Rob’s Rundown: Week of January 28 – February 1, 2019

February 1, 2019 | Rob's Rundown

Senator Portman continued to push his legislation this week to permanently end government shutdowns. The bill now has 30 cosponsors and Portman has made it clear he will strongly push for its inclusion in any final government funding bill over the next few weeks.  The End Government Shutdowns Act has gained currency among Congressional leaders from both parties, praise from a number of national editorial boards, and has received widespread coverage from national outlets. Portman spoke on the Senate floor urging his colleagues to support the End Government Shutdowns Act. In an op-ed for CNN, as well as a piece in the Wall Street Journal, he argued that now is the time to get his legislation passed ensuring that essential government services aren’t disrupted in the future and protecting taxpayers who must bear the resulting cost. Portman appeared on Fox News, CNN and CNBC this week to promote the End Government Shutdowns Act.

In addition, Portman introduced three separate pieces of legislation this week. He introduced the E-Verify Act, legislation to require employers to use an electronic employment verification (E-Verify) system in order to stem the tide of illegal immigration. He also reintroduced the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cyber Hunt and Incident Response Teams Act with Senator Maggie Hassan to help bolster cybersecurity by requiring DHS to make permanent the “cyber hunt” and “cyber incident response” teams that work to help prevent cyberattacks on federal agencies and the private sector, and help mitigate the impact of such attacks when they occur. Along with Senator Cardin, Portman introduced legislation to reauthorize the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (S. 310), which would promote the long-term conservation, education, research, monitoring, and habitat protection for more than 380 species of migratory birds. 

On Friday it was announced that Portman was selected by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, to lead the committee’s Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions and Family Policy.  The panel will give Senator Portman a platform to continue his work on pensions and retirement security policy.  

Finally, Senator Portman released a statement praising the Department of Labor’s January jobs report, which showed that the economy created 304,000 new jobs in January, significantly outperforming analysts’ expectations. 

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

 

Monday, January 28 

Ending Government Shutdowns Altogether Gains Currency Among Congressional Leaders from Both Parties

Stopping government shutdowns in the future is gaining currency among members of Congress on both sides.  Earlier this month, Senator Portman introduced the End Government Shutdowns Act to permanently prevent the federal government from shutting down, ensuring that essential government services aren’t disrupted and protecting taxpayers who must bear the resulting cost. The legislation will create an automatic continuing resolution (CR) for any regular appropriations bill or existing CR, keeping the federal government open when budget negotiations falter before key spending deadlines. This was the 5th time Portman has introduced the legislation to permanently prevent government shutdowns, and he made clear he will strongly push for its inclusion in any final government funding bill over the next few weeks. 

Here is what congressional leaders are saying:

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA):  “The final package should also end government shutdowns once and for all."

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): “[Former Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI)] had a bill that I’m hoping we might be able to put forward. And what that bill said is that if you do not, on any appropriations bill, I’m not talking about the omnibus or minibus, any appropriations bill that does not get agreed upon within a timely fashion by the date, you automatically go into a CR until you do.”

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY): “Now that the shutdown is over, we should roll up our sleeves and make sure it never happens again.” 

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN): “We accepted the idea that shutting down the government is an acceptable bargaining chip in a budget negotiation and it should never, ever be, and we should resolve that that should never, ever happen.”

Senator Steve Daines (R-MT): “Shutdowns don’t work. Yet we’re seeing them happen time and time again. The End Government Shutdowns Act will hold Congress accountable to funding the government and ensure that hardworking folks aren’t paying the price for the partisan, political games being played in DC.”

Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA): “It is wrong to continue the constant threat of a government shutdown, and Americans should expect their government to function and budget responsibly. Too often, last-minute omnibus bills do little to address out-of-control spending, while shutdowns cut off essential federal government services and force Americans to bear the burden of Congress' dysfunction. This is the one proposal in Washington that will work to end these irresponsible shutdowns that harm Georgians and Americans.”

Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY): “Shutting down the government disrupts lives both inside and outside the government. We could avoid future shutdowns altogether if Congress would pass the End Government Shutdowns Act.”

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY): Shutting down the government, even partially, never benefits anyone. Americans shouldn’t have to suffer uncertainty or go without a paycheck because Congress failed to fund the government. This legislation will help put an end to unnecessary shutdowns in the future.”

Senator James Risch (R-ID): “Shutting down the government is the complete opposite of what we were elected to do - govern. I have cosponsored this legislation year after year and hope we can finally move it forward. Real people with real problems get caught in the balance of government shutdowns and we need to act for them and for the sake of government efficiency. I would prefer to see a smaller and less intrusive government than what we have, but regardless it needs to operate.”

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT): “Shutdowns are not a responsible way to govern. They create instability and unpredictability not only in our government, but also for the many families and businesses that interact with the federal government. Sen. Portman’s End Government Shutdowns Act strikes a necessary balance between incentivizing good budgeting habits while discouraging last-minute, haphazard stopgap funding measures. And it provides stability and predictability without allowing Congress to pat ourselves on the back for averting a self-made crisis.”

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK): “The ripple effect of a government shutdown has consequences for all Alaskans-- most directly on the thousands of federal employees and tens of thousands more that rely on our federal agencies. This legislation permanently ends government shutdowns with a commonsense solution to avoid a funding lapse, ensuring the jobs and livelihoods of federal workers and contractors are not held hostage during political disputes. For the sake of our federal employees, their families, and our nation, I’m proud to support the End Government Shutdowns Act.”

Senator Mark Warner (D-VA): “The final language in any deal that comes out three weeks from now should put strong provisions and strong penalties in place to prevent this tactic from being used by either party or any White House or Congress in the future.”

 

Tuesday, January 29

Portman CNN Op-Ed: Let’s Make Sure a Government Shutdown Never Happens Again

In a new CNN op-ed, Portman highlighted his legislation, the End Government Shutdowns Act, which will permanently prevent the federal government from shutting down, ensuring that essential government services aren’t disrupted and protecting taxpayers who must bear the resulting cost. Portman has made clear he will strongly push for its inclusion in any final government funding bill over the next few weeks. 

Portman wrote: “Now is the time to get this done. Let’s not let this moment pass without preventing government shutdowns once and for all. As members of both parties work together to forge a bipartisan funding agreement over the next few weeks, I hope we can include this legislation in the final bill.”

The full op-ed can be found at this link.  

Editorial Boards Back Portman Effort to End Government Shutdowns

A number of the nation’s editorial boards – including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Washington Post, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Toledo Blade, Akron Beacon Journal, and Cincinnati Enquirer – are praising Senator Portman’s efforts to end government shutdowns for good.  Earlier this year, for the fifth time, he introduced his End Government Shutdowns Act legislation which will permanently prevent the federal government from shutting down, ensuring that essential government services aren’t disrupted and protecting taxpayers who must bear the resulting cost. The legislation will create an automatic continuing resolution (CR) for any regular appropriations bill or existing CR, keeping the federal government open when budget negotiations falter before key spending deadlines. Portman has made clear he will strongly push for its inclusion in any final government funding bill over the next few weeks. 

Excerpts of the editorials can be found here.

On Fox News, Portman Highlights Support for Strengthening Border Security & Ending Government Shutdowns

On Fox News’ America’s Newsroom with Bill Hemmer this week, Senator Portman highlighted his support for President Trump’s proposal to strengthen U.S. border security and the need to end government shutdowns in the future. Portman shared his optimism that both parties will come to an agreement on border security prior to the February 15 deadline. Earlier this month, Portman introduced the End Government Shutdowns Act to permanently prevent the federal government from shutting down, ensuring that essential government services aren’t disrupted and protecting taxpayers who must bear the resulting cost. Portman has made clear he will strongly push for its inclusion in any final government funding bill over the next few weeks. 

Portman also spoke out on the ongoing Mueller investigation and reiterated his belief that Mueller should be allowed to finish his investigation without political interference but that he looks forward to the results being released soon.

