Rob’s Rundown: Week of April 18 – April 23, 2021

April 23, 2021 | Rob's Rundown

Senator Portman was back in Washington this week, where he penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal arguing that President Biden’s proposed tax hike will undercut U.S. competitiveness, leading to job loss and stifled economic growth. Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday further outlining his opposition to the proposed Biden tax hikes and calling for a bipartisan path forward on infrastructure. 

Portman took to the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon to call on Congress to quickly pass his bipartisan Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act to permanently schedule illicitly manufactured and deadly fentanyl-related substances known as fentanyl analogues. If Congress fails to act, these lethal substances will effectively be legal and unregulated come May 6th. 

On Thursday afternoon, Portman delivered remarks on the senate floor highlighting the resurgent addiction crisis in American and outlining steps forward to combat the epidemic. Specifically, Portman touted the ambitious Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 3.0 legislation that builds on the successes of his earlier CARA and CARA 2.0 bills as well as his bipartisan Telehealth Response for E-Prescribing Addiction Therapy Services (TREATS) Act, which is included in CARA 3.0, to make permanent a number of temporary waivers for telehealth services put in place due to COVID-19 and bolster telehealth options for addiction treatment services.

During a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday, Portman secured commitments from Kiran Ahuja, Nominee to be the Director of the Office of Personnel and Management, that if confirmed, she would work to ensure that federal workers detailed to assist with the ongoing crisis of migrants and unaccompanied children at the southern border are qualified for the roles they will fill. Portman also secured a commitment from Ms. Ahuja to work with Congress to improve OPM’s cybersecurity response efforts.

Finally, Portman introduced bipartisan legislation that would provide additional resources and better coordination for serious cyberattacks or breaches that risk the safety and security of Americans. The legislation would help improve the federal response to cyber breaches, such as recent and serious attacks by foreign adversaries including the Chinese and Russian governments that penetrated both federal networks and private companies’ servers.

For a more detailed look at Senator Portman’s week, please see the following:

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Portman: Why the Ban on Fentanyl Analogues Must Be Made Permanent

Senator Portman continues to call on Congress to take swift action to permanently schedule illicitly manufactured and deadly fentanyl analogues amid a surging epidemic of drug overdoses.

Since 2018, this dangerous class of drugs has been labelled as Schedule I substances by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to allow federal law enforcement authorities to bring criminal actions against individuals who manufacture, distribute, or handle fentanyl-related substances. However, this scheduling order was only temporary, and will expire after May 6, 2021 – only 16 days from now.

In response to this looming deadline, Senator Portman introduced the bipartisan Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) to make these dangerous substances permanently illegal. The FIGHT Fentanyl Act is the only bipartisan fentanyl analogue scheduling bill in the Senate, and was written to address concerns from the criminal justice community as well as law enforcement officials. 

Here are three reasons why it is critical Congress pass the FIGHT Fentanyl Act before the looming deadline.

Portman, Duckworth, Blumenthal Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Infants from Deadly “Crib Bumpers”

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced bipartisan legislation today to protect infant lives by banning the sale of crib bumpers, which have been proven to pose an unnecessary, deadly risk to sleeping infants. The Safe Cribs Act would also make it unlawful nationwide to manufacture and import crib bumpers, which remain widely sold by retailers despite current recommendations advising parents to keep cribs bare to prevent sudden infant death syndrome. The Senators’ legislation would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to enforce a ban nationwide. 

“The use of crib bumpers pose an unnecessary threat to the health and safety of infants everywhere, there is no reason the sale of these dangerous items should continue,” said Portman. “My home state of Ohio has already banned these harmful products. Congress must also act to protect infants from an unnecessary and unacceptable risk.”

On CNBC, Portman Discusses Need for Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan, Economic Consequences of Biden Tax Hikes

During an interview this morning on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Senator Portman discussed the need for a bipartisan infrastructure agreement as well as the economic consequences of the tax hikes proposed by Senate Democrats and the Biden Administration.  

Portman supports improving America’s aging roads, bridges, ports, and other infrastructure; however, he noted that more than $2 trillion of President Biden’s proposal funds policy priorities that are a far cry from what has ever been considered infrastructure. 

Portman also highlighted a forthcoming legislative proposal he is working on to define cryptocurrency for tax purposes and provide information reporting requirements, which would aid in efforts to close the tax gap. 

The transcript of the interview can be found here and you can watch the interview here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Portman WSJ Op-Ed: Tax Hikes Will Stifle the Recovery

Senator Portman penned an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal addressing the Biden administration’s $2.7 trillion “infrastructure plan” and how the massive tax hikes it imposes would hinder U.S. competitiveness in the global economy. Under the Biden plan, the combined federal and state corporate tax rate would go from 25.8 percent — already above the average rate of 23.4 percent for other developed countries — to 32.8 percent, the highest rate in the developed world.

Portman noted that he supports improving America’s aging roads, bridges, ports, and other infrastructure, but that more than $2 trillion of President Biden’s proposal funds policy priorities that are a far cry from what has ever been considered infrastructure. He pointed out that the infrastructure plan included funding for things like the National Science Foundation, long-term care, corporate child care, and electric-car companies – and while some are worthy causes, they don’t fall under the definition of infrastructure. 

