A Year of Delivering Results for Ohio
In 2017, Senator Portman continued his record of delivering results for Ohio, just as he did in 2016. This year, Portman delivered on his promise to fix our broken tax code as President Trump signed into law historic tax cuts to boost the middle class, create more and better jobs, and increase wages. In addition, Portman made significant progress on his efforts to combat the horrific crime of human trafficking, help Ohioans struggling with addiction, provide resources to the men and women in uniform serving our country at Ohio’s military installations, and more. Here is a look at what Portman accomplished for Ohio in 2017:
Creating More Jobs & Higher Wages for Ohio Families. When Senator Portman ran for the Senate in 2010, he campaigned on a jobs plan, a key component of which was tax reform. He promised to help lead an effort to reform our tax code and provide relief to families and small businesses. In so doing, he kept his commitment to the people of Ohio. In addition to tax reform, Portman worked on a number of measures to help create jobs, level the playing field for Ohio workers, and make Ohio businesses more competitive.
- Senator Portman played a leading role in helping craft the landmark tax reforms which were signed into law on December 22, 2017. Portman worked throughout the process to develop and help improve the bill, including adding several amendments during Senate consideration by the Senate Finance Committee. Here’s a quick rundown on how Portman worked to improve the tax bill, both during Senate deliberations and the final conference agreement:
- Pushing for Middle-Class Tax Cuts. Throughout this debate, Portman focused consistently on ensuring that the middle class get a significant tax cut, and at least maintaining the progressivity of the code. In particular, he focused on lowering tax rates and expanding the child tax credit, and he was successful in doing so.
- Expanding Tax Relief for Small Businesses. Reforms to the business tax code are an essential component of this tax reform law, especially lowering rates for small businesses. These pro-growth reforms will grow our economy, create more jobs, and make America more competitive with our foreign counterparts. The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) endorsed the bill.
- Leveling the Playing Field for American Companies & Workers. Portman’s bipartisan work on international tax reform is a key component of this tax reform bill. In 2015, he chaired a bipartisan working group on international tax reform with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), now Minority Leader. Together they developed a bipartisan framework to reform the international tax code, transition from a worldwide to a territorial tax system, and give American companies a level playing field with their foreign competitors. The gist of that framework is now a part of the tax reform law. Details about this 2015 effort are here.
- Preserving Private Activity Bonds (PABs). Both in the Senate-passed bill and the final House-Senate agreement, Portman helped preserve PABs, which are an essential source of funding for important infrastructure and community redevelopment projects across Ohio. The original House bill eliminated PABs.
- Preserving the Historic Tax Credit (HTC). Portman is a strong supporter of the HTC and worked with Senator Cassidy (R-LA) to restore the current 20 percent credit in both the Senate-passed bill and the final House-Senate agreement after the House eliminated it entirely and an early draft of the Senate bill reduced it to 10 percent. The HTC encourages private investment in the rehabilitation of historic buildings. It has been used to preserve numerous historic Ohio buildings, including Cincinnati’s recently rehabilitated iconic Music Hall. The Cincinnati Enquirer editorial board said “Portman was true to his word and delivered a win for the region.”
- Preserving the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC). While the House eliminated the NMTC, Portman led the effort to preserve it in the Senate bill and the final House-Senate agreement, which has been signed into law. The NMTC helps economically distressed communities attract private capital for community redevelopment purposes, and Cincinnati has been a significant beneficiary. Earlier this year, Portman visited the Nehemiah Manufacturing Company, which is using the NMTC to expand and provide meaningful employment opportunities to ex-offenders re-entering society.
- Preserving the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Portman led the effort to preserve the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides employers with a tax credit for hiring and retaining veterans, ex-felons, disabled individuals, summer youth employees, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Supplemental Security Income recipients. A 2015 Portman amendment added a $2,400 credit for first year wages paid to the long-term unemployed. The House bill eliminated the tax credit, but Portman helped preserve it in the final tax law.
- Easing the Burden of High Medical Expenses. The tax reform law includes changes from Portman’s Seniors Tax Hike Prevention Act, which would allow seniors to deduct a greater share of their medical costs. Under the final bill, all taxpayers at any age may take advantage of this expanded deduction.
