Rob’s Rundown: Week of January 17 - January 21, 2022
Senator Portman led a bipartisan delegation to Ukraine this week to meet with President Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials to reaffirm the U.S.’ commitment to Ukraine. After returning home on Tuesday, Portman shared insights from the trip in interviews with Fox News’ America’s Newsroom and PBS’ News Hour Wednesday afternoon and underscored the need for us to make clear to Russia that they will face severe consequences if they invade their sovereign neighbor.
On Thursday morning, Portman joined MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss the escalating crisis in Ukraine, as Russia continues its escalation on the Ukraine border. During the interview, Portman criticized Germany for not doing more to support Ukraine and push back against Russia’s aggressive posture. Germany will not conclusively say that they will not certify the NordStream 2 pipeline if Russia invades Ukraine. He also noted that Germany is not authorizing NATO weapons transfers nor allowing flights carrying military aid for Ukraine to fly over German airspace.
On Tuesday, Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor outlining his opposition to Democrats’ controversial, sweeping “voting rights” legislation. Portman detailed the numerous problems with the legislation and said Democrats are using the issue to fan the flames of division and partisanship in the country. Portman also voiced his opposition to Democrats’ plan to dismantle the legislative filibuster, which brings members together and leads to consensus and bipartisan and cited the bipartisan infrastructure law as an example. Instead, he called on Senators from both sides of the aisle to work together on common-sense solutions, such as reforming the Electoral Count Act.
Today Portman attended the White House ceremony announcing Intel’s $20 billion investment in a new semiconductor facility in New Albany, Ohio. He then traveled back to Ohio to participate in the unveiling ceremony in New Albany. Portman has spoken and met with Intel’s CEO, Pat Gelsinger, and other Intel executives numerous times over the past year, pitching the benefits of Ohio as a prime location for semiconductor manufacturing, given ITS well-trained workforce, energy infrastructure and available land.
For a more detailed look at Senator Portman’s week, please see the following:
Monday, January 17, 2022
Portman, Shaheen, Blumenthal, Cramer, Klobuchar, Murphy, & Wicker Travel to Ukraine on Bipartisan CODEL
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) announced they are travelling to Ukraine to meet with President Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials to reaffirm the U.S.’ commitment to Ukraine, which continues to face an increasingly belligerent Russia. They will meet with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as well as other Ukraine officials later today.
“I am proud to join my colleagues on this important trip to Ukraine,” said Portman. “Ukraine continues to defend its territorial integrity against an increasingly aggressive Russia, while also striving to enact critical domestic reforms to solidify its democracy – it is more important than ever that the U.S. support Ukraine in its efforts. I look forward to reaffirming this commitment during our upcoming discussions with senior Ukrainian officials.”
Tuesday, January 18, 2022
Portman Statement on Meeting with Ukraine President Zelenskyy
Portman issued the following statement after meeting with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv. Portman led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Ukraine, which included senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees. The trip included Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).
In addition to meeting with President Zelenskyy, the delegation also met with the Prime Minister and Ukraine ministers of Defense, Foreign Affairs, Energy, and Interior. On Christmas Eve, Senator Portman and Shaheen, along with more than 20 members of the House and Senate, held a video conference call with President Zelenskyy to discuss the security situation in the country. Portman also authored an op-ed in the Washington Post with Senator Shaheen that can be found here.
“This is a critical time in Ukraine’s history and our delegation sent a message to Russia and the people of Ukraine that the United States stands with Ukraine in response to unwarranted and unprovoked Russian aggression. As a bipartisan delegation representing different parts of the country across the political spectrum, we made it clear that the cause of freedom knows no political boundary in the U.S. Congress. We expressed our solidarity with the people of Ukraine in protecting their sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“We discussed the United States commitment to provide military assistance to ensure Ukraine can defend itself and deter the threat from Russia. Congress recently demonstrated that commitment through passage of the FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act that increased our military support through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. The initiative has been extended through 2022 and its funding increased from $250 million in FY 2021 to $300 million next year with at least $75 million specifically designated for lethal assistance. We also discussed our support the recent decision by the Biden administration to exercise the Presidential Drawdown Authority of additional defensive military equipment.
