Rob’s Rundown: Week of August 9 - August 13, 2021
It was a busy week in Washington as the Senate approved the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Tuesday morning by a margin of 69 to 30. This historic piece of legislation - which Senator Portman played a leading role in crafting - provides the largest investment in core infrastructure in our nation’s history. Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor Monday afternoon highlighting the importance of the infrastructure bill. He outlined how it will rebuild and modernize America’s core infrastructure assets, create jobs, strengthen our global competitiveness, and spur economic growth - all without raising taxes or increasing inflation. Portman spoke with Fox News’ Bill Hemmer today morning about the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the importance of working together across party lines to craft policies that improve the lives of the American people.
Early Wednesday morning, Portman voted against the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending. Portman has been a vocal opponent of this multi trillion dollar tax and spending spree - noting that it will undermine growth and innovation, raise taxes on hard-working families, and threaten America’s long-term economic prosperity.
Also on Wednesday, Portman delivered remarks at the renaming ceremony of NASA’s Plum Brook Station to the Neil A. Armstrong Test Facility. Following the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Portman and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) led the effort to rename the test facility, introducing legislation in 2019 that passed the Senate and House and was signed into law in December of last year.
On Thursday, Portman released a statement expressing deep concern over data released by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol indicating that unlawful migrant crossings at our southern border reached a 21 year high in July of 2021.
Finally, Portman issued a statement today in response to the growing security crisis in Afghanistan following the announced withdrawal of American troops by the Biden administration. Portman urged the Biden administration to take the necessary steps to protect the U.S. citizens in Afghanistan, help members of the Afghan populace who have supported the U.S. mission there, and support the Afghan government’s efforts to maintain control over the country.
For a more detailed look at Senator Portman’s week, please see the following:
Monday, August 9, 2021
Portman, Warner, Toomey, Sinema, Lummis Announce Agreement on Digital Asset Reporting Requirements in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) today announced an agreement on an amendment to clarify digital asset reporting requirements in the infrastructure bill.
“There’s broad agreement that digital asset exchanges behaving as brokers should be required to report transactions just like other kinds of brokers already do. There is also concern that tax evasion and non-compliance are becoming significant issues surrounding cryptocurrencies and digital assets. Some have expressed confusion concerning the underlying text of the infrastructure bill, suggesting it would result in the application of reporting requirements far too broadly and ensnare individuals, developers, and other elements of this ecosystem that could not comply with a reporting mandate.
“We’ve worked with the Treasury Department to clarify the underlying text and ensure that those who are not acting as brokers will not be subject to the bill’s reporting requirements. While we each would have drafted this solution differently, we all agree it’s important to ensure that these obligations are properly crafted to apply only to entities that are regularly effectuating transactions of digital assets in exchange for consideration. To best memorialize this common understanding, we propose to incorporate this important amendment into the infrastructure bill and urge our colleagues to join us in enacting this bipartisan clarification.”
On CNBC’s Squawk Box, Portman Touts Benefits of Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act
In an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Senator Rob Portman touted the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act – landmark legislation he helped craft to upgrade and modernize America’s aging infrastructure. The Senate will vote on final passage of the legislation tomorrow morning.
Portman also discussed the ongoing efforts to provide greater clarity and certainty for the cryptocurrency industry. Portman explained how there is a consensus in Washington and across the country that better and more consistent information reporting on cryptocurrency transactions is a key part of allowing this technology to continue to grow in a healthy and sustainable way. To do that, this legislation requires cryptobrokers responsible for regularly providing any service effectuating transfers of digital assets like cryptocurrency, which for tax purposes means a sale on behalf of someone else, to issue a Form 1099-B to their customers in line with traditional assets like stocks and bonds.
Portman, Colleagues Introduce Resolution Marking One-Year Anniversary of Fraudulent Belarus Elections, Reaffirm U.S. Support for Pro-Democracy Movement
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Ed Markey (D-MA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Bill Hagerty (R-TN) introduced a resolution marking the one-year anniversary of the fraudulent presidential election in Belarus that installed Alexander Lukashenko for a sixth term. The resolution calls for free and fair elections, reaffirms bipartisan support in the Senate for the pro-democracy movement, free media and the Belarusian people, and condemns Lukashenko’s recent acts of transnational repression.
