Rob’s Rundown: Week of December 16 – December 20, 2019

December 20, 2019 | Rob's Rundown

This week, Senator Portman secured a number of key wins for Ohio and the country in the final FY 2020 funding measure as well as the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report. These legislative accomplishments support economic growth, job creation, and greater retirement security, support Ohio’s military installations, bolster efforts to protect our environment, including our Great Lakes, combat the addiction epidemic, make health care more affordable and accessible, and increase cybersecurity. The president signed into law both the final FY 2020 funding measure as well as the FY 2020 NDAA conference report on Friday, and Portman has several other bills now waiting for the president’s signature as well.

In addition, Senator Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor highlighting the economic benefits of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Trade Agreement, which will strengthen our economy and support American workers, farmers, and manufacturers. Portman supports the USMCA because it will create new jobs, expand opportunities for agricultural trade, encourage new opportunities for auto jobs in America, and add a new section on digital trade to make online sales easier. Portman has actively called for Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats to bring USMCA to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives and he released a statement earlier this week after a deal was reached to bring USMCA to a vote in the House.

Also, Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor praising passage of the final FY 2020 funding bill, which includes his Combating Meth & Cocaine Act. This legislation will give state and local governments greater flexibility with federal opioid funding to address the resurgence of meth and cocaine affecting our communities. Specifically, the bill expands the use of the State Opioid Response Grant funding to address rising use and overdose deaths attributed to the abuse of methamphetamine and cocaine.

Finally, in Dayton on Monday, Portman visited Promise to Hope Maternal Recovery Housing—a program that provides medication-assisted treatment for the moms, and withdrawal treatment for infants to improve health outcomes for newborns exposed to opiate drugs during the fetal period.  Following a discussion with Housing leadership, Montgomery County ADAMHS leadership, and residents, Portman toured Promise to Hope.

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

Monday, December 16, 2019

Portman, Casey Introduce SENIOR CARE Act to Ensure Working Seniors with Disabilities Keep Medicaid Coverage

Senators Rob Portman and Bob Casey introduced the bipartisan Supporting And Empowering the Nation to Improve Outcomes That Reaffirm Careers, Activities, and Recreation for the Elderly (SENIOR CARE) Act to lift the Ticket To Work Program’s Medicaid age restriction and to allow for seniors over the age of 65 to continue to work and keep their Medicaid coverage. Representatives Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Joyce Beatty (D-OH) have introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Ticket To Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 brought in new opportunities to increase workforce participation, including the ability for people with disabilities to maintain their Medicaid coverage when they accept higher-paying jobs and exceed Medicaid’s income eligibility limits.  As the largest payer in the nation for long-term services and support, Medicaid remains a vital program for supporting daily living needs for people with disabilities.  Over the past two decades, the program has allowed people with disabilities to independent and successful participants in the workforce by allowing them to continue to receive through Medicaid daily long-term care services that most employer-sponsored insurance plans do not typically cover. The 1999 law, however, capped the participation age at 65, thus preventing people with disabilities to continue to work past age 65 and retain the Medicaid coverage. The SENIOR CARE Act would remove the age limit and ensure an individual’s ability to personally decide when they would like to retire, as opposed to being forced into retirement just to keep their Medicaid coverage. 

“I believe that every disabled American over age 65 should have the opportunity to work and maintain Medicaid coverage,” Portman said. “The Ticket To Work program’s arbitrary age limit at 65 forces working disabled seniors to make an impossible choice between maintaining their independence and livelihood or their Medicaid coverage. This is unacceptable and that’s why I’m proud to work with Senator Casey to introduce this important legislation to remove this unnecessary and obsolete barrier to working seniors with disabilities.”

In Dayton, Portman Visits Promise to Hope Maternal Recovery Housing

Portman visited Promise to Hope Maternal Recovery Housing—a program that provides medication-assisted treatment for the moms, and withdrawal treatment for infants to improve health outcomes for newborns exposed to opiate drugs during the fetal period.  Following a discussion with Housing leadership, Montgomery County ADAMHS leadership, and residents, Portman toured Promise to Hope. In partnership with the Miami Valley Hospital and Montgomery County ADAMHS, Promise to Hope has received more than $75,000 in federal grant funding from the 21st Century CURES Act and subsequent State Opioid Response Grant (SOR) program, legislation Portman championed.

“I had a great visit today seeing how 21st Century CURES Act dollars are helping to fund Hope Maternal Recovery Housing. In addition, I had a productive meeting with Housing leadership, Montgomery County ADAMHS leadership, and residents,” said Portman. “The Housing leadership is making fantastic use of the grant money they were awarded, and they provide a wonderful example of how community leaders are working together to find innovative ways to address this crisis in meaningful ways. I will continue to work with local communities across Ohio to help ensure they have the support and funding they need to continue their good work.” 

Widespread Praise for Portman’s Bipartisan Eviction Crisis Act

National and Ohio based housing, civil rights, and homelessness groups have announced their strong support for Senator Portman’s new bipartisan legislation, the Eviction Crisis Act, to address the national housing crisis that is undermining the efforts of millions of Americans to rise into the middle class. The bipartisan legislation will shed light on the root causes of the eviction crisis, reduce preventable evictions, and limit the devastation to families when eviction is unavoidable. Here’s what they are saying about Portman’s bipartisan evictions legislation.

Final FY 2020 Funding Measure Includes Portman’s Combating Meth & Cocaine Act

Portman announced that the final FY 2020 funding bill includes his Combating Meth & Cocaine Act, legislation that will give states more flexibility to use federal opioid funding to address the resurgence of psychostimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine. Specifically, the bill expands the use of the State Opioid Response Grant funding to address rising use and overdose deaths attributed to the abuse of methamphetamine and cocaine. 

“When I talk to law enforcement, treatment providers and others on the frontlines of the drug crisis, I am increasingly hearing about the resurgence of methamphetamine and cocaine overdoses across Ohio,” said Portman. “I’m pleased that Congress has provided significant flexibility to support the efforts of states and local communities. Unfortunately, the State Opioid Response Grants cannot be used to combat the drug crisis beyond opioids. This legislation gives states more flexibility to use this funding to address the resurgence of methamphetamine and cocaine, which will better address the on-the-ground reality of addiction in my state and many others.”

Portman Praises Inclusion of SECURE Act in FY 2020 Funding Bill

Portman announced the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act – legislation that Portman has championed – is included in the year-end, FY 2020 bipartisan funding bill. The SECURE Act includes a set of reforms designed to help more Americans save for their retirement, including a number of incentives designed to encourage small businesses to offer retirement plans to their workers as well as an increase in the age for required minimum distributions from 70 and a half to 72. The SECURE Act also includes Portman’s Retirement Security Preservation Act, which would reform pension nondiscrimination laws to prevent more than 400,000 Americans from having their pensions frozen through no fault of their own. Several components of Portman’s bipartisan Retirement Security & Savings Actwhich he introduced with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), are also included in the SECURE Act. Portman issued the following statement: 

“Including the SECURE Act in the FY 2020 funding bill is a big victory that will help ensure that all hard-working Americans have a chance to build a nest egg for their retirement.  Many of the provisions in the SECURE Act have been under consideration by the Senate for multiple years and multiple sessions of Congress, dating all the way back to the Senate Finance Committee markup in 2016.  I’m particularly pleased that this legislation includes legislation I’ve introduced to help protect the retirement security of hundreds of thousands of dedicated older Americans who are at risk of losing future retirement benefits this year.  It also includes two provisions I’ve championed to help expand access to 401(k)s and allow individuals choosing to work later in life to keep saving for retirement. I look forward to the president signing this legislation into law quickly to strengthen the retirement security of the American people. 

“There is still more that we can do to help more Americans save for their retirement. I believe that passage of the SECURE Act can help pave the way for bolder reforms in legislation I have introduced with Senator Cardin called the Retirement Security and Savings Act. I believe the Senate Finance Committee should hold hearings and a markup on this legislation, and I will work closely with Senator Cardin to move it forward.”

Portman Announces Final FY 2020 Funding Bill Includes Funding for Cleanup and Redevelopment of Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant

Portman announced that the final FY 2020 funding bill released includes $367 million for the cleanup of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, Ohio as well as $51 million for the onsite disposal cell, which is $10 million above FY 2019 enacted levels. This funding is needed to maintain current employment levels and continue the decontamination and decommissioning work at the Portsmouth site, which is critical for redevelopment, jobs, and economic development in the region. The site is now fully funded through appropriations after the Department of Energy suspended its barter program in FY 2019, which provides more funding certainty for the site.  

The final FY 2020 funding bill also includes $40 million as part of a three-year demonstration project to produce a cascade of 16 centrifuges at the former American Centrifuge Project in Piketon to demonstrate the production of high assay low enriched uranium (HALEU). HALEU can be the fuel source for advanced nuclear reactors, technology that can be used to improve our nation’s energy security. A domestic enrichment capability is also needed for national security purposes. Portman issued the following statement: 

“The cleanup and redevelopment of this plant is critical for jobs, economic development, and the future of Southern Ohio, and this funding is another milestone in the effort to get the site cleaned up and ready for redevelopment. I’m committed to ensuring there are sufficient resources for the cleanup work at Portsmouth now and in the future. I am also pleased that the final bill includes funding for the centrifuge demonstration project, which this administration supports and agrees is necessary for our national security. I will continue to work with my colleagues and the administration to ensure this site gets cleaned up and ready for redevelopment.”

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Portman, Bipartisan Colleagues Announce Bill to Boost Great Lakes Fishery Research Funding Included in Final FY 2020 Funding Bill 

Senators Portman, Gary Peters, Debbie Stabenow and Tammy Duckworth announced that the final FY 2020 funding bill will include their bipartisan legislation to authorize Great Lakes fishery funding and help support effective fishery management decisions. The Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization (GLFRA) Act will enable the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to continue to conduct research to help support the over $7 billion Great Lakes sport and commercial fishery industries. It also will authorize the Great Lakes Science Center, which helps sustain Great Lakes fisheries and reduce threats such as invasive species and harmful algal blooms. Despite holding one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water, the Great Lakes science program does not receive the same level of funding authorization as science centers on the country’s saltwater coasts, and this legislation will help decrease the resource gap between the Great Lakes Science Center and other fishery research centers across the nation.