The entire op-ed can be viewed here.

Portman, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Retroactively Extend PPP Benefits to Farmers, Ranchers, and Sole Proprietors 

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), James Lankford (R-OK), Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Roger Marshall (R-KS) have introduced bipartisan legislation to extend more relief to farmers, ranchers, and sole-proprietors through changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP Flexibility for Farmers, Ranchers, and the Self-Employed Act would make critical changes to PPP loan calculations and allow small businesses to apply for increased benefits retroactively. 

“The Paycheck Protection Program has played a vital role in helping American businesses survive economic hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, many small businesses were hamstrung by rules that did not reflect the reality on the ground,” said Senator Portman. “This bill would ensure that businesses who have experienced a loss, but were excluded from the program previously, can receive the relief they need.”

Portman, Cardin Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Create U.S. Tax Code Parity for Beauty Services Providers

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), both members of the Senate Finance Committee, have introduced the Small Business Tax Fairness and Compliance Simplification Act — legislation to empower beauty services providers, such as barbers, manicurists, skincare specialists, and hairstylists. The measure expands the Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) tax tip credit to include the beauty service industry, bringing the industry in line with the food and beverages sector. Today, more than 80 percent of the 1.2 million establishments that provide beauty services, such as hair and nail salons, have 10 or fewer employees and the majority are owned and operated by women and minorities. 

“Much like the restaurant industry, employees at barbershops and beauty salons across the country rely heavily on tips to supplement their wages. It is more important than ever that the tax code be updated to reflect this reality, especially due to economic impact COVID-19 has had on these businesses,” said Senator Portman. “I am pleased to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Senator Cardin to simplify and create parity in the tax code for countless small businesses in the beauty services industry, so many of which are women and minority-owned.”

Portman, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Provide Relief to Parents of Children with Disabilities

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Angus King (I-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Mike Braun (R-IN), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) have introduced Domenic and Ed’s Law. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation would allow a parent whose child develops a total and permanent disability to qualify for student loan discharge. Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI) has introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Section 437(d) of the Higher Education Act authorizes the discharge of student loans taken out in a parent’s name if the child dies. However, it does not authorize parental loan forgiveness if the child is permanently and totally disabled. This bill would make a minor change to Section 437(d) to make clear that parents who have taken out student loans for their child can also get those loans forgiven if their child becomes totally and permanently disabled. 

The bill is named after constituents of Portman and Langevin who inspired this legislative fix. Domenic Carducci, a graduate from The Ohio State University, became totally and permanently disabled not long after graduation. Domenic was able to have his student loans forgiven but his mother, Carolyn, was forced to continue to pay for the student loans that she took out in her name for Domenic’s education. She and her husband still owe tens of thousands of dollars and will be paying these loans well into their 90s. Ed Desorcy, a constituent in Langevin’s district, suffers from Lebers Hereditary Optic Neuropathy and lost his vision while attending college. While Desorcy’s loans were discharged following his disability, the loans taken out by his parents on his behalf were not. 

“Families like the Carducci family of Steubenville, Ohio, whose son Domenic has become permanently and totally disabled are going through unimaginable grief,” said Senator Portman. “Because of this tragic disability, they cannot afford a massive student loan bill. The last thing that families in these situations need is that kind of financial burden. I remain committed to addressing this legislative issue fully, and urge my colleagues to support providing relief to families enduring such difficult circumstances.”

Portman, Durbin Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Save Seniors, Taxpayers Billions in Prescription Drug Costs

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced a bipartisan bill that would reduce the egregious wasted spending on discarded medications that are the result of excessively large, single-use drug vials. The Recovering Excessive Funds for Unused and Needless Drugs (REFUND) Act would enable Medicare to recoup money from drug companies who are paid for wasted medications, and provide savings to seniors enrolled in Medicare. Portman and Durbin introduced a version of this legislation in 2019, which was reported out of the Finance Committee then on a bipartisan basis. 

“The government should not be paying drug manufacturers for drugs that are being thrown away, and that’s why I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan REFUND Act,” said Portman. “Our health care system should be reimbursing for value and only paying for products that patients are actually using. This is a smart bill that’s good for seniors and taxpayers, and I believe it will improve health care outcomes and lower costs for all patients.”

Portman, Carper, 38 Colleagues Urge U.S. Trade Representative to Help U.S. Manufacturers, Restart the Exclusion Process for Imports Subject to Tariffs on China

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tom Carper (D-DE), along with 38 other members of the Senate, sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine C. Tai, asking her to restart the exclusion process for imports from China subject to tariffs under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The Trump administration set up an exclusion process to help U.S. manufacturers and businesses receive relief from the tariffs when an imported good was not available outside of China, or when the tariffs caused severe economic harm to U.S. industry. Unfortunately, those exclusions expired at the end of 2020, and the Biden administration has not restarted a process for businesses to apply for new exclusions.  

“In order to provide certainty and predictability to these businesses, and give them time to plan and modify their supply chains, we ask that you renew expired and expiring Section 301 exclusions. Doing so will give American businesses relief until a full exclusion process can be reinstated,” wrote the Senators. “We were pleased to see the Biden Administration renew exclusions granted by the Trump Administration for health-related imports to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the longer-term, we hope that you will restart a process to permit companies to apply for exclusions. Such a process should emphasize transparency, speed, consistency, and fairness, and should acknowledge both the practical realities of global value chains and the broader aim of supply chain diversification.  