“Today marks one year since President Lukashenko’s illegitimate power grab in Belarus, followed by brutal crackdowns on political activists and peaceful protesters all over the country. I am proud to join this bipartisan resolution which shows that the United States stands in solidarity with the people of Belarus and continues to condemn the brutal Lukashenko regime in the strongest of terms,” said Senator Portman. “In June, I traveled to Lithuania as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation to meet with Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Even from abroad, Mrs. Tsikhanouskaya strongly advocates for free and fair elections and democracy where the sovereign rights of the people of Belarus are respected – I commend her for her work and continue to offer my unwavering support.”
Portman Praises Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act on Senate Floor Ahead of Final Passage Vote
Portman took to the Senate floor to discuss the need for a historic investment in repairing and rebuilding our nation’s core infrastructure, and how this landmark legislation he helped negotiate will do just that. Portman highlighted how the United States has fallen behind in investing in infrastructure compared to foreign competitors like China, and how failing to do so will have lasting economic costs.
Portman also drew a distinction between the long-term supply-side spending with no tax hikes in the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act and the immediate demand-side spending in the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reckless tax and spend bill that will be coming to the floor this week under reconciliation. As multiple economists have found, the spending in the infrastructure bill will have a counter-inflationary effect at a time when consumer prices are soaring.
Finally, Portman highlighted the broad support this legislation has received both in the Senate and from more than 100 industry groups representing a wide range of stakeholders in the public and private sectors. He urged his colleagues to see this historic legislation through to the end to do right by the American people.
A transcript of his remarks can be found here.
Portman, Bennet Introduce Legislation to Extend Tax Filing Deadlines During Natural Disasters, National Emergencies
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced the Automatic Relief for Taxpayers Affected by Major Disasters and Critical Events Act, which is included in the major bipartisan infrastructure package, theInfrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This legislation will amend the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) provision which permits the Secretary of the Treasury to extend the tax filing deadline for all taxpayers affected by federally declared disasters, national emergencies, and terrorist or military action. It separately tolls the deadline for filing a petition in Tax Court if that court is inaccessible or closed, such as during a government shutdown or pandemic.
“The last thing victims of natural disasters and emergencies need is to worry about the IRS,” said Portman. “This amendment will give folks peace of mind and bring fairness to the tax code by providing certainty that tax deadlines will be extended in the case of natural disasters and other hardships. This is the least we can do for people who fall victim to tragic circumstances through no fault of their own.”
On Senate Floor, Portman, Warner Conduct Colloquy Clarifying Cryptocurrency Provision in Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Mark Warner (D-VA) conducted a colloquy to clarify the scope and intent of a provision in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act regarding implementing information reporting requirements for cryptocurrency brokers. Portman and Warner discussed how under the bill, a broker is defined as “any person who (for consideration) is responsible for regularly providing any service effectuating transfers of digital assets on behalf of another person.” For tax purposes this means a sale on behalf of someone else.
Portman and Warner noted how the Treasury Department, the nonpartisan Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation and others believe that the current language is clear that the reporting requirements only cover brokers, and would exclude people who are solely involved with validating distributed ledger transactions through proof of work, proof of stake, and other validation methods that will be developed and come to market as the technology evolves, as well as persons solely engaged in the business of selling hardware or software that allows people to access their private keys.
Portman and Warner closed by emphasizing the need to bring clarity and legitimacy for the cryptocurrency industry and to strike the appropriate balance between capturing the promised benefits, and guarding against the potential for serious abuse and creation of a shadow financial system beyond the reach of established rules to combat illicit finance and tax evasion. A video can be found here:
Tuesday, August 10, 2021
Portman, Sinema, King, Hassan, Romney Applaud Senate Passage of More Than $20 Million for the Office of National Cyber Director in Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Angus King (I-ME), Co-Chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Mitt Romney (R-UT) applauded the Senate passage of the bipartisanInfrastructure Investment & Jobs Act that includes their bipartisan priority to provide $21 million in funding for the Office of the National Cyber Director (NCD). The NCD is a brand new position tasked with coordinating the implementation of national cybersecurity policy and strategy. Because the position was created in the middle of a fiscal year, Congress has not yet directly appropriated funding for the Office. With cyberattacks increasing in both scope and consequence, it is crucial to provide the National Cyber Director the funding and resources necessary to accomplish this important mission. The inclusion of this bipartisan priority in the broader, bipartisan infrastructure package will provide a one-time funding allocation of $21 million through Fiscal Year 2022.