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

 

Wednesday, January 30 

On CNBC, Portman Highlights His Legislation to Prevent Future Government Shutdowns

CNBC’s Squawk Box highlighted Portman’s legislation to end government shutdowns in the future. Earlier this year, for the fifth time, Portman introduced the End Government Shutdowns Act to permanently prevent the federal government from shutting down, ensuring that essential government services aren’t disrupted and protecting taxpayers who must bear the resulting cost. The bill now has 25 cosponsors.  Portman has made clear he will strongly push for its inclusion in any final government funding bill over the next few weeks. 

Portman also spoke about the ongoing US-China trade negotiations and the need to secure a level playing field for American workers and products.

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

On CNN, Portman Discusses His Legislation to Prevent Future Government Shutdowns and Working With Allies in Syria

CNN’s At This Hour With Kate Bolduan highlighted Portman’s legislation to end government shutdowns in the future.

Portman also discussed the importance of working with our allies in Syria to ensure ISIS is defeated and no longer a threat.  

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

On Senate Floor, Portman Urges the Senate to End Government Shutdowns for Good

Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor urging the Senate to support his End Government Shutdowns Act to permanently prevent the federal government from shutting down. The bill now has 28 cosponsors.  Portman has made clear he will strongly push for its inclusion in any final government funding bill over the next few weeks. 

“Let’s do something good for the people we represent but at the same time, let’s find the will to include in this package legislation that ends these government shutdowns. While it is still fresh in our minds as to what happened these last several weeks, let’s be sure that having gone through this bitter experience, the longest shutdown in history, we don’t let people down. Instead we make sure that we do not let this moment pass and indeed stop these government shutdowns once and for all,” said Portman.

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

 

Thursday, January 31

 

Widespread Coverage Highlights Portman Effort to End Government Shutdowns

A number of the nation’s media outlets are highlighting Portman’s efforts to end government shutdowns for good.  Earlier this year, for the fifth time, he introduced his End Government Shutdowns Act legislation which will permanently prevent the federal government from shutting down, ensuring that essential government services aren’t disrupted and protecting taxpayers who must bear the resulting cost. The legislation currently has nearly 30 cosponsors in the Senate and a bipartisan companion in the House. Portman has made clear he will strongly push for its inclusion in any final government funding bill over the next few weeks. 

Excerpts of the coverage can be found here.

Portman Introduces Bill to Strengthen E-Verify & Prevent Future Illegal Immigration

Portman introduced the E-Verify Act, legislation to require employers to use an electronic employment verification (E-Verify) system in order to stem the tide of illegal immigration. Currently, the E-Verify program is an optional pilot program for most employers, and it has significant limitations—primarily, it does not sufficiently validate the authenticity of the identity documents new employees present to their employers.  Senator Portman’s version of E-Verify will validate each new employee’s identity and work authorization status.  Federal Reserve economists found that when states have mandated the use of E-Verify, it  “reduces the total number of likely unauthorized immigrants who stay in that state by about 10 percent.”

“The goal of E-Verify is to provide a simple, reliable way for employers to confirm a new employee’s work eligibility and identity.  Since the program is optional, however, it has failed to eliminate the job magnet that remains a draw for unauthorized workers.  This measure requires all employers to use E-Verify going forward and it would strengthen the E-Verify system to help curtail the widespread unauthorized employment that fuels illegal immigration.”

 

Friday, February 1

Portman: “Strong Job Growth is Good News for Families in Ohio and Around the Country”

Portman praised the Labor Department’s latest jobs report showing the economy created an 304,000 net new jobs in January, significantly outperforming analysts’ expectations.  Portman issued the following statement:

“Today’s report of strong job growth is good news for families in Ohio and around the country who are benefitting from pro-growth policies like tax reform and regulatory relief put in place over the last two years. I’m pleased that wage increases over the last 12 months have been the largest since the Great Recession, with the fastest wage growth benefitting to production and nonsupervisory workers. In addition, today’s report revised up the department’s estimate of average monthly job gains in 2018 again to 223,000. The pre-tax reform baseline projection by the Congressional Budget Office estimated an average growth of only 107,000 jobs per month in 2018.  We must continue our efforts to strengthen our economy over the long term and I’m committed to working with my colleagues in a bipartisan way to do just that.”

