Rob’s Rundown: Week of May 18 – May 22, 2020

May 22, 2020 | Rob's Rundown

Senator Portman was in Washington this week working with his Senate colleagues to support families, health care providers, and businesses across the country dealing with this unprecedented health crisis. 

On the Senate floor on Wednesday, Portman discussed how, as America begins to reopen, we need a workforce that's ready to step into their old jobs or newly available jobs. Portman believes we need to incentivize individuals to return to work and highlighted his proposal of providing $450 a week for individuals returning to work, meaning they’d receive their wages plus this $450 bonus.

Portman also delivered remarks and joined Fox Business’ Mornings with Maria to discuss recent criminal charges brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in wire fraud and tax evasion cases tied to academics participating in China’s government-run Thousand Talents Program. He then outlined the bipartisan legislation he will be introducing soon to promote an open and transparent research enterprise in the United States and crack down on China’s theft of American taxpayer-funded research and intellectual property (IP), while also empowering the DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigations to directly punish those who seek to steal America’s research to benefit our rivals. 

In addition, Portman applauded President Trump’s nomination of United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Justin Herdman, to serve as the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. 

Finally, Portman applauded Majority Leader McConnell’s announcement that the Senate will consider S. 3422, the Great American Outdoors Act, landmark 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, in June. The Great American Outdoors Act includes Portman’s bipartisan Restore Our Parks legislation which will create jobs to help address the nearly $12 billion backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects at the National Park Service (NPS), and expands the legislation to also include funding to address the deferred maintenance backlog at the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education.

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

Monday, May 18, 2020 

Portman, Brown, Press Health Insurers to Expedite Claims Processing and Reimbursements to Financially Strained Hospitals and Health Care Providers

Senators Portman and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), along with their colleagues Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Margaret Hassan (D-NH), are urging health insurers to strengthen their efforts to expedite claims processing and reimburse hospitals and other health care providers for services rendered as efficiently as possible. Due to the influx of COVID-19 patients combined with a reduction in routine services and procedures, a number of hospitals are struggling with limited cash flow. And while hospitals may be able to manage delays on claims and reimbursements on an average day, the financial strain is more acutely felt during this crisis and will have long lasting impacts on hospitals.  A copy of the letter can be read here.  

VIDEO: Portman Highlights Upcoming Bipartisan Legislation to Stop China’s Theft of U.S. Taxpayer-Funded Research & Intellectual Property

In a new video, Senator Portman highlights bipartisan legislation he will introduce soon to crack down on China’s theft of American taxpayer-funded research and intellectual property (IP). Portman, as Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), led a year-long investigation into China’s talent recruitment programs like the Thousand Talents Program, culminating in a bipartisan report in November 2019 that detailed how China has recruited U.S.-based scientists and researchers since the late 1990s and incentivized them to transfer U.S. taxpayer-funded research and IP to China for their own military and economic gain. 

In response to the report, the FBI and the Department of Justice have announced the arrests of several academics affiliated with American universities for crimes related to their participation in China’s talent recruitment programs while accepting American taxpayer-funded grant funding. 

A transcript of the video is here and can be viewed here

Portman Applauds President Trump’s Nomination of Justin Herdman to Serve as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia

Portman applauded President Trump’s nomination of United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Justin Herdman, to serve as the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. Mr. Herdman has served as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio since August 2017. Portman released the following statement: 

“I am pleased the president selected Justin Herdman to serve in this important role. He has served as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio admirably and been a great partner in addressing the opioid crisis, human trafficking, China’s theft of U.S. taxpayer-funded research, and violent crimes. I am confident he will continue to serve the country well in Washington. I look forward to identifying a new U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio who will carry on Mr. Herdman’s excellent work soon.”

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Portman Statement on the Passing of Annie Glenn

Portman released the following statement following the death of Annie Glenn, a dedicated advocate for people with disabilities and communication disorders and the wife of American astronaut and Ohio’s longest-serving U.S. Senator, John Glenn.  

“We lost one of the great ones. Annie Glenn was a strong woman with a gracious nature, and a dear friend of Jane’s and mine.  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.  John and Annie’s marriage and their seven decades of partnership have served as a model for Jane and me and countless others, and we send our condolences to the entire Glenn family during this difficult time.”

Portman, Brown, Joyce, Ryan Introduce Legislation to Extend Funding for Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area

Senators Portman and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced legislation to reauthorize the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area for an additional 15 years, through 2036. The bill also increases the funding cap by $10 million to align the annual funding amounts for the site with the 15-year reauthorization. This legislation will provide greater funding certainty to the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area to help ensure it can continue to draw investment and support local jobs, tourism, and economic development in northeast Ohio. The Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area spans more than 110 miles between New Philadelphia and Cleveland. Representatives Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Tim Ryan (D-OH) introduced the House version of the bill, which is also sponsored by Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH). 