“I applaud the Senate passage of more than $21 million in important funding for the newOffice of the National Cyber Director as part of the bipartisan infrastructure package,” said Portman. “This funding is critical because the position was created in the middle of a fiscal year and thus Congress has not yet directly appropriated funding for the Office of the National Cyber Director which is tasked with coordinating the implementation of national cyber policy and strategy. As we face increasing cyber threats, it is crucial that the National Cyber Director has the funding needed in order to able to effectively and efficiently develop national cyber policies that best protect federal networks, data, and critical infrastructure.”
Senate Passes Portman, Sinema, Manchin Bipartisan Bill to Improve Federal Permitting Process in Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) applauded the Senate passage of bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act which includes their bipartisan Federal Permitting Reform and Jobs Act, a bill to improve the federal permitting process for some of the largest infrastructure projects and build on efforts to update this process created in 2015. The inclusion of this bipartisan, common-sense bill in the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act will give project sponsors more certainty, which will allow them to create more jobs and develop our nation’s infrastructure more efficiently.
In 2015, Senator Portman and then-Senator Claire McCaskill co-authored the Federal Permitting Improvement Act, which Congress ultimately enacted into law as Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. That law, now known as FAST-41, significantly reformed the federal infrastructure permitting process while leaving environmental protections in place. Most significantly, it created the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (Permitting Council), which brings together agencies at the start of the permitting process for some of the largest, most complicated infrastructure projects (covered projects) to write out a comprehensive plan for the permitting process across agencies. The public can track the permitting progress for each of those projects at www.permits.performance.gov.
“I’m proud our bipartisan bill to help update our aging infrastructure and create good jobs while expanding transparency in the permitting process and promoting better coordination between federal agencies was passed by the Senate as a part of the bipartisan infrastructure package,” said Portman. “FAST-41 improved the federal permitting process to promote expansion, economic growth, and the hiring of American workers right here at home. We need to make this program permanent, apply it to more projects to ensure they get done on time and under budget, and expand the authority of the Permitting Council to see to it that those things happen. I urge the House to move quickly to pass the bipartisan infrastructure package which includes this legislation that is good for jobs, the economy, and the environment.”
Senators’ Statement on Passage of Landmark Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Mark Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate voted to approve the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by a bipartisan vote of 69-30. The bill represents the largest investment in infrastructure in our nation’s history.
“This vote is a historic victory for the American people. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will modernize and upgrade our roads, bridges, ports, and other key infrastructure assets. In doing so, this landmark piece of legislation will create jobs, increase productivity, and pave the way for decades of economic growth and prosperity – all without raising taxes on everyday Americans or increasing inflation.
“Importantly, this achievement is a testament to what we can achieve when we join together and do the hard work it takes to move our country forward. This historic bill is the product of months of good-faith negotiations between Republicans and Democrats unified in their desire to do right by the American people.
“Congress has talked about truly modernizing our nation’s infrastructure for as long as we can remember. The United States Senate delivered so that we can finally give the American people the safe, reliable, and modern infrastructure they deserve.”
Portman Hails Senate Passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act
Portman issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate voted to approve the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act by a bipartisan vote of 69-30. The bill – which Portman played a lead role in crafting – represents the largest investment in core infrastructure in our nation’s history.
“America’s infrastructure is in desperate need of repair and today’s vote brings the American people closer to more efficiency and safety in their roads, bridges, ports and other important assets. In addition, the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act will create jobs, increase productivity, and pave the way for decades of economic growth and prosperity – all without raising taxes or increasing inflation.
“Today’s vote is evidence of what the Senate can accomplish when we put the interests of the country and the American people ahead of partisan differences. This bill is the product of months of good-faith negotiations between Republicans and Democrats and I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their efforts. I’d like to offer my sincerest thanks to Kyrsten Sinema in particular, without whom none of this would have been possible.
“Presidents and Congresses have talked about truly modernizing our nation’s infrastructure for as long as I can remember. Today, the United States Senate delivered. Now I call on the House of Representatives to expeditiously pass this critical piece of legislation so we can finally deliver to the American people the safe, reliable, and modern infrastructure they deserve.”
