Rob's Rundown: Week of June 5-9, 2017

June 9, 2017 | Rob's Rundown

After touring Ohio last week meeting with manufacturers, farmers, patients in recovery from a drug addiction, business leaders and more, Portman started his week by visiting Trimble in Dayton to meet with the workers and discuss issues important to them like tax reform, health care, jobs, and skills training. He then returned to Washington, where he held his first Facebook Live Town Hall, delivered a floor speech commemorating D-Day and honoring his friend Les Spaeth, discussed the economic impact of the opioid crisis with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine at a hearing, secured commitments from administration officials to focus on implementing Portman’s bipartisan law to improve the permitting process and more:

Monday, June 5

Portman, Brown Announce Members of Bipartisan Commission to Recommend Candidates for Judicial Vacancies in Ohio’s Southern and Northern Districts 

On Monday, U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced the members of the bipartisan judiciary advisory commission that will assist them in identifying the best candidates to fill vacancies on the U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Northern Districts of Ohio. The Southern District has court locations in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Dayton and serves more than five million Ohioans in 48 counties.  The Northern District has court locations in Akron, Cleveland, Toledo, and Youngstown and serves approximately 5.9 million citizens of the 40 northernmost counties in Ohio.

Elizabeth Smith, a Partner at Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease LLP, will chair the commission. For members of the bipartisan commission and to learn more about the history of the bipartisan judiciary advisory commission, please go here.

Tuesday, June 6

Portman: 20 of Ohio’s 88 Counties Now Have No Insurer Offering Health Coverage on the ObamaCare Exchange 

Portman issued the following statement after health insurer Anthem announced it was pulling out of the ObamaCare exchanges in Ohio, leaving at least 20 Ohio counties without a single health insurer offering coverage on the health law’s exchange:

For the past few years we’ve seen premiums and deductibles skyrocket because of the ObamaCare law, as we’ve seen a declining number of viable health care choices for families and small businesses. Now, with the pullout of Anthem in Ohio, there are at least 20 counties without a single insurer offering health coverage on the ObamaCare exchange. And many other counties will have only one insurer, with no competition to get costs down for families. This is a problem not just in Ohio but across the country. Approximately one-third of the counties around the United States now only have one insurer, and more and more counties are seeing their last insurer leave just like those in Ohio.

Without true competition and choice in the market, we will never be able to lower health care costs for families and small businesses. This is one more reason why the status quo on health care is unsustainable. The Affordable Care Act has failed to meet the promises that were made to Ohio families. We can and must do better than ObamaCare, but we should do it in a way that protects the most vulnerable in our society. I’m going to do everything I can to protect Ohio’s interests and ensure that our health care system works better for all Ohioans.”

Portman Commemorates D-Day Anniversary, Honors WWII Veteran Les Spaeth 

Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of D-Day and to honor his friend, former Marine Corporal Les Spaeth, who served in WWII in the Pacific Theater and passed away last week.

Senator Portman is the author of the World War II Memorial Prayer Act of 2013 (S. 1044). For more information on the legislation and to view a transcript of the speech, please go here. A video of the speech can be found here

Wednesday, June 7

Portman Secures Commitment From OMB Nominee to Fully Implement Portman’s Bipartisan Federal Permitting Law 

On Wednesday, Portman, during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the nomination of Russell Vought for the position of Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget, discussed the need to fully implement his bipartisan Federal Permitting Improvement Act. Vought confirmed to Portman that he would, as authorized through his legislation, work to get the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC) up and running to help spur economic growth and job creation. During Mick Mulvaney’s confirmation hearing for Director of Office of Management and Budget, he made a similar pledge to implement Portman’s bipartisan law.

Excerpts of the questioning can be found here and a video can be found here.

On Bloomberg TV, Portman Highlights Need to Rebuild America’s Aging Infrastructure 

During an interview Thursday on Bloomberg Television, Senator Portman discussed the need to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. Referring to the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati, Portman said that modernizing our infrastructure represents a great opportunity to work on a bipartisan basis to improve our economy, create jobs, and deliver results that will make a difference. The interview comes as President Trump visits Cincinnati with a focus on how to improve our transportation infrastructure.

Excerpts of the interview can be found here and a video can be found here.

Thursday, June 8

At Hearing, Portman, DeWine Discuss Economic Impact of Opioid Epidemic in Ohio 

At a Joint Economic Committee hearing on the economic effects of the opioid epidemic Thursday, Portman discussed the heroin and prescription drug epidemic in Ohio and what he hears as he tours the state meeting with those in recovery and those on the front lines helping others overcome the disease of addiction. Portman questioned Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on what he is seeing in Ohio and how he thinks Ohio can work to turn the tide of addiction.

Senator Portman, who is the author of the recently signed-into-law and bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), has helped lead the national effort to combat this epidemic that is devastating communities across Ohio and our country. Two weeks ago, Portman’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing on stopping illicit drugs from being shipped into the United States. During the hearing, he urged Congress to act on his bipartisan legislation called the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act to help stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil from being shipped through our borders.

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

Friday, June 9

Portman, McCaskill Urge Trump Administration to Use Permitting Reforms Recently Enacted Into Law

Senators Portman and McCaskill sent a letter to President Trump urging his administration to utilize the tools authorized by their signed-into-law Federal Permitting Improvement Actenacted into law last Congress as Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (Fast-41)—in order to improve the permitting process to boost our economy and create jobs. Specifically, the Senators are urging the Trump administration to fully implement the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC) to help streamline the permitting process and facilitate infrastructure development.

The Senators wrote: “Through FAST-41, we sought to improve the permitting process for major capital projects across all sectors in three ways: better coordination and deadline-setting for permitting decisions; enhanced transparency; and reduced litigation delays.  Despite deep divisions in other areas, we were able to come together to create a smarter, more transparent, better-managed process while not altering substantive public input or safeguards that exist in the review process … [We] look forward to working with you on efforts to improve the federal permitting process so that we can deliver a smarter, faster, and more responsive government to the American people.” 

The full text of the letter can be found here.