“This legislation will provide greater funding certainty to continue the public-private partnerships that have protected and improved the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, which continues to attract jobs and investment,” said Portman. “The canal holds great significance to the state of Ohio, from helping our early towns and communities prosper to linking our state to the rest of the nation. I am proud to be one of the 2.5 million visitors who enjoy the canal’s towpath trail each year, and I look forward to working with my colleagues Senator Brown and Congressmen Ryan and Joyce on getting this legislation signed into law.”

Portman Urges Farmers Impacted by COVID-19 to Apply for CARES Act Funded USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 

Portman announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin accepting applications on May 26th for $16 billion in direct financial assistance provided under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to provide relief to farmers and producers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The health crisis has caused farmers markets, restaurants, hotels, and other foodservice businesses to close, reducing demand for some food products nationwide. These food supply chain disruptions have led to an oversupply of food products on farms and declining prices, which has created a difficult situation for many of Ohio’s farmers through no fault of their own. This direct financial assistance program is designed to help ensure farmers can weather the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and provided funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Portman supported. Portman released the following statement:

“I applaud Secretary Perdue in getting this program going to help Ohio’s famers and producers who have been impacted by decreased demand, declining prices, and supply chain disruptions due to the pandemic. This health crisis has underscored the important role farmers play in keeping Ohio, and America, healthy. The last few years have not been easy for the Ohio farming community—from severe weather events to the current pandemic. I’m thankful for their perseverance and the hard work they are doing to feed our nation during this challenging time. I urge Ohio’s farmers to prepare their application materials for when sign-ups begin on May 26th so they can receive immediate relief and continue their important work.” 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

On Fox Business, Portman Highlights Need for Upcoming Bipartisan Legislation to Protect U.S. Taxpayer-Funded Research and Intellectual Property from Global Competitors

In an interview with Fox Business’ Mornings with Maria, Portman highlighted bipartisan legislation he will introduce soon to crack down on China’s theft of American taxpayer-funded research and intellectual property (IP). Portman, as Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), led a year-long investigation into China’s talent recruitment programs like the Thousand Talents Program, culminating in a bipartisan report in November 2019 that detailed how China has recruited U.S.-based scientists and researchers since the late 1990s and incentivized them to transfer U.S. taxpayer-funded research and IP to China for their own military and economic gain.

In response to the report, the FBI and the Department of Justice have announced the arrests of several academics affiliated with American universities and research institutions for crimes related to their participation in China’s talent recruitment programs while accepting American taxpayer-funded grant funding.

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

Portman Announces Additional Federal Grants to Help Provide Telehealth Services to Ohio Health Care Facilities

Portman announced that the Federal Communications Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau awarded four telehealth grants totaling $748,900 to Ohio health care facilities. The exacting funding amount and details of the facilities telehealth services can be found below.

This announcement is in addition to a telehealth grant announced last month for the Health Partners of Western Ohio located in Lima, Ohio. In addition, last week three facilities received nearly $1 million in funding. 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: 

“These new federal grants are great news for Ohioans. 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.”

On Senate Floor, Portman Discusses Recent Criminal Charges Against China’s Thousand Talents Program Members & Upcoming Legislation to Prevent IP Theft by China

On the Senate floor, Portman discussed a number of recent criminal charges brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in wire fraud and tax evasion cases tied to academics participating in China’s government-run Thousand Talents Program. He outlined how the details of these cases follow the findings of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations’ (PSI) eight-month investigation last year into Thousand Talents and other so-called “talent programs” run by the Chinese Communist Party. The investigation by the Subcommittee, which Portman chairs, culminated last November in a stunning bipartisan report that documented how American taxpayers have been unwittingly funding the rise of China’s economy and military over the last two decades while federal agencies have done little to stop it.

In response to the report, the FBI and the Department of Justice have announced criminal charges and the arrests of several academics affiliated with American universities and research institutions for crimes related to their participation in China’s talent recruitment programs while accepting American taxpayer-funded grant funding.

Portman discussed how the legislation he will be introducing soon builds on PSI’s recommendations to promote an open and transparent research enterprise in the United States and crack down on the theft of American taxpayer-funded research and IP, while also empowering the DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigations to directly punish those who seek to steal America’s research to benefit our rivals.