Portman, Manchin’s Finish the ADHS Act Passes Senate as Part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced that their bipartisan Finish the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) Act has passed the Senate, as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Finish the ADHS Act would provide $1.25 billion in dedicated funding over five years for the network of transportation corridors across Appalachia for the first time since 2012. Ohio stands to receive $86.2 million in funding through this legislation.
“Since its creation in 1965, the Appalachian Development Highway System has created thousands of miles of highway, creating jobs and bringing important economic development to rural parts of Ohio and the rest of Appalachia. Unfortunately, the portion that remains incomplete is difficult to build and expensive,” said Senator Portman. “I am pleased that the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has passed the Senate, the System is one step closer to getting the resources it needs in order to be completed.”
Portman, Stabenow’s REPLANT Act Passes Senate as Part of Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) announced their bipartisan Repairing Existing Public Land by Adding Necessary Trees (REPLANT) Act has passed the Senate as part of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act.
The REPLANT Act quadruples investments to support reforestation projects on national forests by removing the current funding cap of $30 million per year on the Reforestation Trust Fund. This will help the U.S. Forest Service plant 1.2 billion trees on national forests and create nearly 49,000 jobs over the next 10 years. The bill only uses funds that are already being collected through tariffs on foreign wood products – it does not change the list of products, increase the tariffs, or use taxpayer funds.
“More and more we’re seeing catastrophic wildfires, flooding and other events that require greater investment in addressing our reforestation needs,” said Portman. “I’m pleased this legislation has passed the Senate as part of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. It provides a wide range of benefits, including improving our environment by sequestering carbon dioxide, reinvigorating ecosystems, and supporting wildlife that depend on healthy forests, while also creating nearly 49,000 jobs and expanding recreation opportunities on national forestland.”
Portman, Shaheen Key Energy Efficiency Provisions Pass Senate in Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) announced that key provisions of their bipartisan Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness (ESIC) Act have passed the Senate as part of Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act. These provisions will improve energy efficiency in buildings and the industrial sector, which will help reduce emissions, protect the environment, and create jobs.
“With passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Senate has taken another important step towards enacting common-sense measures that will increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions across the economy,” said Senator Portman. “We need a balanced approach to protecting our environment and reducing emissions, while also safeguarding our economy and jobs – these measures accomplish just that.”
Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation Passes Senate, Includes Portman, Bennet Carbon Capture Improvement Act
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) announced that their bipartisan Carbon Capture Improvement Act has passed the Senate as part of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act.
The Carbon Capture Improvement Act makes it easier for power plants and industrial facilities to finance the purchase and installation of carbon capture, utilization, and storage equipment, as well as direct air capture (DAC) projects through the use of private activity bonds (PABs).
“Carbon capture and direct air capture are two common-sense technologies that will allow states like Ohio to continue to utilize our natural resources while protecting our environment at the same time,” said Portman. “This bipartisan legislation takes significant steps to help industry adopt these key technologies, which will make our infrastructure more resilient and environmentally friendly.”
Portman, Manchin Announce Value for Money Analysis Bill Passes Senate as Part of Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced that their bipartisan legislation requiring value for money analyses on federally-supported transportation loans, included as part of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, has passed the Senate. Public-private partnerships, or P3s, are contractual relationships between a state or local government and a private entity. The relationship allows for more efficient and effective project delivery at a lower cost. According to the Federal Highway Administration, 36 states have passed P3-enabling legislation, yet the use of this financing tool is still quite small. The Congressional Budget Office states that P3s have accounted for only one to three percent of spending for highway, transit, and water infrastructure since 1990.
Portman and Manchin’s legislation requires Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) applicants with project costs over $750 million to conduct a value for money analysis as part of their application process. In addition, the bill requires the Build America Bureau (the Department of Transportation’s hub for funding and financing resources), to report to Congress on the utilization of P3s and best practices for project financing.
“Oftentimes public-private-partnerships (P3) produce high quality projects at a lower cost. With the vast amount of infrastructure improvements needed around this country, P3s are a helpful way in keeping taxpayer costs down,” said Senator Portman. “I am pleased that the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has passed the Senate as this legislation will direct DOT to require certain federally-supported projects to do a Value for Money analysis, an essential step for states and localities in determining whether or not a P3 would in fact be a less expensive, more efficient path forward for project delivery.”
Portman, Stabenow RECYCLE Act Passes Senate as Part of Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) announced that their bipartisan RECYCLE Act has passed the Senate as part of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act. The RECYCLE Act authorizes a new federal grant program through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help educate households and consumers about their residential and community recycling programs. The bipartisan infrastructure package also fully funds the RECYCLE Act at $15 million per year for five years.
