A Look Back at Senator Portman's August
This August, Senator Portman travelled across Ohio, visiting businesses to discuss jobs and the economy, meeting with survivors of human trafficking and the opioid epidemic to hear their stories and discuss his legislation to help, and embarking on a national defense tour where he covered more than 1,400 miles and visited 13 counties in five days. Below are excerpts of, and links to, stories highlighting Senator Portman’s visits across the state:
Working to Stop Online Sex Trafficking of Women & Children
“Senator Rob Portman (R – OH) stopped in Dayton Wednesday to meet with survivors of human trafficking… He stopped by the Oasis House, an organization that helps women and girls affected by human trafficking, to talk with some survivors and the staff… ‘It is unbelievable that in the 21st century, we’ve got this traffic situation that people are actually being sold online as victims of human trafficking,” he said. ‘They’ve told me repeatedly, ‘Rob, it’s moved from the street corner to the smart phone’, and that’s where so much of the activity goes on now.’ — Dayton Fox 45, Gabi Warwick, August 23, 2017.
“Ohio Senator Rob Portman met with members of the Northeast Ohio Coalition Against Human Trafficking, Local Law Enforcement and Mercy Health officials in Boardman Friday afternoon… Portman discussed ongoing efforts to help end the practice of human trafficking in the state… Recently, Portman and another U.S. Senator introduced bipartisan legislation called the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act… This act is to ensure justice for victims of sex trafficking and ensure websites such as Backpage.com, which knowingly facilitates sex trafficking, can be held liable and brought to justice… As founder and co-chair of the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking, Senator Portman has a long record of fighting these types of crime… Portman authored five federal anti-trafficking laws signed by former president Barack Obama, each designed to make a real difference in better serving victims and helping law enforcement to combat human trafficking.” — Youngstown WFMJ, Lauren Stebelton, August 25, 2017.
“The bipartisan bill would ensure that websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking can be held liable so victims can get justice… The measure would: allow victims of sex trafficking to seek justice against websites that knowingly facilitate crimes against them; eliminate federal liability protections for websites that assist, support or facilitate a violation of federal trafficking laws; enable state law-enforcement officials, not just the U.S. Department of Justice, to take action against individuals or businesses that violate federal sex- trafficking laws… Portman’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. Ohio’s other senator, Democrat Sherrod Brown, said he is ‘pleased to join Sen. Portman in making sure law enforcement can protect Ohioans from online predators.’ At a time of intense partisanship in Congress and with the White House in turmoil because of Republican President Donald Trump’s picking fights with members of his own party on Capitol Hill, the push by Portman and others to deal with online sex trafficking is commendable, important and necessary. There should be no hesitation on the part of all members of Congress to pass the ‘Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act.’ It would be the height of irresponsibility for President Trump not to sign it into law. — Youngstown Vindicator, Editorial, August 29, 2017.
“The Communications Decency Act has unwittingly supported the explosion of online sex trafficking since its enactment in 1996. It is high time that something be done about it… Websites, such as Backpage.com, that have been accused of knowingly facilitating sex trafficking, have been able to exploit a loophole in Section 230 of the CDA to escape legal and civil liability. The results have been gut-wrenching…. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there was an 846 percent increase in reports of suspected child-sex trafficking from 2010-2015, mostly attributed to the Internet marketplace…. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) has been tenacious in trying to close this loophole. Mr. Portman, along with a bipartisan coalition of 19 senators, introduced the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 last week. The act would strip the protections for websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking, even in ads posted by third parties. Sex-trafficking victims would also be able to sue sites implicated in their exploitation, and state law enforcement officers, not just the U.S. Justice Department, could take action against online sites hosting third-party content violating trafficking laws…. The bill is a no-brainer, despite concerns of some that it could be a step toward Internet censorship. Mr. Portman’s effort specifically targets the heinous online sex-trafficking trade, not law-abiding interactive computer service providers….” — Toledo Blade, Editorial, August 7, 2017.
“For two years now, Sens. Rob Portman and Claire McCaskill have been waging a war against a website that one watchdog called “the Walmart” of child sex trafficking. On Tuesday, they — along with more than 20 other senators from both parties — began the process of adding a new tool to their arsenal…” — Columbus Dispatch, Jessica Wehrman, August 1, 2017.
