Rob’s Rundown: Week of February 11 – February 15, 2019

February 15, 2019 | Rob's Rundown

Senator Portman supported for the bipartisan funding agreement to strengthen border security and avoid another government shutdown, which also included full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative that he fought to secure. Portman also took steps to preserve and protect our national parks this week by reintroducing his bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act. The legislation would address the nearly $12 billion backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects at the National Park Service (NPS).  Portman spoke about the legislation on the Senate floor Thursday night urging his colleagues to support it.  Portman also secured two of his key legislative priorities, the Migratory Birds OF Americans Conservation Act and legislation ensuring the stable funding for the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, as part of the bipartisan public lands bill that passed the Senate.

In addition, Portman received the National Education Service Award from the National Association of Community Colleges for his legislative efforts to pass the JOBS Act, bipartisan legislation to help close the skills gap and help more Americans finding meaningful employment. Finally, Portman hosted a reception in Columbus to honor the young men and women he nominated for entry into the U.S. Military Service Academies.  

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

Saturday, February 9 

Portman Congratulates Service Academy Nominees & Families

Portman delivered remarks at his reception to congratulate the Class of 2019 Service Academy nominees and their families.  He also thanked the Adjutant General of Ohio, Major General Harris, for hosting the ceremony at the Ohio National Guard Headquarters, as well as the Service Academy Review Board members who volunteered time and energy to assist in selecting the very best nominees.   

“The distinguished members of the Review Board have helped me and our office guarantee that young men and women like the ones we selected this year have a chance to get into one of the service academies, and I am grateful for their tireless and selfless dedication to continuing Ohio’s strong tradition of high acceptance rates,” Portman said.  “Our nominees are among the best and the brightest from Ohio, and I am proud that they will serve our country in the military.” 

Photos from the event are here

Monday, February 11

Two Key Portman Legislative Priorities Included in Senate Public Lands Bill

This week, the Senate is passed a bipartisan public lands bill that includes more than 100 public lands, natural resources, and water bills – two of them are key legislative priorities authored by Portman. The measure includes Portman’s legislation, the Migratory Birds of the Americas Conservation Act (S. 310), which will reauthorize the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s program to promote the long-term conservation, education, research, monitoring, and habitat protection for more than 380 species of migratory birds. It also includes legislation Portman has worked on with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to ensure stable funding for the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area (NHA), which stretches 110 miles from Cleveland to New Philadelphia and is enjoyed by 2.5 million visitors a year.

Portman Congratulates Ohio Service Academy Nominees & Families

This past weekend, Portman delivered remarks at his reception to congratulate the Class of 2019 Service Academy nominees and their families.  He also thanked the Adjutant General of Ohio, Major General Harris, for hosting the ceremony at the Ohio National Guard Headquarters, as well as the Service Academy Review Board members who volunteered time and energy to assist in selecting the very best nominees. This year’s Central Ohio nominees are from Delaware, Franklin, Licking, and Ross counties. This year’s Northeast Ohio nominees are from Ashland, Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Medina, and Portage counties. This year’s Northeast Ohio nominees are from Carroll, Columbiana, Coshocton, Mahoning, Summit, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, and Wayne counties. This year’s Northwest Ohio nominees are from Auglaize, Fulton, Hancock, Lucas, Seneca, Van Wert, Wood, and Wyandot counties. This year’s Southwest Ohio nominees are from Brown, Butler, Darke, Greene, Hamilton, Montgomery, and Warren counties.

Tuesday, February 12

Portman, Peters, Stabenow, Duckworth Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to Bolster Great Lakes Funding

Portman ), Gary Peters (D-MI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to boost Great Lakes funding and research efforts and help support effective fishery management decisions. The Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization (GLFRA) Act gives the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) the legislative authority to support the $7 billion Great Lakes sport and commercial fishery industry. Despite holding one-fifth of the world’s fresh water, the Great Lakes science program is not formally authorized and does not receive the same level of funding authorization as science centers on the country’s saltwater coasts. This legislation will help reduce the resource gap between the Great Lakes Science Center, which provides lake-wide fishery research and assessments in the U.S. and Canada, 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. This bill will ensure we have the resources to help protect the Great Lakes for generations to come.”

