Rob’s Rundown: Week of October 18 - October 22, 2021

October 22, 2021 | Rob's Rundown

Senator Portman was back in Washington this week where, on Thursday, he delivered remarks on the Senate floor discussing recent troubling trends indicating that the U.S. economy is continuing to struggle. With the highest inflation rate in 13 years causing record prices for gas and other essentials, millions of jobs going unfilled, stagnant wages for workers, and global supply chain delays, everyday American families are struggling more and more. Portman explained how a good part of the blame lies at the feet of the radical spending policies championed by the Biden administration, including the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that passed in March with no Republican support that fueled the demand side of the economy and contributed to the record inflation we are seeing. Portman also touted the positive impact the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would have on the economy and called on the House of Representatives to pass the historical bill without further delay. 

During a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday, Portman highlighted his upcoming bipartisan IG Independence and Empowerment Act, which will bolster protections for Inspectors General (IG). The upcoming legislation will build upon Portman’s bipartisan Securing Inspector General Independence Act, which was introduced earlier this year, to strengthen a 2008 IG protection law that has been routinely flouted by successive administrations from both political parties. Portman announced that he is offering an amendment to the legislation to require the appropriate IGs to review the administration's Afghan vetting policy. 

At that same hearing Portman questioned the Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz on the recent reversal of the decision to fire former Federal Bureau of Investigations Deputy Director Andrew McCabe in 2018 for lacking candor under oath about leaking sensitive information regarding the Clinton Foundation investigation. In response, IG Horowitz highlighted the importance of holding federal officials accountable at all levels of the government and stressed that the DOJ Office of the Inspector General stands by its findings that led to Mr. McCabe’s firing.  

In addition, Portman introduced the bipartisan Government Ownership and Oversight of Data in Artificial Intelligence (GOOD AI) Act to secure and protect information handled by federal contractors using artificial intelligence (AI) technology, such as biometric data from facial recognition scans. The bill will require the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to establish and consult with an Artificial Intelligence Hygiene Working Group to ensure that government contractors are securing and using data collected by AI technologies to protect national security and in a way that ensures the privacy and rights of all Americans. 

Finally, earlier today, Portman visited the Mansfield Lahm Air National Guard Base, home to the 179th Airlift Wing, where he met with Wing leadership and the Airmen currently serving at the installation. The 179AW helps transport strategic movement of personnel and cargo through the U.S. and the world and participates in disaster relief efforts and other domestic emergencies as required.  

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

Monday, October 18, 2021

Portman, Peters Introduce Bipartisan Bills to Help Combat Human Trafficking

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member and Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced the Countering Human Trafficking Act and the DHS Blue Campaign Enhancement Act, two bipartisan bills that will enhance our nation’s ability to combat the rise of human trafficking. The bills will make permanent the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Center for Countering Human Trafficking (CCHT) and increase coordination between DHS components and the Blue Campaign, a national public awareness effort designed to educate law enforcement and the public to recognize human trafficking.  

“Human trafficking should not be happening in Ohio or our nation.  The bipartisan Countering Human Trafficking Act and the bipartisan DHS Blue Campaign Enhancement Act advance a whole of government approach to give law enforcement the resources they need to combat it and hold those involved accountable for their actions,” said Senator Portman. “As founder and co-chair of the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking, I have led efforts in the Senate to combat human trafficking and I will continue to work to ensure that no more women or children become victims of this terrible crime.”

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Portman Amendment to Address Kidnappings in Haiti Adopted

Portman announced that his amendment intended to address kidnappings in Haiti was adopted by unanimous consent during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s business meeting. Portman offered an amendment to the reports section of the Haiti Development, Accountability, and Institutional Transparency Initiative Act, requiring “an assessment of U.S. interagency efforts to combat kidnapping and armed violence in Haiti.” Senator Portman offered the amendment in light of the 17 missionaries from Christian Aid Ministries, a Millersburg, Ohio based missionary organization, who were kidnapped outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Saturday. 