A full list of the co-sponsors can be found here

The full text of the letter can be found here.

Portman, Murphy Amendment to Support Ukraine Passes Foreign Relations Committee, Heads to the Senate Floor

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), both members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Wednesday applauded passage of the Ukraine Security Partnership Act of 2021 (S. 814), which included their bipartisan amendment to provide $50 million in non-military assistance to Ukraine.

“This amendment provides critical support for Ukraine at an important time as Russian troops continue to flow to Ukraine’s eastern border, and the Ukrainian sovereign territory of Crimea” said Portman. “We must send every signal to Moscow and the international community that the United States stands with Ukraine, and this amendment does that by providing funding for a range of monetary and international assistance.”

Portman, Murphy Amendment to Fight Global Propaganda and Disinformation Passes Foreign Relations Committee, Heads to the Senate Floor

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), both members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Wednesday welcomed passage of their amendment to authorize $150 million in FY22 funding for the Global Engagement Center (GEC) in order to counter propaganda and disinformation from countries like China and Russia, as well as foreign non-state actors. This authorization represents a $90 million increase over the amount Congress appropriated for the GEC in FY21. The bipartisan amendment passed as part of the Strategic Competition Act of 2021 (S. 1169). 

“State sponsored disinformation is a threat to democratic societies throughout the world. As we see today with Russian aggression in Ukraine or with vaccines, these tactics are inexpensive, easily deniable and can be devastatingly effective if left unchecked,” said Portman. “The Global Engagement Center is the United States Government's agency that coordinates our interagency efforts to combat disinformation abroad, and has proved effective at assisting our allies push back against Chinese and Russian disinformation efforts. This increase in funding is much needed and will provide the GEC with the resources it needs to continue to effectively help our allies throughout the globe.”

 Senate Foreign Relations Committee Approves Portman Amendment to Help Countries Facing Economic Coercion from China

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved an amendment offered by U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), along with Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), to create a pilot program to deploy economic crisis action teams to countries facing economic coercion, including threats from China. These teams of experts have the ability to review, at the invitation of U.S. allies and partners, contracts including those that are a part of China’s Belt and Road initiative. This is a powerful tool that will allow the United States to go on the offensive against the most destructive aspects of China’s economic practices. The amendment approved was included as part of the larger Strategic Competition Act of 2021, legislation to mobilize all United States strategic, economic, and diplomatic tools for an Indo-Pacific strategy that enables the U.S. government to compete effectively with the People’s Republic of China and the challenges it poses to our national and economic security for decades to come. 

“As China’s influence continues to grow around the world, the time is now for the United States to exercise leadership by protecting our international allies and partners,” said Portman. “Passage of this amendment will help provide critical support at a critical time on a global scale to help meet this challenge.”

On Senate Floor, Portman Urges Immediate Action to Pass FIGHT Fentanyl Act, Keep Deadly Fentanyl-Related Drugs Illegal 

On the Senate floor, Portman called on Congress to quickly pass his bipartisan Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act to permanently schedule illicitly manufactured and deadly fentanyl-related substances known as fentanyl analogues. In February 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a temporary scheduling order to schedule fentanyl analogues that allowed federal law enforcement authorities to bring criminal actions against individuals who manufacture, distribute, or handle these deadly drugs. This scheduling order is set to expire on May 6, 15 days from now, during a period where drug overdose deaths are reaching an all-time high. Portman urged Congress to ensure this scheduling doesn’t lapse to allow law enforcement to continue to crack down on these lethal drugs.

A transcript of his remarks is here and a video can be found here:

On Senate Floor, Portman Discusses Proposed Biden Tax Hikes to Fund Infrastructure

On the Senate floor, Portman discussed the Biden administration’s $2.7 trillion “infrastructure plan” and how the massive tax hikes it imposes would hinder U.S. competitiveness in the global economy. As he outlined in a new op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, under the Biden plan, the combined federal and state corporate tax rate would go from 25.8 percent — already above the average rate of 23.4 percent for other developed countries — to 32.8 percent, the highest rate in the developed world. 

Portman noted that he supports improving America’s aging roads, bridges, ports, and other infrastructure, but that more than $2 trillion of President Biden’s proposal funds policy priorities that are a far cry from what has ever been considered infrastructure. 

A transcript of his remarks is here and a video can be found here:

Thursday, April 22, 2021 

Widespread Support Across Ohio for Portman’s Bipartisan CARA 3.0 to Increase Access to Treatment, Prevention & Bolster Fight Against Addiction Epidemic

Addiction treatment, recovery, enforcement, and prevention stakeholders across Ohio support Senator Portman’s bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 3.0. CARA 3.0 would increase the funding authorization levels for the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA) programs enacted in 2016 and put in place additional policy reforms to help combat the opioid epidemic that has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic. CARA was a bipartisan, national effort designed to ensure that federal resources were devoted to evidence-based education, treatment and recovery programs that work.  