Portman Joins Cornyn to Introduce President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush Coin Act

Portman joined Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) to introduce the President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush Coin Act. In honor of the country’s 41st President and First Lady’s lives and service to the Nation, the President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush Dollar Coin Act authorizes the immediate issuance of coins that bear their image. Other original cosponsors of the legislation include Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Angus King (I-ME). 

“An early boss and mentor, President Bush was one of the most decent and honorable men I’ve ever known, and a model that I have tried to follow in my years in public service,” said Portman.  “Meanwhile Barbara Bush was one of only two women in history who was both First Lady and the mother of a president, and she consistently used her role and influence in positive ways. She was a champion of empowering people through literacy and an eloquent voice for bipartisanship and national unity. Their partnership in service to the country was an inspiration and I’m pleased to join Senator Cornyn in introducing this legislation to ensure the timely issuance of coins honoring their legacy.”

Senate Passes Portman’s Bipartisan Migratory Birds Legislation

The U.S. Senate approved bipartisan legislation introduced by Portman– the Migratory Birds of the Americas Conservation Act (S. 310) – which will reauthorize the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s program to promote the long-term conservation, education, research, monitoring, and habitat protection for more than 380 species of migratory birds.  Portman recently introduced the bill with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), and it was approved by the Senate as part of a larger legislation that includes more than 100 public lands, natural resources, and water bills.  Portman issued the following statement:

“Hundreds of bird species migrate through Ohio each year, making Lake Erie one of the most popular destinations for birdwatching.  Birding contributes more than $20 million to Ohio’s tourism industry and attracts visitors from across the world each year.  Protecting and conserving these bird populations is critically important and I am pleased the Senate approved this bipartisan legislation. I’m looking forward to this legislation being signed very soon.”

Senate Passes Portman, Brown Measure to Ensure Ohio & Erie Canalway Can Continue Supporting Northeast Ohio Jobs 

The Senate passed Portman and Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) bill to ensure that the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, which spans more than 110 miles between New Philadelphia and Cleveland, can continue to draw investment, and support local jobs, tourism and economic development in northeast Ohio. Portman and Brown’s measure was included as part of a broader public lands package passed by the Senate today. The package now heads to the House for consideration. 

“This legislation will provide greater funding certainty for the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, which will help ensure that this site is protected and continues to attract jobs and investment,” said Portman. “The canal holds great significance to the state of Ohio, from helping our early towns and communities prosper to linking our state to the rest of the nation. I am proud to be one of the 2.5 million visitors who enjoy the canal’s towpath trail each year, and I look forward to working with my colleague Senator Brown on getting this legislation signed into law.”

Wednesday, February 13 

National Association of Community Colleges Honors Portman for His Work to Strengthen Career & Technical Education

Portman was awarded with the National Education Service Award from the National Association of Community Colleges for his legislative efforts to pass the JOBS Act, bipartisan legislation he has worked on with Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) to help close the skills gap and put more Americans to work.  Portman also met with more than a dozen representatives of the Ohio Association of Community Colleges yesterday, and worked closely with them in developing the JOBS Act legislation. 

“It was an honor to receive the National Education Service Award,” said Portman. “We must do a better job of ensuring that more Americans have the skills that match the jobs that are available today, and community colleges play a vital role in helping to make sure our students are job-ready after graduation. We’ve got a lot of great Career and Technical Education programs in Ohio, but some kids need help getting access to them. By expanding Pell Grant eligibility, the JOBS Act will help kids from low-income families get the job training they need for careers that will give them economic security and help them join the middle class.  I look forward to reintroducing this bill with Senator Kaine soon and working to get it across the finish line this year.”

Photos from the event are here.

Homeland Security Committee Approves Three Portman Bills

The Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee passed three bipartisan bills authored by Portman that will bolster efforts by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prevent cyberattacks on federal agencies and the private sector and increase federal government transparency online.  He issued the following statement: 

Our cyber response teams play an important role in protecting against cyber threats and help get our cyber infrastructure back up and running after an attack occurs.  I applaud the committee for approving this bipartisan legislation and urge the full Senate to pass it soon so we can ensure that DHS has the authorities it needs to effectively reduce cybersecurity risks as soon as possible.  I’m also pleased that the committee approved two bipartisan measures designed to increase federal government transparency and give our citizens access to taxpayer-funded reports and studies. I urge the full Senate to pass these measures soon.”   

