mills who have been hit hard by unfairly traded imports. In February, the Commerce Department ruled in favor of Senator Portman’s and Brown’s efforts to protect Ohio paper workers, who belong to the United Steelworkers.
- Recently, the Senate Finance Committee approved the bipartisan Taxpayer Protection Act, which includes two measures Portman has championed, including legislation to protect the privacy rights of taxpayers by ensuring that the IRS can’t outsource an audit.
- On April 13th, Portman introduced the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act to bolster job creation for American manufacturers. This legislation is nearly identical to a measure introduced last year by Portman and Senator McCaskill, who had worked together on the issue for five years. The Senate is expected to act on this measure in the coming weeks; the House passed an identical bill by a vote of 415-2.
- In March, Portman’s bipartisan Competitive Service Act was signed into law by the president. This measure will streamline the hiring process for federal agencies by cutting duplicative services and saving taxpayer money. The measure will help ensure that the federal government has world-class, highly-trained individuals able to deal with sensitive national security issues like cybersecurity and information technology.
- Portman continues to work to help the more than 47,000 Ohioans who are facing Central States Pension cuts. At a rally in the U.S. Capitol in April, Portman discussed how his Pension Accountability Act will help pensioners have their voices heard, and he urged the Treasury Department to reject the cuts in a floor speech on April 28.
- Over the past few months, Portman has continued to follow through on his promise of working on behalf of Ohio workers. Whether it’s legislation to protect Central States retirees, or his work to stand up for Ohio Delphi retirees, Ohio steel workers, and Ohio candle manufactures, Portman has again demonstrated his commitment to deliver results for Ohio workers.
Combating Drug Addiction. As the author of the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA), which passed the Senate by a 94-1 vote in March, Portman has led the national effort to combat the drug epidemic that is devastating communities across Ohio and our country. And his work has been praised by Ohio anti-drug advocates. Portman has consistently urged House action on CARA to get the measure signed into law so that it can begin to make a difference in people’s lives:
- CARA is designed to ensure that federal resources are devoted to evidence-based education, treatment and recovery programs that work. It is supported by and was drafted with the input of experts, those who deal with the problem of addiction every day and those who are in recovery, helps combat the drug epidemic. In hearings and speeches, Portman has noted how CARA will help by addressing opioid demand, promoting education and prevention to stop drug abuse before it begins, promoting treatment alternatives and reversing overdoses, helping veterans, and helping women and babies, as he wrote in the Washington Examiner in February.
- Portman has made numerous visits across the state of Ohio to promote CARA and help those fighting addiction. Visiting places such as the Bassett House outside of Athens, Project C.U.R.E. in Dayton, the Cleveland Metro Health Center, giving speeches on CARA in places such as the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Akron Press Club, and holding roundtables with groups like the Summit County Opiate task Force, Portman has traveled the state to raise awareness of the drug epidemic.
In speech after speech after speech after speech on the Senate floor and at a field hearing in Cleveland on the effects of the opioid epidemic, Portman has been relentless in urging the House to act on CARA. Portman has also made clear that he will not rest in his efforts to provide much needed relief to those throughout Ohio and the country that are struggling with drug addiction.
Working to End Human Trafficking. Portman has taken his efforts to combat human trafficking to a new level. Over the past four months, Portman, who is the author of five federal anti-trafficking laws designed to better serve victims and help law enforcement end this horrific crime, has led an investigation of online sex trafficking and has continued touring the state to meet with survivors of human trafficking to hear their stories:
- In January, Portman’s Permanent Subcommittee of Investigations exposed the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) troubling policies that placed children into the hands of a human trafficking ring that eventually enslaved them in Marion, Ohio.
- Portman is working to combat illegal online marketplaces for sex. Portman and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), as Chairman and Ranking Member of PSI, filed a civil action in the federal district court in Washington, D.C. to enforce a subpoena issued to Backpage.com CEO Carl Ferrer and require the company to turn over documents relevant to its investigation of online sex trafficking. For the first time in 21 years, the Senate voted to hold someone in contempt of Congress by passing Portman’s resolution on Backpage by a 96-0 vote. Portman has been widely praised for his investigation to examine how sex traffickers use Backpage and other sites to commit crimes and his ongoing efforts to help stop human trafficking.
- In March, Portman questioned Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on what steps were being taken to secure our porous borders and protect migrant children.
- In February, Portman visited Freedom a la Cart, a business in Columbus that hires and trains survivors of human trafficking, including victims who had been trafficked through Backpage.com and other websites. It is just one of many visits Portman has done to address this issue of human trafficking and combat these horrific crimes.
Protecting Ohioans and Making America Stronger: Portman is committed to keeping Ohioans safe and has consistently advocated for a more robust and comprehensive American strategy to protect our allies and defeat our enemies. In doing so, Portman has sought to increase the range of capabilities for the Ohio National Guard and create jobs and opportunity for Ohio’s servicemembers.
- In March, Portman led the entire Ohio delegation in a bipartisan effort on behalf of the Ohio Air National Guard urging General Carlton Everhart of the Air Mobility Command to locate a KC-135 air refueling tanker flight simulator at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in Columbus. In April, Portman announced the USAF had fulfilled their request.
- In January, Portman, Rep. Latta, Senator Brown and Rep. Kaptur urged the Secretary of the Air Force to select the 180th Fighter Wing (FW) in Toledo to receive the new F-35A Joint Strike Fighter. Portman and Latta then visited the base a few weeks later and met with base leadership and local community leaders to discuss ways to advocate for the base. In March, Portman led an effort with Senator Brown, Rep. Turner, Rep. Latta, and Rep. Kaptur inviting the Air Force Secretary to visit the 180th FW to see the base’s advantages for herself.
