Rob’s Rundown: Week of September 16 – September 20, 2019

September 20, 2019 | Rob's Rundown

This week, Senator Portman, as Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), unveiled a new bipartisan report that documents the cost to American taxpayers of the last three government shutdowns and the impacts they had on the economy and core government functions.  Over the past five fiscal years, the federal government has been fully or partially shut down for 52 days, costing taxpayers nearly $4 billion$3.7 billion in back pay to federal workers who were furloughed and prohibited from going to work, and at least $338 million in other costs associated with the shutdowns, including extra administrative work, lost revenue, and late fees on interest payments.  Moreover, the total amount of combined employee furlough days represents an estimated 56,938 years of lost productivity. However, nine federal agencies were unable to provide basic information on their government shutdown costs. Yesterday, Portman and Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) sent letters to those nine federal agencies seeking an explanation as to why they were unable to provide complete information about employee furloughs and back pay for the last three government shutdowns.

Portman spoke on the Senate floor about the findings of the report, and also urged Congress to pass his End Government Shutdowns Act, which would prevent future shutdowns by using automatic continuing resolutions (CRs) to keep the government open at existing funding levels.

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

Monday September 16, 2019

New Video Highlights Senator Portman’s Work in August Across Ohio

During the August state work period, Senator Portman traveled more than 4,000 miles and visited 39 different counties in Ohio, completing his goal of visiting all 88 Ohio counties during this term. He met with Ohioans and discussed a variety of issues, including strengthening the economy by expanding skills training, protecting and preserving our Great Lakes, combating the drug epidemic, helping farmers by passing USMCA, supporting our military and more.  

A video highlighting his travels can be found here.

Tuesday September 17, 2019

Portman, Carper: Bipartisan Report Shows Recent Government Shutdowns Cost Taxpayers Nearly $4 Billion, 56,938 Years of Lost Productivity

Senators Rob Portman and Tom Carper, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), today unveiled a new bipartisan report that documents the cost to American taxpayers of the last three government shutdowns and the impacts they had on the economy and core government functions.  The largest direct cost of these shutdowns is lost productivity, work not performed by furloughed federal employees.  Over the past five years, the federal government has been fully or partially shut down for 52 days, costing taxpayers nearly $4 billion$3.7 billion in back pay to federal workers who were furloughed and prohibited from going to work, and at least $338 million in other costs associated with the shutdowns, including extra administrative work, lost revenue, and late fees on interest payments.  Moreover, the total amount of combined employee furlough days represents an estimated 56,938 years of lost productivity. 

The Subcommittee based its cost estimate of nearly $4 billion on the information provided by 26 federal agencies.  However, some agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Agriculture, Justice, Commerce, and the EPA were unable to provide basic information about employee furloughs, including back pay, for certain shutdowns. In addition, some agencies were unable to provide information about additional costs and impacts associated with the shutdowns, so the total cost is likely higher.  This raises serious questions about those agencies’ ability to perform effective oversight of its own employees.  The report also makes several recommendations, including for Congress to enact an automatic continuing resolution (CR) to permanently prevent federal government shutdowns. 

“This report reaffirms what I’ve always said: Federal government shutdowns don’t save money, they actually cost taxpayers billions of dollars,” Senator Portman said. “It’s time to end government shutdowns for good.  I’ve introduced legislation to accomplish that goal and ensure we avoid disruptions that ultimately hurt taxpayers and our economy.  I look forward to continuing my work with Senator Carper and my bipartisan colleagues to end shutdowns once and for all.”

On CNBC, Portman Discusses the 60 Minutes Report on His Fentanyl Investigation, China Trade Talks, USMCA & Tensions with Iran

In an interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box this morning, Senator Portman discussed the 60 Minutes report highlighting his investigation into the influx of fentanyl into the U.S. from China via our postal system. He also highlighted the importance of continuing discussions with China in order to secure a trade agreement between the two countries. He voiced optimism about the prospects of the House and Senate passing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement this year.  And he discussed the recent attacks in Saudi Arabia.