“In 2014, the people of Ukraine chose to turn away from an authoritarian past and turn toward freedom, prosperity and democracy, embrace the West and stand with us. Now it is our turn to stand with Ukraine. America should be encouraged by Ukraine’s determination to remain free, and independent. A sovereign and democratic Ukraine is not just good for the people of Ukraine, it is important to the stability of Europe and provides a beacon of hope to millions of others who wish for that same freedom.
“We also talked about democratic reforms in Ukraine. I am encouraged by the efforts of President Zelesnkyy and other Ukrainian leaders to continue to promote additional reforms in order to further position Ukraine for EU and NATO membership. We must hold Russia to its international commitments, including those that promised Ukraine territorial sovereignty and independence.”
Senators Portman, Shaheen, Blumenthal, Cramer, Klobuchar, Murphy & Wicker Meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as part of their bipartisan Congressional Delegation (CODEL) to Ukraine. During their meeting, the senators expressed strong solidarity with Ukraine in the face of increased Russian aggression, including further military buildup on the Ukraine/Russia border as well as the ongoing conflict in Donbas and purported annexation of Crimea.
The senators expressed their deep concern over the buildup of Russia's forces in and around Ukraine, and pledged to continue to support funding for Ukraine's defense in the U.S. Senate. Discussions touched further needs Ukraine has for assistance to counter the Russian threat. The senators also discussed the need for Ukraine to continue its democratic reforms in order to position the country for membership in NATO.
The senators discussed increased funding for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative that recently passed Congress as part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 National Defense Authorization Act. The initiative has been extended through 2022 and its funding has been increased from $250 to $300 million per year, with at least $75 million specifically designated for lethal assistance. The funds will be used to help train, equip, and provide support for the Ukrainian government and armed forces in their effort to defend their independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity against Russian aggression.
“This is a critical time in Ukraine’s history and our delegation sent a message to Russia and the people of Ukraine that the United States stands with Ukraine in response to unwarranted and unprovoked Russian aggression,” said Portman. “As a bipartisan delegation representing different parts of the country across the political spectrum, we made it clear that the cause of freedom knows no political boundary in the U.S. Congress. We expressed our solidarity with the people of Ukraine in protecting their sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Portman, Coons, Whitehouse Applaud Finalized Conservation Agreement Between U.S. and El Salvador
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), along with Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) applauded the finalization of the Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA) agreement between the U.S. Government and the Republic of El Salvador. This bilateral agreement will redirect approximately $20 million in concessional debt owed by El Salvador to a conservation fund over a period of 10 years.
The TFCA program was established in 1998 to offer eligible developing countries options to relieve certain official debt owed the U.S., while at the same time, generating funds to support local conservation activities for tropical forests and coral reefs. This agreement with El Salvador is the first TFCA agreement since 2014, for a total of 21 agreements with 14 countries implemented since the program was created, and the second agreement with El Salvador through the TFCA program. Through the first TFCA agreement, which entered into force in 2001, El Salvador has used conservation funding to preserve and restore tropical forests, such as mangrove ecosystems.
“El Salvador is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. I am pleased that this conservation agreement will build off the successes of the United States’ existing TFCA agreement with El Salvador by redirecting $20 million in concessional debt to help protect and restore the country’s tropical forestlands and coral reefs,” said Portman, co-chair of the International Conservation Caucus. “TFCA is a results-driven program. I look forward to continuing to work with the Department of the Treasury and the Department of State to finalize additional TFCA agreements with other countries around the world and with my colleagues in Congress to reauthorize the program for another five years.”
On Senate Floor, Portman Opposes Democrats’ Radical Voting Overhaul Bill & Effort To Dismantle Key Senate Institution That Incentives Bipartisanship
Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor outlining his opposition to Democrats’ controversial, sweeping “voting rights” legislation. Portman detailed the numerous problems with the legislation before chiding Democrats for using this issue to fan the flames of division and partisanship in the country. Portman also voiced his opposition to Democrats’ plan to dismantle the legislative filibuster, which brings members together and leads to bipartisan, sustainable laws — citing the bipartisan infrastructure law as an example. Instead, he called on Senators from both sides of the aisle to work together on common-sense solutions, such as reforming the Electoral Count Act.