In FY 2021, CARA programs were funded at $782 million. Several key provisions of CARA 2.0 were enacted as part of the SUPPORT Act on October 24, 2018. CARA 3.0 builds on these efforts by increasing the funding authorization levels and laying out new policy reforms to strengthen the federal government’s response to this crisis.  

The following addiction treatment, recovery, enforcement, and prevention stakeholders across Ohio have voiced their support for the legislation:

“We applaud Senator Portman for his tireless work to support Ohioans and Americans struggling with substance use disorders. His leadership on drafting CARA 3.0 is to be commended. We look forward to working with Senator Portman and members of the US Congress to ensure that CARA 3.0 provides flexible and sustainable resources to help communities meet the prevention, treatment, and recovery support needs of individuals and families throughout our state and the country.” Cheri L. Walter, Chief Executive Officer, Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities   

“Thank you Senator Portman for your leadership as you continue to advocate for additional funding to assist us as we work daily to combat the opioid addiction in Ashtabula County and across Northeast Ohio. CARA 3.0 will help provide us with the critical funding and policy reforms necessary to continue to work to save lives at the local level.” Ashtabula County Commissioner Kathryn Whittington  

“There are no words to express how critical Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act resources are to local communities. Ohio, my home state, was referred to by the Drug Enforcement Agency as “Ground Zero” of the opiate epidemic and that was pre-pandemic. The combined results of stay at home recommendations, soaring job lay-offs, isolation from support/recovery networks and the general despair and anxiety associated with COVID-19 have been no less than devastating for individuals struggling addiction. Our local overdose and overdose deaths have increased since the pandemic began in March... That being said, I believe in the strength and resilience of our community. Together, we will emerge from this period in history changed, stronger, but this requires continued federal investment in policy and programs addressing local communities', our country's, most vulnerable populations. Without federal resources dedicated to addiction policy, prevention, treatment and recovery supports, we write off the tens of thousands of people who die from overdoses each year and miss the golden opportunity to break the cycle of addiction for millions of American families.” Captain Matthew Parrish, Columbus Division of Fire, Rapid Response Emergency Addiction Crisis Team (RREACT)

“As a member of the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance, and as an agency that serves 104 health and human services agencies in the Columbus Region, the Human Service Chamber emphatically supports CARA 3.0 as reintroduced by Senator Portman. The resources it will provide, the research it will require, and the services it will improve will have a direct benefit on our agencies working directly with people that require treatment for addiction; it will also benefit the breadth of the sector, so many elements of which have seen the ramifications of the addiction epidemic over the last twenty years. We thank Senator Portman for continuing to be a champion in giving social workers, case workers, and clinicians the tools they need to help as many people as possible--proactively, and reactively — to overcome addiction.”  Michael Corey, Executive Director, The Human Service Chamber of Franklin County 

“Thank you Senator Portman for introducing CARA 3.0 to increase critical funding in communities like Fayette County to help combat the opioid epidemic. We are grateful for Senator Portman’s leadership on this bipartisan issue because CARA 3.0 will build upon local efforts that are already working here in Fayette County and provide the much-needed funding and additional policy reforms to help us fight this epidemic on the ground in our community.” Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth  

“Recovery housing is key to long-term sustained recovery from addiction. Senator Portman has worked to provide federal guidance on recovery housing and now is calling for allocated resources in CARA 3.0 to fund high quality models. As someone who operates recovery houses for women, I support this provision in CARA 3.0 and will continue to push for funding at the federal level.” Erin Helms, Director/Owner, The Woodrow Project

“The COVID-19 pandemic has overshadowed the continuing opiate crisis in our city and the broader country. The bipartisan CARA 3.0 legislation introduced by Senator Portman helps to remove barriers to important therapies and funds new innovative approaches to bridge the gap between the treatment environment we have and the treatment environment we need. Senator Portman has seen firsthand the work we do at Maryhaven and knows this funding will help people access critical care. This legislation is a welcome support to providers like us and to our clients, who are fighting the opiate epidemic on a daily basis. We appreciate Senator Portman’s continued advocacy and dedication to addressing this public health crisis.” Adam Rowan, Chief Operating Officer, Maryhaven 

“The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on our community and country’s work to address the ongoing addiction epidemic. Talbert House appreciates Senator Portman’s leadership in crafting CARA 3.0 to respond to the increasing despair and substance use. CARA 3.0 will help provide the resources to ensure our staff is equipped with evidence based practices to provide quality prevention and treatment interventions that work and we hope this legislation will become law soon.” Neil F. Tilow, President/CEO, Talbert House 

“Senator Portman continues to be a proactive partner for those struggling with substance use disorder and the providers of addiction resources. Senator Portman has kept addiction a priority with the understanding we cannot just maintain but must continually work to improve, expand, and remove even more hurdles. CARA 3.0's more comprehensive approach to addiction response shows the building blocks to success when it comes to addiction and the need to tackle these complex issues from multiple angles. CARA 3.0 is not only essential funding, education, and removes barriers, but translates into actionable steps that saves and improves the lives of those struggling with substance use disorder. As someone on the front lines that helped build a community coalition working on addiction, CARA 3.0 is vital to bringing even more of the tools needed for a collaborative community response to addiction that will without a doubt help to make a difference in even more of the lives we serve.” – Chief Tom Synan, Newtown Police, Co-Chair Hamilton County Addiction Response Coalition 