- Helping Families Combat Unfair Tax on Student Loans. The tax reform law includes Portman’s bipartisan Stop Taxing Death and Disability Act, legislation to eliminate a tax penalty levied on student loans forgiven for families after their child develops a permanent disability or dies.
- Promoting the Craft Beverage Industry in Ohio. The tax reform law includes the bipartisan Craft Beverage Modernization & Tax Reform Act, legislation cosponsored by Portman that would provide excise tax relief to the growing craft beverage industry, helping these entrepreneurs reinvest more in their businesses and our communities. Ohio is number four in the country in craft beer production and supports 15,000 jobs in the state.
- Preserving Worker Retirement Security. The tax reform law includes a Portman amendment to protect small startup businesses’ ability to utilize nonqualified deferred compensation programs for millions of employees and retirees; remove a provision that would have subjected 457 plan participants like Ohio police and firefighters to a harmful 10 percent early distribution tax; and preserve the ability of all 401(k) participants to make catch-up contributions after age 50. Portman also worked with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to preserve additional catch-up contributions available to 457 and 403(b) plans, including clergy in church pension plans. These amendments preserved popular retirement security incentives.
- Preserving Key Higher Education Tax Incentives. Along with his colleagues in the Senate, Portman worked to preserve key tax incentives for undergraduate and graduate students, helping Ohio students struggling with the high cost of college.
- In October, Portman, who this year received the NAM Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence, embarked on an Ohio Auto Manufacturing Jobs Tour. During the three-day tour, he covered more than 700 miles across Ohio to learn more about recent auto investments into Ohio, raise awareness for the economic impact of the automotive industry in our state, and discuss how tax reform will benefit auto manufacturers. Portman, who is co-chair of the Senate Auto Caucus, visited Ford’s Sharonville Transmission Plant, the General Motors Parma Metal Center, the General Motors Toledo Transmission Plant, the Fiat Chrysler US Toledo Assembly Complex, and the Honda of America Manufacturing Plant in Marysville. During his visits, Portman discussed a host of issues including regulations, health care costs, trade, workforce development, and our outdated and burdensome tax code. A highlight video of his tour can be found here.
- In Ohio, Portman has put a priority on his efforts to create jobs and boost wages for Ohio workers. He held six tax reform roundtables in Ohio with local business leaders to get input on tax reform, and spent time meeting with Ohio businesses and manufacturers. In Columbus, Portman co-hosted a small business roundtable with Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon. They visited Burton Metal Finishing where they toured the facilities and hosted a roundtable discussion with local small business owners. This year alone, Portman visited Nehemiah Manufacturing in Cincinnati, Campbell Soup Company in Napoleon, International Paper and Food Services in Kenton, Speyside Bourbon Cooperage, Inc. in Jackson, the Haessly Hardwood Lumber Company in Marietta, Sapa Extrusions in Sidney, Pennex Aluminum Company in Leetonia, Cincinnati Crane & Hoist, the General Tool Company in Cincinnati, the GE Aviation Engine Test Facility in Peebles, the BASF plant in Greenville, the Idea Foundry in Columbus, the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET) in Cleveland, and Rice Energy in Belmont County to listen to their concerns and learn about how he can help.
- Portman’s bipartisan Leveling the Playing Field Act and bipartisan ENFORCE Act are working to help American manufacturers by cracking down on foreign competitors that launder products through other countries to try to get around our trade laws. In March, Portman and Senator Brown urged Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to address unfair trade practices by Korean producers of Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG). In April, the Commerce Department found that Korean steel producers have been unfairly dumping these imports into the U.S. market, leaving Ohio steelworkers and steel companies at a competitive disadvantage. The Senators’ Leveling the Playing Field Act helped pave the way for the positive decision in the case.
- In addition to his work on the Leveling the Playing Field Act for Ohio steelworkers, Portman has continued to fight to protect steel jobs in the state. In February, Portman joined Senator Brown in introducing the Steel Industry Preservation Act, bipartisan legislation that would create a tax credit for domestic steel companies, lower the cost of steel production, and promote job growth within the industry. Portman and Brown also asked President Trump to prioritize reducing steel overcapacity, urging the administration to take swift action on the 232 investigation, which has been pending for months. Portman has been awarded the “Congressional Steel Champion Award” for his work to protect the steel industry and Ohio steelworkers.
