Rob’s Rundown: Week of June 6 – June 10, 2022

June 10, 2022 | Rob's Rundown

Rob’s Rundown: Week of June 6 – June 10, 2022

Senator Portman was back in Washington this week where he spoke on the Senate floor for the 14th consecutive session week to discuss 100 days of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Portman commended the more than 40 allies contributing to the Ukrainian defensive military effort. He also highlighted the administration’s recent and long-delayed decision to provide Ukraine with High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, and called attention to the EU’s recent sanctions package, which included a partial embargo against Russian oil.

Monday, Portman recited President Franklin Roosevelt’s D-Day prayer on the Senate floor to thank and honor the veterans whose bravery and sacrifice turned the tide of WWII. In addition, Portman honored the nearly 160k Allied troops that stormed the beaches of Normandy 78 years ago.

Senator Portman joined FOX Business’ Kudlow to discuss the positive impacts of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, energy policy, and the Biden administration’s announcement of a moratorium on solar panel tariffs.

On Tuesday, Portman released a statement calling for the Conference Committee tasked with reconciling differences between the Senate’s United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) and the House’s America COMPETES Act, to include his bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act, after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report that found that more than two-thirds of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) grant recipients failed to meet federal requirements regarding foreign financial interests including at least one instance of U.S. taxpayer-funded researchers failing to disclose ties to the Chinese government. Portman’s bipartisan legislation would allow the federal government to punish individuals who intentionally fail to disclose foreign support on federal grant applications while also mandating a standardized U.S. government grant process. Portman stated that any conference report with significant increased levels of federal funding for research without the protections included in the Safeguarding American Innovation Act would be a huge giveaway to Beijing.

On Thursday, at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing to examine the persistent and concerning threats posed by terrorists and violent extremists, Portman urged the Biden admin to provide data on domestic terrorism as required by the FY2020 NDAA as well as info on international terrorist threats to the US, including info on the border crossings of watch-listed terrorists. In his opening remarks, Portman highlighted that without this data, Congress is not able to effectively perform oversight or craft legislation to address or prevent domestic terrorism.

Thursday evening, Senator Portman was honored with the George R. Henkle Award for his outstanding community service at the Warren County Foundation 15th annual Community Service Awards Banquet.

Today in Cincinnati, Senator Portman announced the opening of applications for the Bridge Investment Program, which is made possible by his Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The program is designed to provide funding for projects like the Brent Spence Bridge and other bridges across the country. As part of the announcement, Portman met with state government officials from Ohio and Kentucky regarding the need to secure federal funding to improve the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor. In addition, Senator Portman visited 80 Acre Farms, an industry-leading vertical farming company, in Hamilton, Ohio. Vertical farming can help combat food insecurity across the world in a sustainable manner as well as provide high-paying secure jobs in local communities. 

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

Monday, June 6, 2022

On FOX Business, Portman Discusses Tariff, Energy, and Trade Policy,

Urges the Biden Administration to Get Tougher on China

Senator Portman joined FOX Business’ Kudlow this afternoon to discuss the positive impacts of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, energy policy, and the Biden administration’s announcement of a moratorium on solar panel tariffs. Portman agreed with Kudlow that the current energy policy is headed in the wrong direction and noted the benefits of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, such as a much faster and more efficient streamlining process. Senator Portman also discussed his view that the U.S. should not be dependent on China when it comes to energy production and solar panels, especially as the Commerce Department continues to investigate the circumvention of U.S. trade remedies on China’s solar producers.

You can watch the interview here

On Senate Floor, Portman Honors 78th Anniversary of D-Day by Reading FDR’s D-Day Prayer

Tonight, on the Senate floor, Senator Rob Portman honored the 78th anniversary of D-Day by reading the prayer that President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered to the nation on the morning of June 6, 1944, now known as the D-Day Prayer.