“A Renewed Mind applauds Senator Portman for introducing CARA 3.0 to help provide much-needed funding for our MOM’s program that helps those in the Hancock County and surrounding area who are fighting opioid addiction. This funding makes a significant, positive impact on both present and future generations in eliminating addiction. We urge other members of Congress to support this life-saving legislation.”  – Matthew D. Rizzo, President and CEO, A Renewed Mind 

“The Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services appreciates the efforts of Senator Portman and others at the federal, state and local levels to combat the ongoing addiction crisis. The CARA 3.0 legislation will provide critical funding to help local organizations heal communities and save lives.”  –Terri Becker, CPA, Executive Director Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services Serving Darke, Miami and Shelby Counties 

“As the executive director of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health System (ADAMHS) for Montgomery County, I am pleased to support CARA 3.0. We are both proud and appreciative of Senator Portman’s continued leadership on efforts to fight the addiction epidemic we are experiencing at the local level and across our nation. This bipartisan legislation will provide key funding and solid policy support for our ongoing work in Montgomery County to provide life-saving services to citizens; citizens who face daily challenges with addiction and mental health issues. The duration of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a massive increase in opioid and alcohol use and resultant drug overdoses, so it is imperative that Congress pass this vital funding as soon as possible. Again, with sincere gratitude to Senator Portman for his understanding and leadership on this cogent issue, we offer our support. Please call upon us if additional data is helpful.” Helen E. Jones-Kelley, J.D. Executive Director, Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health System (ADAMHS) for Montgomery County 

“I applaud the efforts of Senator Portman and am happy to support the proposed CARA 3.0 bill which continues to provide support for addressing the impact of addiction on individuals and families in local communities all across the country. The comprehensive approach provides a mix of policy changes; practice opportunities; and human resource development that is needed to be successful in our efforts. COVID has challenged us all in many ways. It is imperative that we not let up on our efforts to address addiction, especially during this time of increased isolation and loss of connections. We cannot afford to lose ground on the progress we have made to date.” Precia Stuby, Director, Hancock County Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services

“The city of Portsmouth is grateful for Senator Portman's leadership, specifically, as it relates to the opioid epidemic. CARA 3.0 will help arm us with the funding and policy changes needed to continue our fight here in Southern Ohio by promoting and supporting prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts. I would urge others who are combatting this fight at the local level to support this legislation.”  –   Lisa Roberts R.N., Public Health Nurse, Portsmouth City Health Department

Portman, Brown, Braun, Peters Reintroduce ‘Build America, Buy America’ Legislation

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mike Braun (R-IN), and Gary Peters (D-MI) today announced they are reintroducing legislation to apply Buy America rules to all taxpayer-funded infrastructure and public works projects. Currently, Buy America rules have not been fully implemented with respect to all federal programs that provide grants for the construction of infrastructure. This means American-made iron, steel, and manufactured products are required for some infrastructure projects, but not all. When Chinese or Russian-made steel and other products are used instead of American products, it steals jobs from U.S. workers. U.S. Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH) is introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives. 

The bipartisan Build America, Buy America Act, would implement Buy America rules across the board – ensuring that American taxpayer dollars are used to buy American-made iron, steel, and manufactured products for any federally funded infrastructure projects. 

“I’m proud to lead this legislation with Senator Brown because when the government spends American taxpayer money on an infrastructure project, it’s common sense that the materials used in that project should be purchased from those same taxpayers making those materials in the United States. We have the world’s best workers making the best materials we need right here at home,” said Portman.

Portman Announces Federal Aviation Administration Grants to Ohio Airports Impacted by COVID-19

Portman applauded the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) award of over $100,000 to Ohio airports to provide economic relief from COVID-19.

The Airport Coronavirus Relief Program was created through the bipartisan, bicameral COVID-19 relief package within the end-of-year spending agreement. Senator Portman played a key role in negotiating the legislation through the bipartisan 908 Coalition, which proposed a $908 billion package that included this critical relief for airports and served as a basis for the final package. This funding builds upon the previously announced $30 million and $300,000 in federal funding.

“The aviation industry’s recovery is critical to our nation’s economy. During this pandemic, the sharp decline in air travel left the industry in an uncertain economic position,” said Portman. “I’m pleased to see this continued support for our airports as they ramp up services to meet the increasing demands of air travel as our country continues on the path to recovery.”

Ranking Member Portman Delivers Opening Statement at HSGAC Nomination Hearing for OPM Director and Postal Service Governors

Portman delivered opening remarks at the nomination hearing of Kiran Ahuja to be Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and Anton Hajjar, Amber McReynolds, and Ronald Stroman to be Governors of the United States Postal Service (USPS). Portman discussed the challenges facing OPM and the USPS, namely how to improve federal workforce hiring and promotion and ensure timely, high-quality mail and package delivery service for all Americans while addressing the Postal Service’s financial shortfalls. 

A transcript of his opening remarks can be found below and a video can be found here.