“New legislation introduce by U.S. Senators may be prove to be an important tool in fight sex trafficking. The "Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act" is getting almost universal bipartisan praise. It targets the website Backpage, which Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio said is responsible for 80 percent of commercial sex trafficking. The new law would hold the website responsible for advertising underage girls.” — Toledo WTOL, Tim Miller, August 1, 2017.
“A lot of U.S. senators, starting with Ohio Republican Rob Portman, say they want to stop Backpage.com, too. Repeated criminal investigations and a Senate inquiry led by Portman and Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill show Backpage knew or should have known it was facilitating child sex trafficking across the country, yet the website has ducked criminal penalties and lawsuits by asserting its rights as an online publisher… More than 20 senators, including Portman and McCaskill, introduced a bill today, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017, to make it harder for Backpage to hide behind this act.” — Cleveland Plain Dealer, Stephen Koff, August 1, 2017.
“ The Senate on Tuesday introduced an amendment to a law that protects the hosts of websites from liability for content posted by others to go after sites such as Backpage.com that have been criticized for facilitating child sex trafficking… The bill, titled the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017, would amend the Communications Decency Act. It is sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and a bipartisan group of 19 other senators, some of whom served on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which focused on Backpage.com in its probe of online sex trafficking. The subcommittee, chaired by Portman, issued a report in January saying that Backpage “knowingly facilitated the criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls” by editing ads posted by pimps to remove offensive language.” — Washington Post, Tom Jackman, August 1, 2017.
“A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation Tuesday that aims to make it easier to sue and criminally prosecute operators of online classified sites like Backpage.com that have been used to advertise sex workers. The proposed bill would amend the Communications Decency Act to eliminate a provision that shields operators of websites from being liable for content posted by third-party users. In addition to removing liability protections for websites that facilitate “unlawful sex acts with sex trafficking victims,” lawmakers are seeking to amend the CDA to allow state prosecutors — not just federal law enforcement — to take action against individuals and businesses that use websites to violate federal sex trafficking laws.” — USA Today, Aamer Madhani, August 1, 2017.
Visiting Ohio’s Defense Installations & Supporting Our Men and Women in Uniform
“The Air National Guard Base in Springfield has the potential to add missions in the future and is a good space in the case of a potential future base realignment process, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said during a tour of the facility Monday. ‘Moving forward, this base is well-positioned,’ Portman said. ‘There are some assets here that aren’t being fully utilized that could be used for other purposes. My job is to be helpful and try to encourage the Air Force to try to put additional missions here at this base and in the meantime, what they’re doing is absolutely essential.’ The visit was part of Portman’s national defense tour across Ohio. The five-day tour was scheduled to cover each of Ohio’s’s military installations, visiting 13 counties and more than 1,400 miles across the state.” — Springfield News-Sun, Matt Sanctis, August 29, 2017.
“It is not as easy as it once was to find a parking space at Lima’s Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, and that is something U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, likes to see. Portman toured the tank production facility Tuesday, part of a five-day tour of Ohio military installations. Along with getting a look at some of the increased activity and new projects the facility is undertaking, including both producing an upgraded Abrams tank and modernizing Stryker personnel carriers, Portman also held a town hall discussion with employees to hear their thoughts and concerns. ‘About six or seven years ago, the administration said it wanted to shut down this plant because people, frankly, didn’t see the need for tank production at that time,” he said. “We fought hard to keep the line open and keep the facility open, and thank goodness, because now you see the need for us to upgrade our current tanks, building a new tank, essentially.’ Portman also called for a multiyear approach to procuring tanks for the military, providing stability and job security to plant employees…” — Lima News, Craig Kelly, August 29, 2017.
“U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on Tuesday visited Plum Brook Station, a remote test facility for the NASA Glenn Research Center in Sandusky. Portman, who fought successfully to secure full funding for the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, last visited the Plum Brook Station in July of 2016. This was his fifth visit on his five-day military facility tour. ‘Plum Brook houses world-class test facilities here in Sandusky, where they conduct critical and innovative ground tests for the international space community,’ Portman said. ‘Glenn Research Center and Plum Brook Station have an economic impact of more than $1.1 billion in Northeast Ohio, and the work they are doing is crucial to NASA’s larger mission. Plum Brook provides the most advanced testing in the world for future space exploration and partners with the European Space Agency to develop rockets for long range space exploration. ‘I will continue to fight, as I have successfully in the past, to ensure these vital programs receive the full funding they need to carry out their mission,’ Portman added. Portman sent a letter last year to the Senate appropriations committee in support of full funding for the NASA Glenn Research Center in Fiscal Year 2017. This request for full funding followed concerns that funding for Glenn would be jeopardized in futures budgets.” — Norwalk Reflector, Staff, August 30, 2017.
“Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) touched down and walked out of a C-130 H Hercules Wednesday at the 179th Airlift Wing with a smile on his face. He is on the third day of a five-day tour reviewing what airmen and airwomen of Ohio are on the various bases. ‘I was here earlier this year, and I asked about going up in a C-130,’ Portman said. ‘They said, 'Sure, come on back and do it.' So I did.’ … Portman noted his service on the Armed Forces Committee, and when he was on it he was able to save the 179th Air Force Wing. ‘If you recall, the Air Force wanted to close down this base,’ Portman said. ‘We were able to find a new mission for them. To fly the C-130 H's, which is really the workhorse for the United States Military. They do everything. Some are armored and they do war missions. Others like (the one he landed in) they can do drop missions; they can also emergency operations. They haven't been called to Texas (where Hurricane Harvey hit) as I understand it, but that would be an example of something they might be called to do…” — Richland Source, Noah Jones, August 30, 2017.
“On his third day of the tour, Senator Portman visited the Central Ohio Aerospace and Technology Center in Heath. The center hosts Boeing as well as the Bionetics Defense Engineering Services Group where they measure the accuracy of equipment in the line of duty. ‘The avionics are ultimately tested here and its an incredible facility. A lot of it is underground to avoid seismic issues and a lot of dedicated people working hard to ensure that our men and women in uniform have the right measurements that lead to the right that makes them safer and makes their equipment work better.’ said Portman. Portman also spoke on the role and support of the Heath, Newark and Licking County Port Authority.” — Whiz News, Nathaniel Shutt, August 30, 2017.
“A federal delegation of Ohio politicians joined local business, civic and military leaders Thursday to discuss the future of the Youngstown Air Reserve Station… U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th; U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th; and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati; addressed the crowd, praising the work of the airmen on the base and offering their support in fighting for the base’s continued existence… Portman said the continued well-being of the base is a nonpartisan issue and said upgrading existing hardware and equipment at the base would be important safeguards against an eventual shutdown of the YARS. ‘The YARS and the 910th are very important to the Valley. We need to keep this base here, and we’re going to fight to make sure our base gets updated equipment, like the C-130 J’s.’” — Youngstown Vindicator, Graig Graziosi, September 1, 2017.
“U.S. Sen. Rob Portman stopped by the Battelle Advanced Manufacturing vehicle plant on the west side on Thursday as part of a five-day national defense tour across Ohio. ‘We're in the fourth day of a 1,400 mile tour around the state, going to a dozen different installations that are either Army bases, Air Force bases or in this case, a contractor working with the United States government,’ Portman said. The Battelle plant converts pickup trucks and other vehicles into 360-degree armored transports for military and government clients. It started operations in 2008 and covers 53,000 square feet. ‘Battelle is exceptional,’ Portman said. ‘They are viewed as the highest quality at whatever they do.’ — Columbus Business Journal, Miranda Tomlinson, September 2, 2017.
Working to Improve Our Economy, Boost Jobs & Increase Wages
“U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, met with Dayton area leaders Wednesday to discuss federal tax reform… Portman met with members of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce and leaders of local businesses like Fuyao Glass America. He said he received input from Dayton-area employers as he continues to work with his colleagues in the Senate to reform the tax code… Tax reform is about more jobs and better wages, and this is a sign that we are making progress with our friends in the House and the Trump administration,’ he said in a statement. ‘Tax reform will give our economy a shot in the arm, and I’m committed to working with my colleagues to get this done to benefit Ohio and our country.’” — Dayton Daily News, Kara Driscoll, August 24, 2017.