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

On Fox Business, Portman Highlights New PSI Report on the $4 Billion Cost of Recent Government Shutdowns, Need to Pass USMCA

In an interview with Fox Business’ Varney & Company this morning, Senator Portman discussed his new bipartisan report he unveiled this morning as Chair of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations that documents the $4 billion cost to American taxpayers of the last three government shutdowns and the impacts they had on the economy and core government functions.  He also voiced optimism about the prospects of the House and Senate passing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement this year.  

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

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

What They’re Saying About Portman’s PSI Investigation on the $4 Billion Cost of Recent Government Shutdowns

Senator Portman, Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and Ranking Member Senator Tom Carper released a new report that documents the cost to American taxpayers of the last three government shutdowns and the impacts they had on the economy and core government functions.  The largest direct cost of these shutdowns is lost productivity, work not performed by furloughed federal employees.  Over the past five years, the federal government has been fully or partially shut down for 54 days, costing taxpayers nearly $4 billion—$3.7 billion in back pay to federal workers who were furloughed and prohibited from going to work, and at least $338 million in other costs associated with the shutdowns.  Moreover, the total amount of combined employee furlough days represents an estimated 56,938 years of lost productivity. Here’s what media reports are saying.

On Senate Floor, Portman Details Costs of Government Shutdowns

On the Senate Floor, Portman highlighted the findings of a nine-month investigation by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which he chairs, detailing the real-world costs of the last three government shutdowns. Alongside Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE), Portman found that the combined 54 for days of partial or full government closures since FY 2014 due to a lack of federal funding resulted in at least $4 billion in costs for taxpayers and 56,938 years of missed work by furloughed federal workers. Portman also urged Congress to pass his End Government Shutdowns Act, which would prevent future shutdowns by using automatic continuing resolutions (CRs) to keep the government open at existing funding levels. 

Transcript of his remarks can be found here and a video can be found here.

Thursday September 12, 2019

At U.S. Department of Transportation, Portman Praises Award of Autonomous Driving Systems Grant to Ohio Researchers

Portman delivered remarks at a bipartisan press conference at the U.S. Department of Transportation with Secretary Elaine Chao announcing the federal grant awards to study autonomous driving systems (ADS), including $7.5 million for the state of Ohio and university groups. The ADS Demonstration grant will be allocated to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and its consortium, which includes the Transportation Research Center Inc. (TRC), The Ohio State University, and DriveOhio.

Here are photos and a transcript of remarks Portman delivered to the gathered audience.

Portman, Brown, Johnson, Ryan Encourage Ohio Students to Attend Mahoning Valley Skilled Trades Expo

Senators Portman and Sherrod Brown along with U.S. Representatives Bill Johnson (R-OH) and Tim Ryan (D-OH) encouraged Mahoning Valley students to attend the inaugural Mahoning Valley Skilled Trades Expo at the Canfield Fair Grounds next Thursday, September 26th. The expo will connect northeast Ohio students with representatives from local skilled construction trades and feature hands-on activities for students to learn more about these jobs and future career opportunities.

  • Students and parents can find out more about the Skilled Trades Expo HERE.

“When I travel throughout Ohio, employers of all sizes stress the urgent need to bridge the skills gap,” said Portman. “Every Ohioan deserves the opportunity to get the training they need for today’s jobs, many of which require workers with the right skills and qualifications.  The Skilled Trades Expo will allow students to see firsthand the in-demand jobs of today and tomorrow.”

Friday September 13, 2019

Portman, Carper Demand Federal Agencies Explain Inability to Provide Basic Information on Government Shutdown Costs

Senators Portman and Carper, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, sent letters to nine federal departments and agencies seeking an explanation as to why they were unable to provide complete information about employee furloughs and back pay for the last three government shutdowns. In a stunning new report issued by the Subcommittee on Tuesday, investigators found that the combined costs of the last three complete or partial government shutdowns cost American taxpayers nearly $4 billion, including $3.7 billion in back pay for furloughed employees and $338 million in additional costs. 