- In July, Portman and Brown announced that, at their urging, the Commerce Department ruled that U.S. aluminum extrusions producers are being harmed by unfair trade practices by foreign competitors. The decision, which will help American manufactures fight back against Chinese efforts to avoid our trade laws, resulted from a letter Portman and Brown sent to Secretary Ross in June.
- In September, Portman, who in February hosted an employee town hall meeting with Whirlpool employees at their plant in Clyde, testified before the International Trade Commission (ITC) to fight on behalf of Ohio Whirlpool workers and against unfair trade practices. In October, the ITC ruled to impose restrictions on imported washing machines that will help stop South Korean manufacturers from unfairly flooding the American market, thus helping protect Whirlpool jobs.
- In April, Senators Portman and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) introduced the bipartisan Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) designed to make federal regulations smarter and more effective so they better support businesses, families, and jobs. This bill will modernize a federal regulatory process that hasn’t been significantly reformed in 70 years. The legislation, which is widely supported by small businesses, workers, farmers and ranchers, was approved by the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee in May and now awaits a vote on the Senate floor.
- In 2015, Portman got his bipartisan Federal Permitting Improvement Act signed into law. This year, Portman worked to ensure the law is fully implemented in order to spur economic growth and job creation. Director of Office of the Management and Budget (OMB) Mick Mulvaney and the Deputy Director of the OMB pledged to Portman that they would work to get the law up and running. In addition, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations held an oversight hearing in September to examine implementation of the law and the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council’s progress to date, with the goal of more efficiently and effectively rebuilding our aging infrastructure.
- Portman, who is the co-founder of the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus and author of the Education Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, continued his strong support for expanding CTE programs to help close the skills gap and put more Ohioans to work. As part of his efforts to close the skills gap, Portman joined Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) to introduce the bipartisan JOBS Act to help students access training for the 5.5 million vacant jobs that are unfilled in part because of a shortage of qualified workers. He also introduced the bipartisan CTE Excellence and Equity Act to support re-designing the high school experience to include courses more relevant to the 21st century workforce to better prepare students for future careers.
- In April, following a previous visit in February, Portman hosted Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao at the Transportation Research Center (TRC) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Vehicle Research and Test Center (VRTC) in East Liberty. Portman was instrumental in keeping the NHTSA facility in East Liberty, part of his continuing efforts to help Central Ohio become a model for the nation on how to use smart, 21st-century transportation to help create economic growth and expand opportunity.
- In May, Portman helped secure full funding for the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Portman has long fought to protect funding for the center, which is an economic driver for the local community and supports thousands of Ohio jobs.
Combating Drug Addiction. No one in the Senate has been more active in the fight against drug abuse and addiction than Senator Portman. This year, he continued to lead the national effort to combat the opioid crisis that is devastating communities across Ohio and our country. After his bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA) was signed into law last year, Portman worked tirelessly in 2017 with the Trump administration to ensure it was implemented properly and ensure that federal resources are focused on evidence-based prevention, treatment, and recovery programs to help make a difference in people’s lives. Portman also received the National Organization for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) Leadership Award for his longstanding work to combat the opioid crisis and, specifically, his relentless effort to get CARA signed into law. Also this year, Portman introduced the bipartisan Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, legislation he is working to get signed into law to help stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil from being shipped through our borders to drug traffickers here in the United States.
- The heroin and prescription drug epidemic is having a devastating impact on Ohio families and communities. That’s why Senator Portman worked tirelessly this year to make sure that CARA was fully funded and implemented as quickly as possible. Thanks in large part to Portman’s efforts, key components of CARA to help expand education, treatment and recovery services to help combat addiction are now being implemented.
- Funding made available this year through CARA include resources for: drug courts and veterans courts, addiction recovery support services, local communities to use for treatment and recovery services, treatment for pregnant and postpartum women, medication-assisted treatment and prescription drug opioid addiction, first responders, improving access to overdose treatment, and more.
- As his work with CARA shows, Portman has been a leader in the fight for more funding to combat this crisis. In addition to fighting to fully fund CARA, Portman has worked to fully fund the “21st Century CURES” initiative, and helped secure $250,000 for Portsmouth to help those on the frontlines turn back the tide of addiction.