“The Great Lakes are an invaluable resource to Ohio, critically important to both our environment and our economy,” said Senator Portman, co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. “By authorizing the USGS’s Great Lakes Science Center for the first time, we are prioritizing the research on fish populations and invasive species used by the Great Lakes states as well as Canada to support the health and growth of our $7 billion fishing industry. The inclusion of this bill in the final FY 2020 bipartisan funding agreement will ensure we have the resources to help protect the Great Lakes for generations to come.”

Portman, Brown Announce Final FY 2020 Funding Bill Includes Extension of Health Coverage Tax Credit

Senators Portman and Brown announced that the final FY 2020 funding bill released includes a short-term extension of the Health Coverage Tax Credit through the end of 2020. This credit helps subsidize the cost of continued coverage for retirees and other individuals who lost their health care coverage — in addition to their pensions and other benefits — when their employers either entered into bankruptcy or laid off workers due to foreign trade. Earlier this year, Portman and Brown introduced bipartisan legislation that would extend for five years the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC). The HCTC is critically important for many hardworking Ohioans, including as many as 5,000 Delphi salaried retirees in Dayton, the Mahoning Valley, and Sandusky. In addition, a few hundred workers from the Lordstown General Motors plant have applied for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and would benefit from the HCTC as well.  

“Thousands of retirees in Ohio and their families depend on the Health Coverage Tax Credit, and I’m pleased the funding bill includes an extension of this credit, even if it is only for one year,” Portman said. “Since I came to the Senate, I’ve fought for multiple extensions of the HCTC, including my bill that was included in the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 the last time the credit was extended. These hardworking Ohioans rely on the HCTC for affordable health insurance after their pensions were terminated or after they were adversely affected by foreign trade, and I will continue to work with my colleagues and the administration to ensure the stability of health coverage for these individuals and their families. While this short-term extension is less than the five years I called for in my legislation with Senator Brown, I’m still pleased that we were able to prevent the expiration of this credit, providing certainty to thousands of Ohioans.”

Portman Praises Tax Extenders Package in Final FY 2020 Funding Bill

Portman praised the addition of the tax extenders package that will be included in the final FY 2020 funding bill, including the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, the New Markets Tax Credit, the Health Coverage Tax Credit, CFC Look-through, the Medical Expense Deduction, and the Craft Beverage Tax Relief. Portman has seen firsthand how these incentives help Ohio, boosting the economy, economic development, jobs, and innovation in the state. Portman released the following statement: 

“I support the ‘tax extenders’ package that will be included in the year-end funding package and I want to thank President Trump for his support for this proposal.  Many of these tax incentives – including the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, the New Markets Tax Credit, the Health Coverage Tax Credit, CFC Look-through, the Medical Expense Deduction and the Craft Beverage Tax Relief – are critical to continuing middle-class tax relief and generating more investment and economic development in Ohio. I fought to preserve them in the tax reform law because they drive more economic growth and job creation, and that’s good for our country.  

“Although I believe it was necessary to pass this extensions package to avoid the economic dislocation that would have occurred, I believe Congress must have a serious and thorough discussion next year on the future of these provisions, making permanent the ones that work for our economy and ending or phasing out the ones that are unnecessary. Too often, Congress refuses to make the hard choices with these temporary tax provisions, resulting in short-term, ineffective policy that we constantly have to revisit. I will continue to work with Chairman Grassley, my colleagues in the House and Senate, and the administration next year to help bring all sides together on a long-term agreement on these tax extenders and other fixes to the tax reform law.”

Portman Praises Senate Passage of NDAA Conference Report that Includes Funding for Wright Patterson Air Force Base’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center

Portman praised the Senate passage of the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report, which includes $120.9 million in funding to upgrade the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) located at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Last year’s NDAA conference report authorized $182 million for the modernization effort at NASIC.  This measure authorizes the remaining $120.9 million to finish construction. NASIC’s main campus facilities are overcrowded and require modernization to meet today’s missions. With significant total force growth that has outpaced their facility growth, NASIC has been forced to utilize antiquated World War II-era facilities on base and temporary structures. This investment in NASIC infrastructure will provide the command with much-needed secure spaces that meet the demands of the growing workforce and the associated information technology requirements of modern facilities. The conference report will now head to the president’s desk for signature. Portman released the following statement: 

“I am pleased the Senate passed this conference report, which supports the mission of NASIC and Wright-Patt by providing the funding they need to finish upgrading their facilities to do their important work. I believe it will make a difference to our Airmen and Air Force Civilians at Wright-Patt and to our troops around the world who rely on NASIC for accurate and timely intelligence. I’ve had the opportunity to visit the base and meet with the men and women serving in the National Air and Space Intelligence Center. I’ve seen firsthand NASIC’s most recent military construction project for their Foreign Military Exploitation mission, as well as some of the groundbreaking analysis they are doing to keep our skies and our country safe from foreign threats. However, I also saw many of our intelligence professionals performing highly technical, 21st-century work in World War II-era facilities. NASIC plays a critical role in helping the leadership of our country understand foreign threats to U.S. air and space operations and deserves modern facilities reflective of its work.”

Portman Announces Senate-Passed NDAA Conference Report Upholds Americans’ Commitment to Assisting Ukraine

Portman, co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praised the Senate passage of $300 million in security assistance to Ukraine in the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report to fund additional training, lethal and non-lethal equipment, and advisory efforts for Ukraine’s forces. This bill also includes Portman’s provisions, included in previous NDAAs, which condition large portions of U.S. security assistance on critical defense sector reforms in Ukraine, including strengthening civilian control of the military and improving sustainment capabilities, inventory management, and security of sensitive foreign technologies. The conference report now heads to the president’s desk for signature.

In May, Portman visited Ukraine to meet with newly-elected Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Ruslan Khomchak, Minister of Finance Oksana Markarova, and other Ukrainian leaders.  During his visit, Portman congratulated the new government on its peaceful, free, and fair elections, pledged continued support from the U.S. Senate, and encouraged them to continue the anti-corruption efforts and structural reforms of the economy and the military.  

“The Senate-passed NDAA conference report sends a clear message that America stands with the Ukrainian people in their struggle to secure a democratic, prosperous, and independent future in the face of Russian aggression,” said Portman. “When I was in Ukraine earlier this year, I met the new Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, General Khomchak. The Ukrainian military has fought bravely against Russian aggression in the Donbas and has made tremendous strides. I assured him that my colleagues in the Senate would make sure the Ukrainian military has the capabilities it needs to defend its sovereign territory—on the land, sea, and air. As co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, I’m glad the Senate-passed NDAA conference report will help the Ukrainians defend themselves against Russian aggression.”  

Senate Passes Portman, Heinrich, Ernst, and Schatz Amendment on Explainable Artificial Intelligence Included in NDAA Conference Report

Senators Rob Portman and Martin Heinrich, the co-founders of the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus, along with Caucus members Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), announced that the Senate passed their briefing requirement on explainable artificial intelligence (AI) that was included in the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act conference report. Explainable AI refers to artificial intelligence systems that allow human users to understand, trust, and characterize the strengths and weaknesses of the system’s decision making process. Deploying explainable AI will have profound implications for society and the economy, including the use of autonomous weapons and vehicles, as well as efforts to mitigate the bias that may result from automated decision making. This requirement included in the NDAA conference report would require the Department of Defense to brief Congress on a number of factors related to its use of explainable AI, including the extent to which the Department of Defense currently uses and prioritizes the use of explainable AI, the limitations of explainable AI, and potential roadblocks to the effective deployment of explainable AI. The conference report now heads to the president’s desk for signature.

“Explainable AI has a lot to offer. As we deploy autonomous systems, we also should understand why those systems make the decisions they do. By requiring our military to think about the uses of explainable AI, the capabilities and limitations of the technology, and the obstacles to the deployment of explainable systems, the inclusion of this requirement in the NDAA conference report is a step towards that goal,” said Senator Portman. 

Portman Praises Senate Passage of NDAA Conference Report Including Funding for Abrams Tanks and Stryker Vehicles

Portman praised Senate passage of the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report, which includes $1.7 billion in funding to upgrade 165 Abrams tanks, increasing the production of the upgraded Abrams tanks at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC) in Lima in order to ensure that our forward deployed soldiers have tanks with the most cutting-edge capabilities. The bill also includes $394 million for upgrading Stryker Vehicles and $523 million for purchasing 152 top of the line Stryker A1 Vehicles. Portman has been a strong advocate for both Lima and the Abrams and Stryker programs, ensuring that our men and women of the military have the best and most lethal weapons systems while keeping good, high-paying jobs in Lima. The conference report now heads to the president’s desk for signature. Portman released the following statement: 

“This funding is a big win for Lima and the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, which supports our troops both at home and around the globe. The newest Abrams tank is a vital investment for our soldiers to meet the realities highlighted in the latest National Defense Strategy and they come off the line at JSMC in Lima. This increased funding will ensure that more tanks are produced at Lima and get to our forward deployed soldiers. This is a significant improvement when not long ago the workforce was only funded for one tank per month. This is important for our armored formations and for Lima and its irreplaceable workforce.” 

“I am also pleased the NDAA conference report increases funding for producing Stryker A1 vehicles and upgrading older vehicles to the A1 standard. This authorization will help provide long-term stability to the industrial base and ensure our soldiers are rapidly provided with the most capable and survivable vehicle coming off the line.” 

Portman Announces Senate-Passed NDAA Conference Report Includes Amendment to Study U.S.-China Competition in Artificial Intelligence

Portman praised the Senate passage of the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report, which includes an amendment he co-authored with Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) directing the Department of Defense to provide a comparative analysis and a briefing of U.S.-China artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to Congress. The amendment directs the Secretary of Defense to undertake a comprehensive and national-level review of current trends in AI developments in both the U.S. and China, and an assessment of predicted implications to national security should the current trends continue.  It also pushes the Department to consider what types of relationships – in both the public and private sector – they need to develop in order to ensure the U.S. keeps pace with global AI development trends. The conference report now heads to the president’s desk for signature.