Reports indicate consumer confusion on how to properly recycle is one of the top recycling challenges. According to the EPA, the recycling rate in the U.S. is 32.1 percent, which presents a significant opportunity to improve our nation’s recycling systems. Through education and outreach, the RECYCLE Act will help increase recycling rates and reduce contamination in the recycling stream.
“I’m pleased that my RECYCLE Act, included in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, has passed the Senate. A key component of improving our domestic recycling systems is increasing consumer awareness about good recycling practices,” said Senator Portman. “Far too often, consumer confusion leads to poor recycling habits, which can damage recycling equipment and cause contamination in the recycling stream. This is a bipartisan, common-sense bill that’s good for the economy and the environment, and helps make our recycling infrastructure more durable.”
Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation Passes Senate, Includes Bridge Repair Grant Bill
Portman announced that his bipartisan Bridge Investment Act has passed the Senate, as part of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act. This bill would establish a competitive grant program to assist the repair and replacement of deficient and outdated bridges and ease the national bridge repair backlog. It will also help us get closer to a solution on the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati by providing billions in available funding to go alongside a local match that can pay for a long-term solution to address the high volume of bridge traffic.
“Today the Senate took another important step towards finding a solution for the Brent Spence Bridge. I’m pleased that the Bridge Investment Act was included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that has now passed the Senate, and it gives us hope that we are on a path to a solution for the Brent Spence Bridge,” said Portman.
Portman, Stabenow: $1 Billion in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Funding Passes Senate in Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) announced that the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) is one step closer to receiving $1 billion in new funding as a result of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act passing the Senate today. The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) includes $5.5 billion in funding to support ecosystems across the country.
“With Senate passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Senate taken another historic step in supporting Lake Erie and our Great Lakes by providing an additional $1 billion for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. For our communities along Lake Erie, healthy water and ecosystems are the bedrock of a more resilient economy and more durable infrastructure,” said Senator Portman. “Lake Erie is an Ohio treasure that provides drinking water for millions of Ohioans, supports hundreds of thousands of jobs, and draws millions of visitors each year. As co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, I will continue to fight preserve this treasure for our future generations.”
On Senate Floor, Portman Thanks Partners in Effort to Pass Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) spoke on the Senate floor to thank his colleagues, the Biden administration, industry stakeholders, and Senate staff for their work to draft and pass this landmark legislation he helped negotiate. Portman praised the economic benefits of the $548 billion investment in repairing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, and highlighted the months-long process to create this bill as an example of the significant achievements the Senate can achieve on a bipartisan basis.
A transcript of his remarks can be found below and a video can be found here.
Portman, Bennet, King’s Bipartisan Bill to Provide Historic Investment in Broadband Services Passes Senate
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Angus King (I-ME) announced that certain provisions of their bipartisan BRIDGE Act have passed the Senate, as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). IIJA now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration. The bill provides $65 billion for broadband, including more than $40 billion to states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia via block grants consistent with the senators’ bipartisan BRIDGE Act proposal to help close the gap in access to reliable high-speed internet that persists in certain communities. If passed by the House and signed into law, this would be the largest federal broadband investment in U.S. history.
“I’m pleased key pieces of this important legislation, included in the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, have passed the Senate. Too many rural and low-income communities in Ohio and across the U.S. lack affordable and reliable access to broadband,” said Portman. “By helping underserved areas rapidly gain broadband access, this historic piece of bipartisan legislation takes significant steps to finally close the digital divide.”
Portman, Durbin Bipartisan Bill to Save Seniors, Taxpayers Billions in Prescription Drug Costs Passes Senate as Part of Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced that their bipartisan bill to reduce wasteful spending on discarded medications that are the result of that are the result of excessively large, single-use drug vials has passed the Senate, as part of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act. The Recovering Excessive Funds for Unused and Needless Drugs (REFUND) Act will enable Medicare to recoup money from drug companies who are paid for wasted medications, and provide savings to seniors enrolled in Medicare.
“I am pleased that the REFUND Act has passed the Senate as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” said Portman. “Our health care system should be reimbursing for value and only paying for products that patients are actually using. This smart legislation that’s good for seniors and taxpayers, and I believe it will improve health care outcomes and lower costs for all patients.”
