Rob’s Rundown: Week of June 29 – July 3, 2020
Happy July 4th Weekend. This week, Portman released a new video highlighting his recent visit to Bruns General Contracting in Tipp City, where he met with company leadership and employees and learned how their Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan kept the business afloat so they could keep their workers on payroll and continue operations. The PPP loan was made possible thanks to the bipartisan CARES Act, which Senator Portman supported and President Trump signed into law.
On Thursday, Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor stressing the need to continue our efforts to combat the drug addiction epidemic devastating communities in Ohio and across the nation in the wake of increased overdoses during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing guidelines have disrupted traditional addiction treatment services and necessitated the use of telehealth services to help individuals with recovery. That’s why Senator Portman has introduced legislation entitled the Telehealth Response for E-Prescribing Addiction Treatment Services (TREATS) Act to make permanent a number of temporary waivers for telehealth services and to bolster telehealth options for addiction treatment services. Specifically, it will allow for a patient to be prescribed lower scheduled drugs like through telehealth on their first visit. Current law requires an in-person visit to receive any controlled substance, but this is a deterrent to patients in crisis and urgent need of treatments from Schedule III or IV drugs.
In addition, Portman introduced the Rural Broadband Acceleration Act, bipartisan legislation that will bolster efforts to expand access to rural broadband nationwide and speed up the distribution of the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). Portman also penned an op-ed for the Toledo Blade highlighting his bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act which will help rebuild Ohio’s national park sites and our national parks’ infrastructure by addressing the more than $12 billion backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects at the National Park Service (NPS) and support more than 100,000 jobs over the next five years.
Finally, Portman introduced a bipartisan resolution with Senator Sherrod Brown to honor the life, legacy, and achievements of Annie Glenn, a passionate advocate and philanthropist, a loving mother, and wife of 73 years to the former U.S. Senator John Glenn.
For a more detailed look at Senator Portman’s week, please see the following:
Monday, June 29, 2020
Portman, Hassan, Cornyn & Peters Introduce Bipartisan NDAA Amendment to Bolster Cybersecurity at All Levels of Government
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Gary Peters (D-MI) today introduced a bipartisan amendment to the Senate’s FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to require the Department of Homeland Security to establish a Cybersecurity State Coordinator position in every state. 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. This amendment mirrors the Cybersecurity State Coordinator Act that the Senators introduced earlier this year which the Homeland Security Committee unanimously approved in March.
“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,” said Senator Portman. “I’m glad to join my bipartisan colleagues in introducing an amendment to the NDAA that would create a Cybersecurity State Coordinator position to facilitate the cybersecurity relationship between the federal government and state and local governments. This amendment is based on our bipartisan bill, the Cybersecurity State Coordinator Act and I urge all my colleagues to join us in supporting it.”
Portman, Brown Introduce Amendment to Require Report on Youngstown Air Reserve Station Specialty Mission
Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced an amendment to the Senate’s FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to require the Department of Defense (DOD) to provide Congress with a report on the cost and benefits of maintaining a specific number of primary aircraft for each type of Air Force squadron, particularly those that fly specialty missions flown by the Air Force Reserve units, like the 910th at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station (YARS).
In February, the administration stripped funding from the C-130J aircraft for the Air Force Reserve. Senators Portman and Brown wrote to the administration about this.
The report should help illustrate the need to increase the number of primary aircraft at YARS and increase funding for C-130 aircraft.
“YARS, which employs 1800 personnel and is the largest employer in the Mahoning Valley, plays an important role in the economy of the region,” said Portman. “More importantly, it has deployed its resources to those in need across the globe, and defended the values we hold dearest as Americans. As the home of the 910th Airlift Wing Division, which maintains the only large area fixed-wing aerial spray capable fleet in the country, it must always have the quantity and quality of aircraft needed to respond to major disasters like oil fires, disease-carrying insect plagues, and invasive vegetation spread. That's why I'm pleased to introduce this amendment requiring a study to ensure the squadrons of the 910th have the aircraft needed to carry out their important mission. I will continue to support Ohio's military installations so that they have the resources they need to keep us safe.”
Portman, Brown Introduce Amendment to Require Report on Department of Defense Partnering With Facilities Like Plum Brook on Hypersonic Research
Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced an amendment to the Senate’s FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to require the Department of Defense (DOD) to study partnering with existing government facilities, like NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, to perform research and testing on hypersonic devices.
“Plum Brook houses world-class facilities in Sandusky that have conducted critical and innovative ground tests for the international space community. I’m pleased that the bill already includes language highlighting the importance of hypersonic technologies to our national security, and that the Department of Defense (DoD) should take actions to improve ground-based test facilities, such as wind tunnels,” said Portman. “However, this amendment takes that a step further and requires DoD to do a report that examines all avenues for testing, including non-DoD facilities. Together, this bill and amendment send a strong signal that Plum Book should be considered a prime candidate for increased ground-based hypersonic test facilities in the future. I will fight to ensure Plum Brook is considered to be the site of increased testing.”
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Preeminent Universities and Leading Tech Companies Announce Support for Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Develop National AI Research Cloud
Several leading research universities engaged in artificial intelligence (AI) research, technology companies deploying AI technologies, and others announced support for the bipartisan and bicameral National AI Research Resource Task Force Act, which establishes a task force to develop a roadmap for a national AI research cloud.