Wednesday, January 19, 2022
On Fox News, Portman Discusses Crisis In Ukraine
In an interview on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom with Bill Hemmer and Dana Perino, Senator Portman shared insights from his recent trip to Ukraine, where he met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss the ongoing threat posed by Russia. Portman underscored the importance of bipartisan support for Ukraine and made clear that Russia will face severe economic consequences if they invade their sovereign neighbor.
Portman Statement on President Biden’s “Minor Incursion” Comments on Ukraine
Portman issued the following statement regarding President Biden’s comments at his press conference today where he suggested President Putin may launch a “minor incursion” of Ukraine:
“I am deeply troubled by comments from President Biden where he said a Russian invasion may just be ‘a minor incursion.’ This is the wrong way to view this threat. Any incursion by the Russian military into Ukraine should be viewed as a major incursion because it will destabilize Ukraine and freedom-loving countries in Eastern Europe.”
Thursday, January 20, 2022
Portman, Finance Republicans Stress Innovation-Killing Government Price Control Mandates Must Not Become Law
Portman, along with all of the Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee, sent a letter to their Senate colleagues emphasizing the wide-ranging drawbacks of the drug price control mandates contained in the House-passed Build Back Better Act (BBBA). The senators note the tax-and-spending proposal includes a number of problematic drug pricing provisions that risk undermining biomedical innovation, exacerbating inflationary pressures, imposing payment cuts on frontline health care providers, and compromising the United States’ global leadership. Full text of the letter is available here
“Under the unprecedented and constitutionally dubious system of bureaucratic drug price controls included in the Build Back Better Act, Americans would see fewer new treatments and vaccines, greater inflation pressures, and reductions in health care quality and access for years to come,” wrote the senators. “The bill would substantially undermine incentives for biomedical innovation, as unaccountable federal officials would compel a growing number of manufacturers each year to partake in a mandatory price-setting program, with non-compliance punished by an impossibly steep penalty of up to 95 percent on gross drug sales across all markets. Private-sector pricing practices would also come under federal control, moving us closer to a government-run health care system.”
On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Portman Discusses Crisis In Ukraine
Senator Portman, co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, made a joint appearance with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss the escalating crisis in Ukraine, as Russia continues its escalation on the Ukraine border. During the interview, Portman underscored the need to support Ukraine and made clear that Russia will face severe consequences if they invade their sovereign neighbor. Over the weekend, Senators Portman and Shaheen led a bipartisan congressional delegation of Senators to Kyiv, Ukraine, to meet with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss the ongoing threat.
Senator Portman also criticized Germany for not doing more to support Ukraine and push back against Russia’s aggressive posture. Germany will not conclusively say that they will not certify the NordStream 2 pipeline if Russia invades Ukraine. He also noted that Germany is not authorizing NATO weapons transfers nor allowing flights carrying military aid for Ukraine to fly over German airspace.
On PBS News Hour, Portman Discusses Crisis In Ukraine, Election Legislation in the Senate
In an interview on PBS’ News Hour with Judy Woodruff, Senators Portman and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) discussed the escalating crisis in Ukraine, as President Putin of Russia becomes more emboldened by the day to invade its neighbor. During the interview, Portman underscored the need to support Ukraine and made clear that Russia will face severe consequences if they invade their sovereign neighbor. Over the weekend, Senators Portman and Shaheen travelled to Kyiv, Ukraine, to meet with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss the ongoing threat.
Senator Portman then criticized the Democrats’ recent efforts to pass voting legislation in Senate, purely on party lines, saying it was a mistake to focus on it for a week knowing the legislation cannot pass in the Senate and given the fact that it would increase the polarization of our politics. Portman also argued against the Democrats’ attempts to get rid of the filibuster, the one tool left in the Senate that incentivizes collaborative, bipartisan work.
Portman, Brown, Rubio, Casey, Braun, Marshall Urge President Biden to Extend Safeguard Tariffs on Foreign Solar Panels
Senators Rob Portman, Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bob Casey (D-PA), Mike Braun (R-IN), and Roger Marshall (R-KS) sent a letter to President Biden urging him to heed the unanimous recommendation of the International Trade Commission (ITC) and extend the Section 201 safeguard tariffs on solar panels for another four years.