At Hearing, Portman Secures Commitment from OPM Director Nominee to Ensure Qualified Federal Workforce Assisting at Southern Border & Increase Federal Cybersecurity

Portman secured commitments from Kiran Ahuja, the nominee to be Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), that if confirmed, she would work to ensure that federal workers detailed to assist with the ongoing crisis of migrants and unaccompanied children at the southern border are qualified for the roles they will fill. Portman voiced his concern that the proper qualifications are not currently being met, putting these vulnerable children at risk for abuse. Last month, Portman traveled to the southern border in El Paso, Texas, where he witnessed firsthand the ongoing migrant and unaccompanied children crisis and visited overwhelmed Border Patrol facilities for housing unaccompanied children with bipartisan colleagues and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas. 

In addition, Portman also secured a commitment from Ms. Ahuja to work with Congress to improve OPM’s cybersecurity response efforts. Last year, Senators Portman and Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced a bipartisan bill that would increase transparency and modernize how the government responds to cybersecurity incidents on federal information systems. In June 2019, Senator Portman, as Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, released a bipartisan report that found that the vast majority of agencies reviewed by the Subcommittee failed to implement effective and comprehensive cybersecurity frameworks as required by the Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA)

Finally, Senator Portman secured a commitment from Ronald Stroman, nominee to be a Governor of the United States Postal Service, that he would work to ensure full compliance with Portman’s bipartisan Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, which became law in 2018 and is working to help reduce the supply of fentanyl shipped into the United States through the U.S. Postal Service. In March, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas followed through on his commitment to finalize regulations to enable Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to fully implement the bipartisan STOP Act. The regulations are designed to help prevent a number of premature deaths through the screening and seizure of illicit opioids as they enter the country through the U.S. Postal Service. However, the Postal Service is not yet fully in compliance with the law. 

Excerpts from the questioning can be found here and a video can be found here.

Portman, Cardin Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Encourage Retirement Savings through Employee-Owned Companies

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), members of the Senate Finance Committee, today introduced the Promotion and Expansion of Private Employee Ownership Act – bipartisan legislation to encourage retirement savings by fostering the growth of S corporations that are owned by Employee Stock Ownership Plans (S-ESOPs). The bill would eliminate barriers that businesses and their owners currently face in establishing a new S-ESOP or expanding the employee-ownership stake in an S corporation.  

 “S corporation ESOPs encourage and expand retirement savings by giving American workers the opportunity to keep more of the fruits of their labor,” said Senator Portman. “In a time where economic security is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, Congress must act to ensure that Americans are rewarded for their hard work and have every tool available to save for life after retirement.”

Portman, Peters Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Require the Defense Logistics Agency to Issue Long-Term Contracts for American-Made PPE

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member and Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation that will strengthen efforts to onshore production of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the United States by requiring the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to issue long-term contracts for American-made PPE. Reshoring production will ensure American workers, students, health care professionals, and more have the PPE they need as the economy continues to reopen. Domestic production of PPE supplies will also create American manufacturing jobs. 

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made it evident that the American people should not have to rely so heavily on foreign countries for personal protective equipment, and that’s why we must bring PPE production back to our shores,” said Senator Portman, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “When I talk to PPE manufacturers about re-shoring this production to America, the number one thing I hear the need for long-term contracts. Multi-year contracts give producers the certainty to know that their investment in the United States will be worth it because the government will be there to buy the PPE they produce. By re-shoring production of PPE, we can continue to support a safe and effective reopening of our schools, workplaces, and the economy, and I urge my colleagues to support this important bipartisan legislation.

Portman, Bipartisan Colleagues Applaud Unanimous House Passage of Conservation Legislation to Protect Tropical Forests & Coral Reef Ecosystems

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), along with Senators Chris Coons (D-CT), Richard Burr (R-NC), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for unanimously passing his bipartisan legislation, the Tropical Forest and Coral Reef Conservation Reauthorization Act of 2021. U.S. Representatives Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Brad Sherman (D-CA) led the companion legislation in the House. 

This legislation reauthorizes the Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA) program for five years, from FY 2022 through FY 2026, at $20 million per year. The TFCA program is a debt-for-nature-swap, allowing developing countries that meet eligibility criteria related to economic management, democracy, and human rights to be relieved of certain concessional debt owed to the United States in exchange for protecting and preserving tropical forests and coral reefs. Since the program was created in 1998, it has helped protect more than 67 million acres of tropical forest, which has not only preserved native wildlife and ecosystems, but has also helped protect the environment by sequestering over 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of taking more than 11 million cars off the road.  

“I applaud the House for unanimously passing this bipartisan legislation, which takes significant strides towards safeguarding key natural resources and protecting our tropical forests and coral reefs,” said Senator Portman, Co-Chair of the International Conservation Caucus. “This is a common-sense and proven approach that has protected millions of acres of tropical forest from deforestation, while at the same time helping developing countries improve their balance sheets and reduce our carbon footprint without risking U.S. jobs. This program will continue to safeguard essential natural resources, while strengthening ties with countries that could become significant economic and national security partners with the United States.”

Friday, April 23, 2021

Portman, Brown Introduce Legislation to Reauthorize Ohio’s National Aviation Heritage Area

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have introduced legislation to extend the authorization for Ohio’s National Aviation Heritage Area (NAHA), which will allow the heritage area to continue receiving federal funding through September 30, 2036. The NAHA is slated to expire on September 30, 2022, after Senators Portman and Brown secured a two-year reauthorization for the heritage area in the FY 2020 government funding bill.