The National AI Research Resource Task Force Act was introduced by U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), founding co-chairs of the Senate AI Caucus, and in the House by Representatives Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ). The legislation will convene a group of technical experts across academia, government, and industry to develop a detailed plan for how the U.S. can build, deploy, govern, and sustain a national AI research cloud.
“The widespread support for the National AI Research Resource Task Force Act from our country’s preeminent research universities and leading technology firms demonstrates how critical the legislation is for our country to retain our global lead in AI research,” said the members. “We thank the universities and companies supporting our bill, and we call on Congress to act on this legislation as soon as possible.”
Portman Introduces FY2021 NDAA Amendment to Assess the Surge Capacity of Defense Industrial Base Manufacturers
Senator Rob Portman introduced an amendment to the Senate’s FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to require the Department of Defense (DoD) to assess the surge capacity of defense industrial base manufacturers compared to that of our adversaries. As the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear, the United States often lacks the capacity to produce critical supplies during periods of crisis when there are surges in demand for critical items. It is crucial that our domestic industrial base have the capacity to quickly ramp up production in times of crisis, so that we are not overly dependent on foreign products.
“In wartime or times of crisis in our nation, it’s important that the Department of Defense has a clear understanding of defense industrial base manufacturers’ capacity to produce equipment for our military,” said Portman. “There are many large and small businesses in my home state of Ohio that possess the capability and capacity to meet DoD equipment requirements during times of national emergencies—it is important for these businesses and DoD to know what the requirements are and which companies can fulfill them. I introduced this amendment to ensure that the DoD has a full understanding of what manufacturers are able to provide, especially during war or a crisis when there is a surge in demand for product.”
Portman, Whitehouse Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Access to Telehealth Services for Substance Use Disorder Treatment
Senators Rob Portman and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the Telehealth Response for E-prescribing Addiction Therapy Services (TREATS) Act to support the expansion of telehealth services for substance use disorder treatment. The bill would build upon the Trump Administration’s action to waive regulatory restrictions for accessing care in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the temporary waivers provide a necessary reprieve for patients so that they may continue their treatments and counseling virtually, they are time limited and will ultimately expire at the conclusion of the Public Health Emergency.
The TREATS Act would extend these telehealth flexibilities by making permanent key waivers, including the ability to prescribe Medication Assisted Therapies (MAT) and other necessary drugs without needing a prior in-person visit and the ability to bill Medicare for audio-only telehealth services. By taking these steps, the TREATS Act will increase overall access to MAT and support telehealth needs in rural communities where broadband may be needed.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives and the increase in overdoses we’re seeing only increases the need for additional flexibility to help those suffering from addiction. I’ve had the opportunity to hear about the successes of telehealth in treating substance use disorder directly from behavioral health providers who have continued their fight against the addiction epidemic amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Portman. “The roll out of telehealth waivers has both helped patients maintain access to care safely at home and increased access to care for those that didn’t otherwise have access to in-person treatment. As we move forward and look to life beyond this pandemic, we must make sure that the advances to care and access that telehealth is currently providing is not lost and that’s exactly what this bill will do. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this common-sense legislation to make telehealth a permanent part of substance abuse disorder treatment.”
Portman Announces 420 Percent Increase in Federal Security Resources for Faith-Based & Nonprofit Institutions Across Ohio
Portman announced that the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), through their allocation for FY 2020, will distribute $2.4 million to synagogues, churches, religious education facilities, and charity organizations across Ohio, divided between 32 organizations. This funding level marks a 420 percent increase over last year’s amount of $450,000, which went to six Ohio organizations. The NSGP provides grants to faith-based and other nonprofit organizations to help secure their facilities against a potential terrorist attack and acts of hate.
“With a 420 percent increase in funding, it’s clear that Ohio is benefiting from the bipartisan work we’ve done in Congress to ensure that more and more synagogues, religious and cultural institutions, and nonprofit organizations have the resources and training they need to secure their facilities,” said Portman. “I’m proud to have led the effort in Congress to both authorize the Nonprofit Security Grant Program and significantly increase its funding. Threats to houses of worship and other religious community sites have been increasing and we must do everything we can to protect them in Ohio and across our country.”
At Hearing, Portman Urges IRS Commissioner to Prioritize Getting Individuals Delayed Stimulus Checks and Tax Refunds
At a Senate Finance Committee hearing, Portman urged the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Charles Rettig to prioritize issuing delayed stimulus checks to individuals who have not yet received them, especially those who are un-banked or did not have up-to-date information on file. The CARES Act, which passed earlier this year as a rescue package for those affected by the coronavirus, provided direct financial assistance to families in need, including $1,200 for individuals making less than $75,000 and $2,400 for couples making less than $150,000. While the overwhelming majority of individuals, including over six million Ohioans, have received their payments, there are still more Americans waiting on this much-needed relief. In addition, Portman urged the commissioner to address the issue of millions individuals who have not received their tax refunds for this year, even though they filed their returns before the deadline.
Portman Announces $1.6 Million in Federal Resources for Security Efforts on Ohio’s Northern Border
Portman announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through their allocation for FY 2020 for FEMA’s Operation Stonegarden Grant Program, will distribute $1.6 million to help fund Ohio’s security efforts along Ohio’s northern border. This funding supports cooperation and coordination among state, local, tribal, territorial, and federal law enforcement agencies in a joint mission to strengthen security efforts along our borders. Ohio’s northern border is important to Ohio’s economy and it’s vital that it remains secure, while allowing legitimate trade and travel to flourish. This funding may be used to support the integration of technology to ensure effective communication, to encourage local capabilities and operations to enhance National and State Homeland Security Strategies, provide intelligence-based operations to ensure the safety of state and local law enforcement participating in the program, and to increase operational, material, and technological readiness of state and local law enforcement agencies who work along Ohio’s northern border.