Portman to Chair Key Subcommittee on Pensions & Retirement Security

Portman a member of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, was selected by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, to lead the committee’s Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions and Family Policy.  The panel will give Senator Portman a platform to continue his work on pensions and retirement security policy. 

Last year Portman was appointed to serve on the Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans, and while the committee did not achieve a bipartisan solution by the necessary deadline, Portman stated he will continue working in a bipartisan way to find a solution to this pension crisis threatening 1.3 million Americans, more than 60,000 Ohioans, and thousands of small businesses around the country.  Portman also led the introduction of broad set of bipartisan reforms – the Retirement Security & Savings Act – designed to help Americans save more for retirement and increase access to 401(k)s and other retirement plans, and he plans to reintroduce this measure soon in this new Congress.

“I want to thank Chairman Grassley for selecting me to lead this subcommittee.  I’m excited about the opportunity to continue my work on these issues, and to offer solutions that make a difference for the people of Ohio.  Without action, the multiemployer pension system will collapse, leaving many Ohio workers and retirees impoverished and forcing many employers to go bankrupt.  That’s an unacceptable outcome.  I’m disappointed that the select committee did not reach an agreement last year on bipartisan reforms, and I will continue to do my part and work with my colleagues until we solve this pension crisis.  In addition, we must do more to help Americans save for their retirement and I’m looking forward to making real progress on these issues during this Congress.”

Portman, Hassan Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Bolster “Cyber Hunt and Incident Response Teams” to Strengthen Cybersecurity, Protect the Homeland

Senators Portman and Hassan, both members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), reintroduced their bipartisan Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cyber Hunt and Incident Response Teams Act to help bolster cybersecurity by requiring DHS to make permanent the “cyber hunt” and “cyber incident response” teams that work to help prevent cyberattacks on federal agencies and the private sector, and help mitigate the impact of such attacks when they occur. Cyber response teams play a vital role in helping federal agencies, critical infrastructure, and key private sector partners address cyber challenges and disrupt threats from cyber criminals, cyber terrorists, and hostile countries.

“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,” Senator Portman said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to pass this bipartisan legislation to ensure that DHS has the authorities it needs to effectively reduce cybersecurity risks.”

Portman, Cardin Introduce Legislation to Protect the Northern Cardinal, Baltimore Oriole, and Other Migratory Birds

Senators Portman Cardin have introduced legislation to reauthorize the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (S. 310), which would promote the long-term conservation, education, research, monitoring, and habitat protection for more than 380 species of migratory birds. Migratory birds, including Ohio’s state bird, the Northern Cardinal, and Maryland’s state bird, the Baltimore Oriole, continue to face threats from pesticide pollution, deforestation, sprawl, and invasive species that degrade their habitats. This legislation invests $6.5 million each year through 2024 for critical conservation programs that have demonstrated marked successes through public-private partnerships and innovative granting and conservation strategies. 

“Hundreds of bird species migrate through Ohio each year, making Lake Erie one of the most popular destinations for birdwatching,” Senator Portman said. “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 proud to work with Senator Cardin on this bipartisan legislation.”

 

On Social Media

 

  

 

Sen. Portman pushing bill to end future government shutdowns

Sen. Rob Portman is backing a bill to end government shutdowns for once and for all.

For five Congresses now, Portman, R-Ohio, has pushed a bill that would automatically renew government funding if Congress and the White House can’t reach a deal to pass appropriations bills by the beginning of the new fiscal year. 

This year, he’s got a new partner in the fight: Rep. Troy Balderson, a Zanesville Republican, introduced a House version of the bill late Friday, just as the latest shutdown was coming to an end. 

Their bills come with repercussions aimed at keeping Congress from just passing the same spending bills at last year’s levels without the sort of oversight that the Constitution requires. 