- Fentanyl—a deadly synthetic drug up to 50 times more powerful than heroin—is now killing more Ohioans per year than heroin, contributing to why drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of accidental death in the state. Fentanyl, and the even deadlier carfentanil, is being shipped to the United States from countries overseas like China. That is why, in February, Portman and a bipartisan group of Senators introduced the STOP Act, legislation designed to help stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil from being shipped through our borders to drug traffickers here in the U.S.
- Portman has been vocal on the Senate floor and in committee hearings urging his colleagues to act on the STOP Act, which has been endorsed by President Trump’s opioid commission, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and the Fraternal Order of Police. For a detailed look at how the STOP Act will help address the fentanyl crisis in Ohio, go here.
- In May, Portman chaired a Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) hearing on the STOP Act and stopping illicit drugs from being shipped into the United States. During the hearing, Newtown, Ohio Police Chief Thomas Synan, Jr. and Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson testified that the STOP Act would help them address the fentanyl crisis in Ohio. The Customs and Border Protection Acting Director and the Postal Service Inspector General also urged Congress to act on the bipartisan legislation.
- In May, the administration announced proposed cuts to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which supports the Drug Free Communities Act, legislation Portman authored in 1997, which has provided more than $1 billion to community drug coalitions around the country over the last 20 years. The ONDCP also supports the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, which has helped states like Ohio that are ground zero for this problem. Portman strongly opposed the cuts, and urged the administration to reverse course. Thanks in large part to Portman’s efforts, the administration has not moved forward with the proposed cuts. In fact, in September, 27 Drug Free Communities (DFC) grant recipients in the state of Ohio were named, demonstrating that the program is working for Ohioans. The funding is desperately needed for drug abuse prevention and education, and Portman will continue to fight for these critical programs.
- Also this year, Portman introduced the bipartisan Prescription Drug Monitoring Act to help address the overprescribing of opiates and the bipartisan Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act to help newborns suffering from addiction recover in the best care setting and provide support for their families. He is now working to advance those bills in the Senate.
- Portman continues to tour the state meeting with those in recovery and those on the front lines dealing with the heroin and prescription epidemic. This year alone Portman hosted a roundtable on addiction in Fremont, met with recovering drug addicts at Racing for Recovery in Holland, co-hosted a workshop at Columbus State Community College to help local providers secure resources to tackle the epidemic, visited the Sojourner Recovery Services residential women’s facility in Eaton and the Unity House for women in recovery in Delaware, joined the MetroHealth System in Cleveland to launch the MetroHealth Office of Opioid Safety, met with Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco to discuss the opioid crisis in Cincinnati, visited the Groups treatment facility in Chillicothe, and visited the Ohio Health Grant Medical Center and the Maryhaven Addiction Stabilization Center in Columbus.
Working to End Human Trafficking. This year, Portman continued his longstanding work to combat human trafficking and help trafficking survivors. Portman – who is the author of five federal anti-trafficking laws designed to better serve victims and help law enforcement end this horrific crime – spent 18 months investigating the explosion of online sex trafficking. The bipartisan investigation, completed in January, resulted in a stunning report detailing how Backpage.com knowingly facilitated criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls and covered up evidence of these crimes in order to increase its own profits. Portman turned the findings of his investigation into legislative action, authoring the bipartisan Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), a bill that now has 56 cosponsors in the Senate. Portman continued touring the state to meet with survivors of human trafficking to hear their stories as well.
- On January 10th, Senators Portman and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), held a hearing and published a stunning new report detailing the Subcommittee’s findings from its 18-month-long investigation into the scourge of online sex trafficking. The widely praised report found that Backpage knowingly concealed evidence of sex trafficking crimes by systematically editing its “adult” ads – all the while doing nothing to stop the traffickers committing these crimes.
- Following the PSI hearing, Senators Portman, McCaskill and Tom Carper (D-DE) recommended the Department of Justice launch a criminal review of Backpage.com. The move was widely supported by the country’s leading anti-trafficking organizations. The Senators succeeded in clearing the way to release to law enforcement, state attorneys general, and regulatory agencies all materials related to their investigation, giving law enforcement additional tools to help pursue justice against Backpage.