“This $1.6 million in funding is great news for the state of Ohio. This funding will help as the state continues to secure its northern border to protect against acts of terrorism and facilitate international trade and travel,” said Portman. “I’m proud to support this crucial funding and I will continue to keep doing everything I can to protect the citizens of Ohio.”
Portman Washington Examiner Op-Ed: Make FAST-41 Permanent
In an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, Portman highlighted the importance of making his FAST-41 legislation permanent. In 2015, Portman sponsored the Federal Permitting Improvement Act, which Congress ultimately enacted into law as Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. That bill, now known as FAST-41, significantly reformed the federal infrastructure permitting process while leaving environmental protections in place, and created the Permitting Council.
Currently, FAST-41 will expire in 2022. Senator Portman, however, has introduced legislation, the Federal Permitting Reform and Jobs Act, to lift the sunset on FAST-41, which will ensure that the Permitting Council can continue its work to make the infrastructure permitting process more efficient and reduce unnecessary delays. A more efficient permitting process supports the creation of new jobs, which will help the nation recover from the COVID-19 crisis. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs approved the bill in July 2019, and it is now awaiting a vote by the full Senate. In May, the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council released its annual report to Congress which highlighted the creation of more than 127,000 temporary construction jobs and more than 3,000 permanent jobs across the United States over the last year and the Council’s success in reducing unnecessary delays in government approvals for large infrastructure projects by 1.5 years on average. Excerpts of the op-ed can be found here and the full op-ed can be found at this link.
At Hearing, Portman Secures Commitment from Nominee to be OMB Deputy Director to Support Bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act & FAST-41
At a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) hearing, Portman secured a commitment from the nominee to be the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Deputy Director that he would support Portman’s bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act and also support the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council created through Portman’s FAST-41 legislation.
Portman, as chair of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) introduced the bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act which will crack down on the theft of intellectual property at federally funded research institutions and universities by China and other foreign governments. A recent NIH investigation resulted in the resignation or firing of 54 scientists for ties to foreign governments. Portman led a year-long PSI investigation into this issue culminating in a bipartisan report and hearing that detailed 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 research and IP to China for their own economic and military gain. The Safeguarding American Innovation Act is the product of that investigation and will ensure that the federal government is taking decisive action to safeguard American innovation.
In addition, Portman highlighted the importance of making his FAST-41 legislation permanent. In 2015, Portman sponsored the Federal Permitting Improvement Act, which Congress ultimately enacted into law as Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. That bill, now known as FAST-41, significantly reformed the federal infrastructure permitting process while leaving environmental protections in place, and created the Permitting Council. Currently, FAST-41 will expire in 2022. Senator Portman, however, has introduced legislation, the Federal Permitting Reform and Jobs Act, to lift the sunset on FAST-41, which will ensure that the Permitting Council can continue its work to make the infrastructure permitting process more efficient and reduce unnecessary delays. A more efficient permitting process supports the creation of new jobs, which will help the nation recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Portman: “Today’s a Historic Day for the Trade Relationship Between the United State, Canada and Mexico”
Portman praised the entry into force of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA.) Portman, a former U.S. Trade Representative, played a leadership role in helping the Trump administration move the agreement through the House and Senate. He issued the following statement:
“Today’s a historic day for the trade relationship between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. I applaud President Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer for their persistence and determination in getting USMCA across the finish line. USMCA will increase market access for our exporters, and it is a significant improvement over NAFTA that will benefit American workers, farmers, and manufacturers. According to the independent International Trade Commission, it will create tens of thousands of new jobs here in the United States.
“Canada and Mexico are Ohio’s top two trading partners, making this agreement particularly good for Ohio. This agreement expands market access for Ohio farm products, incentivizes more auto production in the state, and makes online sales easier for Ohio companies. Now that this agreement has been fully implemented, these provisions will be in other agreements, which will help America’s economy compete on a level playing field as we continue to safely reopen our economy. If our trade is fair, America can compete, win, and create more jobs and better wages.
“Bringing this agreement into force is going to add a nice shot in the arm to our economy and it’s going to be great for Ohio. Thanks to the hard work of the Trump administration, American workers, small business owners, manufacturers, and farmers will benefit from healthier trade relationships with two of our biggest trading partners.”
VIDEO: Portman Visits Tipp City Business Kept Afloat By Paycheck Protection Program
In a new video, Portman highlights his recent visit to Bruns General Contracting, where he met with company leadership and employees and learned that their Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan kept the business afloat so workers stayed on payroll and operations continued at their Bruns General Contracting division and area job sites. The PPP loan was made possible thanks to the bipartisan CARES Act, which Senator Portman supported and President Trump signed into law.
Senators Portman, Shaheen and Reps. Kennedy, Graves Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Reauthorize Peace Corps Commemorative Project
Senators Portman and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Representatives Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) and Garret Graves (R-LA) introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Peace Corps Commemorative project. In 2014, Senator Portman’s and Rep. Kennedy’s bipartisan Peace Corps Commemorative Act was signed into law to create a commemorative in Washington, D.C.’s National Capital Area to celebrate the mission of the Peace Corps and the ideals on which the Peace Corps was founded. This bipartisan legislation designated the Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation as the lead nonfederal sponsor for the project, and prohibits the use of public funding. The current authorization for the project is set to expire in January 2021.