During his remarks, Portman also discussed his legislation, the World War II Memorial Prayer Act, which authorized the Department of the Interior to install a plaque at or near the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. inscribed with the words of the D-Day Prayer. This legislation was signed into law in 2014. It requires that the plaque comply with the Commemorative Works Act and prohibits the use of federal funding. A temporary plaque was donated in 2019 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Construction of the permanent plaque is anticipated to start this July and be completed by early December 2022.

A video of his remarks can be found here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

At Senate Finance Committee Hearing, Portman Presses Treasury Secretary Yellen on Changes to Foreign Tax Credits, Negative Consequences for Our Economy

Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) questioned Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen on the Department of the Treasury’s final regulations for the foreign tax credit put into effect earlier this year, which makes it harder for our companies and workers to compete around the world. Senator Portman was particularly concerned that the department did not allow for sufficient feedback on the final regulations, which were substantially different than the proposed regulations, before they were implemented. He also asked the Secretary if the department would be willing to take a look at modifications as they relate to withholding taxes for services, in particular, to help protect jobs based in the United States.

A video of Senator Portman’s opening statement and questioning can be found here.

At Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing, Portman Presses Biden Administration Nominee on Role of U.S. Media Agency in Combating Russian, North Korean Disinformation and Censorship

During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing today, Rob Portman pressed Amanda Bennett, nominee to be the Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), on the importance of the agency reestablishing trust with its audiences so that it can more effectively promote independent, objective reporting and fight the threat of disinformation by authoritarian regimes around the world. Portman highlighted U.S. broadcast organizations working to fight disinformation in places like North Korea, including Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, and the real-life impact of their work. Senator Portman highlighted his bill, the Otto Warmbier North Korea Censorship and Surveillance Act – bipartisan legislation that would provide $10 million annually for the next five years to counter North Korea’s repressive censorship and surveillance state, while also encouraging sanctions on those that enable this repressive information environment both in and outside of North Korea. Portman was also concerned by Russia’s efforts to spread disinformation about their invasion into Ukraine, noting how important it was that the world see the good work that America does as liberators and questioned whether Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty should recommence its physical operations in Russia to better counteract the disinformation in that country.

A video of Senator Portman’s questioning can be found here.

On Senate Floor, Portman Notes 100 Days of Russia’s War Against Ukraine,

Commends NATO Allies & Ohio’s Support for Ukraine

This afternoon, Senator Rob Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor for the 14th consecutive week while the Senate has been in session. Portman recently returned from abroad where he met with leadership of the United States European Command, received security briefings, and learned how the U.S. and its allies are coordinating assistance to Ukraine. He also met with U.S. troops, including some from Ohio. His stops included Europe, Romania, Moldova, and the Ukraine-Moldova border crossing as Russia’s invasion passes its 100th day of conflict. Portman commended our more than 40 allies contributing to the Ukrainian defensive military effort, highlighted the administration’s recent and long-delayed decision to provide Ukraine with High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, and called attention to the EU’s recent sanctions package, which included a partial embargo against Russian oil. Finally, Senator Portman highlighted the efforts in Ohio to fundraise and deliver humanitarian aid to Ukrainian refugees.

As a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and co-chair and co-founder of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, Senator Portman has long been an advocate for Ukraine and continues to push for further aid and bipartisan action to counter Russian aggression.

A video of his remarks can be found here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

At Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing, Portman Presses Biden Administration Official on Efforts to Keep Humanitarian Corridor Open in Syria, Food Insecurity Concerns by Russian Blockage of Ukrainian Ports

During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing today, Rob Portman pressed Barbara Leaf, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, on the work her and other U.S. officials are doing to keep humanitarian aid flowing into Syria. The Assad regime, and its Russian allies, continue to use food as a weapon of war against the Syrian people by blocking much-needed food and aid from entering the country. Currently there is only one humanitarian aid corridor left open – Bab al-Hawa – which the United Nations will need to reauthorize next month. Many fear that reauthorization will be blocked by Russia. Both Senator Portman and Assistant Secretary Leaf also addressed similar actions undertaken by President Putin to block grain and other commodities from leaving Ukrainian ports, specifically Odessa, which is causing a global food crisis in Syria and other places around the world.