“I am pleased that the Committee adopted my amendment today to help address the lawless situations we are seeing in Haiti,” said Senator Portman. “My heart breaks for the missionaries from Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries who are currently in harm’s way. Unfortunately kidnapping in Haiti is an all-too common occurrence. The U.S. government needs a whole of government approach to address this problem and this amendment will help take steps to do just that.”

At Finance Hearing, Portman Presses Customs and Border Protection Nominee on the Southern Border Crisis and Need to Install Enhanced Border Security Technology

At a Senate Finance Committee hearing, Senator Rob Portman, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, pressed Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus, the nominee to be Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), on the need to complete the installation of enhanced border security technology that has already been appropriated by Congress. In March, Portman visited El Paso and saw the fully-funded construction materials lying on the ground at the border and heard directly from Border Patrol officers about the importance of enhancing border security in order to give them the opportunity to complete their national security mission. 

Portman also pressed Chief Magnus on his plans to, if confirmed, put policies in place to address the worst migrant crisis in more than 21 years which is due to the Biden administrations decision to dismantle the previous administrations border policies with no consideration of the consequences which has resulted in a historic surge in unlawful migrants, unaccompanied children, and deadly narcotics like fentanyl into our country. Portman has consistently pressed Biden administration officials on the need to act to secure our border. Finally, Portman highlighted the need for an orderly and lawful asylum system while also addressing the pull factor that incentivizes migrants to make the journey to the United States.

A transcript of the exchange can be found here and a video can be found here.

Senate Committee Passes Otto Warmbier North Korea Censorship and Surveillance Act

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Chris Coons (D-DE) announced that their bipartisan legislation, the Otto Warmbier North Korea Censorship and Surveillance Act, was reported out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This legislation, introduced in June, provides $10 million annually for the next five years to counter North Korea’s repressive censorship and surveillance state, while also encouraging sanctions on those who enable this repressive information environment both in and outside of North Korea. 

The bill is named after Otto Warmbier, a Cincinnati, Ohio, native who was wrongfully imprisoned by the brutal North Korean regime and died as a result of the injuries he sustained while in custody. 

“I am pleased that the Otto Warmbier North Korea Censorship and Surveillance Act was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today,” said Portman. “Otto Warmbier was the best of America, the Midwest, and Cincinnati. This legislation will help ensure that his memory lives on and that the brutal regime responsible for his unjust death is held accountable for this and its myriad of other human rights abuses.” 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

On Senate Floor, Portman Discusses Inflation, Supply Chain Challenges and the Need to Pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill

On the Senate floor, Senator Portman spoke on recent troubling trends showing that the U.S. economy continues to struggle. With the highest inflation rate in 13 years causing record prices for gas and other essentials, millions of jobs going unfilled, stagnant wages for workers, and global supply chain delays, everyday American families are struggling more and more. 

Portman laid out how part of the blame lies at the feet of the radical spending policies of the Biden administration, including the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that passed in March with no Republican support that fueled the demand side of the economy and contributed to the record inflation we are seeing. Portman also discussed the global supply chain woes that have resulted in shipping delays and further increased prices for consumers. 

Part of the solution, Portman argued, is for the House of Representatives to pass the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, the landmark investment in repairing and rebuilding our nation’s core infrastructure that he helped negotiate this summer. That legislation, which President Biden committed to signing, passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote of 69-30. Not only will this legislation create jobs, grow the economy, and have a counter-inflationary effect on the economy, but as Portman pointed out, funding included for improvements to ports, roads, and bridges will increase the efficiency of our supply chain and help clear some of the backlog. 

Portman urged the House of Representatives to pass this bill and keep it separate from the Democrats’ partisan $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, which would only further add to consumer demand and drive up inflation while implementing the largest tax increases in at least half a century. 

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

At Finance Hearing, Portman Raises Concerns with a Proposed Federal Takeover of the Medicaid Program

During a Senate Finance Committee hearing earlier today, Senator Portman addressed concerns he had with a section of the Democrats’ spending and tax bill that would create a fully federalized Medicaid program, stating that it would stifle innovation and put states that already expanded Medicaid, like Ohio, at a disadvantage. Portman also had concerns that this federal expansion of hundreds of billions of dollars would have a negative impact on inflation. 

