Rob’s Rundown: Week of January 6 – January 10, 2020

January 10, 2020 | Rob's Rundown

This week, Senator Portman unveiled an extensive list of legislative accomplishments for 2019, the first year of the 116th Congress. In 2019, 21 of Portman’s bills and three of his amendments were signed into law.  In total — during his nine years in the Senate — Portman has successfully enacted 172 of his legislative priorities into law, including 126 bills as well as 46 amendments. 

At the Senate Finance Committee markup of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Trade Agreement on Tuesday, Portman highlighted how it will strengthen our economy and support American workers, farmers, and manufacturers. The Senate Finance Committee approved USMCA by a strong, bipartisan vote of 25-3. The agreement now awaits consideration before several other committees before it heads to the Senate floor for final passage. Portman issued a statement praising the committee approval.

In addition, Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor praising President Trump for his leadership in protecting American forces in the Middle East. Last week, Portman stated that Iranian aggression must not go unchecked. President Trump authorized the killing of Quds force and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps leader Qasem Soleimani earlier this month. Soleimani was responsible for the killing of more than 600 American soldiers and the wounding of several thousand more.

Finally, the Washington Post editorial board called for passage of legislation that would allow the Drug Enforcement Agency to permanently enforce a ban on fentanyl-related substances that is due to expire on February 6, 2020. Portman’s bipartisan Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act will do just that by permanently criminalizing illicitly manufactured and deadly fentanyl-related substances.

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

Monday, January 6, 2020

Portman Highlights Legislative Accomplishments in 2019

Portman unveiled an extensive list of legislative accomplishments for 2019, the first year of the 116th Congress, just as he did in the previous CongressIn 2019, 21 of Portman’s bills and three of his amendments were signed into law.  In total — during his nine years in the Senate — Portman has successfully enacted 172 of his legislative priorities into law, including 126 bills as well as 46 amendments.  He has introduced more than 400 bills; more than 300 of which have been bipartisan. A full document of his legislative victories in 2019 can be found here.  

“I’m proud of the accomplishments we made in 2019 to address the real challenges facing Ohioans,” said Portman. “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 drug addiction epidemic, make health care more affordable and accessible, and increase cybersecurity. This year, I will continue to be an independent voice for Ohio fighting for common-sense solutions to benefit our state.  That includes working to pass my bipartisan JOBS Act, which will expand access to Pell Grants so Ohioans can afford shorter-term job training programs so that they have the skills necessary for the jobs available today. I’ll work to pass my FIGHT Fentanyl Act, which will permanently criminalize fentanyl-related substances so that law enforcement can keep these dangerous synthetic opioids out of our communities. We must do more on retirement security, which is why I’ve introduced the Retirement Security & Savings Act. Finally, I’m working to ensure the Senate passes the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which will expand markets and level the playing field for Ohio workers, farmers, and small business owners. I’m confident that we can continue to make progress on these and other issues in 2020. My top priority will continue to be delivering results for Ohio.”   

Washington Post Editorial Board Highlights Urgent Need to Pass Legislation to Permanently Ban Fentanyl

In an editorial titled “Congress Should Act to Allow a Ban on Fentanyl Indefinitely” the Washington Post editorial board called for passage of legislation that would allow the Drug Enforcement Agency to permanently enforce a ban on fentanyl-related substances that is due to expire on February 6, 2020. Senator Portman has bipartisan legislation to do just that.

Last year, Senator Portman 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. Portman is working to pass this legislation soon.

The Washington Post editorial states: “Fentanyl is a powerful opioid analgesic with great medical benefits for those suffering from cancer pain — and great potential for improper and illicit use. That potential had fortunately gone mostly unrealized in the United States before 2013, at which point drug users discovered fentanyl as an alternative to heroin and other prescription opioids, and the number of deaths from synthetic opioid (primarily fentanyl) overdose skyrocketed, according to government data, reaching 28,466 by 2017 — or nearly half of all opioid-related deaths that year... In February 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration addressed this issue by invoking special emergency authorities to impose a “class-wide” ban on any and all fentanyl analogues. But this ban expires Feb. 6… Congress should enact the bill before that.”