Senators Portman and Shaheen and Reps. Kennedy and Graves’ legislation would extend the authorization for the project for an additional seven years, to January 2028, in order for the project to secure the necessary design approvals and raise the funding for construction.
“For more than 50 years, the Peace Corps has served as a powerful vehicle for volunteers who wish to use their talents to carry America’s humanitarian values to other parts of the world,” said Portman. “By reauthorizing this project, we can ensure the Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation can finish this important project and honor those Americans who have donated their time and talent to serving others.”
Additional Ohio Conservation Leaders Praise Passage of Portman Legislation to Fund Maintenance Backlog at America’s National Parks
Last month, the Senate passed Senator Portman’s bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act, which will help rebuild our national parks infrastructure by addressing the more than $12 billion backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects at the National Park Service (NPS) and support more than 100,000 jobs over the next five years. The Restore Our Parks Act is a part of a broader package, the Great American Outdoors Act -- landmark bipartisan legislation to address the deferred maintenance backlog across the federal land management agencies and to provide permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Restore Our Parks Act would help tackle the more than $100 million maintenance backlog at Ohio’s eight national park sites. Ohio and national conservation leaders have praised the passage of this historic legislation and President Trump has voiced his support for this legislative effort.
Portman introduced the Restore Our Parks Act with U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Angus King (I-ME) and has pushed the Senate to pass the bipartisan legislation over the last several years. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act in November 2019. Portman worked with his colleagues to expand the Restore Our Parks Act to address the more than $20 billion in deferred maintenance backlog across all land management agencies in the Great American Outdoors Act. This legislation provides $1.9 billion per year for five years into the “National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund” from half of unobligated revenues from on and offshore energy development on federal lands. Recently, Portman announced that a new National Parks Service (NPS) study of the Restore Our Parks legislation found that the legislation will support an average of 40,300 direct jobs and a total of 100,100 direct and indirect jobs over the next five years to help address the delayed maintenance backlog and rebuild our national parks infrastructure. An additional National Park Service (NPS) study showed that in 2019, visitor spending in communities near national parks resulted in a $41.7 billion benefit to the nation’s economy and supported 340,500 jobs.
Here are the conservation leaders across Ohio that support the legislation.
Portman, Brown Introduce Resolution Honoring Life, Legacy and Achievements of Ohio Native Annie Glenn
Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced a bipartisan resolution to honor the life, legacy and achievements of Annie Glenn, a passionate advocate and philanthropist, a loving mother, and wife of 73 years to former U.S. Senator John Glenn. The introduction of this resolution was made possible with the support and involvement of Annie Glenn’s family and loved ones.
Having overcome a severe stutter, Glenn was a leading advocate on behalf of children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. At the age of 53, Glenn overcame her stutter through an intensive speech program at Hollins University, later becoming an avid public speaker and an award-winning advocate for those struggling from communication disabilities.
“Annie Glenn was a strong woman with a gracious nature, and a dear friend of Jane’s and mine,” said Portman. “Her service to our state and advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities, particularly those with speech disabilities, combined with John’s legacy as an American hero and Ohio’s longest-serving United States Senator have made them a couple that will live forever in Ohio history. I’m proud to join Senator Brown to introduce this resolution honoring the life of this remarkable woman.”
Thursday, July 2, 2020
Portman: June Jobs Report Shows Need for Return to Work Bonus Proposal
Portman released the following statement regarding the June jobs report showing 4.8 million net new jobs last month, and why his return to work bonus proposal remains necessary:
“Today’s jobs report is more encouraging news for our economy and our workers. It showed that some of the temporary job losses due to the COVID-19 health care and economic crisis are starting to come back, and hopefully they will continue to return as economy continues to reopen. While this report is certainly a cause for optimism in terms of our economic recovery, we're not close to being out of the woods yet. Even with the job gains from this month, the 11.1 percent unemployment rate is still more than three times what it was prior to this crisis. Further, the unemployment rate for Blacks and Hispanics is even higher at 15.4 percent and 14.5 percent respectively, meaning that communities of color continue to face disproportionately larger effects from this crisis. And this jobs report does not reflect the last two weeks of June, where some parts of the country have needed to slow their reopening to continue to combat the coronavirus. It is clear, though, that the combination of federal relief programs like the PPP and the fact that many states are continuing the process of safely and slowly reopening has allowed many Americans to get back into the workforce to help bolster our economic recovery.
“Moving forward, it is critical that we have a workforce that’s ready to step safely into their old jobs or newly available jobs as the states continue their respective reopening strategies. Right now, individuals receiving unemployment benefits are getting $600 per week on top of their respective states’ unemployment benefit thanks to the CARES Act. Given that more than 10 million unemployed Americans are still categorized as ‘temporary layoffs,’ we need to be sure that there’s no financial disincentive for these individuals to get back into the workforce when those jobs become available again. That’s why my return to work bonus proposal is more important than ever. This proposal will provide $450 a week for individuals returning to work, meaning they’d receive their wages plus this $450 bonus. This would encourage folks to continue safely returning to their old jobs or newly available jobs while bolstering the economy. I will work with my colleagues to include this measure in the next legislative COVID-19 response package.”
Portman Announces Federal Grants to Help Health Care Facilities Across Ohio Provide Telehealth Services
Portman announced that the Federal Communications Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau awarded over $415,000 in telehealth grants to four health care facilities in Ohio that will use this funding to provide telehealth services targeted at low-income patients so that they can receive medical care in more flexible settings. The exact funding amount and details of the facilities telehealth services can be found below.
