Rob’s Rundown: Week of January 13 – January 17, 2020

January 17, 2020 | Rob's Rundown

This week, Senator Portman praised the two trade wins that the United States secured with our top three trading partners, China, Mexico, and Canada. Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor highlighting the economic benefits of both trade agreements. Portman has been a leading advocate for USMCA, which will create at least 176,000 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. USMCA passed the Senate this week with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 89-10.

Portman also highlighted the phase one trade agreement with China as a good first step towards rectifying unfair trade imbalances and creating a more balanced and durable economic relationship between the United States and China. At the signing ceremony for the China trade agreement today, President Trump praised Portman for his leadership and work on trade.

In addition, Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor applauded the administration’s actions in the Middle East and voiced his support for the Iranian people by saying that America’s argument is not with them, but with their oppressive government.

Finally, today Portman participated in a workforce roundtable discussion in Lebanon hosted by United Way of Warren County at Fecon, manufacturer of vegetation management machinery to highlight expanding access to workforce skills training and how Portman’s bipartisan JOBS Act legislation will help more Ohioans get the skills and training they need to find in-demand jobs.

He also toured Brain Brew Custom Whiskey in Cincinnati, and discussed with company leaders his efforts to extend for one year the bipartisan Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which was included in the final FY 2020 funding bill.  The Craft Beverage Modernization & Tax Reform Act provides excise tax relief to the growing craft beverage industry, helping them reinvest in their businesses, hire new employees, and continue to innovate and grow.  

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

Monday, January 13, 2020

Akron Beacon Journal Editorial Board Praises Portman’s Bipartisan Eviction Crisis Act

In an editorial titled “It’s Time to Address our Eviction Crisis,” the Akron Beacon Journal editorial board praises Senator Portman’s new bipartisan Eviction Crisis Act. Portman introduced the legislation with Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) last month 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. More than 75 national and Ohio based housing, civil rights, and homelessness groups have announced their strong support for the legislation. 

The Akron Beacon Journal editorial states: “In Congress, Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio joined with Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado in December to introduce the Eviction Crisis Act, which would establish a federal committee to examine data and policies to help prevent evictions or reduce their impact. In addition, it would provide money to “track evictions, analyze laws involving tenants and landlords and examine the factors leading to evictions,” according to The Columbus Dispatch. Crucially, the legislation would also create an emergency fund to help tenants pay rent in extraordinary situations, Portman told the Dispatch... All of us — tenants, landlords or not — have an interest in seeing this issue resolved. Too much for too many is at stake.” 

Excerpts from the editorial can be found here and the full editorial can be viewed here.

Portman Announces U.S. Senate Page for Spring 2020 Program

Portman announced that he has appointed Makenzie Creach, a junior at Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Ohio, to serve as a U.S. Senate Page for the Spring 2020 program, starting on January 27, 2020 and ending on June 4, 2020. Makenzie will have the opportunity to work in the Senate chamber and assist with day-to-day operations at the Capitol. 

“We are looking forward to having a future Ohio leader in the Senate this spring,” said Portman. “Makenzie has demonstrated her talent in academics and extracurricular activities, and we are excited to watch her excel in the fast-paced world of the Senate.”

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Portman to the People of Iran: “We Are With You”

On the Senate floor, Portman delivered remarks regarding the Trump administration’s recent actions in response to repeated aggressive actions by the government of Iran. He applauded the administration’s actions and voiced his support for the Iranian people by saying that America’s argument is not with them, but with their oppressive government. 

Last week, Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor supporting the administration’s actions and stated that Iranian aggression must not go unchecked. President Trump authorized the killing of Qasem Soleimani, the leader of Quds force and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps earlier this month. Soleimani was responsible for the killing of more than 600 American soldiers and the wounding of several thousand more.