Excerpts of the editorial can be found here and the full editorial can be found here.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Portman Praises Senate Finance Committee Approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement

Portman issued the following statement after the Senate Finance Committee approved the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA): 

“The Senate Finance Committee’s strong bipartisan approval of USMCA is good news for Ohio and the country, and an important step forward in our efforts to secure passage by the full Senate. 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.  

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

“I applaud President Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer for their persistence and their determination to finalize this historic new trade agreement. A vote for USMCA is a vote for improved market access, more U.S. manufacturing, and a more level playing field for American workers, farmers, and service providers. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to join me in supporting it when it reaches the Senate floor.”

At Senate Finance Committee Markup Hearing, Portman Urges Support for USMCA

At a Senate Finance Committee markup hearing, Portman highlighted his support for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Trade Agreement, which will strengthen our economy and support American workers, farmers, and manufacturers. Portman supports the more modern USMCA to the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in part because it includes new and enforceable environmental and labor standards, a new section on digital trade, expanded opportunities for agricultural trade, and new opportunities for auto jobs in America. The Senate Finance Committee approved USMCA by a strong, bipartisan vote of 25-3. The agreement now awaits consideration before several other committees before it heads to the Senate floor for final passage.

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

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

On Senate Floor, Portman Praises President Trump’s Leadership in Addressing Iranian Aggression

On the Senate floor, Portman delivered remarks praising President Trump for his leadership in protecting American forces in the Middle East.  

Last week, Portman stated that Iranian aggression must not go unchecked. President Trump authorized the killing of Quds force and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps leader Qasem Soleimani 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.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Portman, Brown, Gonzalez Announce Fallen Warrior Battlefield Cross Memorial Act Signed Into Law

Senators Portman and Sherrod Brown and U.S. Representative Anthony Gonzalez announced that President Trump signed into law their bipartisan Fallen Warrior Battlefield Cross Memorial Act. This law will allow fallen heroes to be honored at their gravesite with a replica of the Battlefield Cross. The Battlefield Cross is a memorial marker typically consisting of a soldier’s helmet, rifle, identification tag, and pair of boots that serves to honor and respect servicemembers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.  The bill passed the House of Representatives in November and passed the Senate in December.

“The Battlefield Cross is an important symbol of the service and sacrifice of thousands of fallen American heroes both in combat zones and here at home,” said Portman. “I applaud President Trump for signing this legislation into law in order to help ensure that veterans buried in Ohio and around the country can be properly honored with the Battlefield Cross. These memorials stand as a constant reminder of the cost of our freedom.”

SOCIAL MEDIA

 

Looking back at the 2019 accomplishments

The new year is a time to look back on the accomplishments of 2019 and look forward into the new year. Reflecting back on 2019, I’m really proud of the work my team and I have done in Congress to help Ohioans and their families.

Despite the partisanship and media focus on impeachment, we’ve quietly been working hard on both sides of the aisle to find solutions to real challenges facing Ohioans. In all, President Trump signed more than 50 of my bipartisan legislative initiatives into law, on issues ranging from helping people save for retirement to the drug crisis that has gripped Ohio.

In 2019, I continued to take the lead in the Senate in tackling the addiction epidemic. Over the past few years, I’ve worked to pass laws like the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which has been used to help expand education, treatment and recovery services. I pushed to ensure CARA has the resources it needs to make a difference, securing a record $658 million in funding for CARA grants in 2020.

In addition, my bipartisan Combating Meth and Cocaine Act was recently signed into law for 2020, allowing grant funds allocated to combat opioid addiction to also be used for treatment and recovery services for new threats like crystal meth and cocaine — psychostimulants that are surging across our state.

We made some progress in passing legislation to improve health care access. For example, in April, the president signed into law my ACE Kids Act to improve health outcomes and care coordination for children with complex medical conditions on Medicaid, and it’s already starting to make a difference. 