Senator Portman also addressed Home and Community Based Services, a program that he says can save costs and improve care. He raised concerns that the funding in the Democrats’ proposal would make it even more difficult for some states to use the HCBS program in a flexible way. 

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

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Portman, Peters Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Americans’ Privacy by Securing and Preventing Misuse of Data Collected By Artificial Intelligence

Portman introduced the bipartisan Government Ownership and Oversight of Data in Artificial Intelligence (GOOD AI) Act to secure and protect information handled by federal contractors using artificial intelligence (AI) technology, such as biometric data from facial recognition scans. The bill will require the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to establish and consult with an Artificial Intelligence Hygiene Working Group to ensure that government contractors are securing and using data collected by AI technologies to protect national security and in a way that ensures the privacy and rights of all Americans. 

“It is important that the federal government ensure that its AI systems are trustworthy and safe,” said Senator Portman. “The bipartisan GOOD AI Act helps strengthen the accountability and security of federal AI systems and I urge my colleagues to join us in supporting this common-sense legislation.”

In Response to Portman Questions, Inspector General Horowitz Speaks Out on McCabe Probe, Showcasing Need to Safeguard IG Independence

During a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, questioned the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz on the recent reversal of the IG’s decision to fire former Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Deputy Director Andrew McCabe in 2018 for lacking candor under oath about leaking sensitive information regarding the Clinton Foundation investigation. Last week, the Department of Justice reversed the decision and settled a lawsuit with Mr. McCabe, restoring his employment as a voluntary separation and also restoring his pension. 

IG Horowitz, who was appointed by President Obama, highlighted the importance of holding federal officials accountable at all levels of the government and stressed that the DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) stands by its findings that led to Mr. McCabe’s firing. Portman discussed how investigations like this underscore the need for his upcoming bipartisan IG Independence and Empowerment Act which will bolster protections for IGs. The upcoming legislation will build upon Portman’s bipartisan Securing Inspector General Independence Act, which was introduced earlier this year, to strengthen a 2008 Inspector General protection law that has been routinely flouted by successive administrations from both political parties. 

A transcript of the exchange can be found here and a video can be found here.

Portman Highlights Upcoming Legislation to Safeguard Independence of Inspectors General

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, delivered opening remarks at a hearing entitled “Safeguarding Inspector General Independence and Integrity” and highlighted his upcoming bipartisan IG Independence and Empowerment Act which will bolster protections for Inspectors General (IG). The upcoming legislation will build upon Portman’s bipartisan Securing Inspector General Independence Act, which was introduced earlier this year, to strengthen a 2008 IG protection law that has been routinely flouted by successive administrations from both political parties. Portman announced that he is offering an amendment to the legislation to require the appropriate IGs to review the administration's Afghan vetting policy. 

In addition, Portman underscored the need for President Biden to fill the remaining vacant Senate-confirmed IG positions. In May, Senators Portman and Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, sent a letter to the president encouraging him to swiftly fill IG vacancies to help safeguard taxpayer dollars and strengthen independent oversight of federal agencies. The letter emphasized the importance of Senate-confirmed IGs to Congress’ oversight efforts, the steadying effect of Senate-confirmed leadership, and notes Senate-confirmed IGs are likely to be more independent than those in acting roles. Following Portman’s letter, President Biden nominated a number of individuals to fill IG vacancies. 

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

Portman Presses Experts on Testimonial Subpoena Authority Guardrails in Upcoming Bipartisan Legislation To Protect Independence of Inspectors General

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, pressed expert witness Allison Lerner, Chair of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, regarding testimonial subpoena authority guardrails in his upcoming bipartisan IG Independence and Empowerment Act which will bolster protections for Inspectors General (IG). The legislation will build upon the bipartisan Securing Inspector General Independence Act, which was introduced earlier this year, to strengthen a 2008 IG protection law that has been routinely flouted by successive administrations from both political parties. 

