Rob’s Rundown: Week of July 18 – July 22, 2022

July 22, 2022 | Rob's Rundown

Senator Portman was back in Washington this week where he spoke on the Senate floor about the need for Congress to pass the bipartisan CHIPS Act and the broader United States Innovation and Competition Act, or USICA, in order to strengthen semiconductor manufacturing in America. Portman has been an advocate for this legislation since it passed the Senate over a year ago. Since then, Portman has worked across the aisle with Republicans and Democrats alike to get this bill to the president’s desk before the August recess. The CHIPS Act will invest $52 billion in this technology and provide thousands of good-paying jobs to communities across the country. In Ohio, this legislation will help Intel increase their $20 billion investment in New Albany to build two semiconductor foundries to potentially $100 billion and eight total foundries.

In addition, Portman urged his colleagues to support his amendment to include his bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act, or SAIA, which passed the Senate last year on a bipartisan basis as a part of the CHIPS Plus package. Portman’s legislation will ensure the federal government is taking decisive action to safeguard the $250 billion American taxpayer-funded investment in innovation in the CHIPS Act package currently under consideration.

Portman also spoke on the Senate floor for the 18th consecutive session week regarding the situation in Ukraine. He urged the Biden administration to send Ukraine more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) so they can effectively target Russian forces and noted the success they are having currently with just a handful. Senator Portman called for the Senate to approve Finland and Sweden’s NATO application before the August district work period begins. Senator Portman also discussed one of the war’s youngest casualties, Liza Dmytrieva, a four-year-old girl who was on her way to a speech therapist when murdered by Russian bombardments. As a consistent and strong voice for the people of Ukraine, Portman has highlighted the need for critical aid that goes to not only their soldiers but humanitarian aid for noncombatants, such as women and children like Liza. As the effects of Russia’s aggression reach beyond the borders of Ukraine, Senator Portman continues to lead his Senate colleagues in pushing the administration to provide more support for the Ukrainian people, their government, and President Zelenskyy.

On Monday, Portman expressed alarm after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released operational statistics showing that with three months left in the fiscal year, 2022 has already broken the record for the highest number of border encounters, making it clear that this administration’s border crisis will soon be a catastrophe.

On Tuesday, as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Portman voted to advance the ratification of Finland and Sweden’s NATO applications.

On Wednesday, Portman joined a bipartisan group of senators to introduce two bipartisan proposals which include legislation to reform and modernize the outdated Electoral Count Act of 1887 to ensure that the electoral votes tallied by Congress accurately reflect each state’s vote for President. 

At a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday, Portman pressed David Pekoske, the nominee to serve as the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), on the measures he is taking to ensure the safety of air travel in the United States after he admitted that TSA knowingly allows individuals on the terrorist watch list to fly commercially

This week, Senator Portman cosponsored the bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act (S. 4556), a measure to strengthen same-sex and interracial marriage.

Finally, Senator Portman introduced a resolution recognizing Russia’s actions in Ukraine, which include forced deportations to Russia and the purposeful killing of Ukrainian civilians in mass atrocities, as constituting a genocide against the people of Ukraine. 

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

Monday, July 18, 2022

In Greater Cincinnati, Portman Meets with Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport Officials  

Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman met with officials from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to discuss how the airport and the region will benefit from the funding in Portman’s bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The bipartisan infrastructure law, which was signed into law last November, provides $25 billion in new spending for airports. Ohio’s airports have received more than $163 million for airport improvement projects within the COVID airport improvement program, and this new funding builds on that momentum to further improve Ohio’s terminals and runways. During the visit, Senator Portman also was given a tour of the airport, where he saw the West Apron Reconstruction which will support additional growth and development, as well as some of the refresh projects, including apron and taxi lane improvements around Concourse B. 

“I had a very constructive visit and tour with leaders from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport about how the airport is using funding from the new infrastructure law to upgrade its facilities and improve the experience for customers,” said Senator Portman. “The bipartisan infrastructure law, which I helped spearhead last year, has historic new funding for airports to improve their capacity and functionality and I’m excited about the opportunities for growth and expansion here in Cincinnati. I encourage airports across Ohio to take advantage of this great opportunity.”

In December, Senator Portman announced that nearly 100 airports across the state of Ohio will receive nearly $319 million in federal funding over the next five years thanks to the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Regional Airport will receive $65 million over the next five years in formula funding. These dedicated funds, on top of the new competitive Airport Terminal Improvement program and the FAA NextGen program funding, will allow Ohio’s airports to compete for overdue upgrades and allow them to continue recovery from the economic impact of COVID-19, and continue their position as catalysts for economic growth.