The NAHA spans eight counties throughout western Ohio, with a large presence in Dayton, the home of the Wright Brothers. There are a variety of cultural sites within the NAHA, including the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Park, Armstrong Air and Space Museum, Huffman Prairie Flying Field, the Paul Laurence Dunbar House, and Grimes Flying Field, as well as resources related to the Wright Brothers. The annual economic impact of the National Aviation Heritage Area is valued at $226 million. On an average year, NAHA welcomes 1.4 million visitors, supports 265 full-time jobs, and 261 part-time jobs.

“The National Aviation Heritage Area is home to our nation’s aviation history, telling the story of the Wright Brothers’ development of the first airplane. It has proven to be a successful public-private partnership, generating more than $200 million in economic impact from the millions of visitors it receives each year, said Portman. “This heritage area supports local communities through economic development and education about the region’s aviation legacy. I am proud to introduce this legislation to continue to ensure that the NAHA is preserved and enjoyed by future generations.”

Portman, Colleagues Urge Administration to Cease Assistance to UNRWA Until Reforms are Secured

Portman and his colleagues in the Senate, led by Foreign Relations Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID), sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressing concern for the administration’s recent decision to resume U.S. foreign assistance funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The senators encouraged the administration to cease this funding until significant reforms to UNRWA are secured.

“We are concerned that this administration’s decision to resume U.S. assistance to UNRWA was made in haste, without any actionable attempt to secure much-needed and meaningful reforms of the agency,” wrote the Senators.

“Beyond its inflated and duplicative structure, there are serious concerns about the impartiality of UNRWA. Over the years the agency has employed individuals affiliated with Hamas, a U.S. designated terrorist organization. UNRWA schools have been used to store Hamas weapons,” the Senators continued. “Additionally, there have been numerous cases of UNRWA textbooks including material that is anti-Semitic, such as encouraging the destruction of the state of Israel and supporting martyrdom and/or violent jihad. It is troubling that these issues regarding the impartiality of UNRWA, including its education system, have yet to be sufficiently addressed despite this administration’s decision to restore U.S. funding.”

“Due to the significance of this issue, we urge you cease U.S. government assistance to UNRWA unless true reform as described above is secured. We appreciate your attention to this important matter,” the Senators concluded.

Joining Portman were Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee Jim Risch (R-ID) and Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Rick Scott (R-FL), Susan Collins (R-ME), John Barrasso (R-WY), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Steve Daines (R-MT), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), John Boozman (R-AR), Todd Young (R-IN), John Thune (R-SD), and Jim Inhofe (R-OK).

Full text of the letter can be found here

Portman Applauds Senate Passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act

Portman applauded the Senate for voting overwhelmingly to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act – legislation to more forcefully investigate hate crimes, specifically against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. have seen a sharp rise. The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act passed the Senate by a vote of 94-1; the House is expected to vote on its version of the bill next month.

“Senseless acts of violence targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is unacceptable and must be unequivocally condemned. Every American should be treated with respect and dignity no matter their ethnicity,” said Portman. “This bill is a step in the right direction of helping to crack down on these acts of violence and giving law enforcement more tools to address this growing threat.”

Portman, Peters Introduce Legislation to Create Significant Cyber Incident Declaration for Major Cyberattacks

Senator Portman and Gary Peters  introduced bipartisan legislation that would provide additional resources and better coordination for serious cyberattacks or breaches that risk the safety and security of Americans. The legislation would help improve the federal response to cyber breaches, such as recent and serious attacks by foreign adversaries including the Chinese and Russian governments that penetrated both federal networks and private companies’ servers. 

The bill would allow the Secretary of Homeland Security to declare a Significant Cyber Incident following a breach of public and private networks, and would also establish a Cyber Response and Recovery Fund for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to provide direct support to public or private entities as they respond and recover from significant cyberattacks and breaches. 

“The multiple recent cyberattacks from sophisticated malicious actors against U.S. government clearly demonstrate our vulnerability to attack,” said Senator Portman. “These cyberattacks will continue, and we must ensure that we have the capacity to respond when they do.  This bipartisan bill will provide emergency resources when impacted organizations are overwhelmed and unable to respond to a debilitating attack.  I urge my colleagues to join us in supporting this commonsense legislation to take a needed step in strengthening our cyber defenses.”

Portman Statement on Shooting of Ma'Khia Bryant

Portman released the following statement regarding the officer-involved shooting of Ma'Khia Bryant.  

“This is a tragic situation and my heart goes out to the family members of the young woman who was shot. From what I’ve seen and read, it appears the Columbus police officer took decisive action on the spur of the moment to protect another individual from a knife attack. It is appropriate that the Bureau of Criminal Investigation is conducting an independent investigation of the incident and we should let the investigators do their job. As I have told Mayor Ginther, I commend him and the Columbus Police Department for being transparent and acting quickly to release the body camera footage of this tragic incident.”