A transcript of the exchange can be found here and videos can be found here and here.

Portman, Risch, Inhofe Request Investigation into SIV Program Shortcomings Amid Afghanistan Withdrawal

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Jim Risch (R-ID), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to the Inspectors General of the Department of State, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Agency for International Development requesting they launch a joint review and audit of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. Full text of the letter can be found here

“While we appreciate the U.S. Department of State Office of Inspector General’s commitment to carry out a review of the SIV program, we feel any audit must be comprehensive in scope and consider the role of other key agencies, notably the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense,” the senators wrote. “This investigation should thoroughly review each individual executive department that holds responsibilities in the SIV process, as well as their respective bureaus, offices, and missions, and the interagency processes in place to help facilitate communication and coordination between them.” 

Friday, October 22, 2021

Portman Visits Mansfield Lahm Air National Guard Base, Meets with 179th Airlift Wing Leadership

Portman visited the Mansfield Lahm Air National Guard Base, home to the 179th Airlift Wing, where he met with Wing leadership and the Airmen currently serving at the installation. The 179AW helps transport strategic movement of personnel and cargo through the U.S. and the world and participates in disaster relief efforts and other domestic emergencies as required.  

In August, Portman joined the Ohio Congressional Delegation in a letter to the Secretary of the Air Force expressing support for the 179th Airlift Wing’s proposed transition to the Information Warfare Wing/Cyberspace Wing mission. 

“The 179th Airlift Wing in Mansfield is among the most highly regarded National Guard units in the Air National Guard. It was great to be back in Mansfield to meet with Colonel Thomas, General Camp and the fine airmen and women who call this base home.” said Portman. “I am pleased that the Air Force has designated Ohio’s Mansfield-Lahm Air National Guard Base as its preferred location for a new Information Warfare Wing mission. This is a testament to the integrity and tradition of excellence that has come to define the men and women of the 179th Airlift Wing. I will continue to fight to ensure the 179th has the resources it needs to carry out its mission and keep our nation safe. 

Portman, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Block Democrats’ IRS Snooping Scheme

Portman joined his Republican colleagues in introducing the Prohibiting IRS Financial Surveillance Act, a bill to prevent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from implementing Democrats’ plan to give the agency access to Americans’ transaction information. 

“The Biden administration’s plan to give the IRS the ability to monitor Americans’ bank accounts is a concerning intrusion into taxpayers’ privacy,” said Portman. “I am pleased to support this legislation that will protect Americans and their private financial information from this vast government overreach.”

Portman, Brown Announce National Prescription Drug Take Back Day This Saturday, Encourage Ohioans to Participate

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced Ohioans can safely dispose of unwanted and unused prescription drugs on “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day” tomorrow, Saturday, October 23 starting at 10:00 A.M. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in an effort to provide safe, convenient and responsible means for disposal of prescription drugs, while also educating the public about the potential for misuse and medications.  

“This pandemic has made the addiction epidemic in our communities worse, and we cannot lose sight of that fact,” said Portman. “Most individuals who become addicted to opioids start by using prescription drugs, and that’s why safely disposing of unused prescription drugs is a critical tool in our efforts to stop opioid abuse.  I urge all Ohioans to clean out their medicine cabinets and participate in this year’s Drug Take Back event.” 

Portman: New CBP Operational Stats Show All-Time High Number of Border Arrests

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, issued the following statement after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released operational statistics showing an all-time high number of border arrests and the worst September on record as the United States continues to face a crisis at our southern border:

“I am alarmed that the new CBP operational statistics show that our nation saw an all-time high number of border arrests and the worst September on record as the unlawful migration crisis of the Biden administration’s own doing continues. The Border Patrol has now made nearly two million apprehensions of unlawful migrants during the 2021 fiscal year. CBP reported more than 190,000 total encounters at the border in September, the worst September on record. This includes more than 64,000 migrant family members; more than 113,000 single adult migrants, which comprised nearly 60 percent of all encounters; and more than 14,000 unaccompanied children.  