The three bipartisan Portman bills approved by the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee today include DHS Cyber Hunt and Incident Response Teams Act Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act Modernizing Congressional Reporting Act 

Thursday, February 14 

Portman: New Study Highlights Positive Economic Impact of Dayton-Area Military & VA Installations

Portman issued the following statement today after Dayton Development Commission released its study “Economic Impact Analysis of the Major Federal Installations in the Dayton Region”:  

“We know that Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the Springfield Air National Guard Base, and the Dayton Veterans Administration Medical Center all play a critical role in our national defense and caring for our veterans in Ohio.  This new study underscores just how important these federal installations are to boosting Miami Valley’s economy and driving economic growth in the region. As a strong supporter and advocate for Ohio’s military facilities and research institutions, I understand how important they are to our economy and to our national defense.  I will continue to look for ways to grow and develop additional defense jobs in Ohio, and I have already reached out to Joe Zeis, Governor DeWine’s senior advisor for aerospace and defense.  I look forward to working with the DeWine Administration as the state puts a focus on strengthening our role as a leader in defense.”

On Fox Business, Portman Discusses Government Funding Legislation & the Green New Deal

In an interview with Fox Business’ Varney & Co., Senator Portman said he is optimistic that the Senate will pass legislation to fund the government today. Portman also discussed alternative ideas to the Green New Deal that will reduce emissions and make America more energy efficient without hurting job creation and raising prices for Ohio families.

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

Portman, Warner, Alexander, King Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Address National Park Service Maintenance Backlog

U.S. Senators Portman, Mark Warner (D-VA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Angus King (I-ME) introduced the Restore Our Parks Act, bipartisan legislation that would address the nearly $12 billion backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects at the National Park Service (NPS). Other original cosponsors include Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kamala Harris (D-CA), John Hoeven (R-ND), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Gary Peters (D-MI), John Boozman (R-AR), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Steve Daines (R-MT). This legislation has been praised by Pew Charitable Trusts, the National Parks Conservation Association, the U.S. Travel Association, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Trust for the National Mall. A similar bill is being introduced today in the House led by Representatives Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA), which has more than 90 cosponsors.  

“For more than a century, the National Park Service has been inspiring Americans to explore the natural beauty of our country,” Portman said. “My visits to various national parks in Ohio last year made it clear that we must pass this legislation to ensure that they have sufficient resources to maintain our national parks. This bill will create the Legacy Restoration Fund to provide the National Park Service with funds for deferred maintenance projects. This legislation will also help tackle the more than $100 million in maintenance backlog at Ohio’s eight national parks and will ensure the National Park Service can continue preserving American treasures like Cuyahoga Valley National Park.”

Portman Supports Bipartisan Funding Agreement to Strengthen Border Security & Avoid Government Shutdown

Portman (R-OH) released the following statement after he voted for the bipartisan funding agreement to strengthen border security and avoid another government shutdown: 

“I am pleased that President Trump will sign this bipartisan funding agreement into law.  I supported this bill because it takes important steps in the right direction on border security and because it avoids another government shutdown.  I’ve said repeatedly that the president has a responsible plan to strengthen our border security.  This agreement includes nearly $1.4 billion for new barriers and fencing, which will result in another 55 miles of new barriers along the border where it is needed most, according to the experts.  This is the most funding that has ever been provided by Congress in a single year on barrier construction.  We need to do more, but this is a positive step forward. 

“I agree with the president that we have a crisis on our southern border and that we need additional barriers and fencing.  As I have said before, I would prefer we work together to find a legislative solution instead of declaring a national emergency that will likely be tied up in the courts.  That’s why I voted for this bill to strengthen our border security not just with more new barriers, but also with bipartisan priorities for the Congress and the administration.  This includes $21.1 billion for additional Customs and Border Protection officers and law enforcement personnel, more technology and cameras along the border, more humanitarian assistance, and better screening at our ports of entry to help stop the flow of drugs into this country.  This is real progress for our country.

“I hope that the House passes this bill later today so we can avoid another government shutdown.  I’m disappointed that this bill does not include my legislation to end government shutdowns once and for all.  My legislation – the End Government Shutdowns Act – would prevent shutdowns in the future by continuing government funding at existing levels when negotiations break down between the two parties.  My legislation now has 33 cosponsors.  There is a growing bipartisan consensus that we should stop shutdowns in the future.  I’m willing to work with Democrats to reach an agreement that can become law, and I continue to have good conversations with my colleagues on this issue.  I’m hopeful we can include it in upcoming budget legislation this year.”