This grant award follows previous announcements of telehealth grants for Ohio, including one announced in April for the Health Partners of Western Ohio located in Lima, Ohio. Earlier last month, three facilities received nearly $1 million in funding and four facilities received nearly $800,000 in funding, earlier this month six facilities received $1.8 million in funding, and an addition six facilities received $1.1 million. Last month, $3.46 million was distributed to facilities in Ohio. These grants come from funds accessible thanks to the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Portman supported and President Trump signed into law. Portman released the following statement:
“These new federal grants are good news for folks in Ohio. During this ongoing coronavirus pandemic, telehealth has become a vital service for Ohioans to receive the health care consultations they need without having to leave the safety of their homes. I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure Ohioans have the resources they need during these uncertain times.”
Portman Announces Additional $1.1 Million in Federal Aviation Administration CARES Act Grants to Assist Ohio Airports Impacted By COVID-19
Portman announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded an additional $1.1 million in federal grants to Ohio airports to help provide economic relief for lost revenue because of COVID-19. A list of airports can be found below.
In late April, Portman announced that the FAA awarded Northeast Ohio airports with more than $46.5 million in federal grants. In addition, Portman announced 28 Ohio airports received more than $42.1 million in federal grants, and Portman also announced additional FAA grants. In May Portman announced $782,000, $3.1 million, nearly $1 million, $189,000, $310,000, and $119,000 in FAA grants to Ohio airports to help address the impacts of COVID-19. Finally, last month Portman announced $60,000 in grant funding. In total, Ohio airports have received over $112 million in federal grants.
These grants come from funds accessible thanks to the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Portman supported and was signed into law by President Trump. Portman released the following statement:
“A functioning and effective aviation industry is critical to our U.S. economy. During this ongoing coronavirus pandemic, travel has significantly changed leaving the aviation industry in a tough economic position. I’m pleased to see this CARES Act rescue money helping Ohio airports so they can continue to serve Ohio, and beyond this assistance, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure Ohioans have the resources they need during these uncertain times."
Portman Toledo Blade Op-Ed: An Important Victory for National Parks
In a new op-ed in the Toledo Blade, Portman highlights his bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act, which passed the Senate last month by a bipartisan vote of 73-25, which will help rebuild Ohio’s national park sites and our national parks’ infrastructure by addressing the more than $12 billion backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects at the National Park Service (NPS) and support more than 100,000 jobs over the next five years. The Restore Our Parks Act is a part of a broader package, the Great American Outdoors Act -- landmark bipartisan legislation to address the deferred maintenance backlog across the federal land management agencies and to provide permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The House of Representatives is expected to consider the legislation later this month and President Trump has committed to signing it into law.
Portman introduced the Restore Our Parks Act with U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Angus King (I-ME) and has pushed the Senate to pass the bipartisan legislation over the last several years. Portman worked with his colleagues to expand the Restore Our Parks Act to address the more than $20 billion in deferred maintenance backlog across all land management agencies in the Great American Outdoors Act. This legislation provides $1.9 billion per year for five years into the “National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund” from half of unobligated revenues from on and offshore energy development on federal lands. Recently, Portman announced that a new National Parks Service (NPS) study of the Restore Our Parks legislation found that the legislation will support an average of 40,300 direct jobs and a total of 100,100 direct and indirect jobs over the next five years to help address the delayed maintenance backlog and rebuild our national parks infrastructure. An additional National Park Service (NPS) study showed that in 2019, visitor spending in communities near national parks resulted in a $41.7 billion benefit to the nation’s economy and supported 340,500 jobs.
The full op-ed can be found at this link.
Portman, Hassan Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Modernize Federal Government’s Use of Latest Technology
Senators Rob Portman and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced the bipartisan Modernization Centers of Excellence Program Act to accelerate the adoption of the latest technologies by government agencies. This legislation expands upon Senator Portman’s bipartisan Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Government Act which codifies an AI Center of Excellence (CoE) within the General Services Administration to provide technical expertise to relevant government agencies; advises agencies on the procurement of AI technology; and promote U.S. competitiveness through agency and industry cooperation. Inspired by Senator Portman’s legislation, GSA created the AI CoE last year. The Modernization Centers of Excellence Program Act lays out the responsibilities that all of GSA’s CoEs should have and harmonizes their roles to strengthen the government’s technology expertise beyond just AI.
“As technology continues to change and advance, it’s important that the federal government understands the significant impacts it will have on our country, economy, and society,” said Senator Portman, Co-Chair of the Senate AI Caucus. “Ensuring that our government has the capabilities and expertise to help navigate the impacts of the latest technology will be important in the coming years and decades. This bipartisan legislation will ensure our government agencies have the insight and resources they need to better understand the benefits and pitfalls of this technology.”