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

On Senate Floor, Portman Urges the Senate to Pass Legislation to Permanently Criminalize Fentanyl-Related Substances

On the Senate floor, Portman urged his Senate colleagues to pass legislation that will permanently criminalize fentanyl-related substances before the current scheduling order expires on February 6, 2020. Last year, Senator Portman (R-OH) introduced the bipartisan Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act, which will permanently schedule illicitly manufactured and deadly fentanyl. In February 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a temporary scheduling order to schedule fentanyl-related substances that has allowed federal law enforcement authorities to bring criminal actions against individuals who manufacture, distribute, or handle fentanyl-related substances. This scheduling order is set to expire on February 6, 2020. The FIGHT Fentanyl Act codifies DEA precedent to permanently schedule fentanyl-related substances. The legislation has been endorsed by all of the state and territorial Attorneys General, including Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

In addition, Portman highlighted the legislative victories he worked to help secure for Ohio last year. 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.

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

On Senate Floor, Portman Honors Senate Finance Committee Staffer, Chris Allen

On the Senate floor today, Portman honored the life and public service of Senate Finance Committee staffer, Chris Allen, who passed away unexpectedly last week. Late last year, Allen was instrumental in the passage of the SECURE Act in the final FY 2020 funding measure, which will help millions of Americans save more money for their retirement. 

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

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Portman, Brown Resolution Marking the 75th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising Passes Senate

U.S. Senators Portman and Brown applauded the Senate passage of their bipartisan resolution honoring the 75th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising. The Warsaw Uprising was a heroic action by the Polish underground resistance, led by the Home Army, to liberate Warsaw from German Nazi occupation. 75 years ago, after five years of German Nazi occupation, the Warsaw Uprising began on August 1, 1944 and reached a tragic conclusion after 63 days of bitter and sometimes hand-to-hand combat on October 2, 1944. For two months, the Polish resistance fought bravely against the occupying German Nazi force with little outside support and using rudimentary, often hand-made weapons, before they were ultimately defeated by the overwhelming enemy forces. Following their surrender, the German Nazi occupiers ordered that Warsaw be destroyed, leveling roughly 80 percent of the city. The Poles who remained endured continued suffering and many were sent on to prison camps.

“This important resolution honors the memory of the thousands of Poles who bravely stood up and fought against the German Nazi occupation of Warsaw,” said Portman. “As we mark 75 years since the Polish Home Army, the young and brave Polish Resistance, took up mostly homemade arms against insurmountable odds, this resolution serves as an even more important reminder of the horrible atrocities inflicted upon the people of Warsaw and the perseverance of a people whose spirit cannot be broken. I thank my Senate colleagues for passing this important resolution.”

Ahead of White House Signing Ceremony, Portman Praises Phase-One Agreement with China in Op-Ed for Barron’s

In Barron’s, Senator Portman wrote an op-ed praising the Trump administration for securing the phase-one trade agreement with China today. Portman released a statement last month highlighting his support for the agreement which will help to create a more level playing field for American workers, farmers, and business owners to compete with China. He attended the signing ceremony at the White House.   

In the op-ed, Portman writes: “I have supported President Trump’s efforts under the so-called Section 301 action to create a more level playing field for American workers, farmers, and business owners… Now we are seeing these tough measures pay off with the Trump administration signing a phase-one trade agreement with China today. This is a good first step toward bringing equity, durability, and balance to the economic relationship between the world’s two largest economies... I have faith in the American workers, farmers, and business owners—that we can continue to innovate and compete successfully if there is a level playing field. All we ask for is fair and reciprocal treatment between our trading partners and us.” 

Excerpts of the op-ed can be found here and the full op-ed can be found at this link.

Portman Praises Trump Administration’s Phase One Trade Agreement with China

Portman issued the following statement after attending the White House signing ceremony for the phase one trade agreement with China: 

“I applaud President Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer for their persistence and their determination in finalizing this phase one agreement with China. It represents a good first step towards creating a more balanced economic relationship between our two countries, but the agreement will only remain durable over time if it is enforced. That is why it is significant that this agreement includes the option to re-impose tariffs should China fail to hold up its new commitments, including preventing the theft of intellectual property.

“There is more work to do in phase two to fully address China’s unfair trade practices. China is Ohio’s third-largest trading partner after Canada and Mexico, with more than $700 million in soybeans, and other agriculture commodities shipped there every year. We also sell nearly $500 million of auto parts and more than $500 million in aerospace parts to China. We must continue to hold China accountable to its trade obligations in order to help workers, exporters, and consumers across Ohio and our country.