In February, Senator Portman announced that the Federal Aviation Administration opened up applications for airports in Ohio and around the United States for their Airport Terminal Program. This grant program, which will provide a total of $5 billion in funding over five years, provides funding for terminal, on-airport rail access, and airport-owned airport traffic control tower projects. As of earlier this month, two airports in Ohio have already received grants through the program.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Portman, Bennet, King, Manchin Applaud FCC’s Proposed Broadband Standard

The New Proposed 100 Mbps Definition of Broadband Comes After a Letter From the Senators to FCC Chair Rosenworcel

U.S. Senators Rob Portman, Michael Bennet (D-CO), Angus King (I-ME), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) today applauded the FCC’s proposal to redefine broadband connections as 100 megabits (Mbps) per second download or faster, enabling American families to access connections that meet the needs of modern internet users. The senators had previously called on the FCC and the Biden administration to make this change, replacing the current outdated 25 megabits per second download speed definition.

“As rural communities across the country begin to see the massive impacts of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s historic investment in affordable broadband technology, we must make sure everyone has the high-speed connections needed to fully engage in 21st century life,” said the senators. “To avoid lagging behind in our increasingly connected world, rural residents need the ability to work remotely, video conference with their loved ones, and access vital services like distance learning or telehealth. The current federal broadband standard of 25 megabits per second download speed has proven to be insufficient for these needs, and must be significantly updated to ensure reliable service. We’re glad Chair Rosenworcel has heard our calls to modernize this definition, and urge the FCC to finalize their decision on the standard as soon as possible.”

In March of last year, the senators wrote a letter urging the 100 Mbps standard to then-Acting Chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Jessica Rosenworcel, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese. In their letter, the senators highlighted the modern demands of the internet and how the current definition does not come close to meeting them.

Portman, Colleagues Ask Defense Department to Expedite Critical Military Aid to Ukraine

U.S. Senators Rob Portman, Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, asking them to immediately expedite shipments of military equipment to Ukraine as appropriated by Congress under the Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act. Passed on May 19, the act provided nearly $20 billion for military aid to the Ukrainian military. Equipment recommended for immediate delivery includes medium- and long-range air defense systems, 155 mm howitzers, High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), armored personnel carriers, larger and more capable unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and Mi-17 helicopters.  

The senators also urged the defense leaders to consider recommending the inclusion of fourth-generation fighter aircraft, along with funding for the necessary flight training, in future military aid packages.

“While the medium- and long-range air defense capabilities and HIMARS included in the June 27, 2022, and July 8, 2022 aid packages are a good start, these systems must be delivered at a pace and in quantity sufficient to impact the outcome of the fighting in the Donbas, Kherson and other regions,” the senators wrote. “We urge you to act expeditiously, while coordinating with NATO allies and partners, to get this equipment to the Ukrainian military immediately,” said the senators.

The full letter can be viewed here.

On Senate Floor, Portman Calls for Swift Passage of Bipartisan Competitiveness Legislation

This afternoon, U.S. Senator Rob Portman, spoke on the Senate floor to discuss the need for the United States to stay competitive in the global economy. Portman highlighted the bipartisan CHIPS Act and the broader United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, or USICA, which will shore up semiconductor manufacturing in America. Senator Portman has been an advocate for this legislation since it passed the Senate over a year ago. Since then, Portman has worked across the aisle with Republicans and Democrats alike to get this bill to the president’s desk before the August recess.

Semiconductor chips are essential to everything from automobiles, cell phones, household appliances, and military weaponry. The CHIPS Act will invest $52 billion in this technology and provide thousands of good-paying jobs to communities across the country. In Ohio, this legislation will help Intel increase their $20 billion investment in New Albany to build two semiconductor foundries to potentially $100 billion and eight total foundries.

Portman also discussed his bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act, which passed the Senate last year on a bipartisan basis as a part of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. Portman and Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), as Chairman and Ranking Member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), led a year-long investigation that revealed how American taxpayers have been unwittingly funding the rise of China’s military and economy over the last two decades while federal agencies have done little to stop it. Starting in the late 1990s through its “talent recruitment programs,” China began recruiting U.S.-based scientists and researchers to transfer U.S. taxpayer-funded IP for China’s military and economic gain. This legislation will ensure the federal government is taking decisive action to safeguard American innovation and Portman insisted that the legislation be included in the competitiveness bill that will come before the Senate.