Portman Announces Bipartisan Funding Agreement Fully Funds Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Portman, co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, announced that the bipartisan funding agreement passed by the Senate today, and expected to be signed by President Trump, includes the full $300 million in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) to help protect the Great Lakes. Portman sent a letter to Chairman Murkowski in April 2018 urging full funding for the GLRI. 

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 Portman.As the world’s largest freshwater body, the Great Lakes provide drinking water for 40 million people, contribute $10 billion in tourism each year, and support hundreds of thousands of jobs across the region.  I have long championed this program, and I will continue to do everything I can to ensure it is fully funded so we can protect and preserve Lake Erie and all the Great Lakes.”

Friday, February 15

Portman Delivers Remarks on Bipartisan Legislation to Address National Park Service Maintenance Backlog

Portman (R-OH) delivered remarks on the Senate floor highlighting the Restore Our Parks Act, bipartisan legislation he introduced with Mark Warner (D-VA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Angus King (I-ME) to address the nearly $12 billion backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects at the National Park Service (NPS).  Portman also discussed two initiatives included in the recently-passed Senate lands package that will benefit Ohio. 

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

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Sen. Rob Portman seeks more scrutiny of tariffs imposed for national security reasons

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Rob Portman wasn’t pleased last year when President Donald Trump used a rare national security waiver to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from almost every nation in the world, leading other countries to impose retaliatory tariffs on products like soybeans grown in Ohio.

Worried that Trump will use the same process to impose tariffs on imported cars and parts when the Commerce Department releases an upcoming investigation on whether the imports damage national security, the Ohio Republican wants Congress to make it harder for presidents to invoke the previously rare procedure.

Portman says the 25 percent auto tariffs Trump has discussed would likely increase domestic car prices by $2,000 and the cost of foreign cars by $6,000. He predicts other nations would impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. cars and auto parts, and the ensuing trade war could put up to 624,000 auto jobs at risk.

Last week, Portman led a bipartisan group of legislators to introduce a bill that would make the Defense Department justify any national security rationale for imposing new “Section 232” tariffs. His bill would also let Congress nix proposed national security tariffs by passing a joint resolution of disapproval. Right now, the Commerce Department decides whether imports threaten national security, and Congress can only disapprove of Section 232 sanctions on oil imports.

 

In a Tuesday morning meeting with reporters, Portman, who served as the nation’s top trade negotiator during George W. Bush’s presidency, said that presidents should be able to respond quickly to trade threats that jeopardize national security, but the process has been misused. He notes that the Defense Department insists steel imports don’t pose a national security threat because there’s enough domestic production to meet U.S. military needs.

He said the legislation introduced in both Houses of Congress would not affect previously imposed tariffs, and is backed by the nation’s largest automakers. While the legislation didn’t go anywhere when it was introduced during the last Congress, Portman said he’s optimistic it can pass this year because it’s got support from the Democratic chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Republican chair of the Senate Finance Committees, which must sign off on its passage.

“This is timely, because we don’t want to move forward with the [Section 232 procedure] on automobiles and not have the ability to push back on that,” said Portman.

(Sen. Rob Portman seeks more scrutiny of tariffs imposed for national security reasons. Cleveland Plain Dealer. February 12, 2019.)  

Senator Portman proposes Trade Security Act

In an effort to ensure national security tariffs are used appropriately, one Ohio senator has recently introduced the Trade Security Act.

The bipartisan trade security act, which was proposed by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), would require the department of defense to justify national security basis for new tariffs under Section 232.

Through this Act, Portman hopes it will prevent the misuse of the Trade Expansion Act, which allows the president to adjust tariffs on imports or goods from another country that he deems is a threat to national security.

“I think it’s the right balance. At the same time countries like China - yeah they are dealing with this unfairly and we should be able to go after those imports from China and raise a tariff on those and get them to play by the rules,” said Portman. “But, I think we have to be careful if we don’t use fairness as a guide because otherwise, it’s going to raise tariffs on everything and hurt our farmers and our workers.”

Portman hopes that the legislation will move quickly through the Finance Committee and the Ways and Means Committee to ensure the act is implemented as soon as possible.

(Senator Portman proposes Trade Security Act. Hometown Stations. February 10, 2019.) 

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