“I have faith in American workers, farmers, and business owners and their ability to innovate and compete successfully if there is a level playing field. All we ask for is fair and reciprocal treatment from our trading partners and today’s signing of the phase one agreement is an important step in that direction.”

On Senate Floor, Portman Discusses Phase One China Trade Agreement, USMCA, and 2020 Trade Priorities

On the Senate floor, Portman highlighted the economic benefits of two trade agreements: the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Trade Agreement, which is expected to pass the Senate tomorrow, and the phase one trade agreement with China signed by President Trump earlier today. 

Portman has been a leading advocate for USMCA, which will create at least 176,000 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 also touted the phase one trade agreement with China as a good first step towards rectifying unfair trade imbalances and creating a more balanced and durable economic relationship between the United States and China. At the signing ceremony for the China trade agreement today, President Trump praised Portman for his leadership and work on trade.

The transcript of his remarks can be found here and a video can be found here.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

On CNBC, Portman Highlights Two Big Trade Victories for American Workers, Farmers & Manufacturers

In an interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box, Portman highlighted the economic benefits of two trade agreements: the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Trade Agreement, which is expected to pass the Senate today, and the phase one trade agreement with China signed by President Trump yesterday. 

Portman has been a leading advocate for USMCA, which will create at least 176,000 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 also touted the phase one trade agreement with China as a good first step towards rectifying unfair trade imbalances and creating a more balanced and durable economic relationship between the United States and China. At the signing ceremony for the China trade agreement today, President Trump praised Portman for his leadership and work on trade.

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

Portman Praises Senate Passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement

Portman issued the following statement after the Senate passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 89-10: 

“The Senate’s strong bipartisan approval of USMCA is good news for Ohio and the country. This long-awaited agreement is a significant improvement over the status quo of NAFTA. By opening more markets, it is good for American workers, farmers, and manufacturers, and it will create thousands of new jobs here in the United States.  

“Since Canada and Mexico are Ohio’s top two trading partners, this agreement is particularly good for our state. This agreement expands market access for Ohio farm products, incentivizes more auto production in the state, and makes online sales easier for Ohio companies. 

“This has been a big week for trade. The signing of the phase one trade agreement with China and the approval of the USMCA are the culmination of several years of hard work, persistence and determination, and I applaud President Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer for these accomplishments.”

Portman Applauds Senate Passage of Legislation to Temporarily Extend Criminalizing Fentanyl-Related Substances

Portman applauded the Senate’s unanimous passage of compromise legislation that will extend the temporary scheduling order to criminalize fentanyl-related substances until May 6, 2021 and would require a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on implications of class-wide scheduling.  The current scheduling order is set to expire on February 6, 2020 and this new legislation will extend the current temporary order by 18 months. This legislation will now head to the House of Representatives.

I’m pleased that the Senate passed legislation today to extend the temporary DEA scheduling order on fentanyl-related substances for 18 months.  However, we must take action to criminalize these drugs permanently. Fentanyl knows no zip code and is devastating individuals and families in Ohio and all across the country. This is a vital step in our efforts to keep fentanyl out of our communities so that law enforcement can keep these dangerous synthetic opioids out of our communities. I will continue to urge my colleagues to support my FIGHT Fentanyl Act to permanently criminalize fentanyl-related substances in the United States and I urge the House of Representatives to quickly pass this legislation.”

Friday, January 17, 2020

Franklin County Entities Endorse Portman’s Bipartisan Eviction Crisis Act

The 80 social service organizations that comprise Franklin County’s Human Service Chamber, as well as the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, endorsed Senator Portman’s bipartisan legislation, the Eviction Crisis Actto address the national housing crisis that is undermining the efforts of millions of Americans to rise into the middle class. The Human Service Chamber, which represents 80 member organizations in the Columbus region, and the Board of Commissioners join more than 75 national and Ohio-based housing, civil rights, and homelessness groups that have announced their strong support for this legislation. 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 is the endorsement quote from the Franklin County Human Service Chamber members, and an excerpt from Franklin County Board of Commissioners’ endorsement letter.