- After issuing the PSI report, Portman and his bipartisan colleagues began to develop legislation to solve this problem, and in August, he and a bipartisan group of senators introduced the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. The narrowly-crafted bill amends the Communications Decency Act to hold accountable companies like Backpage that knowingly facilitate the trafficking of women and children online and ensure that victims of sex trafficking can get the justice they deserve.
- Since its introduction, SESTA has earned widespread support from 56 bipartisan U.S. Senators, victims and advocates, anti-human trafficking leaders and law enforcement, 50 Attorneys General, the civil rights community, faith-based groups, the larger tech community, and courts and judges who have made clear that it is Congress’ responsibility to act to protect sex trafficking victims. The Toledo Blade said Portman “has been tenacious in trying to close this loophole” and called the bill “a no-brainer.”
- Portman travelled across Ohio to highlight SESTA and meet with victims of online sex trafficking and those who are working to stop it, including in visits to the Oasis House in Dayton, Mercy Health St. Elizabeth Hospital in Boardman, and the Valley Interfaith Community Resource Center in Cincinnati. Portman also released this video highlighting how the legislation would help to end online sex trafficking.
- In September, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on SESTA, during which Senator Portman testified along with Yvonne Ambrose, whose daughter, Desiree Robinson, was trafficked on Backpage and tragically murdered. The hearing demonstrated that there is a strong bipartisan consensus for passing this narrowly-crafted bill. Portman released this video highlighting the hearing.
- SESTA was unanimously approved by the Senate Commerce Committee in November. Portman is now working on a bipartisan basis to get this bill passed in the Senate and to the president’s desk for his signature.
Protecting Ohioans, Honoring Veterans, and Making America Stronger. Portman is committed to keeping Ohioans safe and giving our men and women in uniform the resources they need to protect themselves and best complete their mission. Now a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Portman has consistently advocated for a more robust and comprehensive American strategy to protect our allies and deter our adversaries. As part of that effort, Portman has sought to increase the range of capabilities for military installations throughout Ohio, and create jobs and opportunity for Ohio’s servicemembers.
- In August, Portman traveled more than 1,400 miles and visited 13 counties over five days as part of his Ohio Defense Tour. Portman visited the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, the 178th Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing in Springfield, the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, the 180th Fighter Wing in Toledo, the NASA Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, the 179th Airlift Wing in Mansfield, the Air Force Metrology and Calibration Center in Heath, the US Coast Guard Station Cleveland Harbor, the Youngstown Air Reserve Station, the Rickenbacker 121st Air Refueling Wing in Columbus, Battelle’s Advanced Manufacturing Facility in Columbus, and the Ohio National Guard 123rd Air Control Squadron in Blue Ash. The tour’s purpose was to listen to military personnel and discuss ways he can further reinforce Ohio’s defense capabilities. A video highlighting the tour is here.
- Portman continues his strong advocacy on behalf of the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima. In December, President Trump signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes more than $1.6 billion to increase the rate of production of the newest upgraded Abrams tanks. It also authorizes $622 million to complete the fourth Stryker brigade with upgraded survivability and mobility improvements as well as a second brigade of Stryker vehicles with an upgraded weapons system. The funding was included at the urging of Portman and Senator Gary Peters (D-MI). Portman has made clear he will continue to keep fighting for more funding for Lima.
- Included at Portman’s request, the NDAA authorizes $15 million to support the construction of upgraded fighter aircraft hangars for the 180th Fighter Wing in Toledo, Ohio as part of the NDAA. Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI) included this funding after Portman sent a letter earlier this year urging them to do so.
- Portman and Senator Brown’s amendments to support jobs and the important research mission at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base's Air Force Research Lab were also signed into law as part of the NDAA. This legislation is critical to our national security and to maintaining our military’s technological edge. In May, the Senate passed Portman and Senator Joe Donnelly’s (D-IN) resolution honoring the cutting-edge work of Department of Defense (DoD) laboratories such as the Air Force Research Lab at Wright-Patt.
- In July, Portman pressed the administration to redesignate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, and in October, he led a bipartisan letter to the State Department outlining the many destabilizing and terror-related acts taken by this rogue regime. In November, the president announced that North Korea would be relisted as a state sponsor of terrorism. Portman has also introduced the North Korean Enablers Accountability Act to tighten the economic embargo on North Korea and its enablers.