SOCIAL MEDIA

 

 

Tax Hikes Will Stifle the Recovery

The Biden administration and congressional Democrats’ $2.7 trillion “infrastructure plan” is deeply concerning. Republicans and Democrats agree on investing in America’s infrastructure—the roads, bridges, electrical grids, railroads and broadband networks we all use. The last infrastructure bill passed by Congress, 2015’s Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, cost about $300 billion and passed 359-65 in the House and 83-16 in the Senate. The Biden plan broadens the definition of infrastructure to include more than $2 trillion in funding for things like the National Science Foundation, long-term care, corporate child care, and electric-car companies. Some are worthy causes, but they don’t belong in an infrastructure bill. 

About $600 billion of the plan isn’t paid for and will take the nation further into debt. Democrats will pay for the rest of the plan with an enormous tax increase, the burden of which would ultimately be borne by American workers and consumers. It would make the U.S. less competitive in the global economy, reversing progress made in the past few years. The 2017 tax reforms—which the Biden proposal would largely dismantle—unleashed record growth in jobs and wages and produced the lowest poverty rate since the government started tracking it 60 years ago.

In promoting the Biden tax increases, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen claims the 2017 reforms encouraged U.S. businesses to move jobs out of the country. The opposite is true: The 2017 reforms stopped so-called corporate inversions, which made American companies into foreign companies. The old, uncompetitive U.S. tax laws forced jobs and investment overseas. 

The 2017 reforms also reversed the “lockout” effect that kept foreign profits of U.S. companies overseas. Instead, $1.6 trillion in overseas earnings came back to the U.S. Most important for working families, 70% of the savings from the corporate tax cuts flowed directly into higher wages for workers, contributing to the 19 straight months of wage growth before the pandemic. Thanks to the 2017 reforms, the largest U.S. companies increased their domestic research-and-development expenditures by 25%, amounting to $707 billion, and increased capital expenditures by 20%, aided by this return of foreign profits. 

Mr. Biden’s proposed tax hikes would put all this U.S. investment, job creation and research at risk. Under the Biden plan, the combined federal and state corporate tax rate would go from 25.8%—already above the average rate of 23.4% for other developed countries—to 32.8%, the highest rate in the developed world. The U.S. tax rate would again be higher than China’s. 

The abrupt tax hikes—five times as large as the corporate tax cuts in 2017—would reduce the competitiveness of American workers and businesses right as the U.S. economy starts to recover from the pandemic. 

The Biden plan would also double the tax on “global intangible low-taxed income,” or Gilti, making it more costly for U.S. companies to operate globally. This unfairly punishes American workers who support international sales. In Ohio, companies like Procter & Gamble rely on overseas production to serve foreign markets in an affordable manner, which helps them employ thousands of Ohioans who support those foreign operations. The proposed Biden tax increases would hamstring the ability of these companies to compete overseas, resulting in lost American jobs. 

The Biden administration also proposes to eliminate a provision of the tax code regarding what’s called foreign derived intangible income, or FDII. This 2017 rule encouraged American companies to bring their intellectual property back to the U.S. and keep it here. Google, Qualcomm and Facebook brought intellectual property home, and companies such as Intel and Disney kept theirs in the U.S. because of this incentive. 

The Biden administration claims that it wants the U.S. to be more competitive, yet its tax increases would do the opposite. In a telling admission, Ms. Yellen asked other countries earlier this month to raise their corporate tax rates to ensure “a more level playing field.” Those countries understand competition. They’re ignoring her advice and lowering rates. Ireland’s finance minister has indicated that his country has no interest in raising taxes.

Multiple studies, including from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, show that workers will bear most of the burden of higher rates in the form of lower wages and lost jobs. Instead of a $2.7 trillion plan that goes way beyond any definition of infrastructure and is paid for with tax hikes on workers and the economy, let’s go back to the proven model: a bipartisan bill focused on real infrastructure with sensible funding mechanisms. Partisan tax hikes will only make America uncompetitive again, hurting American workers and their families.

Portman’s bipartisan bill would require nationwide ban on sale of crib bumpers

Bipartisan legislation introduced on April 20 by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to enforce a nationwide ban on the sale of crib bumpers, which are proven to pose a deadly risk to sleeping infants.

“The use of crib bumpers pose an unnecessary threat to the health and safety of infants everywhere,” Sen. Portman said. “There is no reason the sale of these dangerous items should continue.” 

The Safe Cribs Act, S. 1259, which Sen. Portman cosponsored with bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), also would make it unlawful nationwide to manufacture and import crib bumpers, according to the bill summary provided by Sen. Portman’s office, which noted that retailers continue to sell them despite current federal recommendations advising parents to keep cribs bare to prevent sudden infant death syndrome. 

“My home state of Ohio has already banned these harmful products,” said Sen. Portman. “Congress must also act to protect infants from an unnecessary and unacceptable risk.”

In 2011, the City of Chicago became the first American city to ban the sale of crib bumpers, according to Sen. Portman’s office, and Maryland and Ohio banned their sale in 2013 and 2017, respectively, with minor exceptions.

The bill has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Consumer Federation of America, and multiple other pediatric associations.

“Crib bumper pads pose a real risk of suffocation and confuse parents on how best to create a safe sleep environment,” added Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids In Danger (KID).