Senator Portman also asked Assistant Secretary Leaf about her work with the government of Turkey in an effort to keep them from attacking the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Turkey believes are a threat. Leaf stated that U.S. officials have had many conservations on this subject and have made it clear that any military operations undertaken by Turkey in Syria is ill-advised as it will put in harm’s way not only civilians but allies in the region.

A video of Senator Portman’s questioning can be found here.

Thursday, June 9, 2022 

At Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing, Portman Presses Biden Administration Official on Efforts to Keep Humanitarian Corridor Open in Syria, Food Insecurity Concerns by Russian Blockage of Ukrainian Ports

During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing today, Rob Portman pressed Barbara Leaf, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, on the work her and other U.S. officials are doing to keep humanitarian aid flowing into Syria. The Assad regime, and its Russian allies, continue to use food as a weapon of war against the Syrian people by blocking much-needed food and aid from entering the country. Currently there is only one humanitarian aid corridor left open – Bab al-Hawa – which the United Nations will need to reauthorize next month. Many fear that reauthorization will be blocked by Russia. Both Senator Portman and Assistant Secretary Leaf also addressed similar actions undertaken by President Putin to block grain and other commodities from leaving Ukrainian ports, specifically Odessa, which is causing a global food crisis in Syria and other places around the world.

Senator Portman also asked Assistant Secretary Leaf about her work with the government of Turkey in an effort to keep them from attacking the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Turkey believes are a threat. Leaf stated that U.S. officials have had many conservations on this subject and have made it clear that any military operations undertaken by Turkey in Syria is ill-advised as it will put in harm’s way not only civilians but allies in the region.

A video of Senator Portman’s questioning can be found here.

Portman, Coons Applaud Committee Passage of Their Bipartisan Legislation to Reauthorize Wildlife Trafficking Law

Bipartisan Legislation Seeks to Build on 2016 Law to Address Wildlife Trafficking Crisis that Threatens Global Security

Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Chris Coons (D-DE), members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, applauded Committee passage of their bipartisan legislation to combat international wildlife trafficking and strengthen interagency efforts to tackle the issue. Wildlife trafficking remains a serious transnational crime and threatens the conservation of vulnerable wildlife, regional security, and economic opportunity. It has also been linked to other organized criminal activities, including trafficking in narcotics, weapons, and people. The Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Reauthorization and Improvements Act would reauthorize legislation that was signed into law in 2016, expand the responsibilities of the Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking, and enhance law enforcement authorities for the Fish and Wildlife Service to better combat wildlife trafficking. Companion legislation has also been introduced in the House by U.S. Representatives. The legislation was reported favorably out the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by voice vote earlier today.

“Wildlife trafficking is not only a matter of conservation but also national security and international stability, as billions in profits from the illegal wildlife trade are used to finance other illicit and terrorist activity. I am pleased my bipartisan legislation with Senator Coons to help prevent the trafficking and poaching of the world’s most threatened species has now passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,” said Senator Portman. “By reauthorizing and expanding the responsibilities of the Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking and enhancing existing law enforcement authorities, this bill strengthens the tools the U.S. government has to help combat trafficking around the globe. I will continue my work with my colleagues in both the House and Senate to build on this momentum and get this bill across the finish line in this Congress.”

Since it was passed into law in 2016, the END Wildlife Trafficking Act has aided in the arrest of members of wildlife trafficking networks and supported interagency efforts to tackle the issue globally through country-specific and regional initiatives. The END Wildlife Reauthorization and Improvements Act reauthorizes the duties of the Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking and related reports on major wildlife trafficking countries, expands the role of technology in anti-trafficking efforts, provides additional legal authorities for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prosecute wildlife trafficking cases, and prevents funds from benefitting security forces that commit human rights violations. 