In May 2017, U.S. solar panel manufacturers filed a Section 201 safeguard petition with the ITC, seeking global tariffs in response to surges of solar panels, particularly from China. The ITC unanimously found that surging imports had injured U.S. solar panel producers and in January 2018, President Trump concurred with the ITC recommendation to impose a four year safeguard measure on foreign solar panels. With the safeguard set to expire, it is up to the Biden administration to extend the tariffs for another four years. The senators also noted that it is vital for the extended safeguard to apply to bifacial solar modules, which are currently not subject to the tariffs and causing serious harm to domestic solar manufacturers. The full letter can be found here.
“American solar manufacturing should be a key part of the clean energy economy, but despite the United States leading the world in solar research and development, China’s exploitative industrial and trade practices continue to hinder the growth of a strong U.S. solar supply chain,” wrote the senators. “We can only build that capacity if our trade laws are utilized and enforced to the fullest extent possible. Doing so will support American workers and businesses, promote fair trade, minimize the environmental impacts of solar manufacturing and reduce global supply chain reliance on forced labor.”
On Fox News, Portman Discusses Escalating Crisis In Ukraine
In an interview on Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Senator Portman discussed the escalating crisis in Ukraine, as President Putin of Russia becomes more emboldened by the day to invade its neighbor. During the interview, Portman underscored the need to support Ukraine and made clear that Russia will face severe consequences if they invade their sovereign neighbor. Over the weekend, Senator Portman traveled to Kyiv, Ukraine to meet with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss the ongoing threat.
Friday, January 21, 2022
Portman Applauds Intel’s Announcement of New Semiconductor Facility in New Albany, Ohio
Portman applauded the historic announcement by Intel that it plans to invest $20 billion in a new semiconductor facility in New Albany, Ohio. Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor chip manufacturer, will be making the largest economic development investment in state history. Senator Portman has spoken and met with Intel’s CEO, Pat Gelsinger, and other Intel executives several times over the past year. Portman has advocated for Ohio as a prime location for semiconductor manufacturing, given Ohio’s well-trained workforce, energy infrastructure and available land. Portman is attending a ceremony announcing the investment at the White House this morning and will also attend the event in New Albany this afternoon as well. He issued the following statement:
“This historic investment is great news for Ohio and for our nation. Intel is a world-class company and Ohio is well situated to be the home of their new semiconductor manufacturing center. Ohioans have a great work ethic, and thanks to our world-class institutions, has a highly trained workforce. It’s a great match. As I highlighted in my conversations with Intel’s CEO, Pat Gelsinger, Central Ohio also has the land, resources and energy infrastructure to accommodate the manufacturing of the best semiconductors in the world. I also want to say a special thanks to Governor DeWine, our state’s economic development arm JobsOhio, and One Columbus for all of their hard work in making this happen.
“While bringing thousands of high-paying jobs to Ohio, this historic investment will also help reshore semiconductor chip manufacturing, which has faced an international shortage over the past few years. U.S. dominance in semiconductor manufacturing has been dwindling for decades, and it’s both an economic and national security concern. While the U.S. still leads the world in chip design, our share of global chip manufacturing capacity over the last 30 years fell from 37 percent in 1990 to 12 percent in 2021, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association.
“That is why Intel’s historic investment today means so much and why we are working in a bipartisan fashion in Congress to pass legislation like the CHIPS Act and the broader U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) that I have championed. This legislation would improve our nation’s competitiveness in technology and communications, foreign relations and national security, domestic manufacturing, education, trade, and other important issues. The CHIPS Act specifically would bring $52 billion in new federal investments for domestic semiconductor research, design, and manufacturing. I was proud to cosponsor and support this legislation when it passed the Senate last June, and I’m hopeful the House of Representatives will act quickly so we can get this done.”