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

On Senate Floor, Portman Discusses Need to Incentivize Returning to Work to Boost Economy as America Reopens

On the Senate floor, Portman discussed the need to incentivize individuals to return to work, which will be critical to a robust economic recovery as the American economy slowly and safely begins to reopen. Portman believes it is critical that we have a workforce that's ready to step into their old jobs or newly available jobs as the economy reopens.

Portman believes that a return-to-work bonus for individuals reentering the workplace would better help get the American economy running again. He highlighted his proposal of providing $450 a week for individuals returning to work, meaning they’d receive their wages plus this $450 bonus. Portman believes this proposal would ensure that there are as few situations as possible where staying on unemployment is more lucrative than returning to work. He believes this provision should be a part of the next coronavirus response stimulus legislation considered in the Senate.

According to recent research from the American Action Forum and from the University of Chicago, between 60-70 percent of individuals currently on unemployment are making more than they did in their prior job thanks to this federal supplement. Furthermore, the bottom 20 percent of wage earners are making, on average, double what they made in the workforce through this UI program. Portman is hopeful that as the House and Senate work together on the next legislative package, that they can focus on the economy and incentivizing people to get back to work.

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

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Portman Statement on the Passing of Bill Keating 

Portman issued a statement on the passing of his close friend and mentor, former U.S. Representative Bill Keating.  

Bill Keating was a true Renaissance man: an all-American swimmer who achieved great success in law, business and politics. He was a mentor to me and a dear friend who never met a stranger. He encouraged me when I first got involved in government in the first Bush Administration and was a co-chair and close advisor in my first race for public office in 1993. I will miss our visits and his wise counsel. Jane and I offer our deepest condolences to Nancy and the other members of his wonderful family, whom he prioritized above all else.”

Portman Announces Senate to Consider Bipartisan Legislation to Create Jobs and Fund Maintenance Backlog at National Parks & Federal Lands

Portman applauded Majority Leader McConnell’s announcement that the Senate will consider S. 3422, the Great American Outdoors Act, landmark 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, in June. The Great American Outdoors Act includes Portman’s bipartisan Restore Our Parks legislation with Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Angus King (I-ME), which will create jobs to help address the nearly $12 billion backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects at the National Park Service (NPS), and expands the legislation to also include funding to address the deferred maintenance backlog at the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education.  Portman released the following statement:

We need our parks now more than ever. As an avid outdoorsman, I’m pleased that the Senate will consider the Great American Outdoors Act in June. This bipartisan legislation includes my bill with Senators Warner, King, and Alexander, the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act, which will create jobs and rebuild our national parks infrastructure by addressing the $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog at our national park sites throughout the country, including more than $100 million in maintenance backlog in Ohio’s eight national parks.  I urge my colleagues to support this legislation when it comes to the Senate floor in June.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Portman Applauds Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council for Creating Thousands of Jobs & Cutting Red Tape 

Portman announced that the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council, which was created by legislation sponsored by Portman in 2015, released its annual report to Congress. The report highlights 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. Portman released the following statement:

“I commend the Permitting Council’s Executive Director Alex Herrgott and the Permitting Council’s members and staff for their extraordinary success in creating jobs and reducing unnecessary delays in government approvals for large infrastructure projects. This builds upon the news last year that the Permitting Council has saved projects more than a billion dollars so far. Today’s news reinforces the need for my legislation to make FAST-41’s benefits permanent, apply it to more federal projects to ensure they get done on time and under budget, and expand the authority of the Permitting Council to accomplish these common-sense goals. I look forward to working with my colleagues to get the Federal Permitting Reform and Jobs Act signed into law.” 

Portman Announces that HHS Will Distribute $314 Million to Ohio Nursing Facilities Impacted by COVID-19

Portman announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will distribute more than $314 million to Ohio skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) to help them combat the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to HHS, they will make relief fund distributions to SNFs based on both a fixed basis and variable basis. Each SNF will receive a fixed distribution of $50,000, plus a distribution of $2,500 per bed. All certified SNFs with six or more certified beds are eligible for this targeted distribution.

Nursing home recipients must attest that they will only use Provider Relief Fund payments for permissible purposes and agree to comply with future government audit and reporting requirements. 

Some of this funding comes from 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: 

“This relief funding is good news for nursing facilities across Ohio that are struggling to keep up with growing expenses during this ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” said Portman. “As we’ve seen, nursing homes are on the frontlines of care in this pandemic, with nearly 70 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Ohio attributed to nursing homes that must care for our most vulnerable in high-risk, congregate setting. I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure Ohioans have the resources they need during these uncertain times.” 

