Rob's Rundown: Week of February 5 - 9, 2018
This week, Congress passed, and the president signed into law, a bipartisan budget agreement that includes significant funding increases to key Portman priorities such as addressing the opioid crisis, providing new resources for our military and veterans, reauthorizing Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and community health center funding, establishing a new committee to help solve the multiemployer pension crisis, and other key Portman health care priorities. Also this week, Portman attended the National Prayer Breakfast with Bishop Larry Macon and Dan Macon from Cleveland, detailed how tax reform is already helping Ohio workers and families, urged Congress to act on the bipartisan STOP Act, and more. For a more in depth look at Senator Portman’s week, please see the following:
Monday, February 5
Portman Makes Bipartisan Push for Community Health Centers Funding
On Monday, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) joined a bipartisan group of senators led by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) in calling on Senate leadership to immediately reauthorize funding for community health centers. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), Portman and 66 of his Senate colleagues expressed their strong support for community health centers, which provide access to cost-effective primary and preventive care for families across the country.
“Community health centers serve a vital function, providing affordable health care to our nation’s most vulnerable citizens,” wrote the senators. “They provide quality medical, dental, vision and behavioral health care to more than 27 million patients, including 330,000 of our nation’s veterans and 8 million children, at over 10,000 sites nationwide. … Without extension of the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF), community health centers will lose seventy percent of their funding. This will result in an estimated 2,800 site closures, the loss of 50,000 jobs, and approximately 9 million Americans losing access to their health care.”
For more information, go here.
Tuesday, February 6
Portman, Brown Introduce Bill To Rename Dayton Federal Building In Honor Of Judge Walter Rice
Senators Portman and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced legislation to rename the federal building and courthouse on West 2nd Street in downtown Dayton after United States District Court Judge Walter H. Rice. U.S. Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH-10) has also introduced companion legislation in the House.
“For more than four decades, Judge Rice has been a tireless advocate for justice, the people of Dayton, and the state of Ohio,” said Portman. “This is a fitting tribute to his life’s work, and I join Senator Brown and Rep. Turner in thanking him for his service.”
For more information, go here.
Wednesday, February 7
Ohio’s Major Private-Sector Employers Respond to Tax Reform
When Senator Portman and others crafted the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, they set out to accomplish two big goals: to encourage economic growth and investment, and to put more money in the pockets of American families. With recent announcements from major businesses across the country, we know that both of those things are happening. Beginning last week, millions of American saw bigger paychecks due to the tax reform legislation, and millions more will soon see a spike in take-home pay as their employers work to implement the new withholding rules, which were expedited at Portman’s urging. In addition, Ohio’s major private-sector employers are responding to tax reform by investing more in plants and equipment, raising wages, paying bonuses, and strengthening retirement benefits. Here is a look at recent announcements from Ohio’s major private-sector employers:
- Walmart is Ohio’s largest employer, employing more than 50,000 Ohioans. Walmart announced plans for a base wage increase for all hourly employees to $11 from $10; bonuses of up to $1,000; expanded maternity and parental leave; and $5,000 for adoption expenses.
- JPMorgan Chase employs 21,000 Ohioans. JPMorgan Chase announced plans for a base wage increase for 22,000 employees, to a range of $15 to $18 per hour; 4,000 new jobs added; 400 new branches; increased charitable donations; and increased small business lending.
- Nationwide Mutual Insurance employs 15,000 Ohioans. Based in Columbus, Nationwide announced plans to increase 401(k) matching contributions for 33,000 employees and give $1,000 bonuses to 29,000 employees across the country.
- UPS employs 14,000 Ohioans. The company announced $12 billion in new capital investments, including new aircraft and equipment, as well as a $5 billion contribution to its employee pension plan.
- Home Depot employs 12,000 Ohioans. Home Depot will give bonuses for all hourly employees, up to $1,000.
- Lowe’s employs 11,800 Ohioans. Lowe’s announced bonuses of up to $1,000 for 260,000 employees nationwide; expanded benefits and maternity/parental leave; and $5,000 of adoption assistance.
- Fifth Third Bank employs 8,800 Ohioans. Based in Cincinnati, Fifth Third announced it will increase its base wage to $15 for its nearly 3,000 hourly employees, while also rewarding $1,000 bonuses for 13,500 employees.