- In August, President Trump signed into law Portman’s priorities to hold Russia accountable as part of the Russia, Iran, and North Korea sanctions legislation. The legislation mandates congressional review if sanctions on Russia are relaxed, suspended, or terminated, codifies and strengthens existing sanctions contained in executive orders on Russia, and more. Portman has also been vocal in urging the administration to pursue a tough Russia policy and a more coordinated effort between the United States and the European Union to counter Russian disinformation.
- In December, as part of the NDAA, the president signed into law Portman and Senator Chris Murphy’s (D-CT) language to improve the ability of the United States to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation from our enemies. The language builds on their Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act, legislation signed into law last year, by helping them to promote more seamless coordination between the Department of Defense and the State Department on this issue. Portman and Murphy successfully urged the State Department to step up its efforts to fully implement the law and secure sufficient resources for its Global Engagement Center to help counter the foreign propaganda and disinformation.
- Portman, who is co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, has continued to be Ukraine’s strongest advocate in Congress. This year, Portman – who last year received the Shevchenko Freedom Award, the Ukrainian community’s highest honor – successfully fought to boost security assistance for Ukraine in the NDAA, building on provisions that Portman got signed into law in 2016 and 2015. This year’s package includes $350 million in security assistance, including lethal and non-lethal equipment and training, and, for the first time, authorizes assistance to bolster Ukraine’s naval capabilities. Portman has long led the effort to provide Ukraine the kind of assistance necessary to ward off Russian aggression and maintain its territorial integrity, including introducing a bipartisan resolution in March to condemn illegal Russian aggression. Portman recently praised the Trump administration’s decision to approve the sale of lethal military equipment to Ukraine for the first time.
- Portman’s bipartisan Hack Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Act, designed to strengthen cyber defenses at DHS by utilizing “white-hat” or ethical hackers to help identify unique and undiscovered vulnerabilities in the DHS networks and information technology, passed the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in October and awaits a vote in the Senate.
- After getting his bill to help combat the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement signed into law last year, Portman continued his longstanding support for Israel, making it clear that if another country wants close economic ties with the United States, they cannot support efforts to weaken the economy of our ally Israel. This year, Portman introduced the Israel Anti-Boycott Act and a resolution condemning anti-Israel efforts at the United Nations. Portman will continue to stand up for Israel and against the BDS movement.
Protecting the Great Lakes & Our Environment: Senator Portman continues to be a leader in the bipartisan effort to protect our Great Lakes and the environment. Portman, who serves as co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, has a lengthy record of accomplishments in protecting Lake Erie. This year, Portman has led the effort in the Senate to preserve and fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), a results-driven program to address the most serious issues that threaten the ecological and economic well-being of the Great Lakes basin, including invasive species, pollution, and toxic contamination.
- This year, Senator Portman built on his record of delivering results for the millions of Ohioans who depend on Lake Erie. By fighting to keep the lake clean, protect the lake from dangerous invasive species and harmful algal blooms, strengthen fish and wildlife restoration efforts, ensure that Ohioans have safe drinking water and much more, Portman has demonstrated his commitment to continue improving the health of Lake Erie and support the tourism, fishing, and recreation that surrounds it.
- In April, Portman joined Port of Cleveland leadership to host a roundtable discussion on the importance of the GLRI to Lake Erie and the surrounding communities. Later in the month, he saw a firsthand a GLRI success story in a visit to the restored wetland at Maumee Bay State Park and later at the University of Toledo Lake Erie Center. In May, Portman visited a farm in Dunkirn with the Ohio Farm Bureau to see firsthand how the GLRI is being used to implement farming practices to help protect the health of Lake Erie.
- In addition to fighting for full GLRI funding, Portman led an effort to keep Region 5 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—which serves Ohio, as well as Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Minnesota—up and running. He also introduced the Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization (GLFRA) Act to give the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) the legislative authority to support the $7 billion Great Lakes sport and commercial fishery industry.
- In September, Portman’s bipartisan Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act passed the Senate. The legislation would help protect fresh water bodies such as Lake Erie by reauthorizing the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA), which was first enacted in 1998. For almost two decades, the HABHRCA program has served as the federal government’s research and response toolkit for harmful algal blooms.