Portman Expresses Disappointment in Biden Administration Decision to Withdraw Approval of Ohio’s Medicaid Work Requirement Waiver
Portman issued the following statement expressing disappointment that the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is withdrawing approval of Ohio’s Work Requirement and Community Engagement 1115 Demonstration Waiver. The waiver was previously approved by the Trump administration in March 2019.
“The Biden administration’s decision is extremely disappointing. Work requirements provide much-needed flexibility in the Medicaid system to provide greater well-being and self-sufficiency to individuals who are able to work while slowing the growth rate of Medicaid and thus the burden on taxpayers. I will continue to advocate for bipartisan common-sense solutions to address the affordability of health care and the long-term budget implications of Medicaid on the state and federal level.”
Wednesday, August 11, 2021
Portman Statement Opposing Democrats’ Partisan $3.5 Trillion Tax and Spending Spree
Portman issued the following statement on his vote against the $3.5 trillion budget resolution passed by Senate Democrats:
“Congress should focus on helping grow our economy and get back on the path of strong growth we saw before the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, Senate Democrats passed a budget that paves the way for their $3.5 trillion tax and spending spree that will cost jobs and undermine our economy. This is exactly the wrong approach for our economy, and similar to the $1.9 trillion stimulus spending bill enacted by Democrats this spring, will only drive inflation higher.
“This week, we saw the Senate work together in a bipartisan way to pass a historic investment in our nation’s core infrastructure needs. The American people want both parties to build on this success and continue the hard work of finding common ground on important issues. Instead, Democrats are now trying to jam through Congress massive tax hikes and social spending through purely partisan means.
“I cannot support partisan legislation that would destroy jobs and harm our economy, and for that reason I vote no on this reckless tax and spending plan.”
Portman Attends Renaming Ceremony of NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Honor of Neil Armstrong
Portman delivered remarks at the renaming ceremony of NASA’s Plum Brook Station to the Neil A. Armstrong Test Facility. The Neil A. Armstrong Test Facility, located on 6,400 acres in the Lake Erie community of Sandusky, is home to four world-class test facilities, which perform complex and innovative ground tests for the international space community. Neil Armstrong began his NASA career at the test facility before becoming the first human to step on the surface of the moon, inspiring generations of Americans to push the boundaries of space exploration.
“From his service as a Navy fighter pilot, to his courageous experiments as a test pilot, to his space exploration and first steps on the surface of the Moon, Neil Armstrong left an indelible mark in mankind’s history of flight. He considered himself first and foremost a test pilot who pushed the boundaries of what was possible in the air and in space,” said Senator Portman. “I was honored to participate in today’s renaming ceremony – a fitting tribute for a humble and patriotic Ohioan who continues to inspire generations of Americans through his amazing accomplishments in air and space.”
Thursday, August 12, 2021
Portman Praises EDA $2 Million Federal Grant to Support Manufacturing in Huron, Ohio
Portman (R-OH) praised the $2 million CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to the city of Huron, Ohio, to reconstruct Sawmill Parkway, a critical roadway that serves Erie County’s largest industrial park. According to the EDA, this grant, to be matched with $1.3 million in local funds, is expected to create 321 jobs, retain 41 jobs, and generate $403 million in private investment.
This grant comes from funds accessible thanks to the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Portman supported and was signed into law last year.
“This is exciting news for the city of Huron and Erie County. I’m pleased to see this $2 million federal grant go towards helping to develop the city of Huron’s industrial park,” said Portman. “This grant, provided through the CARES Act, will help create jobs while spurring millions in additional private investment. I was proud to support the bipartisan CARES Act last year, and I am glad to see that it continues to help local communities in our state return to normalcy as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Portman, Stabenow RECYCLE Act Passes Senate as Part of Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation
Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, issued the following statement after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released operational statistics for July 2021 regarding the crisis at our southern border:
“I am concerned that month after month the CBP operational statistics show that we are seeing the worst unlawful migration crisis in more than twenty years. CBP reported more than 212,000 total encounters at the border in July, an increase from last month’s record of the highest amount in more than two decades. This includes more than 82,000 migrant family members, a 49 percent increase from just last month; more than 110,000 single adult migrants, three times more than last year; and nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children.