“Giant jet engines made a powerful backdrop for Sen. Rob Portman’s visit to Adams County Thursday. There’s nothing better or bigger to illustrate the importance of Portman’s efforts to bring jobs to the region than the GE Aviation Engine Testing Facility. ‘I was here back when I was a member of Congress about a decade ago. Lots of changes, new buildings, new engines, new technology,’ Portman said he walked through the facility, greeting and chatting with workers. GE has long been one of the region’s biggest employers - ‘about 9,000 employees in Southwest Ohio,’ Portman noted – but it’s the force of 400 in Adams County, where jobs are scarce, that really raises the local economy. ‘These are good jobs. These are jobs that are needed here in a county that has relatively high unemployment,’ Portman said.” — Cincinnati WCPO, Jake Ryle, August 10, 2017.
“Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican who won re-election last year, called the Amazon facility in Etna Township ‘incredibly impressive,’ following a visit there Tuesday. Portman said Amazon's employment has soared to 4,800 since it opened a year ago, and there is a possibility for further expansion. The senator also discussed some of the country's issues, including jobs, bigotry, President's Donald Trump's recent statements following the deadly demonstration in Charlottesville, Va., and the ongoing war in Afghanistan.” — Newark Advocate, Kent Mallett, August 22, 2017.
“Ohio Senator Rob Portman was in Greenville Friday to tour the BASF facility and meet with a group of employees and plant managers. ‘We had a great visit,’ Portman said, noting BASF was a ‘great example of an Ohio employer that’s competing all around the world.’ The Greenville BASF plant is about to undergo a $25 million expansion within its existing structure, to add process equipment and control system updates, explained David Wynn, plant manager… During his tour, Portman said he discussed trade, energy and skills training, which manufactures chemical coatings used in the automotive industry.” — Blue Bag Media, Susan Hartley, August 18, 2017.
“The president and CEO of U.S. Steel, David Burritt, has said he believes that President Trump will take strong, decisive action against foreign steel dumping. Let’s hope he is right. A crackdown — long past due — would not only help American steelmakers’ bottom lines but shore up national security… Ohio Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown have led the Senate on this issue, speaking out repeatedly and working closely together, though they are of different parties and opposing ideologies. Both senators say worldwide steel overcapacity has devastated Ohio, where more than 1,500 steelworkers have been laid off over the past two years.” — Toledo Blade, Editorial, August 6, 2017.
“Expanding Ohio’s skilled workforce is key to luring mega-employers like Foxconn to the state, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said Friday. Portman, an Ohio Republican, said he was part of the effort to attract a massive Foxconn plant to the state. He said Ohio’s workforce was a focus during those talks… Portman said Foxconn was ‘very focused on what (he’s) doing on workforce, what’s going on in Ohio,’ calling it ‘huge issue for them.’ He said improving STEM and career and technical education would ‘absolutely’ help lure mega-projects such as the Foxconn plant, which passed on Ohio and is now promising to create thousands of jobs in Wisconsin.” — Columbus Business First, Staff, August 4, 2017.
Fighting Ohio’s Opioid Epidemic
“The opioid epidemic is killing more people than car accidents in Ohio. That’s what U.S. Senator Rob Portman said while touring a new Maryhaven drug treatment center in Merion Village Tuesday. He said the new facility will help more addicts get and stay clean. But, not everyone is happy about the center coming to their neighborhood… Senator Portman said opioids are now the number one cause of death in Ohio. He said the new Maryhaven Addiction Stabilization Center will help change the game..” — Columbus NBC 4, Andy Long, August 22, 2017.
“The staff of U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, held a grant-funding workshop in conjunction with the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board with the goal of helping to fight the opioid epidemic. Monday's lunchtime seminar also gave local constituents a chance to make suggestions relative to Wood County successes and emerging concerns. Portman is the author of the bipartisan and recently signed-into-law Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act, which has secured $181 million annually in discretionary spending and worked to secure $1 billion in funding for state grants to fight opioid abuse in the recently signed CURES Act. He has also introduced bipartisan Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention Act legislation, "which is designed to help stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil from being shipped through our borders to drug traffickers here in the United States," as noted in a recent Portman media release.” — Sentinel-Tribune, Roger LaPointe, August 8, 2017.