Portman, Brown, Braun, Bennet, Jones, Upton & Clyburn Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Accelerate Broadband Access Nationwide
Senators Rob Portman, Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mike Braun (R-IN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Doug Jones (D-AL) introduced the Rural Broadband Acceleration Act, bipartisan legislation that will bolster efforts to expand access to rural broadband nationwide and speed up the distribution of the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). The RDOF will allocate $20.4 billion to building rural broadband in two phases and this legislation will ensure that some of that money is distributed to communities much faster than the original deadline. The Rural Broadband Acceleration Act also directs the FCC to adhere to the Universal Service requirement in federal law, which is a joint responsibility for the federal and state governments. The Universal Service requirement states that all people in rural areas must have access to telecommunications and information services that are reasonably comparable, in both speed and price, to the services in urban areas. Thus, this legislation will allow rural America to have the same level of broadband service enjoyed by cities and suburbs across the country. Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) have introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“In today’s technology-dependent world, with many people still working from home during the pandemic, we must do more to bring high-speed internet and stronger grid infrastructure to the rural areas of our country. Rural America deserves the same level of access to broadband and this legislation will help to get it to them faster. Without this legislation, many rural Americans would not have access to reliable internet and thus would not be able to safely telework, use telehealth services, or attend virtual classrooms. In today’s economy, limited access to broadband is hurting our efforts to promote economic development and job creation across rural Ohio and America. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this common-sense, bipartisan legislation,” said Senator Portman.
Portman Joins Grassley, Colleagues to Introduce Updated Prescription Drug Pricing Bill
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Mike Braun (R-IN), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today reintroduced legislation, the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2020, to crack down on high prescription drug prices. This piece of legislation was approved by the Senate Finance Committee last September by a bipartisan 19-9 vote, including all committee Democrats.
“I’m proud to be joining my colleagues on a meaningful effort to reduce prescription drug costs. From commonsense ideas like my REFUND Act to an out-of-pocket cap on spending in Part D, these are real reforms that can save Americans money at the doctor’s office or at the pharmacy counter, and applaud Chairman Grassley for his leadership on this bill. I’m disappointed that Senator Wyden and Senate Democrats have chosen to play politics with what was a bipartisan bill less than a year ago. In order to make progress on this issue we must come together to address the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs,” Portman said.
Portman, Cardin Introduce Bipartisan Resolution Supporting U.S. Leadership at, and Reform of, the World Trade Organization
Senators Rob Portman and Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced a bipartisan resolution expressing support for U.S. leadership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) while also calling for reform to parts of the institution. The resolution describes the long history of productive American leadership at the WTO, as well as the ways in which the WTO has failed to address new trade barriers and market distortions by countries like China. The resolution also offers specific reform proposals of the WTO including (1) expanding the use of multi-national trade agreements between countries to ensure that only countries party to the trade agreement get the benefits of membership; (2) restoring the intended meaning to trade remedy provisions that, thanks to the WTO’s judicial activism, have limited the ability of the United States to crack down on foreign trade cheats; (3) beefing up rules against currency manipulation; and (4) creating new rules to discipline subsidies and state-owned enterprises.
“As a former U.S. Trade Representative, I understand the value and usefulness of the United States involvement in the WTO,” said Portman. “However, there has been a consistent bipartisan critique of certain aspects of the WTO, such as judicial activism of the Appellate Body and the lack of rules and norms that address non-market practices like forced technology transfer and industrial subsidies. I am pleased that President Trump and Ambassador Lighthizer have continued to pursue reforms to ensure a level playing field between the United States and the rest of the world. By identifying the problem and suggesting some potential solutions, this bipartisan resolution is a start to addressing and fixing some of the shortcomings of the WTO in order to support American workers against unfair foreign trade practices and enhance the ability of American farmers, workers, and businesses to access foreign markets.”
Portman Joins Bipartisan, Bicameral Letter On Chinese Government Atrocities In Xinjiang
Senator Rob Portman joined 77 of his bipartisan colleagues from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in sending a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin regarding the ongoing atrocities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. The letter urges the administration to issue a formal determination of the atrocity crimes, including crimes against humanity and genocide, and presses them to impose sanctions against Chinese officials responsible for these heinous policies.
“These human rights abuses demand a response from the United States as well as the international community because evidence strongly indicates that the Chinese government is intentionally working to destroy and essentially wipe out Uyghur families, culture, and religious adherence and encouraging violence against women. Therefore, we urge you not only to condemn this heinous policy but also to sanction those Chinese officials responsible for these crimes. Furthermore, we ask that the Administration make an official determination as to whether the Chinese government is responsible for perpetrating atrocity crimes, including genocide, against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim ethnic minorities,” the members wrote.
Joining Portman on the letter were Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), John Cornyn (R-TX), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Ed Markey (D-MA), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Gary Peters (D-MI), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Boozman (R-AR), Bob Casey (D-PA), Todd Young (R-IN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), John Thune (R-SD), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Rick Scott (R-FL), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), James Lankford (R-OK), Mike Braun (R-IN), Mike Rounds (R-SD), and Mitt Romney (R-UT), as well as Representatives Christopher Smith (R-NJ), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Ami Bera (D-CA),Ted Yoho (R-FL), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), Ben McAdams (D-UT), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Phil Roe (R-TN), Pete Olson (R-TX), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Glenn Grothman (R-WI), Ross Spano (R-FL), Bob E. Latta (R-OH), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Brian Mast (R-FL), Randy Weber (R-TX), Steve King (R-IA), Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Michael Waltz (R-FL), Chip Roy (R-TX), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Jim Banks (R-IN), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Brian Babin (R-TX), Russ Fulcher (R-ID), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Ron Wright (R-TX), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), and Michael Cloud (R-TX). The full text of the letter is available here.