At a time when we are experiencing the all-time high number of apprehensions at the border, we should not be terminating border barrier contracts in the Laredo and Rio Grande Valley as the Biden administration announced earlier this month. Congress has appropriated funding for the border wall and enhanced technology to ensure border security and the Biden administration is required to use the funds consistent with their appropriated purpose. The failure of this administration to control our southern border has resulted in record levels of deadly fentanyl coming into our country which has contributed to the growing strength of Mexican transnational criminal organizations.”

In Brecksville, Senator Portman Speaks at Sherwin-Williams Global Research & Development Center Groundbreaking

Portman delivered remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony for Sherwin-Williams’ Global Research and Development Center. Once built, the 600,000-square-foot campus will hold approximately 900 employees. According to Sherwin-Williams, construction on the center is expected to be completed by the end of 2024. 

“I was pleased to join members of the community and other elected officials to celebrate the groundbreaking of Sherwin-Williams’ Global Research and Development Center,” said Portman. “Starting in 2015, I worked extensively with Congressman Joyce and Mayor Jerry Hruby to help the City of Brecksville to acquire the site from the Department of Veterans Affairs. I’m thrilled that Sherwin-Williams is putting this site to good use as this R&D center will bring hundreds of good jobs and economic opportunity to the people of Northeast Ohio.”

SOCIAL MEDIA

 

Portman Exit Could Usher in New Era for Ohio Judicial Screening

Ohio Republican Rob Portman’s planned exit from the U.S. Senate puts in jeopardy more than a decade of bipartisan judicial screening that’s helped his home state get federal trial court judges confirmed no matter who is president. The bipartisan commission used by Portman and Democrat Sherrod Brown helps explain, in part, why the state has been able to agree on judicial nominees. Under Biden, it is the first split-delegation state to have nominees in the pipeline.

In a state former President Donald Trump carried by eight points in 2020, Portman’s successor in the midterm elections is expected to come from the crowded field of more than a dozen Republican candidates. Combative conservatives vying for the seat, like former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel and venture capitalist J.D. Vance, won’t necessarily be as inclined to work across the aisle when it comes to judicial nominations, those familiar with the state’s judicial screening said.

“I think as America gets more partisan it will be harder to do a bipartisan commission like this,” said Mark Weaver, partner at the Columbus office of Isaac Wiles, a former campaign adviser to Senator Portman, and a former member of the judicial nominating commission.

Partisanship over judicial confirmations has deepened in recent years, undercutting Senate customs built around collegiality. While circuit nominees no longer need support from home-state senators to advance, both must back district court picks. Judicial screening commissions, like the one in Ohio, are a tool used by some senators to review candidates for district judgeships, and can vary in terms of size, membership, and responsibilities.

Bipartisan commissions are generally found in states with a history of split delegations or where seats frequently flip between parties, said Sarah Binder, a political science professor at George Washington University and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Senators in presidential swing states during presidential elections often find commissions valuable, Binder said.

“You never know who’s going to be in the majority for how long,” Binder said. “So the logic makes sense to me that the commission allows you to lock in a little bit of influence given the uncertainty about the future.” Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are the only other states with a split Senate delegation that have current or expected vacancies. Both use bipartisan commissions. Like Ohio, Pennsylvania’s Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, will also be leaving his seat in 2022.

The Ohio commission was created by Brown and former Republican Sen. George Voinovich. The panel solicits applications, conduct background investigations, deliberates, and ultimately recommends candidates to the senators, Brown’s office said. The final nominations are generally a product of negotiations between the senators and the White House. Ohio’s most recent panel had 20 members, 11 Democrats and nine Republicans, according to Brown’s office. The group was mostly law partners, but also included professors, a public defender, and a voting rights activist.

In September, Biden named a batch of nominees for federal district courts in Ohio that both senators praised. The list reflected diversity prioritized by Biden, including federal public defender Charles Esque Fleming, who would be the second Black judge on the Northern District of Ohio; and Judge David Augustin Ruiz, who would be the Northern District’s first Hispanic.