“Professionals from varying walks of life, including first responder agencies and behavioral health professionals, across Gallia, Meigs and Jackson Counties gathered in the French 500 Room of Holzer Medical Center Monday to discuss the ongoing opioid epidemic with US Senator Rob Portman’s staff and grant programs geared to combat the problem. The senator’s Southeast Ohio District Representative Todd Shelton was on hand to present grant information available to visitors. Timing of many of the grants would mean that agencies and professionals would need to apply for them the following year. Shelton said he felt many of those same grants would follow similar time lines as the previous year.” — Gallipolis Daily Tribune, Dean Wright, August 7, 2017.
“Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican who has sponsored bills to boost federal spending on treatment and law enforcement, said, ‘There is no doubt that this heroin and prescription drug epidemic is a crisis affecting our entire country, and I applaud the president for his decision to declare it a national emergency.’ Portman and other lawmakers, including Ohio Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, said they hoped the emergency would prompt Congress to add dollars and manpower to fighting the epidemic. Residential centers are limited under Medicaid rules on the number of drug patients they can take, and Portman and Brown have pushed to expand the number.” — Cleveland Plain Dealer, Stephen Koff, August 11, 2017.
Countering Propaganda & Disinformation from Russia
“Sen. Rob Portman is sharply criticizing the State Department after reports that it has yet to request money already appropriated to help counter Russian propaganda. ‘Congress has provided substantial resources to combat foreign propaganda, particularly from Russia. There is broad agreement that the U.S. Government is behind the curve on this threat,’ Portman, R-Ohio, said last week. ‘Countering foreign propaganda should be a top priority, and it is very concerning that progress on combatting this problem is being delayed because the State Department isn’t tapping into these resources. The State Department should take swift action to fully fund the GEC and ensure that it is capable of carrying out the purposes Congress directed, particularly as they relate to Russia and other state-sponsored foreign disinformation.’ — Dayton Daily News, Jessica Wehrman, August 4, 2017.
“Two U.S. senators are demanding that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson quickly tap into $80 million in available funds to counter propaganda by Russia and terrorist groups, with one lawmaker calling his delay in using the money ‘indefensible.’The comments by Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut came in response to a POLITICO story that detailed how Tillerson has taken no action to spend the money, which was allocated last year by Congress, possibly because of concerns that it could hurt his efforts to reduce tensions with Russia… Added Portman: ‘Countering foreign propaganda should be a top priority, and it is very concerning that progress on combating this problem is being delayed because the State Department isn’t tapping into these resources.’” — Politico, Nahal Toosi, August 2, 2017.
“Lawmakers reacted angrily to reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is not spending money at his disposal to counter Russian disinformation and propaganda put out by violent extremists… ‘Countering foreign propaganda should be a top priority and it is very concerning that progress on combating this problem is being delayed because the State Department isn't tapping into these resources,’ said Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman. He and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut wrote the legislation that established the GEC.” — CNN, Nicole Gaouette, Elise Labott and Laura Koran, August 2, 2017.
Additional News from Ohio
“Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, toured the Ohio State Fair Friday morning and thanked first responders who helped during the chaos following the Fire Ball ride tragedy that left seven people injured and an 18-year-old dead. The Republican senator said he recently spoke with the Ohio State Highway Patrol about the investigation into the Fire Ball ride. He said he is hoping for a preliminary report to be released soon. Portman said the Consumer Product Safety Commission out of Washington is lending its expertise to the investigation, with stress tests and more.” — Columbus ABC 6, Haley Nelson, August 4, 2017.
“Sen. Rob Portman and three other senators are asking the Government Accountability Office to share information from an investigation into a program that is supposed to provide low-income households with discounts on telephone and broadband service. In a report published in May, the GAO concluded that the program’s ‘large and diffuse’ administrative structure made it susceptible to ‘significant’ risk of fraud, waste and abuse. The report found that the federal programs that oversee Lifeline have limited oversight over important parts of the program, such as whether those receiving the services are truly eligible. The report also found that while academic studies questioned whether the program was too expensive and inefficient, the Federal Communications Commission has not evaluated the program, and in fact, has expanded it.” — Columbus Dispatch. Jessica Wehrman, August 15, 2017.
“The training is complete and cyclists were ready to roll off in Columbus for Pelotonia 2017… Pelotonia is in its 9th year raising money for local cancer research. To date, the charity race has raised more than $140 million towards research… Republican Sen. Rob Portman is riding in Pelotonia Saturday. The senator has been riding in the race every year since it started.” — Columbus NBC 4, Tyler Carter. August 5. 2017.