- AT&T employs 7,000 Ohioans. AT&T announced it will give $1,000 bonuses to its 200,000 employees and a $1 billion increase in capital expenditures.
- PNC employs 7,000 Ohioans. PNC announced it will give $1,000 bonuses to 47,500 employees; an additional $1,500 in employee pension accounts; base wage hike to $15 per hour; and a $200 million charitable contribution.
- Charter Communications employs 7,000 Ohioans. The company raised its base wage to $15 per hour and committed to hire more than 20,000 employees by 2020.
- Fiat Chrysler employs 6,130 Ohioans in Toledo and Perrysburg. The company announced it will give $2,000 bonuses for 60,000 employees, invest $1 billion at a new truck factory in Michigan, and add 2,500 new jobs.
- KeyCorp employs 5,900 Ohioans. Based in Cleveland, KeyCorp announced it will raise the base wage and increase employee retirement plan contributions.
- U.S. Bank employs 5,280 Ohioans. U.S. Bank announced $1,000 bonuses for 60,000 employees; base wage hike to $15 per hour; and a $150 million charitable contribution.
- FedEx employs 4,700 Ohioans. FedEx committed more than $3.2 billion in wage increases, bonuses, pension funding, and at least $1.5 billion in capital expenditures.
- Verizon employs 3,800 Ohioans. Verizon announced that non-executive employees will receive 50 shares of restricted stock.
- Western & Southern Financial Group, based in Cincinnati, announced $2,000 bonuses to its full-time employees and $1,000 bonuses to its part-time employees. The bonuses were directed to all of its more than 3,000 employees nationwide, except for senior management.
- Best Buy employs 3,000 Ohioans. They announced $1,000 bonuses for full-time employees and $500 bonuses for part-time employees. More than 100,000 employees will receive bonuses.
- Anthem employs 3,700 Ohioans. The company announced that it will contribute $1,000 to the 401(k) accounts for each of its more than 58,000 associates and recent retirees. It is also investing tax reform savings in other efforts to reduce the cost of healthcare and benefit consumers and shareholders.
- Steris employs 1,500 Ohioans. The company announced it would award bonuses of $1,000 to all U.S. employees other than senior executives.
Tax reform is helping employers of all sizes. Small businesses in Ohio—like Sheffer Corporation in Cincinnati, Wolf Metals in Columbus, Tremco in Cleveland, and Bruns General Contracting in Tipp City, where Portman visited in January—are now able to invest more in their plant, equipment, and workers. Tax reform is also helping distressed communities in Ohio, the state’s thriving craft brewing industry and more, and this is just the beginning.
At Homeland Security Hearing, Portman Presses DHS on Cybersecurity, PSI Report on Drug Traffickers Shipping Fentanyl Through the Mail
Portman, during Wednesday’s Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) roundtable on “Reauthorizing DHS: Positioning DHS to Address New and Emerging Threats to the Homeland,” questioned Department of Homeland Security leadership on ways in which they are working to improve the department’s ability to respond to new and emerging threats, such as cybersecurity vulnerabilities and the shipment of deadly drugs like fentanyl through the United States Postal Service. Last month, Portman released a shocking bipartisan report that details how drug traffickers exploit vulnerabilities in our international mail system to easily ship synthetic drugs like fentanyl from China into the United States. His legislation, the STOP Act, is designed to help save lives by keeping these deadly drugs out of our communities. DHS Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke confirmed again that the department supports Portman’s legislation.
New Bipartisan Budget Agreement Includes Key Portman Priorities on Defense, Opioid Crisis & Health Care
On Wednesday, Portman announced his support for the bipartisan budget agreement reached between Senate Republican and Democratic leaders. The agreement includes significant funding increases to key Portman priorities such as addressing the opioid crisis, providing new resources for our military and veterans, reauthorizing Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and community health center funding, establishing a new committee to help solve the multiemployer pension crisis, and other key Portman health care priorities. He released the following statement:
“I’m pleased to see both parties come together and reach an agreement to increase funding for our military and our veterans and make key investments to address this opioid crisis while keeping our government running. For years, due to budget restraints, our men and women in uniform have been asked to do more with less. This agreement changes that, giving our military the funding it needs to improve our readiness and support our heroes returning home.