Portman, Bipartisan Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Provide Certainty for the 340B Program
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), John Thune (R-SD), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced bipartisan legislation that would provide certainty to hospitals participating in the 340B drug discount program during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The COVID-19 public health emergency has forced many hospitals to reduce inpatient hospital admissions of low-income Medicare and Medicaid patients, a critical metric in determining eligibility for the 340B program. Though hospitals have started resuming elective procedures, and patients have begun returning to seek care, there is concern that as a result of this year’s slowdown, some hospitals may not meet the required inpatient admission threshold to remain in the program for the following year. This legislation would ensure that any previously eligible hospital will be deemed eligible for any cost reporting period during which the public health emergency occurred.
“The 340B drug pricing program has been an important tool for Ohio’s hospitals throughout the years, providing them with the flexible resources needed to meet the ongoing needs of their communities without a penny from the federal government,” said Portman. “As the ongoing pandemic disrupts our health care system, we must ensure that programs like the 340B program can be there to support our hospitals and our communities. I’m proud to support this bill so that we can ensure that our hospitals can continue to use the program throughout and after the pandemic.”
On Senate Floor, Portman Highlights Troubling Increase in Drug Overdoses Due to Coronavirus Pandemic
On the Senate floor, Portman shared sobering statistics highlighting how the ongoing coronavirus health and economic crisis has caused a marked increase in drug overdose deaths in Ohio and nationwide.
While the United States still suffers from the most annual drug overdose deaths in the world according to a recent U.N. report, legislation like Senator Portman’s Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the 21st Century CURES Act have provided unprecedented federal resources to respond to the addiction epidemic in America, particularly with regards to the epidemic of opioid use. As a result, the CDC reported that in 2017, nationwide fatal drug overdoses fell for the first time since 1990, with Ohio seeing one of the most significant declines in overdose deaths of any state. However, according to a recent Washington Post report, new data from the collaborative Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program show that fatal and non-fatal overdoses were 18 percent higher in March of this year than March of 2019, 29 percent higher this April, and 42 percent higher this May.
During the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing guidelines have disrupted traditional addiction treatment services and necessitated the use of telehealth services to help individuals with recovery. That’s why Senator Portman has introduced legislation entitled the Telehealth Response for E-Prescribing Addiction Treatment Services (TREATS) Act to make permanent a number of temporary waivers for telehealth services and to bolster telehealth options for addiction treatment services. Specifically, it will allow for a patient to be prescribed lower scheduled drugs like through telehealth on their first visit. Current law requires an in-person visit to receive any controlled substance, but this is a deterrent to patients in crisis and in urgent need of treatments from Schedule III or IV drugs.
The bill will also allow Medicare to bill for audio-only, or telephone, telehealth visits if it’s not a patient’s first visit. In-person visits or telehealth visits with video components are important, because they can allow for more robust checkups and evaluations, but due to distance or access to broadband, these types of appointments aren’t always possible.
On Senate Floor, Portman Discusses Wins for Ohio and Nation in Senate FY2021 NDAA
On the Senate floor, Portman highlighted provisions in the Senate FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act that are victories for both Ohio and our national security.
Senator Portman worked to secure billions of dollars in funding for Abrams Tanks, Stryker Vehicles and the Maneuver Short Range Air Defense system - all of which are produced at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC) in Lima. He also fought to include tens of millions of dollars to support Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, as well as $15 million for the construction of a new Guard Readiness Center in Columbus, Ohio. He also strongly advocated for the three percent pay raise for the brave women and men of our armed forces--a benefit that is greatly deserved. And thanks to Senator Portman’s leadership as co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, the FY 2021 NDAA confirms America’s commitment to Ukraine by authorizing $250 million in security assistance to fund additional training, equipment, and advisory efforts for Ukraine’s forces. Of this $250 million, $125 million will specifically set aside to provide lethal aid—support which is required to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression. In addition, the bill includes a Portman proposal to require DoD to develop a new, multi-year strategy to support the development of Ukraine’s military forces, increasing its capability and capacity and providing a resource plan for US security assistance.
On Senate Floor, Portman Voices Frustration Over Lawlessness Co-opting Peaceful Demonstrations Across the Country
On the Senate floor, Portman addressed the lawlessness that has erupted in cities throughout the nation and emphasized that the violence was undermining the cause of the peaceful demonstrators and further dividing an already polarized country.
In June, Portman spoke on the Senate floor about the hurt and anger being felt across the country in response to egregious examples of police brutality against people of color. He highlighted the need to work together to address the long-standing racial disparities and injustices that continue to occur in our country. Portman strongly supports the right of those who are peacefully protesting and also made clear that those rioting, looting, and destroying businesses and other properties are co-opting the moment of pain in our country.
While our country continues to work to respond to the unprecedented coronavirus crisis, there is a bipartisan consensus in Washington that we must also cooperate to get our economy going again and help people get back to work safely.
I believe infrastructure must be part of that conversation. This has long been a priority for both parties and the president, and there is no better time than right now to come together around a solution.
We know that the United States needs more smart, large-scale infrastructure projects that will create jobs, grow the economy, and make our country run better. From ports and waterways to promote international trade, to natural gas pipelines and windmills to bolster our energy security, to expanding broadband coverage to rural parts of the country, these projects are critical to our economic future.
As we work to recover from the pandemic, these kinds of projects represent an important opportunity to get people back to work and restore our economy to the historically strong performance we saw only a few months ago.
But as is often the case, one of the biggest barriers to these kinds of improvements is Washington red tape and bureaucracy, which can slow down the permitting process on these important projects for years. This is a significant problem. In 2019, the World Bank ranked the U.S. 26th in the world in green-lighting infrastructure projects, behind countries such as Lithuania and Tonga.