- In April, Portman’s bipartisan efforts with Rep. Mike Turner and Senator Sherrod Brown, led to the Department of Veterans Affairs naming the Dayton Veterans Affairs campus as the home of the VA’s National Archives.
- In January, Portman advocated in support of Licking County’s application for the use of its drone. The FAA approved of the county’s request in April. This will help on a variety of important projects, such as the dam reconstruction project at Buckeye Lake.
- In April, Portman received the Major General Charles Dick Award for Legislative Excellence from the Ohio National Guard Association for his numerous efforts on behalf of the Ohio National Guard during his time in the Senate.
Protecting America’s National Parks & Our Environment: Senator Portman continues to be a leader in protecting our environment. Recently, Portman succeeded in passing energy efficiency legislation in the Senate that will dramatically reduce carbon emissions. In addition, Portman has helped lead efforts to make drinking water safe for Ohioans and protect Lake Erie from dredged materials. Portman recently received a Clean Water Award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) for his efforts.
- As stated above, the Senate passed Portman’s energy efficiency bill, which will reduce carbon emissions equivalent to taking 20 million cars off the road. This is a victory for the environment. The Alliance to Save Energy and the Natural Resources Defense Council, among others, praised Portman’s work on this issue.
- During National Park Week in mid-April, the Senate passed Portman’s National Park Service Centennial Act. This bill will help ensure that the Park Service has the resources necessary to protect America’s national parks into its second century.
- Portman has worked tirelessly to ensure that all Ohioans have safe drinking water. He worked with Senators Stabenow, Inhofe, and Peters to reach an agreement that would address lead exposure to drinking water systems in Ohio and in other states, such as Flint, Michigan. This legislation will not only address the crisis in Flint, but also help Ohio and other states should emergencies arise. The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee has approved this measure and it could be considered by the Senate in the coming weeks.
- Portman has also worked this year with Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) on legislation to reauthorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) one year after Portman secured $300 million in funding for the program, which provided $5.9 million in grants to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and $1.5 million to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency after the Toledo water crisis of 2014. This funding has been used to eliminate harmful algal blooms and reducing phosphorous loading into Lake Erie, which contributes to the growth of harmful algal blooms. The legislation authorizes GLRI to receive $300 million annually, which is $50 million more than President Obama requested in his budget. The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee has approved this measure and it could be considered by the Senate in the coming weeks.
- In March, Portman demanded answers on behalf of Cleveland to preserve Lake Erie. Portman, as chairman of PSI, sent a letter to Secretary Ashton B. Carter requesting information regarding the Corps’ efforts to dredge the Cleveland Harbor. It has been reported that the Corps cut its own budget by roughly $3 million – to less than it actually needs to dispose safely of the dredged material. Portman is working to protect the Great Lakes.
- The Senate is considering the Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which includes Portman’s priorities to fund the cleanup of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, Ohio, and prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from inappropriately disposing of dredged materials from the Cleveland Harbor Project in Lake Erie without approval of the Ohio EPA. Portman has insistently urged DOE Secretary Moniz to keep the administration’s promises to the Piketon community.
Exposing Reckless Mismanagement in Obamacare CO-OPs. Over the past four months, Portman has worked to expose the reckless mismanagement in the Obamacare CO-OP program – a $2.4 billion loan program that launched 23 health insurance start-ups, more than half of which have failed. Portman and his Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a report detailing the extraordinary losses racked up by the failed CO-OPs throughout 2014 and 2015, and the dim prospects that taxpayers will recover much, if any, of HHS’s $1.2 billion investment in those companies.
- In their ongoing effort to fight hold the administration accountable, Portman and a bipartisan group of Senators held Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt seeking information about a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report finding that between October 2013 to March 2015, HealthCare.gov had 316 security incidents, including 41 which involved personally identifiable information.
But Wait, There’s More. In addition to combating the drug epidemic, standing up for Ohio’s workers, working to end human and sex trafficking, and protecting our environment, all while prioritizing job creation and increased wages, Portman has found time to be a leader in other issues. Here is a look at some of his other accomplishments of the past four months:
- In April, Portman’s helped secure additional funds for Ohio to help revitalized neighborhoods that were hardest hit by the housing crisis. In total, Ohio has now received $191 million in funding for this purpose. Portman has long fought for the ability for Ohio communities to tap into additional funds to demolish vacant, blighted structures, which pose a growing threat to the public safety and economic well-being of our communities. In December, Portman successfully worked to secure the transfer of $2 billion to the Hardest Hit Fund in the year end Omnibus Appropriations bill. Ohio has an estimated 200,000 vacant properties awaiting demolition, posing a significant risk to public safety and drastically decreasing the value of surrounding properties.
- In March, Portman joined 12 other Senate Republicans to urge Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Acting Administration Andy Slavitt halt the Obama Administration’s plans to implement policy changes that cut funding for the Medicare Advantage (MA) program, cuts that would jeopardize the health benefits that millions of seniors rely on today.
- In March, Portman’s legislation to rename the United States Postal Service facility located in Grove City after Army Specialist Joseph W. Riley, a native of Grove City who died on November 24, 2014 in Kabul Province, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, was signed into law.
- In February, Portman urged the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Inspector General to undertake a swift investigation into troubling reports of substandard care and mismanagement at the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Portman demanded that Deputy Inspector General Linda A. Halliday, Portman demanded that the VA Office of Inspector General address these reports and investigate as quickly as possible.
Senator Portman has fought for all Ohioans, and he has delivered for them. He has led the effort to combat America’s drug epidemic and end human trafficking; he has consistently helped level the playing field for Ohio’s workers and worked to create jobs and boost wages; he has stood up for American global leadership and Ohio’s servicemembers; he has fought for a health care system that works, and much, much more. And this is just the beginning. Senator Portman will continue to deliver results for the people he represents.