After 120 days, if Congress still didn’t pass its spending bills, they’d reduce spending levels across the board by one percent. After 90 days, it would go down another one percent. The idea, Portman said, is to provide a threat to motivate Congress to act. Every Congress he introduces the bill. Every Congress it goes nowhere. But this year, Portman said, may be different: The bill was introduced on the heels of a 35-day-long shutdown that was the longest in the nation’s history. There’s also a level of urgency: Congress has fewer than three weeks before the current agreement, which runs through Feb. 15, expires. But Portman’s idea is the one that seems to have the most support.

Portman had 18 cosponsors, all Republican, as of Friday and he expected to have 20 by the end of Monday. And Democratic interest is there. Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have embraced the idea conceptually; whether that means they’ll support Portman’s bill is yet to be seen.

Portman says now is the time to change process  “I think there’s more appetite for this bill today than I’ve ever seen,” Portman said, saying this most recent shutdown made Democrats and Republicans alike realize shutdowns “are only effective at hurting taxpayers and government workers.”

Balderson, meanwhile, who is still in his first few months of Congress, never thought this would be the first bill he’d introduce. “It was the farthest thing from my mind,” he said, saying he would never have anticipated starting this Congress with part of the government shut down. He said, though, that the bill is a worthwhile one to introduce. Shutdowns, he said, are “not fair” to government employees or taxpayers. “We pay our people when they work,” he said. “To not pay Americans when they do their job is just not fair.” He’s already got a Democratic cosponsor on his bill — Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey — and said he’s working the phones to gather more cosponsors. He doesn’t think it will be difficult to get support. “It’s not really going to be that hard to sell it,” he said. “All I have to say is how unfair this is to the American people. There’s no greater talking point than that.”

How President Donald Trump feels about the bill is to be seen. Asked about it at a White House briefing Monday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “The hypotheticals of taking that off the table — I haven’t seen a piece of legislation for us to even consider at this point that would make that a reality but what I do know is the president is committed to fixing the problem.” Portman said the bipartisan group he’s worked with is hopeful that the ultimate immigration agreement will do two things: Give Democrats some wins on immigration, such as an agreement allowing those brought here illegally as children to stay in the country; give Republicans a win with border security money and finally, end shutdowns forever.

“It’s a tight turnaround,” Portman acknowledged, but said, “It’s been introduced in the last five Congresses, so there’s been plenty of vetting of it.” 

(Sen. Portman pushing bill to end future government shutdowns. Dayton Daily News. January 28, 2019.)  

Let’s End Government Shutdowns for Good

Regarding William A. Galston’s “A Bipartisan Shutdown Solution” (Politics & Ideas, Jan. 23): Almost everyone says government shutdowns are a bad idea, so let’s end them for good. If my End Government Shutdowns Act were the law of the land today, we wouldn’t have had this mess.

The bill would continue funding from the previous year when appropriation bills aren’t completed in time, or at the expiration of any continuing resolution that expires. After the first 120 days, funding would be reduced by 1%, and by 1% again every 90 days thereafter, until Congress does its job and completes the appropriations process.

Mr. Galston expresses concern that my bill could be a vehicle “for back-door budget cuts without Congress’s explicit consent.” Both parties have spending priorities, and the reason modest budget cuts after 120 days are necessary is to provide lawmakers the incentive to make the important budget choices that Mr. Galston calls for and avoid the scenario of perpetual continuing resolutions. Democrats like Mr. Galston must remember that defense spending is now more than half of discretionary spending, so there are clear incentives for both Republicans and Democrats to resolve spending bills.

This bill is a common-sense way to protect federal employees and their families who have suffered recently, to ensure that essential government services aren’t disrupted and to protect taxpayers who must bear the resulting cost of these shutdowns. Congress should include it in any final funding agreement to prevent these types of unnecessary shutdowns in the future.

(Let’s End Government Shutdowns for Good. Rob Portman. Wall Street Journal. January 21, 2019.)

 

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