Bill text is available here; a one-pager is available here; a section by section is available here.

Portman, Coons Applaud Committee Passage of Resolution Recognizing 25th Anniversary of Radio Free Asia

Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Chris Coons (D-DE), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, applauded the Committee passage of their resolution, recognizing the 25th anniversary of Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) inaugural broadcast into China and its mission to provide an independent source of news to closed societies in Asia. The resolution was reported favorably out the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by voice vote earlier today.

“I am pleased that my bipartisan resolution with Senator Coons to commend Radio Free Asia on its continued work in providing a free flow of information in South and East Asia has now passed committee,” said Senator Portman. “For the past 25 years, Radio Free Asia has delivered balanced and objective reporting to countries where freedom of the press is only an idea. Their work is critical to combating the deception and falsehoods spread by authoritarian regimes and violent non-state actors, and I appreciate their continued efforts to combat anti-democratic influences in the region.”

The resolution:

  • Recognizes the importance of Radio Free Asia on its 25th anniversary as an independent news organization chartered and funded by Congress with a mission to bring uncensored, accurate news to people living in closed societies in Asia;
  • Honors the dedication and courage of the former and current journalists of Radio Free Asia in the face of threats and adversity from foreign governments and rising risks for press freedom in Asia and across the globe; and
  • Commends the continued effectiveness and success of Radio Free Asia in its pursuit of independence and credible journalism.

The full text of the resolution is available here.

Friday, June 10, 2022

In Cincinnati, Portman Announces New Bridge Investment Funding Opportunity Made Possible by His Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Receives Updates From Ohio and Kentucky Officials on Efforts to Secure Federal Funding for Brent Spence Bridge, Including Through New Bridge Funding Announced Today

Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman announced that applicants from Ohio and around the country are now able to apply for the new competitive Bridge Investment Program, made possible thanks to Portman’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The program is designed to provide funding for projects like the Brent Spence Bridge and other bridges across the country. Portman was in Cincinnati today and made the announcement at Paul Brown Stadium near the bridge. Senator Portman served as the lead Republican negotiator on IIJA, which was signed into law last November. The bipartisan infrastructure law includes more than $33 billion in competitive grant funding, including $12.5 billion from Portman’s Bridge Investment Act, to help plan, replace, rehabilitate, protect, and preserve some of the nation’s largest bridges – with nearly $2.4 billion available in Fiscal Year 2022.

The bipartisan infrastructure law also includes $5 billion for the brand new National Infrastructure Project Assistance program (AKA Mega) and $7.5 billion from the RAISE grant program, and $8 billion from the INFRA grant program. 

“Today’s announcement of new funding to improve and replace our nation’s bridges is great news for Ohio and the country, all made possible through my bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” said Senator Portman. “Also, thank you to the officials from Ohio and Kentucky who provided me with a thorough update on how they will utilize the new funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law to improve the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor. I will continue to work with state and federal partners on both sides of the river to ensure this project comes to fruition.”

In a meeting with Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Jack Marchbanks, Secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Jim Gray, CEO of OKI Regional Council of Governments Mark Policinski, and CEO of REDI Cincinnati Kimm Lauterbach, he received updates on Ohio and Kentucky’s joint efforts to pursue federal funding to improve the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor, which connects Cincinnati to Covington, Kentucky.

The Brent Spence Bridge, which was built in 1963 to handle 80,000 vehicles a day, is now used by double that amount—160,000 vehicles a day. It plays a key role in national commerce, with three percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product crossing over it every year. Slowdowns caused by issues with the bridge negatively affect commerce flowing throughout the entire eastern United States, as I-75 runs through the corridor. The new companion bridge next to the existing bridge would add much-needed capacity by separating local and through traffic to ease the ongoing traffic backups. The project would also provide an opportunity to invest in local businesses and a growing workforce by improving safety and travel along this critical national corridor for commerce and freight.

 

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