Friday, January 21, 2022
Portman, Gillibrand, Lankford, Peters, Rosen Lead Bipartisan Push For Funding To Help Protect Nonprofit Institutions Following Saturday’s Violent Attack On Jewish Community In Colleyville, Texas
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), James Lankford (R-OK), Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee requesting that the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) be adequately funded to meet the needs of at-risk organizations this fiscal year. The funding allocated by this program will support nonprofit organizations most at risk through the acquisition and installation of physical target hardening measures, related preparedness and prevention planning, training, and exercises, and contracted security personnel so that religious and community-based organizations have the critical resources and tools they need to protect lives and property, and worship without fear. According to FBI data, among all victims of anti-religious hate crimes in 2019, 60.2 percent were victims of crimes motivated by offenders' anti-Jewish bias. This letter is in response to the violent attack that occurred last Saturday at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.
“Violent extremists and terrorists continue to threaten our faith-based communities, as we saw in the recent antisemitic hostage situation at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Texas,” said Senator Portman. “Now, more than ever, Congress needs to support the Nonprofit Security Grant Program as synagogues, religious and cultural facilities, and other nonprofits in Ohio and across our country remain vulnerable to acts of terrorism.”
Republican U.S. senators said on Wednesday they are working with Democrats on legislation to aid Ukraine as Washington works to prevent another attack by Russia on the former Soviet state and after a bill they supported failed to pass last week. A bill led by Republican Senator Ted Cruz that would place sanctions on Russia's Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Germany within 15 days of passage, last week did not get the majority it needed to pass in the 50-50 Senate.
Critics said automatic sanctions on the pipeline risked driving a wedge between the United States and its allies, especially Germany, potentially harming a united front against Russia. A day before Cruz's bill, Democratic Senator Robert Menendez proposed a bill imposing sanctions on the pipeline, on top Russian officials including President Vladimir Putin, and on banking institutions, should Russia attack Ukraine again.
"Passing something is better than passing nothing," Senator Kevin Cramer told reporters, who added that elements of Republican proposed legislation, such as that sponsored by Senator Marco Rubio could be joined with items in the Menendez bill. The senators did not say when a unified bill could come to the floor for a vote in the Senate, which has a packed schedule.
Cramer, who earlier this week took part in a bipartisan visit of U.S. Senators to Ukraine, said the bill should cut off Russia's access to the SWIFT global electronic payment system. The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat is also preparing sanctions on Russia and will be prepared to impose them as soon as any tanks roll, officials have said. Restrictions under consideration could affect U.S. products exported to Russia and certain foreign-made products subject to U.S. jurisdiction.
Russia, which invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea in 2014, has massed about 100,000 troops on the border but says it is not readying another attack. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia could launch a new attack on Ukraine at "very short notice" but Washington would pursue diplomacy as long as it could. read more
The Menendez bill does not mention SWIFT by name, but the senator has said his legislation would target companies in Russia that offer secure messaging systems, such as SWIFT, which banks use to exchange information with other financial institutions. Senator Rob Portman, who was also on the trip to Ukraine, said the bill could include measures to help Ukraine fight against cyberattacks that were passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last April.
"We would most likely be able to fold that in any new legislation," Portman said. A massive cyberattack on Ukraine this month splashed Ukrainian government websites with a warning to "be afraid and expect the worst".
Tensions continue to rise on the Ukrainian border as politicians in Washington, both Republican and Democrat, are pushing for the US to provide even more weapons and aid to Ukraine ahead of possible conflict with Russia.
Over the past few weeks the Russian military has amassed about 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border, seemingly in response to an ongoing effort to make Ukraine a member of NATO, and/or a possible invasion. U.S. officials are hoping to avoid a situation like Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine back in 2014.
Ohio Senator Rob Portman believes that the Ukrainian people want to cast off their authoritarian past and join the western world by embracing democracy and free markets, which is why they came to us for help.
He says the Russian build up at the border is troubling, and wants the U.S. to send aid.
“The Ukrainians appreciate what we have done so far, they are interested in more help. They’re not looking for U.S. troops on the ground. What they’re looking for is the ability to defend themselves against this massive Russian build-up.”
Specifically, he is referring to anti-aircraft and anti-tank weaponry. Portman believes that if Russia continues to amass their military on the Ukrainian border, the Ukrainian people will rise up, and warns of massive economic sanctions levied on Russia by the United States.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with officials in Ukraine today, and claims that Russia could attack, quote, “on very short notice.” He urges the nuclear-armed Russia to pursue diplomacy and peace.