Portman Column: A Message to Ohio's 2020 Graduates

At this time of year, thousands of Ohio students would normally be walking across stages in auditoriums, gyms and arenas to proudly accept their high school, college, or graduate school diplomas. With graduations canceled this year, students and their teachers, friends, and families will miss the chance to celebrate together.

I will, too. I was really looking forward to being at several Ohio community college graduation ceremonies as the commencement speaker. It’s always inspiring to be with students as they achieve one of the great milestones in life.

To the graduates, even if we can’t all get together this year at a ceremony, know that we are all proud of you and we congratulate you for your hard work and persistence. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you look forward to the future. 

First, just as you didn’t let the coronavirus stop you from earning your degree, don’t let it keep you from achieving your goals. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, you had plans and dreams for after graduation — to pursue another degree, start work, maybe get a new job with the skills you’ve learned, or enter the military. Stay the course.

When times are tough, as they have been for many these past couple of months, it can be easy to get sidetracked and chalk it up to bad luck. Life is full of unexpected roadblocks, but I have found in my own life that luck is what you make of it. As a wise man once told me, the harder I work, the luckier I get. No matter what else happens around you, you alone control how much effort you give, and you alone have the power to determine your future. Whatever you end up doing in the coming years, give it your all. 

Second, with your diploma in hand, chart your own path in life, not the path that someone lays out for you. Whatever the passion is that gets you out of bed in the morning is the one worth pursuing, even if achieving it is difficult and full of risk. So many people have worked to get you to this point — your family, your friends, your teachers, and more — but what you do next is up to you. And if you don’t know what your passion is yet, that’s okay. Don’t be afraid to try new things and see what sticks with you. Trust me — I didn’t plan on being a United States Senator when I graduated! For me, it was only after I had the chance to see the influence government can have that I realized I wanted to be involved in trying to help people through public service.

And finally, I’ll share with you an old Portman family motto: Be ever kind and true -- BEKAT. So much of succeeding in life is based on relationships built on trust, and kindness and honesty matter every single day and in everything you do. That’s as true in a family as it is in a business, and as true on the shop floor as it is on the Senate floor.

The coronavirus has hit our country hard, and make no mistake — these are uncertain times. But with every dark cloud comes a silver lining. I think one of the unintended effects of this pandemic has been to slow us all down a little and give us time to appreciate the importance of family and friends and to reflect a little more on what’s important — life’s simple gifts are often the best. 

I know we are going to bounce back as a state and as a country, and so much of that faith comes from what I see in the next generation, including those students graduating this year. Ohio is starting to get back on its feet and reopen, and that’s good. Of course, we need to do it safely, and we all have a role to play in that. Our recent graduates will help lead the way to get us back to an America that once again moves forward with confidence and continues to be a beacon of hope and opportunity for everyone.

Portman Announces Additional 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 $310,000 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. 

Recently, 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. Earlier this month, Portman announced additional FAA grants. Last week Portman announced $782,000, $3.1 million, nearly $1 million, and $189,000 in FAA grants to Ohio airports to help address the impacts of COVID-19. In total, Ohio airports have received nearly $109 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, with flights almost entirely halted, leaving the aviation industry in a tough economic position,” said Portman. “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.”

SOCIAL MEDIA

 

Sen. Rob Portman is looking at giving unemployed workers a financial bonus for returning to work

 The $3 trillion stimulus bill passed by the house last week called for an extension of the $600 a week in additional unemployment benefits beyond July when it was set to expire. It was a cushion for workers caught in the middle but it’s proposed its own issues going forward as the economy slowly reopens.

“That $600 a week, added to the state benefit as you know, makes it more attractive from a financial point of view for someone to stay on UI rather than return to work even if they make roughly $50,000 a year,” said Senator Rob Portman. “That's been a problem for some small businesses trying to get started again.”

Portman however isn’t calling for the program to end but rather altered.

“I think we should look at something like a bonus where you tell workers who are on unemployment insurance if you go back to work you can take some of your unemployment insurance with you,” said Portman. “That enables that employee to do quite well because they'll get there paycheck, often their paycheck that they got before because it might be the same business for a lot of these people but you can also keep some of that bonus that you received from unemployment insurance from the new federal $600 and that will be a return to work bonus.”

It wouldn’t be the full $600 but probably around $450 he said.

“I know that some people think that's too much, some people think that's too little I've heard both but the idea would be to provide a bonus to give people the ability to go back to work and get the advantages of going back to work,” Portman said of things like healthcare, 401K and training.

“I’ve talked to folks who were on unemployment insurance, there are plenty of them in Ohio, who like this idea and who would love to get back to work and feel like the bonus would give them the ability to do that and buffer them through this tough time,” he said.