Compounded with a crumbling national infrastructure that received a “D+” grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers, it’s clear that these delays undermine our economy and cost jobs.
That’s why, in 2015, I introduced the Federal Permitting Improvement Act, which Congress ultimately enacted into law as Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation or FAST Act. That law, now known as FAST-41, significantly reformed the federal infrastructure permitting process while upholding environmental protections. It also created the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council, a government body composed of representatives from 17 government agencies, which reduces inefficiencies in the permitting process for some of the largest infrastructure projects.
Once FAST-41 became law, it quickly began making a difference. In just a few short years, the permitting council saved projects more than a billion dollars. First Solar, a company developing solar power projects in Nevada and California, testified to the subcommittee chair last year that the law has made a difference.
According to First Solar, which employs more than 1,000 workers at its manufacturing facility in Perrysburg, Ohio, “FAST-41 and the Permitting Council have played an important role in addressing timely permitting of infrastructure projects and should expand its role to further improve inter-agency collaboration and streamlining of the environmental review and approval process.”
We received more good news recently when the permitting council released its annual report to Congress. The report found that FAST-41 led to the creation of more than 127,000 temporary construction jobs and more than 3,000 permanent jobs across the U.S. over the last year.
What’s more, it showed how the council has succeeded in cutting through the red tape and eliminating unnecessary delays, shortening the government approval process for large infrastructure projects by an average of one and a half years.
This report demonstrates that FAST-41 is delivering real results. That means more certainty when it comes to these kinds of infrastructure projects from start to finish, for project sponsors, for investors, for workers, and for people in the U.S. In fact, the National Association of Manufacturers has called for increased investment in the permitting council as part of its new “American Renewal Action Plan.”
Right now, however, this program is set to expire in 2022, meaning that we will lose the improved coordination between federal agencies and increased certainty for project sponsors if we don’t act soon. That’s why last year, I introduced legislation called the Federal Permitting Reform and Jobs Act, which will lift the sunset provision on FAST-41 and allow the permitting council to continue its great work into the future.
As we work to recover from this coronavirus crisis, it will be essential to help the nearly 40 million people who have lost their jobs get back to work. Large infrastructure projects have been shown to be a great source of jobs and economic growth. I believe they represent an important part of any recovery effort moving forward.
That’s why this permitting council report is so significant — it shows that these projects can move forward in an efficient and merit-based manner, meaning that we can start breaking ground and seeing the benefits of these investments even faster.
Our legislation to lift the FAST-41 sunset provision has already passed the committee level and now awaits passage on the Senate floor. I’m committed to getting it passed this year so that we can continue to make sure more infrastructure projects get done on time and under budget.
THE JUNE 29 Blade editorial titled “Preserve the Parks,” argued that my legislation to help our national parks would be a good investment for our public lands and our economy. They couldn’t be more right. The legislation will help repair and preserve for future generations the eight national parks here in Ohio and will help all of the spectacular national parks around the country.
Many know that for a long time the parks have suffered from a lack of funding for upkeep and repairs to things like trails, parking lots, visitors centers, and other important facilities, creating an ever-growing backlog of long-delayed maintenance projects that now have a cost of $12 billion.
I have seen this firsthand at places like the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial at Put-In-Bay. It’s an incredible site that commemorates Adm. Oliver Hazard Perry, the War of 1812, and all its veterans, and the enduring relationship between Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
But the seawall that protects the memorial is crumbling as time passes and the Lake Erie water level rises. With this comes sinkholes and other hazards that threaten the monument. In all, the monument needs about $48 million worth of repairs against a budget that is a fraction of that amount.
I still believe that our parks must be preserved for future generations. That’s why, in my time in public office, I’ve worked to fix these kinds of problems and ensure our national parks get the treatment they deserve.
In 2007, as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, I initiated the Centennial Challenge for the parks, a public-private partnership to leverage federal dollars with private investment to repair our parks ahead of the 100-year anniversary of our park system.
As a member of the Senate, my efforts continued. In 2016, we passed my National Park Service Centennial Act, which codified the Centennial Challenge program to provide more funding to our parks through public-private partnerships.
To date, the Centennial Challenge program has provided $128.5 million in federal dollars with an additional $167 million in nonfederal partner investments for our parks. But there was still more to do.
That’s why, more than three years ago, I introduced the first version of what later became the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act, which would use revenue the federal government receives through offshore and onshore energy development to establish a parks restoration fund. This fund, which would run for five years, would help us address the most pressing repairs at our parks and public lands so that the American people can continue to enjoy them for decades to come.
Last month, I’m pleased to say that we finally reached a breakthrough in this important work. The Senate voted to pass the Restore Our Parks Act by an overwhelming bipartisan margin. Once this important bill passes the House and is signed into law by President Trump, who has voiced his support for the measure, the Perry Memorial will finally be able to get the repairs it needs to stand the test of time.
This bill is not just important for our parks but our economy, too. The National Park Service estimates it will support more than 100,000 jobs over the next five years as these repair needs are addressed. It’s a good long-term investment, too — as of 2019, visitor spending in communities near our national parks resulted in a $41.7 billion benefit to the nation’s economy and supported 340,500 jobs.
I’m proud that the Senate came together as Republicans and Democrats to support this important initiative. These repairs were a debt unpaid, and we are finally addressing them at no cost to taxpayers.
Our parks have stood tall for more than a century as the embodiment of American history and our commitment to stewardship of our magnificent lands.
Thanks to the Restore Our Parks Act, we will be able to ensure that they stand for centuries more, as well.