“As the co-chair of the Senate AI Caucus, I’m pleased my amendment to ensure we are cognizant of the threat that increased Chinese investment in and development of AI poses to our national security was included in the Senate-passed NDAA conference report. This amendment would push the Department of Defense to be forward-thinking about their investments in AI and how to strategically work with the public and private sector to develop and mature our own capabilities.”

Portman Applauds Senate Passage of NDAA Conference Report that Includes Sanctions Against North Korea

Portman applauded the Senate passage of the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report, which includes the Otto Warmbier Banking Restrictions Involving North Korea (BRINK) Act to strengthen and expand mandatory sanctions on foreign banks and companies that facilitate illicit financial transactions for North Korea. This will hold North Korea accountable for their actions and human rights abuses against Cincinnati-native Otto Warmbier as well as other illegally held prisoners. Portman traveled to the demilitarized zone between South Korea and North Korea earlier this year and invoked the memory of Otto Warmbier on several occasions, including in the demilitarized zone, with South Korean government officials, and with a North Korean defector, with whom he met to discuss North Korean human rights abuses. Portman is a cosponsor of the Otto Warmbier BRINK Act along with Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). The conference report will now head to the president’s desk for his signature.  

This bipartisan sanctions legislation will help hold North Korea accountable for their actions and human rights abuses against Cincinnati-native Otto Warmbier as well as others they’ve illegally held captive. I’m glad these sanctions were included in the NDAA conference report and we must continue to work together to confront the threat that North Korea poses. Fred and Cindy Warmbier and their family have been through so much.  I’m proud to be their friend and support their efforts to hold North Korea accountable and ensure that Otto is never forgotten.”  

Portman Announces Miners’ Pensions and Health Care Solution Included in Final FY 2020 Funding Bill

Portman announced the Bipartisan American Miners Act – which will help secure pensions and health care for 92,000 coal miners across the United States and their families – has been included in the final FY 2020 funding bill. The Bipartisan American Miners Act, which Portman cosponsored, secures lifetime health care benefits for 3,119 miners in Ohio who would have lost their benefits entirely by March, and the nearly 6,000 Ohioans whose pensions would have been reduced dramatically beginning next year. Portman released the following statement: 

“Our miners worked hard, played by the rules, and earned these health care and pension benefits, which—without this agreement—would be reduced dramatically or lost altogether. This bill gives our miners the secure health care and pension benefits they have earned, and peace of mind to their families.  This is a victory for our miners and for Ohio, and I’m proud to have worked to ensure this bipartisan solution gets done.”

Portman, Smith Announce Final FY 2020 Funding Bill Includes Their Bipartisan Revitalizing Underdeveloped Rural Areas and Lands (RURAL) Act

Senators Rob Portman and Tina Smith announced that the final FY 2020 funding bill includes their bipartisan Revitalizing Underdeveloped Rural Areas and Lands (RURAL) Act to preserve jobs and encourage infrastructure development by expanding tax-exempt cooperative organizations’ access to government grants and assistance, including rural broadband grants and FEMA disaster relief. This legislation provides certainty for co-ops looking to utilize government resources to deliver critical services to their members, such as broader access to high-speed internet or repairs to the electrical grid.

“In today’s technology-dependent world, we must do more to bring high-speed internet and stronger grid infrastructure to the rural areas of our country. Tax-exempt rural co-ops provide these important services to parts of the country where access to reliable electricity and high-speed internet is the most limited, and they rely heavily on grants to perform these services. Without this legislation, many co-ops may miss out on grant income or disaster assistance, hurting our efforts to promote economic development and job creation in these rural areas,” said Portman.

Portman, Brown Announce Final FY 2020 Funding Bill Includes Legislation to Extend Funding for Dayton’s National Aviation Heritage Area

Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown announced that the final FY 2020 funding bill released includes their legislation to reauthorize funding for Dayton’s National Aviation Heritage Area (NAHA) through September 30, 2022. 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, Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial, Huffman Prairie Flying Field, and Grimes Flying Field, as well as resources related to the Wright Brothers.

“The National Aviation Heritage Area in Dayton is home to our nation’s aviation history and I am proud the final FY 2020 funding bill includes this legislation to help ensure it is preserved and enjoyed by future generations,” said Portman. “It tells the story of the Wright Brothers’ development of the first airplane, which has led to a strong aviation industry in the region today. This site is a public-private partnership that has generated significant economic growth for the region. It supports 1,500 jobs and generates $35 million in economic impact from the more than two million visitors per year.”

Portman, Warren Applaud Senate Passage of Proposal to Enhance Financial Protections for Gold Star Spouses and Spouses of Injured Servicemembers in NDAA Conference Report

Senators Rob Portman, Elizabeth Warren, Thom Tillis, Kyrsten Sinema, Deb Fischer, Jon Tester, Martha McSally, Marsha Blackburn and Todd Young applauded the U.S. Senate’s passage of the bipartisan Gold Star Spouses and Spouses of Injured Servicemembers Leasing Relief Expansion Act as part of the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report. The conference report will now head to the president’s desk for his signature.   

Portman, Warren, Tillis, Jack Reed, and Sinema introduced the legislation in April, and Fischer and McSally joined them as co-sponsors. Representatives Cheri Bustos and Brad Wenstrup are the lead sponsors of companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“Military spouses dealing with the death or catastrophic disability of a loved one as the result of their service should have the ability to end leases without incurring high termination fees,” said Senator Portman.  “I’m glad this bipartisan bill was included in the Senate-passed NDAA conference report as it will provide much-needed relief for these families.”

Final FY 2020 Funding Bill Includes Portman, Udall Bill to Ensure Remaining Stamps to Promote Wildlife Conservation Are Sold

Senators Portman and Tom Udall announced the final FY 2020 funding bill includes their bipartisan Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semipostal Stamp Reauthorization Act, legislation which would require the U.S. Postal Service to sell the approximately 50 million remaining Saving Vanishing Species Stamps left in stock. When the program began in 2011, the U.S. Postal Service printed 100 million stamps to help promote wildlife conservation and this legislation will require the U.S. Postal Service to sell the approximately 50 million remaining stamps left in stock.  

“We owe it to our future generations to preserve our planet’s rich wildlife and natural resources so that they can continue to be enjoyed,” said Portman. “This successful stamp program has raised millions of dollars to fund conservation without any taxpayer money. I’m glad this bipartisan was included in the final funding bill and strongly urge the president to sign this legislation into law to ensure that every last stamp is sold.”

Portman, Brown Announce Final FY 2020 Funding Bill Includes $320 Million for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative 

Portman, Co-Chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, and Sherrod Brown announced that the final FY 2020 funding bill includes $320 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). GLRI is a results-driven program, and this funding ensures that it has the resources it needs to address the most serious issues that threaten the ecological and economic wellbeing of the Great Lakes basin, including invasive species, pollution, and toxic contamination. This $320 million is the largest investment in the Great Lakes’ health, ecosystem, and water quality, and has already helped combat harmful algal blooms, invasive species, and pollution in the Great Lakes.   

“The Great Lakes are an invaluable resource to Ohio, and GLRI has been a successful public-private partnership that helps protect both our environment and our economy,” said Senator Portman. “The Great Lakes are critical to Ohio’s fishing industry, provide drinking water for 40 million people, contribute billions in tourism each year, and support hundreds of thousands of jobs across the region. Funding this critical initiative at $320 million this fiscal year is a strong statement of support for the program, and I’m grateful for the backing we’ve received from the administration and my bipartisan colleagues.  I will continue to help lead efforts in the U.S. Senate to support this critical bipartisan initiative.” 

Portman, Shaheen Praise Passage of NDAA Conference Report that Includes Their Bipartisan Bill to Boost EPA Response to PFAS Passes Senate

The Senate passed the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report, which contains a bipartisan bill authored by Senators Rob Portman and Jeanne Shaheen aimed at combating exposure to emerging contaminants, such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act will improve coordination across the federal government in identifying and responding to emerging contaminants. The bill also expedites analysis of these chemicals and provides support and resources to states dealing with the health challenges posed by these potentially harmful materials. PFAS chemicals have emerged in drinking water sources in several communities across the nation, including New Hampshire and Ohio. The conference report now heads to the president’s desk for signature.

“We must ensure that our drinking water remains safe for all Ohioans, and that’s why I am pleased the Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act was included in the Senate-passed NDAA conference report today. Passage of the Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act will improve federal efforts to identify the health impacts of unregulated contaminants found in our drinking water sources,” said Portman. “This will help the federal government more efficiently and effectively analyze the impacts of, and respond to, emerging contaminants through greater coordination among federal agencies, and will provide states with the resources they need to monitor, test, and respond to potential risks posed by emerging contaminants.”

Final FY 2020 Funding Measure Includes Key Portman Priorities to Protect Great Lakes & National Parks

Portman praised the final FY 2020 funding bill that includes funding for several of his key priorities to protect the Great Lakes and National Parks: the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), the National Park Service (NPS) Centennial Challenge, the Migratory Birds of the America’s Act, the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act, the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA), and language prohibiting the Army Corps from dumping sediment dredged from the Cuyahoga River shipping channel into Lake Erie unless the State of Ohio approves that it is environmentally safe. The bill also includes his bipartisan legislation with Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), the Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization (GLFRA) Act as well as his legislation with Senator Brown (D-OH) to extend the authorization for the National Aviation Heritage Area through September 30, 2022Notably, the bill includes $320 million in funding for GLRI for FY 2020, the largest investment in the health, ecosystem, and water quality in the Great Lakes. The legislation now heads to the president’s desk for signature. Portman issued the following statement:

“I’m pleased this final FY 2020 funding bill will benefit Ohio’s national parks and Great Lakes, especially Lake Erie. I’m proud that this legislation includes the largest investment in funding for GLRI, a successful public-private partnership to protect the water quality and ecosystem of our Great Lakes. It also includes funding for several programs to protect fish populations, migratory birds, and other wildlife species that depend on the Great Lakes. I am also pleased that it extends the authorization for the National Aviation Heritage Area and includes funding for my bipartisan NPS Centennial Challenge program to ensure our national parks receive the resources they need in order to preserve our nation’s treasures for generations to come. I will continue to work to deliver results for Ohio and I look forward to the president signing this measure into law.”