In Lebanon, Portman Highlights Trade Victories, Participates in Workforce Discussion at Warren County Manufacturer

Today, Portman participated in a workforce roundtable discussion hosted by United Way of Warren County at Fecon, manufacturer of vegetation management machinery. Other participants included students, employees who have got through their program, and local employers. The discussion highlighted expanding access to workforce skills training and how Portman’s bipartisan JOBS Act legislation will help more Ohioans get the skills and training they need to find in-demand jobs. In addition, the discussion will cover the economic benefits of two trade agreements: the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Trade Agreement, which passed the Senate this week, and the phase one trade agreement with China signed by President Trump this week.

“I enjoyed my visit with members from the Warren County United Way along with their local partners. We had a productive discussion about how best to ensure Ohioans get the skills training they need to succeed in the jobs available today,” said PortmanPassing the JOBS Act will help ensure we make skills training more accessible and affordable. In addition, the signing of the China trade agreement and passage of USMCA are significant victories for American farmers, workers, and manufacturers, and they will create thousands of new jobs here in the United States.  I was pleased to be able to visit with a local farm equipment manufacturer who will benefit directly from these trade wins.” 

Portman has been a leading advocate for USMCA, which will create at least 176,000 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 also touted the phase one trade agreement with China as a good first step towards rectifying unfair trade imbalances and creating a more balanced and durable economic relationship between the United States and China. 

Portman has taken the lead to address this skills gap by authoring the JOBS Actbipartisan legislation to make high-quality and rigorous short-term job training programs more affordable by expanding access to Pell Grants for low-income students.

Photos from the event are here.

Senator Portman Joins Bipartisan Colleagues in Introducing Bill to Establish Cybersecurity Coordinator in Every State

U.S. Senators Portman, Hassan, Cornyn, and Peters today introduced a bipartisan bill to require the Department of Homeland Security to establish a Cybersecurity State Coordinator program. This bipartisan legislation would ensure that each state would have its own federally funded Cybersecurity Coordinator, who would be responsible for helping to prevent and respond to cybersecurity threats by working with federal, state, and local governments as well as schools, hospitals, and other entities. 

“Cybersecurity for state and local governments is just as important as federal cybersecurity, and frequently, they lack the resources, technical know-how, and situational awareness to secure their systems, or respond in the event of an attack,” Senator Portman said. “This bipartisan bill, which creates a Cybersecurity State Coordinator position, would help bolster state and local governments’ cybersecurity by facilitating their relationship with the federal government to ensure they know what preventative resources are available to them as well as who to turn to if an attack occurs.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to pass this important legislation.”

In Cincinnati, Portman Visits Brain Brew Custom Whiskey

Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) toured Brain Brew Custom Whiskey, and discussed with company leaders his efforts to extend for one year the bipartisan Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which was included in the final FY 2020 funding bill.  The Craft Beverage Modernization & Tax Reform Act provides excise tax relief to the growing craft beverage industry, helping them reinvest in their businesses, hire new employees, and continue to innovate and grow.  

“I had a great visit today with the leadership at Brain Brew Custom Whiskey discussing how their company will be able to continue to grow as a result of the tax relief that was just signed into law,” said Portman.  “Without the extension that was included in the final FY 2020 funding bill, craft distillers like Brain Brew would have faced a 500% excise tax increase for 2020 – taxes they would have started paying as early as this week. This tax incentive is critical to spurring more investment and economic development in Ohio. I fought to include the bipartisan Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act in the tax reform law because it drives more economic growth and job creation, and I’m pleased we were able to extend it for another year.”

The tax extenders package extends for one additional year the bipartisan Craft Beverage Modernization & Tax Reform Actlegislation cosponsored and championed by Portman that provides excise tax relief to the growing craft beverage industry, helping these entrepreneurs reinvest more in their businesses and our communities. In the 2017 tax reform law, Portman offered the amendment to add this excise tax relief into the larger package. Ohio is number four in the country in craft beer production and supports 15,000 jobs in the state. Portman received the Beer Institute’s “2018 Beer Champion” award in September 2018 for his leadership in championing reforms that allow brewers and beer importers to reinvest in their businesses, hire new employees, and continue to innovate and create America’s favorite beers. Portman also received the Legislative Champion award from the Brewers Association in July 2018 for his leadership on this issue.   

Photos from the event are here.

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