“It's good for small businesses because they'll be able to get many of their employees back and even if the take-up rate is relatively modest it would be a huge savings to the state government, to Ohio, who are having a tough time paying for their part of the unemployment compensation right now and every state is concerned about that and complaining to their senators about that,” Portman said. “It's a big savings in the tens of billions of dollars.”

Portman believes while these first four phases of stimulus were focused on rescuing the economy he believes they should give it time to get the more than $2.5 trillion that’s been approved into the economy then work to fill in the gaps with whatever the next phase is truly being a stimulus, targeted on things like infrastructure projects that are shovel ready but because of the drop in gas tax revenue at the state level may be put on hold.

Sen. Portman Works To Stop China From Stealing U.S. Intellectual Property

The worldwide spread of the coronavirus has given new meaning to a problem Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has been trying to highlight for two decades.

“This is very important,” Portman said in an interview last week. “We have kind of been naive about this, and now we have to be more careful.”

He’s talking about China’s consistent efforts to steal U.S. intellectual property, which he recently explained on the Senate floor.

“One way it’s been doing that is by using secret contracts here in the United States with researchers, again, funded by tax dollars, doing research, medical research, scientific research, military research,” Portman said. “The Chinese government has actually been paying these people to provide information to the Chinese government to take this research paid for by U.S. tax dollars.”

In the last ten days, the Justice Department arrested a University of Arkansas professor and a former Cleveland Clinic employee for not disclosing their ties to China while they received taxpayer-funded grants to do research here in America.

This past Wednesday, the FBI made a public service announcement “warning organizations researching COVID-19 of likely targeting and network compromise by the People’s Republic of China” and said this could jeopardize how quickly effective treatments become available.

Portman has studied China closely for years.

When he was the U.S. Trade Representative in the early 2000s, he focused so much on the country that he wrote a “Top to Bottom Review” of the U.S.-China economic relationship.

He now chairs the Senate Homeland Security Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and released a bipartisan report last November that concluded: “the federal government has failed to stop China from acquiring knowledge and intellectual property from U.S. taxpayer-funded researchers and scientists.”

“In some cases, this research over the past 20 years has fueled the Chinese military,” Portman said in last week’s interview. “In some cases, it has helped their economy through their technology transfers or through industrial processes, other things. Whatever it is, it’s not fair.”

So now, Portman will soon introduce bipartisan legislation he hopes will help stop this.

It’s called the “Safeguarding American Innovation Act” and it would do five things if it became law:

1. Allow the Justice Department to charge federal grant recipients with a crime if they hide their financial ties to a foreign government

2. Require the Office of Management and Budget to better track grantmaking between agencies, so taxpayer dollars are accounted for

3. Authorize the State Department to deny visas to foreign researchers who are seeking to access sensitive U.S. material in a threatening way

4. Require research institutions put safeguards in place so unauthorized people cannot access research

5. Make universities report any foreign gift of $50,000 or more from a foreign government, or face fines

I asked Mark Cohen, one of the leading U.S. experts on intellectual property law in China and a current senior fellow at the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, what he thinks of the legislation, based off what Portman has said about it so far.

“What Portman is trying to do is nice — there’s a potential for some harm, and I think we need to be careful in administering it to minimize the harm, but it’s hardly the whole solution to the problem,” Cohen said in a Zoom interview on Tuesday.

Cohen said the bigger picture includes not just blaming China but making sure that, here in the U.S., the government and research institutions build up the infrastructure and management to properly track where these tax dollars are going — in ways greater than Portman’s bill suggests.

Cohen also emphasized the U.S. has to make it more appealing for talented foreign scientists to stay in America.

“Even if we put in all of the visa and other restrictions contemplated by this legislation, people will still change jobs,” Cohen said. “You have a right to change jobs in this country, and if China is a more attractive destination, that will always be a gaping hole in all of our regulations and restrictions.”

Portman said he’s been working with the White House, the State Department, and federal agencies like the National Science Foundation on this legislation, and he said they are supportive.

He told me there is a danger this could burn important bridges between the U.S. and China if the bill becomes law and isn’t well-received, but Portman said having a level playing field between two powerful countries is crucial.

“They have not been playing by the rules in many instances, so we need to be matter of fact about that,” Portman said. “But at the end of the day, we need to have a healthy relationship. Second largest economy in the world. It’s a nuclear power. We need to be sure that we have the ability to have a business-like relationship and a respectful relationship.”

Portman’s office said he plans to introduce the legislation soon with Sen. Tom Carper (D-Delaware).

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