Final FY 2020 Funding Bill Includes Portman Priorities to Help Vulnerable Elderly and Disabled Get Care They Need

Portman announced that the final FY 2020 funding bill includes his priorities to help vulnerable groups like the elderly and the disabled get the care they need. The package includes a five month extension for Portman’s bipartisan Money Follows the Person Program, which helps transition Medicaid beneficiaries from nursing homes to long-term care in their homes; and the Protecting Beneficiary Access to Complex Rehab Technology Act, which will remove accessories to complex wheelchairs from Medicare’s competitive bidding, and thus improve access to those accessories for wheelchair-reliant seniors. 

“I’m pleased that the final FY 2020 funding bill includes my legislation to help to ensure that the most vulnerable among us have better access to quality care,” Portman said. “The legislation helps support seniors with disabilities by improving access to vital accessories for wheelchair-reliant seniors, and it includes a five-month extension of Money Follows the Person (MFP), which helps transition Medicaid beneficiaries from nursing homes to long-term care in their homes. This extension of the program will mean that MFP can continue to support the more than 10,000 Ohioans that the program has helped to receive the home and community-based care that they need. I will continue working for a longer extension like the permanent extension Senators Grassley and Wyden included for the Money Follows the Person Program in their Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act.” 

Portman, Brown & Senate Colleagues Applaud Senate Passage of NDAA that Includes Legislation Posthumously Promoting Ohio-Native and Doolittle Raider, Lt Col Dick Cole to Col.

Senators Portman, Sherrod Brown, John Cornyn, Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz applauded the Senate passage of the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report, that includes legislation calling for the posthumous promotion of Dayton, Ohio native Lieutenant Colonel  Richard E. Cole.  This bipartisan legislation also recognizes the accomplishments, sacrifices, and legacy of Lt Col. Cole, the last of the living Doolittle Raiders until he passed away earlier this year at the age 103. The Doolittle Raiders consisted of 80 U.S. Military volunteers, commanded by Lt Col. James Doolittle, who led the first strike on mainland Japan in World War II, bolstering morale back home and changing the tide of the war in the Pacific. Lt Col. Cole served valiantly as Lt Col. James Doolittle’s co-pilot and together they led the Squadron of 16 Army Air Force bombers from the U.S.S. Hornet to Tokyo. The conference report will now head to the president’s desk for signature. 

“Dick Cole was a son of Dayton, Ohio and an American hero,” said Portman. “During a dark time in our history, he and the Doolittle Raiders launched an audacious attack that succeeded against all odds and provided a spark to the morale of the American people that carried us through to eventual victory in the Pacific.  The Doolittle Raid had a strategic effect on World War II, and flying in the lead plane as the co-pilot to Jimmy Doolittle, Dick Cole was a key factor to the mission’s success.  Dick went on to live a rich and full life and was a beloved hero to all airmen. I am proud to have led this effort to provide Dick with the recognition he so deeply deserves.”

Portman, Senate Colleagues’ Tropical Forest Conservation Reauthorization Act Included in Final FY 2020 Funding Bill

Portman. along with Senators Tom Udall, Richard Burr, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Brian Schatz, announced that the final FY 2020 funding bill includes $15 million for their bipartisan Tropical Forest Conservation Reauthorization Act (TFCA). This program has saved more than 67 million acres of tropical forest by allowing developing countries that meet certain criteria to be relieved of debt owed to the United States in exchange for their conservation efforts. To date, the TFCA program has sequestered 56 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of taking 11.8 million cars off the road. For the first time since its inception in 1998, Portman’s legislation expands TFCA to include the protection of coral reef ecosystems.  

“I’m pleased that the final FY 2020 funding bill includes $15 million for this bipartisan conservation effort which is making significant strides toward building stronger relationships with countries around the world while ensuring our natural resources are protected and preserved for the next generation,” said Senator Portman, co-chair of the International Conservation Caucus. “Since 1998, this common-sense and proven approach has protected millions of acres of tropical forest from deforestation—a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions.” 

Portman Request for $90 Million in Security Resources for Faith-Based Communities & Institutions Included in Final FY 2020 Funding Bill

Portman announced the final FY 2020 funding bill includes the $90 million he requested in December for the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), which provides grants to faith-based and other nonprofit organizations to help secure their facilities against a potential terrorist attack. Of the $90 million total, $50 million will be available for nonprofits located within high-risk urban areas, and the remaining $40 million will be available for organizations that fall outside of those areas.

“I am pleased that the final FY 2020 funding bill includes $90 million for nonprofit security grants so that synagogues, religious and cultural facilities, and other nonprofits across our country that are at a high risk of a terrorist attack have access to the resources they need to secure their facilities,” said Portman. “As we’ve seen recently, the threats to houses of worship and other religious community sites are increasing and we must do everything we can to protect them in Ohio and across our country.” 

Bipartisan Portman-Hassan Legislation to Strengthen Public and Private Sector Cybersecurity Efforts Included in Government Funding Agreement

Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Maggie Hassan to bolster cybersecurity in the public and private sector is expected to be signed into law as part of the final bipartisan budget agreement to fund the government for the next fiscal year. 

The bipartisan Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cyber Hunt and Incident Response Teams Act will require that the Department of Homeland Security make permanent “cyber hunt” and “cyber incident response” teams to work to help prevent cyberattacks at all levels of government and the private sector, and help mitigate the impact of such attacks when they occur. Local and state governments, as well as businesses, hospitals, and other entities, will be able to request assistance from the teams in the event of an attack. The bill also authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to include private sector experts on the teams in order to bring to bear their non-governmental cyber expertise. 

“Our cyber hunt and incident response teams play an important role in protecting against cyber threats, reducing cybersecurity risks, and helping to get our cyber infrastructure back up and running after an attack occurs,” Senator Portman said. “I am glad that the final FY 2020 funding bill includes our bipartisan legislation so that we can strengthen our response and recovery efforts in the event of a cyberattack.” 

Portman Announces $658 Million for CARA Grants in Final FY 2020 Funding Bill

Portman announced that the final FY 2020 funding bill includes $658 million for grants through his bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA), which became law in 2016. This funding marks the largest investment in Portman’s CARA grant program since it was enacted into law. Portman released the following statement:

I’m pleased the final FY 2020 funding bill includes the largest investment in CARA grants yet as too many Ohioans of every age continue to suffer from addiction. This $658 million will help state and local health officials, prevention experts, treatment providers, and law enforcement to work together to address this epidemic. I’m grateful for the progress that we have made in combating this epidemic thanks to CARA and will continue to make thanks to this funding and the inclusion of my Combating Meth and Cocaine legislation to give states more flexibility in how they use federal opioid funding to address the resurgence of meth and cocaine. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to make sure those on the ground, our community leaders, first responders, and family members have the support and funding they need to continue their work to fight this epidemic.”

Portman’s Bipartisan, Bicameral Effort to Establish Military Workforce of Digital Engineers Ready to be Signed Into Law

Senators Rob Portman and Martin Heinrich, along with U.S. Representatives Chrissy Houlahan and Mark Meadows, are applauding the final passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report that included key provisions of the Armed Forces Digital Advantage Act (S. 1471), a bill they introduced to modernize the Department of Defense (DoD) workforce by adding a recruitment focus and establishing military career tracks for individuals with digital expertise and software development skills.

The NDAA incorporated important provisions taken from the Armed Forces Digital Advantage Act that recognize the importance of individuals with aptitude and experience in digital expertise and software development to the armed services, and requires the Secretary of Defense to devise an implementation plan to recruit and develop digital engineering specialists. The bill also requires the Secretary of Defense to create a digital engineering capability for the development and deployment of acquisition programs and software support. The bill also requires a demonstration of digital engineering capabilities and policy guidance to promote the use of said capabilities.

"Computer science and digital engineering competency have become increasingly important for the success of the American warfighter," said Portman, co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus. "This bipartisan legislation ensures we prioritize servicemembers with digital skills and expertise and put them in roles where they can best put those unique skills to work."

Portman: Senate-Passed NDAA Conference Report Includes Wins for Ohio, Increases Troop Pay

Portman praised Senate passage the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report, which includes a number of initiatives to support Ohio’s military installations, increase troop pay, and provide additional assistance to Ukraine. He released the following statement: 

This defense bill provides needed resources to continue rebuilding our military, support our troops and increase their pay, and provide upgrades and support to Ohio’s defense installations. Our country faces significant security threats around the world, and this bipartisan legislation helps ensure that our soldiers, airmen, sailors, and Marines and Department of Defense civilians have the vital resources they need to accomplish their national security missions. Ohio is home to some of the best and brightest serving our country, and some of our nation’s premier defense installations. I’m proud of their work. This bill also takes additional steps I’ve fought for to help Ukraine defend themselves against Russian aggression. This security assistance package sends a clear message that America stands with the Ukrainian people in their struggle to secure a democratic, prosperous, and independent future.”  

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

On Bloomberg, Portman Highlights Wins for Ohio in Funding Bills & How Passing USMCA Will Strengthen Our Economy & Create Jobs

In an interview with Bloomberg’s Daybreak Americas with David Westin, Senator Rob Portman discussed the wins he helped to secure in the final FY 2020 funding bills and FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report. Among other things, Portman secured an important tax extenders package that will help small business in Ohio and boost the economy; the bipartisan SECURE Act, which includes a number of Portman’s initiatives designed to help more Americans save for their retirement; the bipartisan RURAL Act, which will help to preserve jobs and encourage infrastructure development by providing certainty to tax-exempt cooperative organizations that accept government dollars for services such as the deployment of rural broadband; and important funding for Ohio’s military installations and operations.