- In November, Portman and his bipartisan colleagues urged the Army Corps of Engineers to remain on target to complete the Brandon Road study, which is imperative to ensuring that Asian Carp do not enter the Great Lakes and threaten the lakes’ $7 billion fishing industry.
- Portman, who last year received a Clean Water Award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), will continue working to preserve and protect the critical GLRI program and against efforts by the administration to eliminate GLRI funding altogether.
- In May, Portman received the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Champion Award for authoring the National Park Service Centennial Act, which was signed into law in December, 2016. This law is designed to help ensure that the Park Service has the resources necessary to protect America’s national parks into its second century. For his work to protect our national parks, Portman has previously received the 2012 NPCA Centennial Award, the 2015 Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award, and the 2016 National Parks Service Centennial Champion Award from Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
- Portman has consistently fought to ensure that that promises made to the Piketon community regarding the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant are kept. This year, Portman visited the plant twice, first in June, and then again in September with Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, who agreed with Portman that having a domestic capability to enrich uranium is a national security issue and that he is willing to re-evaluate the Obama administration’s decision to end the domestic uranium enrichment demonstration program. Portman will continue to work every year to secure the funding necessary to keep the cleanup project on track and to project jobs.
- In March, the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee approved the bipartisan energy efficiency legislation Portman introduced with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (ESIC). The measure contains important energy efficiency policy reforms that will strengthen the economy and reduce pollution without any new taxes or mandates. Components of the bill were signed into law by President Obama in April 2015 and are already helping individuals and companies use less energy, creating jobs and reducing emissions. Taken together, these bipartisan reforms include common-sense initiatives that will create nearly 200,000 new jobs, save consumers $16.2 billion annually in reduced energy costs, and reduce carbon emissions equivalent to taking 22 million cars off the road.
Fighting for Better, More Affordable Health Care. This year, Portman continued to fight for a better health care system that lowers the cost of coverage, provides access to quality care, and protects the most vulnerable in our society. Obamacare isn’t working for Ohio families and small businesses who’ve seen their premiums and deductibles skyrocket.
- Portman was an active voice in the health care debate, consistently advocating for a solution that would both repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with a more workable system that lowers costs, increases access to care, and protects the most vulnerable. He fought for Ohio priorities, including adding to the Senate replacement bill an unprecedented $45 billion in new resources for opioid treatment and $100 billion to help low-income Americans get high-quality, affordable health care. He also worked to ensure that those on expanded Medicaid continue to have good health care options under a new system, whether it’s under the current Medicaid structure or affordable health care options on the private market. He continues to work to stabilize the insurance markets and ensure that Ohioans have access to affordable health care.
- In October, President Trump signed into law Portman’s bipartisan Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act, legislation he authored with Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) to reauthorize current research and improve public health programs for early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of hearing loss in newborns, infants, and young children.
- In September, the Senate passed the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act, which included several Portman provisions, including ensuring that Medicare beneficiaries can receive high-quality, personalized care at home, incentivizing beneficiaries to receive preventive services and better manage their health care, and ensuring the Medicare Advantage program includes accurate quality measures to incentive plans to continue to care for low-income seniors.
- Portman has consistently urged the Senate to extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), praising the program that is vital to approximately 219,000 Ohio kids. Congress extended CHIP funding into early 2018, but Portman believes Congress must enact a long-term solution as quickly as possible. Portman also introduced the bipartisan Ace Kids Act to improve health outcomes and care coordination for children with complex medical conditions on Medicaid.
- In May, Portman announced that the bipartisan agreement to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year included a permanent fix to 22,000 miners who were set to lose their health care. The agreement included language from the health portion of Portman’s Miners Protection Act, bipartisan legislation Portman introduced in January with his colleagues to ensure that the federal government and coal operators honor their obligation of lifetime pensions and health benefits to retired miners and their families.
Other Accomplishments. In addition to helping lead efforts to reform our broken tax code, continuing his work to combat addiction, working to end human and sex trafficking, bolstering the national defense, and protecting our environment, Portman has also been a leader on other issues. Here is a look at some of his other accomplishments over the past year:
- In April, Portman voted to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Portman made his decision to support his nomination after meeting with him in February. In addition to confirming Gorsuch, the Senate has voted to confirm 12 court of appeals judges and six district court judges.