Those who watch judicial nominations aren’t surprised by the collaborative relationship between Portman and Brown. “Brown is pretty liberal and Portman is pretty conservative, but he has a pragmatic streak to him,” Binder said. On a call with reporters in October, Portman said the commission system—though sometimes “arduous and intense"—helps take some of the politics out of the process. “We’ve consistently put the interests of Ohioans above partisan politics and try to get good people through the system,” Portman said.

Behind the scenes, the process is “not always as collegial as it looks” and the nominees are “more liberal than some of the people who I would have wanted,” Portman said. “But we’ve ended up with strong candidates who are qualified in the respect that they have the experience and the background temperament.”

As an outgoing senator, Portman seems to be “less constrained in choosing not to follow an obstructionist Republican line,” said Elliot Slotnick, a political science professor at Ohio State University who studies judicial politics. Portman might also be wary of what could happen with his replacement, Slotnick said.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if Portman, reading the tea leaves, recognizes that any vacancies not filled by the end of his tenure would likely not be filled during the second two years of the Biden administration as I can’t foresee either Vance or Mandel cooperating with Brown on submitting names for judgeships,” Slotnick said.

A spokeswoman for Brown said the senator “remains committed to working through a fair process in order to recommend qualified nominees that will serve the people of Ohio honorably and impartially. He hopes the person who serves after Senator Portman will be committed to the same principles.”While Trump focused heavily on judicial nominations in his 2020 reelection campaign, the issue hasn’t been prominent in Senate races now that Biden is in the White House.

Mandel, Vance, car dealership owner Bernie Moreno and former Ohio GOP Chair Jane Timken are focused more on cultural issues around Covid-19 masking and vaccine mandates. The four didn’t respond to requests for comment on how they would treat judicial nominations, and how judges would fit into how they intend to push back against the Biden administration.

Central Ohio businessman Mark Pukita, a long-shot Republican candidate, said he’s a “solid maybe” when it comes to using the commission in the future. Another Republican contender Ohio state Sen. Matt Dolan, said he would continue the commission process, “due to its effectiveness in elevating the voice and counsel of qualified legal experts to fill Ohio’s judicial vacancies,” Dolan’s campaign spokesman Chris Pack said. Weaver, the former Portman adviser who served on the Ohio judicial selection commission, is less sanguine. “It remains to be seen whether Rob Portman’s Republican replacement will play ball with Sherrod Brown the way Rob did,” Weaver said.

Ohio would benefit from Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

Perhaps you’re commuting every day on some of the 5,000 miles of roads in Ohio which are classified as badly in need of repair. Or you might be driving across some of the approximately 22,000 bridges in Ohio which engineers have given a C+. The American Society of Civil Engineers scored Ohio’s roads as a “D” in its 2021 infrastructure report card.  

Or perhaps you’re drinking water every day coming from a stream or lake which has been determined as unsafe. Or you’re slowing losing your infant or child’s health due to poisoning from lead pipes. Ohio has the second largest number of lead pipes used for drinking water among all U.S. states, according to the American Water Works Association. Lead from water pipes harms adults also.

All of these deficiencies, and many others, are addressed in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a $1.2 trillion bill which passed the U.S. Senate by a 69-30 bipartisan vote on Aug. 10. Both Ohio Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown supported passage of this legislation. 

Today, the Act now languishes in the U.S. House of Representatives.  

Why?  

President Joseph Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi have decided that Democratic Party unity over a much larger partisan infrastructure bill is more important than bringing to the House legislation which already gained significant bipartisan support when passing the Senate two months ago. 

Is a bridge failure, worsening road decay, or more kids getting permanently ill from bad drinking water something we’re willing to live with now? Congress should not be playing political Russian roulette with our nation and state’s infrastructure. Ohio's congressional delegation should all be advocating for an immediate vote in the House. 

Each day’s delay can be deadly to Ohioans.

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