Senator Portman also highlighted the economic benefits of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Trade Agreement, which will strengthen our economy and support American workers, farmers, and manufacturers. Portman supports the USMCA because it will create new jobs, expand opportunities for agricultural trade, encourage new opportunities for auto jobs in America, and add a new section on digital trade to make online sales easier. Portman has actively called for Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats to bring USMCA to a vote in the House.

Finally, Senator Portman discussed the upcoming impeachment vote in the House of Representatives.  Portman has made clear that he plans to listen to both sides as a juror in the Senate, but based on what has been presented there is nothing that rises to the level of removing a president from office and the extreme measure of overturning an election. Meanwhile in Ohio, early voting in the presidential primary begins mid-February and the general election is less than a year away, so those who want to remove the president from office should do it through the democratic election process.

Excerpts of his interview can be found here and a video can be found here.

Portman, Brown Announce Senate Confirmation of Judge Matt McFarland to Serve on U.S. Federal District Court for the Southern District of Ohio

Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown announced the Senate confirmation of Judge Matt McFarland to the position of U.S. Federal District Court Judge for the Southern District of Ohio. Portman and Brown recommended the president nominate Judge McFarland for the vacancy which was created upon the retirement of Judge Thomas Rose. The Southern District has court locations in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Dayton and serves more than five million Ohioans in 48 counties.   

“I applaud the Senate for confirming Judge Matt McFarland to be the next federal judge in the Southern District,” said Portman.  “Judge McFarland has been a dedicated public servant on the state court of appeals. His esteemed reputation is well deserved and I am confident he will continue make Ohio proud with his distinguished service on the bench.”

Portman, Bipartisan Colleagues Applaud North Korea Sanctions Named After Otto Warmbier in Final NDAA Package

Senators Rob Portman, Van Hollen, Pat Toomey, and Sherrod Brown celebrated the inclusion of the Otto Warmbier North Korea Nuclear Sanctions and Enforcement Act in the final FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report. They were joined at the event by Fred and Cindy Warmbier, whose son Otto died after being imprisoned in North Korea for over a year and for whom the bill is named.  

The legislation, which is now at the President’s desk for his signature, will offer foreign banks and firms a stark choice: continue business with North Korea or maintain access to the U.S. financial system. It does this by imposing mandatory sanctions on the foreign banks and companies that facilitate illicit financial transactions for North Korea.

“This bipartisan sanctions legislation will help hold North Korea accountable for their actions and human rights abuses against Cincinnati-native Otto Warmbier as well as others they’ve illegally held captive. I’m glad these sanctions were included in the NDAA conference report and we must continue to work together to confront the threat that North Korea poses. Fred and Cindy Warmbier and their family have been through so much. I’m proud to be their friend and support their efforts to hold North Korea accountable and ensure that Otto is never forgotten,” said Senator Portman.

Senate Passes Portman, Peters Bipartisan Bill to Save Taxpayer Dollars on Federal Vehicles

Senators Rob Portman and Gary Peters applauded the Senate passage of their bipartisan bill to help save taxpayer dollars by updating policies to help federal agencies adopt electric vehicles, which are more fuel efficient than traditional gas-powered vehicles. The Charging Helps Agencies Realize General Efficiencies Act (CHARGE Act) directs the General Services Administration (GSA) to allow vehicle charge cards to be used to pay for electric vehicle recharging at commercially-available charging stations.

“If federal employees are required to pay for gas with travel charge cards, they should also be allowed to ‘fill up’ at a charging station when operating an electric vehicle,” said Senator Portman. “I'm pleased that the Senate passed this bipartisan, common-sense bill and urge the House to take it up soon.”

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Portman Praises Key Tax Incentives Passed by Senate, Ready to be Signed Into Law

Portman praised Senate passage of key tax incentives, included in the final FY 2020 funding bill, including the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, the New Markets Tax Credit, the Health Coverage Tax Credit, CFC Look-through, the Medical Expense Deduction, and the Craft Beverage Tax Relief. These tax incentives now head to the president’s desk for his signature. Portman has seen firsthand how these incentives help Ohio, boosting the economy, economic development, jobs, and innovation in the state. 

“These tax incentives are important to Ohio and I want to thank the president for his support,” said Portman. “Many of these incentives – including the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, the New Markets Tax Credit, the Health Coverage Tax Credit, CFC Look-through, the Medical Expense Deduction and the Craft Beverage Tax Relief – are critical to continuing middle-class tax relief and generating more investment and economic development in Ohio. I fought to preserve them in the tax reform law because they drive more economic growth and job creation, and that’s good for our country.  

“Although I believe it was necessary to pass this extensions package to avoid the economic dislocation that would have occurred, I believe Congress must have a serious and thorough discussion next year on the future of these provisions, making permanent the ones that work for our economy and ending or phasing out the ones that are unnecessary. Too often, Congress refuses to make the hard choices with these temporary tax provisions, resulting in short-term, ineffective policy that we constantly have to revisit. I will continue to work with Chairman Grassley, my colleagues in the House and Senate, and the administration next year to help bring all sides together on a long-term agreement on these tax extenders and other fixes to the tax reform law.”

Senate Passes Portman Priorities to Help Vulnerable Elderly and Disabled Get Care They Need

Portman (R-OH) applauded the Senate today for passing the final FY 2020 funding bill, which includes his priorities to help vulnerable groups like the elderly and the disabled get the care they need. The package includes a five-month extension for Portman’s bipartisan Money Follows the Person Program, which helps transition Medicaid beneficiaries from nursing homes to long-term care in their homes; and the Protecting Beneficiary Access to Complex Rehab Technology Act, which will remove accessories to complex wheelchairs from Medicare’s competitive bidding, and thus improve access to those accessories for wheelchair-reliant seniors. The legislation now heads to the president’s desk for his signature.

“I’m pleased that the Senate passed the final FY 2020 funding bill, which includes my legislation to help to ensure that the most vulnerable among us have better access to quality care,” Portman said. “The legislation helps support seniors with disabilities by improving access to vital accessories for wheelchair-reliant seniors, and it includes a five-month extension of Money Follows the Person (MFP), which helps transition Medicaid beneficiaries from nursing homes to long-term care in their homes. This extension of the program will mean that MFP can continue to support the more than 10,000 Ohioans that the program has helped to receive the home and community-based care that they need. I will continue working for a longer extension like the permanent extension Senators Grassley and Wyden included for the Money Follows the Person Program in their Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act.”

Portman, Brown Announce $320 Million for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to be Signed Into Law

Portman, Co-Chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today praised Senate passage of the final FY 2020 funding bill that includes $320 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). GLRI is a results-driven program, and this funding ensures that it has the resources it needs to address the most serious issues that threaten the ecological and economic wellbeing of the Great Lakes basin, including invasive species, pollution, and toxic contamination. This $320 million is the largest investment in the Great Lakes’ health, ecosystem, and water quality, and has already helped combat harmful algal blooms, invasive species, and pollution in the Great Lakes. The legislation now heads to the president’s desk for signature.  

“The Great Lakes are an invaluable resource to Ohio, and GLRI has been a successful public-private partnership that helps protect both our environment and our economy,” said Senator Portman. “The Great Lakes are critical to Ohio’s fishing industry, provide drinking water for 40 million people, contribute billions in tourism each year, and support hundreds of thousands of jobs across the region. Funding this critical initiative at $320 million this fiscal year is a strong statement of support for the program, and I’m grateful for the backing we’ve received from the administration and my bipartisan colleagues.  I will continue to help lead efforts in the U.S. Senate to support this critical bipartisan initiative.” 

Portman Solution to Miners’ Pensions and Health Care to be Signed Into Law

Portman today announced that the Senate passed the final FY 2020 funding package, which includes the Bipartisan American Miners Act to help secure pensions and health care for 92,000 coal miners across the United States, and their families. The Bipartisan American Miners Act, which Portman cosponsored, secures lifetime health care benefits for 3,119 miners in Ohio who would have lost their benefits entirely by March, and the nearly 6,000 Ohioans whose pensions would have been reduced dramatically beginning next year. The legislation now heads to the president’s desk for signature.

“Our miners worked hard, played by the rules, and earned these health care and pension benefits, which—without this agreement—would be reduced dramatically or lost altogether,” said Portman. “I’m pleased that the Senate has passed this legislation to give our miners the secure health care and pension benefits they have earned, and peace of mind to their families.  This is a victory for our miners and for Ohio, and I’m proud to have worked to ensure this bipartisan solution gets done.

Portman, Brown Praise Senate Passage of Extension of Health Coverage Tax Credit

Portman and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) praised Senate passage of the final FY 2020 funding bill which included a short-term extension of the Health Coverage Tax Credit through the end of 2020. This credit helps subsidize the cost of continued coverage for retirees and other individuals who lost their health care coverage — in addition to their pensions and other benefits — when their employers either entered into bankruptcy or laid off workers due to foreign trade. Earlier this year, Portman and Brown introduced bipartisan legislation that would extend for five years the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC). The HCTC is critically important for many hardworking Ohioans, including as many as 5,000 Delphi salaried retirees in Dayton, the Mahoning Valley, and Sandusky. In addition, a few hundred workers from the Lordstown General Motors plant have applied for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and would benefit from the HCTC as well. The legislation now heads to the president’s desk for signature. 

Thousands of retirees in Ohio and their families depend on the Health Coverage Tax Credit, and I’m pleased the funding bill includes an extension of this credit, even if it is only for one year,” Portman said. “Since I came to the Senate, I’ve fought for multiple extensions of the HCTC, including my bill that was included in the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 the last time the credit was extended. These hardworking Ohioans rely on the HCTC for affordable health insurance after their pensions were terminated or after they were adversely affected by foreign trade, and I will continue to work with my colleagues and the administration to ensure the stability of health coverage for these individuals and their families. While this short-term extension is less than the five years I called for in my legislation with Senator Brown, I’m still pleased that we were able to prevent the expiration of this credit, providing certainty to thousands of Ohioans.”