I successfully fought for Ohio’s defense installations and our military families, too. In the passed National Defense Authorization Act, critical Ohio installations like Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton and the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC) in Lima got the resources needed to complete their important missions. That includes $1.7 billion to produce needed Abrams tanks and $523 million to produce armored Stryker vehicles at JSMC, plus $394 million to upgrade existing Stryker vehicles. This ensures that our men and women on the front lines have the best and most lethal equipment. 

Wright-Patt, the largest single-site employer in Ohio, continues to expand its important role in safeguarding our national security with my strong support. It will receive nearly $121 million to finish upgrades to its National Air and Space Intelligence Center, which provides vital intelligence to our country’s leaders about threats from the skies. On top of all these important initiatives, our servicemembers will see a 3.1 percent across-the-board pay raise — the largest in a decade.

I’m also proud President Trump recently signed into law the SECURE Act. This bipartisan retirement legislation included provisions I authored to help more Americans save for their retirement by encouraging small businesses to offer retirement plans to their workers, ensuring millions of part-time employees can access 401(k) plans, and increase the age for required minimum distributions from 70 1/2 to 72.

Our successes in 2019 weren’t just about passing laws. I’ve worked with my colleagues to conduct proper oversight so we know our laws are being enforced. As Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, I held hearings on important issues like Chinese influence at U.S. colleges, the cost of federal government shutdowns, and foreign talent recruitment schemes used to steal U.S. technology.  As a result of this oversight, I’m introducing bipartisan legislation soon to offer solutions.

These are only a few of our legislative accomplishments in 2019. I encourage Ohioans to visit portman.senate.gov for a more in-depth look at our wins for our state. While I’m pleased to have achieved a lot in the last year, there is lots more to do. In 2020, I will continue to be an independent voice for Ohio promoting good policy outcomes for our state.

That will include working to pass my bipartisan JOBS Act, which will expand access to Pell Grants so Ohioans can afford shorter-term job training programs that will get them meaningful, good-paying jobs. I’ll work to pass my FIGHT Fentanyl Act, which will permanently criminalize fentanyl-related substances so that law enforcement can keep these dangerous synthetic opioids out of our communities. We must do more on retirement security, which is why I’ve introduced the Retirement Security & Savings Act. Finally, I’m working to ensure the Senate passes the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which will expand markets and level the playing field for Ohio workers, farmers, and small business owners.

I’m confident that we can continue to make progress on these and other issues in 2020. My top priority will continue to be delivering results for Ohio.

(Looking back at the 2019 accomplishments. Salem News. January 7, 2020)

As trade deficit narrows, USMCA advances in Senate

In the midst of a series of trade battles sparked by President Donald Trump's use of tariffs to both protect American industry and punish certain trading partners, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday that the nation's trade deficit shrank in November by just over eight percent.

If the trade imbalance stays on that path in December, it would be the first time that the yearly trade deficit went down on a year-to-year basis in six years. Exports in November went up 0.7 percent to $208.6 billion, while imports went down one percent, to $251.7 billion, as the individual trade deficits went down with three major U.S. trading partners - China, Japan, and Canada.

The trade news came just a few hours before the Senate Finance Committee overwhelmingly voted to approve enabling legislation associated with the USMCA - the trade deal involving the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, which hammered out in recent months by the Trump Administration. The USMCA now goes to the Senate floor, where final approval is expected as early as next week.

"This long-awaited agreement is a significant improvement over the status quo of NAFTA," said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). "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."

"It is good for American workers," said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who joined Portman in voting for the plan in committee. "It is good public policy."

"One step closer to seeing USMCA signed into law," said Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD).

The USMCA agreement has been especially welcomed by farmers, as farm interests at all levels have been buffeted by the collateral damage of the President's trade fights.

"We hope the USMCA will be a model for future U.S. trade agreements as the administration pursues a level playing field around the globe for our farmers and ranchers," said Zippy Duvall, the President of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

(As trade deficit narrows, USMCA advances in Senate. Journal News. January 7 2020)

 

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