- In November, President Trump signed into law Portman’s bipartisan TSP Modernization Act to give much-needed retirement flexibility to federal employees by modernizing the Thrift Savings Plan’s (TSP) outdated withdrawal rules. The bill will make the TSP more responsive to the needs of its participants and give federal employees the retirement flexibility they deserve.
- In 2017, Senator Portman and his casework team opened 3,435 cases (as of 12/13/17) to help Ohioans in need. 2,627, or 88.54 percent, of those cases were closed favorably. Throughout his time in the Senate, Portman and his team have opened a total 20,228 cases and have closed 16,774, or 82.92 percent, of those cases favorably.
- Portman is committed to working across the aisle to deliver results. That has resulted in more than 50 bills signed into law on a myriad of important policy issues. This year, he was awarded the 2017 Jefferson-Lincoln Award from the Panetta Institute for Public Policy for his outstanding stewardship of our democracy through dedicated, responsible, and bipartisan leadership, and the Jacob K. Javits Prize for Bipartisan Leadership from the Javits Foundation for his achievements that advance the public interest without regard to political affiliation.
- Portman has long made clear that there is no place in our society or our country for hatred or religious intolerance of any kind. Earlier this year, with mounting threats made against Jewish Community Centers in Ohio, Portman came out strong in defense of religious tolerance and stood in solidarity with the Jewish community. Portman visited the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus to meet with Ohio Jewish leaders and urged the administration to take action in response to threats made against JCCs, Jewish Day School, and Synagogues in Ohio and across the country. After threats made to Islamic communities, Portman spoke out forcibly against hateful threats and visited the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati in a show of solidarity.
- Portman has helped lead the efforts in the Senate to pass legislation that would clear the way for the Delta Queen, a U.S. National Historic Landmark, to once again carry passengers on overnight trips on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. In April, the Senate approved Portman’s bipartisan legislation. The bill now awaits action in the House.
- The Senate recently approved Portman’s Federal Register Printing Savings Act, legislation that would eliminate the mandatory daily printing and delivery of the Federal Register to congressional offices. This common-sense bill will save taxpayers about $1 million annually and make the federal government more efficient and effective.
- The Senate recently passed Portman’s External Power Supply (EPS) Improvement Act, bipartisan legislation that will give needed certainty to Ohio LED manufacturers. The bill will exempt the manufacturers of energy saving LEDs from an onerous Department of Energy regulation that could have curtailed or stopped production of LEDs. It is now headed to the White House for the president’s signature.
- Having volunteered and participated in dozens of builds for more than 20 years, Portman is a longtime supporter of Habitat for Humanity, which helps provide affordable housing to low-income families. In August, following his successful “Buckeye Build” last year, Portman returned to Cleveland to participate in another build and volunteered again on his birthday in December, as is his custom, while in Washington, D.C. for Senate votes. Portman is also using his platform as a U.S. Senator to help Habitat assist families throughout Ohio and the country. In June, his Housing Opportunities Made Easier (HOME) Act, legislation designed to ensure that Habitat for Humanity affiliates and other organizations can receive donated appraisals on the homes they build, passed the House of Representatives. It now awaits vote in the Senate.
- In April, the Senate passed Portman’s resolution to designate April 2017 as “Second Chance Month” and honor those who work to remove unnecessary barriers that prevent those with a criminal record from becoming productive members of society. Portman is the author of the Second Chance Act, legislation designed to help break the cycle of recidivism through drug treatment and job training, which makes our community safer, saves taxpayer dollars, and most importantly, helps former inmates fulfill their God-given potential.
- In June, Portman and Brown presented Columbus Police Officer Keith Kise with the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery.
Senator Portman has fought for all Ohioans and continued to deliver results for them. He helped lead the effort reform the broken tax code to create more jobs and boost wages. He has led the effort to combat America’s drug epidemic. He has led the effort to help end online sex trafficking. He has consistently stood up for American global leadership and Ohio’s servicemembers, and much, much more. Senator Portman will continue to deliver results for Ohio in 2018.