Portman, Bennet Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Tackle the Eviction Crisis

Senators Portman and Michael Bennet introduced the Eviction Crisis Act to address the national housing crisis crippling millions of Americans who are struggling to rise into the middle class. The bipartisan legislation will shed light on the root causes of the eviction crisis, reduce preventable evictions, and limit the devastation to families when eviction is unavoidable. 

“Stable housing is a vital part of getting people back on their feet. I’ve long worked on efforts to address homelessness and increase the supply of housing and I’m proud to partner with Senator Bennet on this new bipartisan initiative. This legislation will help prevent avoidable evictions, reduce homelessness, and make it easier for people to escape poverty by keeping a roof over their heads,” said Senator Portman.

$658 Million for CARA Grants in Final FY 2020 Funding Bill to be Signed Into Law

Portman announced the Senate passage of the final FY 2020 funding bill, which includes $658 million for grants through his bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA) that became law in 2016. This funding marks the largest investment in Portman’s CARA grant program since it was enacted into law. The legislation now heads to the president’s desk for signature.  

As Ohioans of every age continue to suffer from addiction, I’m pleased that we have been able to continue increasing CARA funding that is making a real difference in our communities,” said Portman.This $658 million will help state and local health officials, prevention experts, treatment providers, and law enforcement to work together to address this epidemic. I’m grateful for the progress that we have made in combating this epidemic thanks to CARA and will continue to make thanks to this funding and the inclusion of my Combating Meth and Cocaine legislation to give states more flexibility in how they use federal opioid funding to address the resurgence of meth and cocaine. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to make sure those on the ground, our community leaders, first responders, and family members have the support and funding they need to continue their work to fight this epidemic.”

SECURE ACT Retirement Security Reforms Championed by Portman Ready To Be Signed Into Law

Portman today announced the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act passed the Senate as a part of the final FY 2020 funding bill and will be signed into law. The SECURE Act includes reforms sponsored by Portman designed to help more Americans save for their retirement, including marquee provisions to encourage small businesses to offer retirement plans to their workers, ensure millions of part-time employees can access 401(k) plans, and increase the age for required minimum distributions from 70 and a half to 72. The SECURE Act also includes Portman’s Retirement Security Preservation Act, which would reform pension nondiscrimination laws to prevent more than 400,000 Americans from having their pensions frozen in January.  Additional provisions in the bipartisan Retirement Security & Savings Actwhich Portman introduced with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), are also included in the SECURE Act. The legislation now heads to the president’s desk for signature. 

“Passing the SECURE Act is a big victory that will help ensure that all hard-working Americans have a chance to build a nest egg for their retirement,” said Portman. “Many of the provisions in the SECURE Act have been under consideration by the Senate for multiple years and multiple sessions of Congress, dating all the way back to the Senate Finance Committee markup in 2016.  I’m particularly pleased that this legislation includes legislation I’ve introduced to help protect the retirement security of hundreds of thousands of dedicated older Americans who are at risk of losing future retirement benefits this year. It also includes two provisions I’ve championed to help expand access to 401(k)s and allow individuals choosing to work later in life to keep saving for retirement. I look forward to the president signing this legislation into law quickly to strengthen the retirement security of the American people. 

“There is still more that we can do to help more Americans save for their retirement. I believe that passage of the SECURE Act can help pave the way for bolder reforms in legislation I have introduced with Senator Cardin called the Retirement Security and Savings Act. I believe the Senate Finance Committee should hold hearings and a markup on this legislation, and I will work closely with Senator Cardin to move it forward.”

Portman, Brown Legislation to Extend Funding for Dayton’s National Aviation Heritage Area to be Signed Into Law

Portman and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced the Senate passage of the final FY 2020 funding bill, which includes their legislation to reauthorize funding for Dayton’s National Aviation Heritage Area (NAHA) through September 30, 2022. 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, Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial, Huffman Prairie Flying Field, and Grimes Flying Field, as well as resources related to the Wright Brothers.

“The National Aviation Heritage Area in Dayton is home to our nation’s aviation history and I am proud the Senate-passed FY 2020 funding bill includes this legislation to help ensure it is preserved and enjoyed by future generations,” said Portman. “It tells the story of the Wright Brothers’ development of the first airplane, which has led to a strong aviation industry in the region today. This site is a public-private partnership that has generated significant economic growth for the region.

Portman, Udall Bill to Ensure Remaining Stamps to Promote Wildlife Conservation Are Sold to be Signed Into Law

Portman and Tom Udall (D-NM) announced the Senate passage of the final FY 2020 funding bill, which includes their bipartisan Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semipostal Stamp Reauthorization Act, legislation that requires the U.S. Postal Service to sell the approximately 50 million remaining Saving Vanishing Species Stamps left in stock. When the program began in 2011, the U.S. Postal Service printed 100 million stamps to help promote wildlife conservation and this legislation will require the U.S. Postal Service to sell the approximately 50 million remaining stamps left in stock. The legislation now heads to the president’s desk for signature. 

“We owe it to our future generations to preserve our planet’s rich wildlife and natural resources so that they can continue to be enjoyed,” said Portman. “This successful stamp program has raised millions of dollars to fund conservation without any taxpayer money. I’m pleased the Senate has now approved this legislation, which will ensure that every last stamp is sold.”

Key Portman Priorities to Protect Great Lakes & National Parks to be Signed Into Law

Portman (R-OH) praised the passage of the final FY 2020 funding bill that includes funding for several of his key priorities to protect the Great Lakes and National Parks: the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), the National Park Service (NPS) Centennial Challenge, the Migratory Birds of the America’s Act, the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act, the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA), and language prohibiting the Army Corps from dumping sediment dredged from the Cuyahoga River shipping channel into Lake Erie unless the State of Ohio approves that it is environmentally safe. The bill also includes his bipartisan legislation with Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), the Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization (GLFRA) Act as well as his legislation with Senator Brown (D-OH) to extend the authorization for the National Aviation Heritage Area through September 30, 2022Notably, the bill includes $320 million in funding for GLRI for FY 2020, the largest investment in the health, ecosystem, and water quality in the Great Lakes. The legislation now heads to the president’s desk for signature. Portman issued the following statement:

“This bipartisan legislation will benefit Ohio’s national parks and Great Lakes, especially Lake Erie,” said Portman. “I’m proud that this bill includes the largest investment in funding for GLRI, a successful public-private partnership to protect the water quality and ecosystem of our Great Lakes. It also includes funding for several programs to protect fish populations, migratory birds, and other wildlife species that depend on the Great Lakes. I am also pleased that it extends the authorization for the National Aviation Heritage Area and includes funding for my bipartisan NPS Centennial Challenge program to ensure our national parks receive the resources they need in order to preserve our nation’s treasures for generations to come. I will continue to work to deliver results for Ohio and I look forward to the president signing this measure into law.”

Portman Applauds Senate Passage of $90 Million in Security Resources for Faith-Based Communities & Institutions Included in Final FY 2020 Funding Bill

Portman today announced the Senate-passed final FY 2020 funding bill includes the $90 million he requested in December for the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), which provides grants to faith-based and other nonprofit organizations to help secure their facilities against a potential terrorist attack. Of the $90 million total, $50 million will be available for nonprofits located within high-risk urban areas, and the remaining $40 million will be available for organizations that fall outside of those areas. The legislation now heads to the president’s desk for signature.

“I am pleased that the Senate passed the final FY 2020 funding bill, which includes $90 million for nonprofit security grants so that synagogues, religious and cultural facilities, and other nonprofits across our country that are at a high risk of a terrorist attack have access to the resources they need to secure their facilities,” said Portman. “As we’ve seen recently, the threats to houses of worship and other religious community sites are increasing and we must do everything we can to protect them in Ohio and across our country.” 

Portman, Smith Bipartisan Revitalizing Underdeveloped Rural Areas and Lands (RURAL) Act to be Signed Into Law

Portman and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that the Senate passed the final FY 2020 funding bill that includes their bipartisan Revitalizing Underdeveloped Rural Areas and Lands (RURAL) Act to preserve jobs and encourage infrastructure development by expanding tax-exempt cooperative organizations’ access to government grants and assistance, including rural broadband grants and FEMA disaster relief. This legislation provides certainty for co-ops looking to utilize government resources to deliver critical services to their members, such as broader access to high-speed internet or repairs to the electrical grid. The legislation now heads to the president’s desk for signature.

“I’m pleased that this bipartisan legislation will now head to the president’s desk to be signed into law because in today’s technology-dependent world, we must do more to bring high-speed internet and stronger grid infrastructure to the rural areas of our country. Tax-exempt rural co-ops provide these important services to parts of the country where access to reliable electricity and high-speed internet is the most limited, and they rely heavily on grants to perform these services. Without this legislation, many co-ops may miss out on grant income or disaster assistance, hurting our efforts to promote economic development and job creation in these rural areas,” said Portman.

Portman’s Combating Meth & Cocaine Act to be Signed Into Law

Portman announced that the Senate passed the final FY 2020 funding package including Portman’s bipartisan Combating Meth & Cocaine Act, legislation that will give states more flexibility to use federal opioid funding to address the resurgence of psychostimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine. Specifically, the bill expands the use of the State Opioid Response Grant funding to address rising use and overdose deaths attributed to the abuse of methamphetamine and cocaine. The legislation now heads to the president’s desk for his signature.

“When I talk to law enforcement, treatment providers and others on the frontlines of the drug crisis, I am increasingly hearing about the resurgence of methamphetamine and cocaine overdoses across Ohio,” said Portman. “This legislation will give states more flexibility to use federal opioid funding to address the resurgence of methamphetamine and cocaine, which will better address the on-the-ground reality of addiction in my state and many others.”

Portman Praises Senate Passage of Funding for Cleanup and Redevelopment of Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant

Portman (R-OH) announced that the final FY 2020 funding bill passed today includes $367 million for the cleanup of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, Ohio as well as $51 million for the onsite disposal cell, which is $10 million above FY 2019 enacted levels. This funding is needed to maintain current employment levels and continue the decontamination and decommissioning work at the Portsmouth site, which is critical for redevelopment, jobs, and economic development in the region. The site is now fully funded through appropriations after the Department of Energy suspended its barter program in FY 2019, which provides more funding certainty for the site.  