“Every day approximately 11 Ohioans die from unintentional drug overdoses, so I am pleased this proposal provides an additional $6 billion over two years to help combat this opioid crisis. We’ve made real progress in increasing opioid funding through the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA) and CURES over the past two years, but this crisis is overwhelming Ohio and our country. The funding in this proposal would be another important step in the fight against this epidemic, and CARA’s evidenced-based programs provide a good framework for how this new funding can be spent effectively.
“I’m pleased that this bill extends Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding for an additional four years beyond the six-year reauthorization Congress just enacted. That means we’ve put this program on a stable course for the next 10 years, giving long-term assurances to the families of 219,000 children in Ohio and nine million children nationwide who receive health care through this program. This agreement also reauthorizes funding for community health centers, which provide affordable health care to our nation’s must vulnerable citizens, and the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, which helps families with newborns through evidenced-based home visitation programs – particularly new families coping with the opioid epidemic. I’ve consistently fought to renew these vital programs and I’m pleased we have accomplished this goal.
“This agreement also includes several of my health care priorities that will improve health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries living with chronic conditions. These priorities, which originally passed the Senate as part of the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act, include ensuring that Medicare beneficiaries can receive high-quality, personalized care at home, incentivizing beneficiaries to receive preventive services and better manage their health care, and ensuring the Medicare Advantage program includes accurate quality measures to incentivize plans to continue to care for low-income seniors.”
“Finally, the formation of this bipartisan committee on pensions is encouraging news. Over the past several years, I’ve consistently made clear to my colleagues that there is a looming multiemployer pension crisis in America, and responsible reforms are needed to protect retiree benefits, ensure the solvency of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and allow participating employers to remain competitive. I’ve continued to engage in discussions with Senator Brown and all stakeholders on solutions. We must put politics aside and find a workable solution.”
Portman Statement on White House Meeting on Trade
Portman issued the following statement after he and other Senate Finance Committee Republicans met with President Trump at the White House on trade:
“We had a productive meeting at the White House today on our nation’s trade policy. I’ve supported a number of the Trump administration’s actions on trade, including efforts to hold China accountable when it cheats and violates our laws. I also made clear to the president today that while I support modernizing and improving NAFTA, withdrawing from the agreement would hurt Ohio workers who rely on these export jobs. We need a balanced approach that opens our markets for exports, while also holding our trading partners accountable and levels the playing field for U.S. workers and businesses. That’s the approach I will continue to fight for.”
Thursday, February 8
Key Portman Priorities Included in Bipartisan Budget Agreement
The bipartisan budget agreement includes a number of Senator Portman’s key priorities such as addressing the opioid crisis, providing new resources for our military and veterans, reauthorizing Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and community health center funding, establishing a new committee to help solve the multiemployer pension crisis, and other key Portman health care priorities. Following Wednesday’s announcement, here’s what Portman said:
“I’m pleased to see both parties come together and reach an agreement to increase funding for our military and our veterans and make key investments to address this opioid crisis while keeping our government running.”
Here are the highlights of key Portman priorities in the bipartisan budget agreement announced yesterday:
- Provides an additional $6 billion for opioid funding over two years. The bipartisan agreement includes $6 billion over two years to bolster the ongoing fight against opioid addiction and substance abuse by funding prevention, treatment and recovery programs, and law enforcement efforts in vulnerable communities across the country. Portman has been a leader in the Senate advocating for additional funding and more tools to combat this epidemic.
- Increases funding for our troops and veterans. This agreement increases defense discretionary funding by $80 billion in FY 2018 and $85 billion in FY 2019 to provide America’s armed forces with the resources they need, consistent with the funding authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act. The agreement also includes dedicated funding increases for veterans as well.
- Forms bipartisan committee on pensions. The bipartisan agreement establishes a bipartisan committee to address the looming multiemployer pension crisis in America to help pave the way for responsible reforms to protect retiree benefits, ensure the solvency of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and allow participating employers to remain competitive. Portman has continued to engage in discussions with all stakeholders regarding solutions on this issue.
- Extends CHIP for an additional four years. This agreement extends Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding for an additional four years beyond the six-year reauthorization Congress just enacted, providing long-term assurances to the families of 219,000 children in Ohio and nine million children nationwide who receive health care through this program. Portman has long advocated for a long-term funding solution.