“At a time when we are hitting a new 21 year high in unlawful migrants, we should not be seeing a 58 percent decrease in Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s unlawful migrant arrests and removals. What signal does the Biden administration think that sends to the traffickers, the human smugglers, and the potential unlawful migrants when there’s such a dramatic decrease in internal enforcement? As I told Secretary Mayorkas at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing late last month, what the Biden administration is doing at the border is not working and they must change course. I urge the Biden administration to take action to address this crisis which is a direct result of its decision to dismantle the previous administration’s policies with no consideration of the historic influx it would incite.”
On Fox News, Portman Discusses Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, Democrats’ Reckless Tax and Spending Bill
In an interview this morning With Fox News’ Bill Hemmer, Senator Rob Portman discussed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act – landmark legislation he helped craft to upgrade and modernize America’s aging infrastructure. The legislation passed the Senate this past Tuesday by a vote of 69-30 and is now under consideration in the House of Representatives.
Portman briefly touched on the Democrats’ reckless $3.5 trillion tax and spending bill, saying it would spend too much while raising taxes.
You can watch the interview here.
Portman Calls on Biden Administration to Respond to Rapidly Deteriorating Situation in Afghanistan
Portman issued the following statement in response to the growing security crisis in Afghanistan following the announced withdrawal of American troops by the Biden administration. In recent weeks, Taliban fighters have overrun multiple provincial capitals and estimates suggest insurgents could take control of Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, in a matter of weeks. Portman urged the Biden administration to take the necessary steps to protect the U.S. citizens in Afghanistan, help members of the Afghan populace who have supported the U.S. mission there, and support the Afghan government’s efforts to maintain control over the country.
“The rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan is of great concern and is a direct result of yet another poor strategic decision by the Biden administration. I have long said that our eventual withdrawal from Afghanistan must be measured and responsible – this was neither. Based on the Taliban’s previous history of violence and repression, it was irresponsible of the administration to think the Taliban would serve as a credible negotiating partner for the legitimate Afghan government.
“I fully support the deployment of military personnel to ensure the safety of our State Department personnel and to assist in the evacuation of the brave Afghans who have served side by side with us. The Biden administration bears full responsibility for the current situation in Afghanistan and must do everything possible to protect our citizens, provide a safe passage for as many Afghan allies as possible, and support the Afghan government in this time of turmoil.”
We cannot overstate how important the Senate passage of a $1.2-trillion infrastructure package is for all Americans. Nor can we overstate Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s importance in guiding that sweeping piece of legislation to passage. The legislation, if approved by the U.S. House of Representatives as is likely, would invest desperately needed money into shoring up the nation’s roads, bridges, rail and transit systems and the electrical grid – a critical need that has been recognized for years.
Approval by the House could still take some time – likely not before fall. But the legislation is a major rebuilding plan that Presidents Barack Obama or Donald Trump could not land. Obama won approval of an $8 billion stimulus package -- tiny by comparison -- and it was not exclusively an infrastructure plan. Trump campaigned on fixing America’s aging infrastructure, but he was unable to get the Congress to approve major legislation.
Meanwhile, the need has remained. One of the biggest symbols of that need is the Brent Spence Bridge, which links Portman’s hometown of Cincinnati with Kentucky, home to GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell. The Ohio River bridge has languished for years needing repairs and upgrades. It is considered one of the busiest trucking corridors in the country.
Even more significant than addressing infrastructure needs is that Portman, the lead negotiator for Republicans, managed to work with Democrats like Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and the Biden White House to craft a bipartisan deal.
That meant holding his own side together while compromising with Democrats. That has been a tall order in Washington for some time.
The vote of 69-30 on Tuesday (with 18 of Portman’s GOP colleagues, including McConnell, joining him in support) raised a glimmer of hope that it might still be possible, in this era of polarization, for legislators to do what they are supposed to do -- work together toward the public good.
To reach that bipartisan agreement, Portman had to buck members of his own party -- 30 voted against the bill. Trump, up to the last minute, urged Republicans to reject the plan and threatened to withhold his support from those who crossed him.
Perhaps Portman was the right moderate in the right place at the right time. He has had an extensive career in Washington, as U.S. trade representative, director of the Office of Management and Budget and as a member of the House and then the Senate.
He never has been a headline grabber. He has been more of a workhorse. Trump is less of an obstacle now. Portman will retire next year and perhaps is unconcerned about Trump’s opinions, anyway.