The final FY 2020 funding bill also includes $40 million as part of a three-year demonstration project to produce a cascade of 16 centrifuges at the former American Centrifuge Project in Piketon to demonstrate the production of high assay low enriched uranium (HALEU). HALEU can be the fuel source for advanced nuclear reactors, technology that can be used to improve our nation’s energy security. A domestic enrichment capability is also needed for national security purposes. The legislation now heads to the president’s desk for signature. Portman issued the following statement: 

“The cleanup and redevelopment of this plant is critical for jobs, economic development, and the future of Southern Ohio, and this funding is another milestone in the effort to get the site cleaned up and ready for redevelopment. I’m committed to ensuring there are sufficient resources for the cleanup work at Portsmouth now and in the future. I am also pleased that the legislation passed today includes funding for the centrifuge demonstration project, which this administration supports and agrees is necessary for our national security. I will continue to work with my colleagues and the administration to ensure this site gets cleaned up and ready for redevelopment.”

Portman, Senate Colleagues’ Applaud Senate Passage of Tropical Forest Conservation Reauthorization Act Included in Final FY 2020 Funding Bill

Portman, along with Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Richard Burr (R-NC), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Brian Schatz (D-HI), announced that the Senate passed the final FY 2020 funding bill, which includes $15 million for their bipartisan Tropical Forest Conservation Reauthorization Act (TFCA). This program has saved more than 67 million acres of tropical forest by allowing developing countries that meet certain criteria to be relieved of debt owed to the United States in exchange for their conservation efforts. To date, the TFCA program has sequestered 56 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of taking 11.8 million cars off the road. For the first time since its inception in 1998, Portman’s legislation expands TFCA to include the protection of coral reef ecosystems.  The legislation now heads to the president’s desk for signature. 

“I’m pleased that the Senate passed the final FY 2020 funding bill, which includes $15 million for this bipartisan conservation effort which is making significant strides toward building stronger relationships with countries around the world while ensuring our natural resources are protected and preserved for the next generation,” said Senator Portman, co-chair of the International Conservation Caucus. “Since 1998, this common-sense and proven approach has protected millions of acres of tropical forest from deforestation—a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions.” 

Portman, Udall, Stabenow Introduce Legislation to Restore America’s National Forests

Portman, Tom Udall (D-NM), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced the Reforestation Act of 2019 to bolster funding for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to address its backlog of planting needs by carrying out reforestation projects in forests damaged by events such as wildfires, insects and disease.  

Given the Forest Service’s reforestation backlog, the new bipartisan bill would double funding from the Reforestation Trust Fund to $60 million per year. The purpose of the Reforestation Trust Fund is to address USFS replanting needs.  It would also direct USFS to quantify the backlog of replanting needs, reduce delays by expanding stewardship contracting, and encourage state and Tribal partnership.  Among other associated activities, reforestation includes planting tree seedlings on forests that are unlikely to regenerate on their own in order to reestablish native plants and ensure the health of ecosystems, habitats, and wildlife populations that depend on the forestland. Replanting forests is also an effective way to increase natural carbon sequestration to reduce emissions, create jobs, and support natural ecosystems. Ensuring healthy forests also helps create jobs and recreational opportunities.  Ohio’s only national forest, the Wayne National Forest, has received $378,000 from the Reforestation Trust Fund since FY 2015 to address its reforestation needs.

“I am pleased to join Senators Udall and Stabenow in introducing this bipartisan legislation to address the reforestation needs within our federal forests. With 1.3 million acres of forest in need of replanting, addressing this backlog provides a wide range of benefits, including sequestering as much as 1.1 million metric tons of carbon emissions, reinvigorating the ecosystems and native plant and animal species that depend on healthy forests, and creating jobs and recreation opportunities on our forestland. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this common-sense, bipartisan legislation to address the reforestation backlog in our nation’s forests,” said Portman.

Portman Praises Senate Passage of Funding to Boost Great Lakes Fishery Research, Ready to be Signed into Law

Portman applauded the Senate for passing the final FY 2020 funding bill, which includes bipartisan legislation he introduced with Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) to authorize Great Lakes fishery funding and help support effective fishery management decisions. The Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization (GLFRA) Act will enable the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to continue to conduct research to help support the over $7 billion Great Lakes sport and commercial fishery industries. It also will authorize the Great Lakes Science Center, which helps sustain Great Lakes fisheries and reduce threats such as invasive species and harmful algal blooms. Despite holding one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water, the Great Lakes science program does not receive the same level of funding authorization as science centers on the country’s saltwater coasts, and this legislation will help decrease the resource gap between the Great Lakes Science Center and other fishery research centers across the nation. The legislation now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

“The Great Lakes are an invaluable resource to Ohio, critically important to both our environment and our economy,” said Senator Portman, co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. “By authorizing the USGS’s Great Lakes Science Center for the first time, we are prioritizing the research on fish populations and invasive species used by the Great Lakes states as well as Canada to support the health and growth of our $7 billion fishing industry. The inclusion of this bill in the final FY 2020 bipartisan funding agreement ensures we will have the resources to help protect the Great Lakes for generations to come and I urge the president to sign it into law soon.”

Senate Passes Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Increase Security Resources for Faith-Based Institutions & Nonprofit Organizations

Portman, Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), and Representative Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, today applauded the Senate passage of legislation (H.R. 2476) authorizing $75 million annually for FYs 2020-2024 for the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), which provides grants to nonprofits and faith-based organizations to help secure their facilities against a potential terrorist attack.  This bill, sponsored by Rep. Thompson,  is the companion to Portman and Peters’ bipartisan bill, the Protecting Faith-Based and Nonprofit Organizations From Terrorism Act (S. 1539).  Of the $75 million total, $50 million will be available for nonprofits located within high-risk urban areas, and the remaining $25 million will be available for organizations that fall outside of those areas. Under the legislation, funding may be used for target-hardening activities, training for personnel, and any other appropriate activity, as defined by the FEMA Administrator. The text of the bill is here. 

“Ensuring that synagogues, religious and cultural institutions, and nonprofit organizations have the resources and training they need to secure their facilities is one way Congress can help address this unnecessary violence that has tragically become more and more common,” said Senator Portman. “As I’ve said many times, there is no place for hatred or bigotry of any kind toward our fellow citizens. The threats and senseless attacks we’ve seen across our country are attacks on our values and this bipartisan legislation will help protect faith and cultural based institutions in Ohio and across our country.”

Senate Passes Bipartisan Portman-Hassan Legislation to Strengthen Public and Private Sector Cybersecurity Efforts, Ready to be Signed Into Law

Bipartisan legislation introduced by Portman and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) to bolster cybersecurity in the public and private sector is ready to be signed into law as part of the final FY 2020 budget agreement to fund the government for the next fiscal year. 

The bipartisan Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cyber Hunt and Incident Response Teams Act will require that the Department of Homeland Security make permanent “cyber hunt” and “cyber incident response” teams to work to help prevent cyberattacks at all levels of government and the private sector, and help mitigate the impact of such attacks when they occur. Local and state governments, as well as businesses, hospitals, and other entities, will be able to request assistance from the teams in the event of an attack. The bill also authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to include private sector experts on the teams in order to bring to bear their non-governmental cyber expertise. 

“Our cyber hunt and incident response teams play an important role in protecting against cyber threats, reducing cybersecurity risks, and helping to get our cyber infrastructure back up and running after an attack occurs,” Senator Portman said. “I am glad that our bipartisan legislation passed today so that we can strengthen our response and recovery efforts in the event of a cyberattack.”

On Senate Floor, Portman Highlights USMCA as Victory for the American People

Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor highlighting the economic benefits of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Trade Agreement, which will strengthen our economy and support American workers, farmers, and manufacturers. Portman supports the USMCA because it will create new jobs, expand opportunities for agricultural trade, encourage new opportunities for auto jobs in America, and add a new section on digital trade to make online sales easier. Portman has actively called for Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats to bring USMCA to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives and he released a statement earlier this week after a deal was reached to bring USMCA to a vote in the House.

“[USMCA] is a good agreement, good for jobs, good for small business…good for farmers, good for workers, good for our economy. It’s important we get it done,” said Portman. “I’m glad that the House is going to go ahead and vote on it here in the next week. I wish we could vote here in the Senate right away, too, but under the process called Trade Promotion Authority, we do have some process we need to go through so probably best to have it happen after the holidays. But right after the holidays my hope is that here on the floor of the United States Senate that members look at this for what it is. This is not a Democrat or a Republican victory. This is an American victory. And again I appreciate the efforts of President Donald Trump because he was persistent and tough in the negotiation and then he was persistent and patient in working with the U.S. Congress…And as a result, we now have the ability on a bipartisan basis to get this done.” 

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

On Senate Floor, Portman Highlights Senate Passage of His Combating Meth & Cocaine Act

Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor praising passage of the final FY 2020 funding bill, which includes his Combating Meth & Cocaine Act. This legislation will give state and local governments greater flexibility with federal opioid funding to address the resurgence of meth and cocaine affecting our communities. Specifically, the bill expands the use of the State Opioid Response Grant funding to address rising use and overdose deaths attributed to the abuse of methamphetamine and cocaine. Progress is being made in Ohio and nationwide in reducing overdose death rates due in part to some of his legislative priorities like his Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA), the 21st Century CURES Act, and the STOP Act, but overdose death rates for certain drugs like fentanyl, psychostimulants like methamphetamine, and cocaine have all continued to rise. The legislation now heads to the president’s desk for his signature.

Transcript of his remarks can be found here and a video can be found here.

Portman Statement on Phase One Trade Agreement With China

Portman issued the following statement on the announcement of a phase one trade agreement between the United States and China: 

“I’m encouraged by the news that the Trump administration has reached an agreement in principle with China on a phase one trade pact. I applaud President Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer for their resolve and steadfast efforts to ensure our workers have a level playing field with China and protect the interests of the American people. This week, between the USMCA and this tentative trade agreement, we have demonstrated that America is a partner that can get to yes on a challenging trade agreement. While I look forward to reviewing the specifics, this is a promising step towards addressing the inequities and imbalances in our trade relationship with China. I’m pleased to see that tariffs and penalties will be reduced as a part of this agreement. However, if China does not comply with this agreement, the administration has the ability to reapply tariffs.  I will continue to work with the administration and support their efforts to fight for American workers and strengthen our economy.”