A video can be found here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

On Senate Floor, Portman Calls for the Senate to Act Quickly on Finland & Sweden’s NATO Applications,

Highlights Need for More Weaponry to Ukraine & Global Food Shortages Caused by Russian Aggression 

Last night, U.S. Senator Rob Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor in support of Ukraine for the 18th consecutive week while the Senate has been in session. Portman called for the Senate to approve Finland and Sweden’s NATO application before the August district work period begins, urged the administration to send more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems or HIMARS to Ukraine to target Russian artillery from long distances and noted the humanitarian effects of Russia’s war. Senator Portman talked about one of the war’s youngest casualties, Liza Dmytrieva, a four-year-old girl who was on her way to a speech therapist when murdered by Russian bombardments. As a consistent and strong voice for the people of Ukraine, Portman has highlighted the need for critical aid that goes to not only their soldiers, but humanitarian aid for noncombatants, such as women and children like Liza.

As the effects of Russia’s aggression reach beyond the borders of Ukraine, Senator Portman continues to lead his Senate colleagues in pushing the administration for more support to the Ukrainian people, their government, and President Zelenskyy.

A video can be found here.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

 

Portman, Colleagues Introduce Resolution Recognizing Russia’s Actions in Ukraine as a Genocide  

U.S. Senators Rob Portman, Jim Risch (R-ID), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced a resolution recognizing Russia’s actions in Ukraine, which include forced deportations to Russia and the purposeful killing of Ukrainian civilians in mass atrocities, as constituting a genocide against the people of Ukraine. The senators introduced the resolution shortly after Ukraine's first lady, Olena Zelenska, delivered an impassioned plea directly to Congress.

“Since the beginning of Russia’s brutal assault on Ukraine, Russian forces have demonstrated a clear pattern of targeting and killing Ukrainian civilians en masse, while also deliberately shelling schools, maternity wards, hospitals, homes, apartment buildings, and other civilian infrastructure. They are also committing heinous acts of sexual violence and forcibly deporting hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia,” said Portman. “Combined with Russia’s consistent denial of the existence of Ukrainian nationhood and identity, these acts must be acknowledged for what they are – genocide – and it is important that the United States and the rest of the world recognize them as such.”

“There is no question that what Russia is doing in Ukraine is a genocide,” said Risch. “If you could walk the streets of Kyiv, Irpin, and Hostomel like I did last month, and listen to the stories of what the Russian soldiers have done, this is a genocide. The international community is documenting the many Russian abuses that constitute war crimes across Ukraine. It’s time the United States and the world recognize it as such.”

“For five months, the world has seen the brutal, unjustified, and utterly senseless war Russia’s dictator has unleashed on Ukraine,” said Cardin. “Russia is trying to eviscerate not just the people and the buildings of Ukraine, but also they are trying to eliminate the Ukrainian language, Ukrainian history and Ukrainian culture. This is genocide. The world must recognize this fact and those responsible must be held accountable.”

“Russia’s war on Ukraine and its wider aggression in the region are illegal and genocidal, and it is important that the U.S. declare that fact to the world,” said Wicker. “Ukraine must be successful in this war. Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked aggression against a neighbor cannot stand.” 

“This resolution rightly condemns Putin’s systematic torture and murder of Ukrainian people as a genocide,” said Blumenthal. “During my trip to Kyiv and Bucha, I saw the fields where hundreds of Ukrainian women and children were massacred, their hands tied behind their backs, simply because they were Ukrainian. These inhumane practices are genocide, ongoing in real-time. As Russian atrocities continue, the United States must stand up to these crimes against humanity and designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. The rule of law must prevail.”

“Vladimir Putin is waging a campaign of violence and terror in Ukraine that specifically targets civilians and seeks to wipe out the Ukrainian culture and its people. The United States needs to call it what it is and the global community must respond accordingly. These are acts of genocide and must be stopped now,” said Shaheen. “Our resolution sends a powerful message from the U.S. Senate that we will not take our eyes off of Ukraine and we will keep working together to help our democratic partners defend their rights and to see Putin punished for his atrocities.”

“I appreciate Senator Risch and Senator Cardin leading this resolution that speaks to the truth of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” said Graham. “This resolution designates Putin’s actions in Ukraine as genocide – there is no other conclusion to reach. It is time for Congress not only to speak but to act, and it is long past due for the Biden Administration to designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.”

This resolution:

  • Condemns Russia for committing acts of genocide against the people of Ukraine;
  • Calls on the United States, along with NATO and EU allies, to support the government of Ukraine to prevent further acts of Russian genocide against the Ukrainian people; and
  • Supports tribunals and international criminal investigations to hold Russian political leaders and military personnel accountable for a war of aggression, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Text of the resolution can be found here.

###