- Reauthorizes community health centers for two additional years. The agreement renews funding for community health centers, which provide affordable health care to our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. Portman recently has expressed his strong support for community health centers, which provide access to cost-effective primary and preventive care, and urged Senate leadership to reauthorize their funding.
- Reauthorizes the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Visiting Program for five years. The agreement renews this program, which has proven effective in helping families with newborns through evidenced-based home visitation programs – particularly new families coping with the opioid epidemic.
- Improves health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries living with chronic conditions. The bipartisan agreement ensures that Medicare beneficiaries can receive high-quality, personalized care at home, incentivizes beneficiaries to receive preventive services and better manage their health care, and ensures the Medicare Advantage program includes accurate quality measures to incentivize plans to continue to care for low-income seniors.
- Extends the Independence at Home Act (IAH). The agreement extends the IAH demonstration’s expiration date by two years (until September 30, 2019), increases the cap on the total number of participating beneficiaries from 10,000 to 15,000, and gives practices three years to receive a shared savings payment. This program has benefited seniors in Ohio by reducing hospital readmissions, preventing costly hospital and nursing home admissions, and, most importantly, keeping patients healthy and in their preferred care setting.
- Creates a better health rewards program in the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) setting. The agreement includes a new program called the ACO Beneficiary Incentive Program, which would allow ACOs to make incentive payments to their members who seek out preventive care or chronic disease management services. This program will allow Medicare to engage seniors in their health care – incentivizing seniors to set goals and meet health targets – enabling them to live better, healthier lives while also saving the Medicare system money without making cuts to benefits.
- Ensures Medicare Advantage quality measures account for the most vulnerable population. The agreement includes a provision that builds on Portman’s work with Senator Casey to ensure the most vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries—including low-income, disabled, and dually-eligible seniors—are able to maintain access to high-quality Medicare Advantage plans.
On Senate Floor, Portman Discusses How Tax Reform is Already Helping Ohio Workers & Families
Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor Thursday to discuss how tax reform is already helping Ohio families and workers. Portman detailed how the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act is already delivering on the two main goals Portman and others had when crafting the legislation: to encourage economic growth and investment, and to put more money in the pockets of American families. The proof, said Portman, is in what’s happening at Ohio companies like the Sheffer Corporation in Cincinnati and at Ohio’s major-private sector companies that are announcing more investment in plants and equipment, wage increases, bonuses, higher 401(k) matches, and more.
On Senate Floor Discussing Opioid Epidemic, Portman Praises Additional $6 Billion in Opioid Funding, Calls on Senate to Pass the Bipartisan STOP Act
Portman also delivered remarks urging his colleagues to pass the bipartisan budget agreement that includes an additional $6 billion for opioid funding over two years and to act on the bipartisan Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, legislation designed to help stop dangerous drugs such as heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil from being shipped through our borders to drug traffickers here in the United States. The speech follows last month’s shocking, bipartisan Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) report, which details how drug traffickers exploit vulnerabilities in our international mail system to easily ship synthetic drugs like fentanyl, which is now killing more Ohioans than heroin, from China into the United States though the U.S. Postal Service.
Friday, February 9
Portman Praises Additional $6 Billion in Opioid Funding, Calls for Adding Funding Through CARA Framework
Portman issued the following statement on the Senate passage of a bipartisan budget agreement:
“I’m pleased that this bill includes an additional $6 billion in funding over two years to help combat the opioid epidemic gripping Ohio and our country. I’ve been calling on Congress to provide more resources for this cause, and this new funding will build on the additional resources provided through the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA) and the CURES law. We’ve increased the funding over this fiscal year and last fiscal year by $1.4 billion through CARA and CURES, but we must do more.
“CARA’s evidence-based programs provide a good framework for how this new funding can be spent effectively, including a number of programs focused on prevention, treatment and recovery programs, as well as programs that provide resources to law enforcement and first responders who are on the frontlines of this epidemic every day. We’ve made progress with CARA and CURES, but this additional funding is needed to help our communities turn the tide of addiction. I was pleased to play a role in helping secure these additional resources and I’m committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure they are spent wisely.”