Friday, December 20, 2019

Portman, Brown Applaud Senate Passage of Fallen Warrior Battlefield Cross Memorial Act

Portman and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) applauded the Senate passage of the Fallen Warrior Battlefield Cross Memorial Act, legislation that allows fallen heroes to be honored at their gravesite with a replica of the Battlefield Cross. The Battlefield Cross is a memorial marker typically consisting of a soldier’s helmet, rifle, identification tag, and pair of boots that serves to honor and respect servicemembers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Representative Anthony Gonzalez’ (R-OH) companion legislation passed the House of Representatives in November. The legislation now heads to the president’s desk for signature.

“The Battlefield Cross is an important symbol of the service and sacrifice of thousands of fallen American heroes both in combat zones and here at home,” said Portman. “I am pleased the Senate passed this legislation to help ensure that veterans buried in Ohio and around the country can be properly honored with the Battlefield Cross. These memorials stand as a constant reminder of the cost of our freedom and I urge the president to sign this legislation quickly.”

Senate Passes Portman Bill to Improve Federal Procurement, Save Taxpayer Dollars

Portman applauded the Senate passage of his bipartisan Construction Consensus Procurement Improvement Act, which prohibits the use of reverse auctions to ensure federal construction projects are done in the most cost-effective manner. Portman issued the following statement: 

“The federal government needs to work better for the American people and my bipartisan Construction Consensus Procurement Improvement is a big step in that direction. This legislation will make sure that federally-funded construction projects are competitive both for cost and quality. American taxpayers deserve a streamlined, less costly and more accountable federal government and passage of this bill will help to ensure that. I urge the House to pass this common-sense legislation quickly.”

Portman, Brown, Turner, Beatty Letter Urges House & Senate Appropriations Committee Leaders to Extend Funding for Dayton’s National Aviation Heritage Area

U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown and Representatives Michael Turner and Joyce Beatty sent a letter to U.S. Senators Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, and U.S. Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Kay Granger (R-TX), Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Appropriations, requesting the inclusion of an authorization to extend Dayton’s National Aviation Heritage Area (NAHA) in the final appropriations package for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. Senators Portman and Brown recently introduced legislation to reauthorize funding for Dayton’s National Aviation Heritage Area (NAHA) through FY2022.

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, and Grimes Flying Field, as well as resources related to the Wright Brothers.

“The National Aviation Heritage Area has over 2 million visitors per year, generating $35 million dollars in economic impact and supporting 1,500 jobs in the area. Additionally, the National Aviation Heritage Alliance, the management entity of the National Aviation Heritage Area, has consistently exceeded the overall 50 percent match requirement,” the Members wrote. “We therefore urge you to include a reauthorization of the National Aviation Heritage Area in a final appropriations package so that it can continue to be a successful public-private partnership that preserves America’s aviation heritage and enriches local communities through economic development and education.

As of April 2018, the National Aviation Heritage Area has more than two million visitors annually, generating $35 million in economic impact and supporting 1,500 jobs in the region.

 

Read the full letter here.

Portman, Brown Release Video Alerting Ohioans of REAL ID October 2020 Deadline

Senators Portman and Brown released a joint video informing Ohioans of the upcoming October 1, 2020 deadline to obtain a REAL ID to travel domestically as well as enter any federal building or military installation that requires an ID. The REAL ID is a federally compliant state ID card as required by the REAL ID Act, which was passed by Congress in 2005 and enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.”  

To obtain a REAL ID at Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle (BMV) locations, Ohioans will need to prove the following: full legal name, date of birth, proof of U.S. legal presence, Social Security number, proof of address, legal name change (if applicable). 

Watch the video here.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

 

 

U.S. Senate to pass defense bill full of Ohio measures

The U.S. Senate is expected this week to sign off on a $738 billion defense policy bill that would create a new “Space Force” sought by President Donald Trump, boost service member pay by over 3 percent, and authorize dozens of priorities sought by Ohio members of Congress.

Trump said the Space Force will join the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard as a sixth branch of the military and “will be a very important component of our defense and, frankly, our offense, and it’ll be very important for our country.”

The measure also repeals the so-called “Widow’s tax,” which prevents the family of a fallen service member from receiving full benefits from the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and gives federal workers including members of the military 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a newborn or adopted child.

Closer to home, the bill provides billions of dollars for Abrams Tanks and Stryker Vehicles built at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC) in Lima, construction of a new National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Dayton’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, new sanctions against opioid traffickers from countries like China and Mexico, as well as sanctions against North Korea named after Ohio’s Otto Warmbier, who died after being held prisoner in North Korea.

Ohio’s U.S. Senators, Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Rob Portman, have announced they’ll vote for it. Last week, the House of Representatives passed the bill in a 377 to 48 vote with backing from all Ohio’s members.

Portman said the bill will strengthen and expand mandatory sanctions on foreign banks and companies that facilitate illicit financial transactions for North Korea, holding the country accountable for its actions and human rights abuses against Warmbier, a Cincinnati native, as well as other illegally held prisoners.

“It’s important we send a clear signal that the U.S. is serious about maintaining economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program, and to stop its continuing human rights abuses like those that took the life of Otto Warmbier,” said a statement from Brown, who worked on the legislation with Portman.

Brown also said he was pleased the bill included language to require the Department of Defense to evaluate service members for toxic exposure to open air burn pits when they get medical exams, and increasing the requirements on the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to track and evaluate service members’ health when they have been exposed to burn pits.

He said the bill will also overturn a Department of Defense policy that would have kept service members with more than 16 years of military service from transferring education benefits to their eligible dependents. It also contains language sought by Brown that would would prevent federal funds from being used by transit agencies to purchase rail cars or buses manufactured by Chinese owned, controlled, or subsidized companies, and language securing defense research dollars for Historically Black Colleges and Universities like Ohio’s Wilberforce and Central State universities.

The bill also includes language sought by Ohio legislators to monitor contamination of PFAS chemicals found in the groundwater near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and other military facilities around the country. It bans the Defense Department from using firefighting agents containing PFAS by 2024, and immediately bans PFAS use in training. It also authorizes the Defense Department to provide alternative water to farmers whose waters are contaminated by PFAS.

Dayton Republican Rep. Mike Turner said the bill contains a provision that directs the Secretary of Defense to enter into agreements with municipalities or municipal drinking water utilities adjacent to military installations under which both the Secretary and the municipalities and utilities would share monitoring data relating to perfluoroalkyl substances, polyfluoroalkyl substances, and other emerging contaminants of concern collected at the military installation.

Turner praised the bill for improving the safety requirements for windows in military housing to keep children from falling out. Since learning of the death of a boy who died after falling out of a military housing window in Hawaii, Turner has been trying to improve safety standards for children living on military bases.

Niles Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan said he was pleased the bill authorized purchase of four C-130J aircraft that he hopes will be based at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station. Ryan said the Defense Department will probably decide where to allocate the planes sometime next year. He said he’d use his post on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee to advocate for the planes to be based in Youngstown.

He said the bill also includes language designed to fight price gouging of the sort that Cleveland-based TransDigm has been accused of committing. The bill would require military contractors to comply with requests to provide their cost and pricing data or face potential ineligibility for contracts. A Defense Department Inspector General’s report found the company overcharged taxpayers by $16.1 million on $26.2 million in contracts between January 2015 and January 2017.

(U.S. Senate to pass defense bill full of Ohio measures. Cleveland.com. December 17, 2019)

 

Defense bill passes Senate, boosting $182M Wright-Patt project

A $182 million expansion project at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base received a boost Tuesday with the passage of a massive defense bill in the U.S. Senate.

By a vote of 86-8, senators approved the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report. The $738 billion defense legislation, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week, now heads to President Donald Trump's desk for his signature. In a recent tweet, Trump stated he would "sign this historic legislation immediately."

Like the House bill, the Senate-passed NDAA includes authorization of the remaining $120.9 million for an expansion of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) at Wright-Patt. The remaining funds authorized under the new NDAA will allow construction to be completed.

The NASIC project includes a new 255,000-square-foot facility known as the "Intelligence Production Complex, which would expand the NASIC campus by 40 percent. The expansion has been described as the largest single-site construction project in the history of Wright-Patt.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said the effort will modernize NASIC’s "overcrowded and outdated" campus facilities to meet the demands of today’s missions. With significant workforce growth that has outpaced facility growth — an average increase of 100 new workers annually over a 15-year period — NASIC has been forced to utilize "antiquated World War II era facilities on base and temporary structures," according to Portman.

“I am pleased the Senate passed this conference report, which supports the mission of NASIC and Wright-Patt by providing the funding they need to finish upgrading their facilities to do their important work," Portman stated. "I believe it will make a difference to our airmen and Air Force civilians at Wright-Patt and to our troops around the world who rely on NASIC for accurate and timely intelligence."

Portman has long advocated for the NASIC project, as have other local politicians. In September, Portman and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter to NDAA conferees, urging them to include the remaining funds in the final conference report. Portman also visited Wright-Patt in August, where he met with Air Force leaders who oversee NASIC and the F-35 Hybrid Product Support Integrator program.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (R-Dayton), an NDAA conferee, also expressed his support for the NASIC project. He and a majority of his Congressional colleagues voted in favor of the legislation last Wednesday.

"As a conferee negotiating the final details of this year’s defense bill, I advocated relentlessly for and was able to authorize $120.9 million in additional funding for the largest expansion project in Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s history," Turner stated previously. “One of the most important jobs I have as a member of Congress is supporting our troops. I strongly support this year’s defense bill to provide the necessary funding for our troops to continue to keep us safe."

(Defense bill passes Senate, boosting $182M Wright-Patt project. Dayton Business Journal. December 17, 2019)

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