It does not really matter. If the legislation clears the House and becomes law, it will be part of Portman’s legacy as a senator.
And it is something we should appreciate, both for the money when it starts to flow and America’s crumbling roads and bridges are repaired and for the hope that governing civilly is not dead.
After weeks of fits, starts and delays, the Senate is on track to give final approval to the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan, with a growing coalition of Democrats and Republicans prepared to lift the first phase of President Joe Biden’s rebuilding agenda to passage. Final Senate votes are expected around 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday, and the bill would then go to the House. All told, some 70 senators appear poised to carry the bipartisan package to passage, a potentially robust tally of lawmakers eager to tap the billions in new spending for their states and to show voters back home they can deliver.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said it’s “the first time the Senate has come together around such a package in decades.” After that, the Senate will immediately launch votes on Biden’s next package — the $3.5 trillion plan that is a more strictly Democratic undertaking — beginning a debate that will extend into fall.
For now, on the the often elusive political center is holding steady on the bipartisan plan, a rare partnership with Biden’s White House. On the left, the Democrats have withstood the complaints of liberals who say the proposal falls short of what’s needed to provide a down payment on one of the president’s top priorities.
From the right, the Republicans are largely ignoring the criticism from their most conservative and far-flung voices, including a barrage of name-calling from former President Donald Trump as he tries to derail the package. Together, a sizable number of business, farm and labor groups back the package, which proposes nearly $550 billion in new spending on what are typically mainstays of federal spending — roads, bridges, broadband internet, water pipes and other public works systems that cities and states often cannot afford on their own.
“This has been a different sort of process,” said Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, the lead Republican negotiator of the group of 10 senators who drafted the package. Portman, a former White House budget director for George W. Bush, said the investments being made have been talked about for years, yet never seem to get done. He said, “We’ll be getting it right for the American people.” The top Democratic negotiator, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, said she was trying to follow the example of fellow Arizonan John McCain to “reach bipartisan agreements that try to bring the country together.”
Still, not all senators are on board, Despite the momentum, action ground to a halt over the weekend when Sen. Bill Hagerty, a Tennessee Republican allied with Trump, refused to speed up the process. Other Republican senators objected to the size, scope and financing of the package, particularly concerned after the Congressional Budget Office said it would add $256 billion to deficits over the decade.
Two Republicans, Sens. Jerry Moran of Kansas and Todd Young of Indiana, had been part of initial negotiations shaping the package but ultimately announced they could not support it. Rather than pressure lawmakers, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has stayed behind the scenes for much of the bipartisan work. He has cast his own votes repeatedly to allow the bill to progress, calling the bill a compromise.
Trump called Hagerty, who had been his ambassador to Japan, on Sunday and the senator argued for taking more time for debate and amendments, in part because he wants to slow the march toward Biden’s second phase, the $3.5 trillion bill that Republicans fully oppose. The outline for the bigger $3.5 trillion package is on deck next in the Senate — a more liberal undertaking of child care, elder care and other programs that expected to draw only Democratic support. Senators are expected Tuesday to launch a lengthy session to consider amendments to the blueprint, the start of a months-long debate on the package.
Unlike Biden’s bigger $3.5 trillion package, which would be paid for by higher tax rates for corporations and the wealthy, the bipartisan package is to be funded by repurposing other money, and with other spending cuts and revenue streams. The bill’s backers argue that the budget office’s analysis was unable to take into account certain revenue streams — including from future economic growth. Senators have spent the past week processing nearly two dozen amendments to the 2,700-page package, but so far none has substantially changed its framework.
One remaining issue, over tax compliance for cryptocurrency brokers, appeared close to being resolved after senators announced they had worked with the Treasury Department to clarify the intent. But an effort to quickly adopt the cryptocurrency compromise was derailed by senators who wanted their own amendments, including one to add $50 billion for shipbuilding and other defense infrastructure. It’s unclear if any further amendments will be adopted.
The House is expected to consider both Biden infrastructure packages when it returns from recess in September. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said the two bills will be considered together, but on Monday a bipartisan group of centrist lawmakers urged her to bring their smaller plan forward quickly, raising concerns about the bigger bill, in a sign of the complicated politics ahead.
“This once-in-a-century investment deserves its own consideration,” wrote Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., Jared Golden, D-Maine, and others in a letter obtained by The Associated Press. “We cannot afford unnecessary delays.”