However, certain federal departments and agencies, including the Department of Justice, the Department of Defensethe Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency, were unable to estimate the amount of back pay provided to furloughed workers after shutdowns, raising serious concerns about the capacity of those departments and agencies to oversee their operations and implement basic accounting systems and practices. Combined, the nine departments and agencies who received letters employ about half of the federal workforce, meaning that the actual amount that taxpayers paid as a result of the recent government shutdowns is likely much higher due to a greater amount of back pay and additional associated costs. 

“Although we appreciated the Department’s cooperation with some aspects of the Subcommittee’s investigation, we are concerned you were unable to provide complete information about employee furloughs and back pay from the last three government shutdowns in response to the Subcommittee’s inquiry,” Senators Portman and Carper wrote in their letter to nine federal departments and agencies.  “The inability to provide all of the information we requested raises serious questions about your Department’s ability to perform effective oversight of its operations, and about your Department’s ability to maintain basic accounting systems and practices.  As such, we request a briefing by October 3, 2019 from your staff on why the Department was unable to provide this information and the specific efforts being taken to address these deficiencies.”

SOCIAL MEDIA

 

Government shutdowns cost taxpayers nearly $4 billion over last five years, says report from Sen. Rob Portman

As the House of Representatives prepares to pass a stopgap measure to avert a government shutdown when current spending bills expire Oct. 1, a Senate subcommittee chaired by Ohio Republican Rob Portman released a report on the effects of the nation’s most recent government shutdowns.

It’s not pretty.

According to the Portman’s report, the 52 days the federal government was fully or partially shut down over the past five years cost taxpayers nearly $4 billion, mostly in back pay to federal workers who were furloughed. The report reckoned that combined workdays lost during recent shutdowns amounted to 56,938 years of lost employee productivity. And those numbers are likely low, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations says, because some agencies said they couldn’t provide the committee with the data it sought.

It estimated the most recent shutdown reduced economic growth by a combined $11 billion in the last quarter of 2018 and this year’s first quarter. And it said federal agencies were unable to perform a wide variety of tasks during the last shutdown, halting roughly 60,000 immigration hearings for detained aliens, stopping approval of Small Business Administration loans, and suspending Consumer Product Safety Commission efforts to keep potentially unsafe products off the market.

After introducing legislation in every Congress since 2011 that would end government shutdowns, Sen. Rob Portman thinks there’s enough consensus on the issue to pass his bill after a ruinous 35-day shutdown.

The top Democrat on Portman’s subcommittee, Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, said the report should serve “as a reminder to the President and Congress about the real consequences and costs to taxpayers when we do not do our jobs.” He called on Democrats and Republicans to “come together, stop governing through continuing resolutions that are woefully inefficient, and do our most basic job by ensuring that our government has the funds it needs to operate.”

The House of Representatives floor schedule indicates a vote on a temporary spending bill will happen sometime after Wednesday, as members of the House Appropriations Committee hammer out details of a temporary spending bill. After the House passes a funding bill, the Senate would have to approve it to avert a shutdown.

Portman used the report to plug a bill he’s introduced in every Congress since 2011 that would end government shutdowns. His legislation wouldn’t let government funding lapse if Congress fails to pass spending bills. Instead, it would extend the previous year’s level of funding for four months, and then ratchet down funding levels over time to give budget negotiators an incentive to reach agreement.

“This report reaffirms what I’ve always said: Federal government shutdowns don’t save money, they actually cost taxpayers billions of dollars,” said a statement from Portman. “It’s time to end government shutdowns for good. I’ve introduced legislation to accomplish that goal and ensure we avoid disruptions that ultimately hurt taxpayers and our economy. I look forward to continuing my work with Senator Carper and my bipartisan colleagues to end shutdowns once and for all.”

(Government shutdowns cost taxpayers nearly $4 billion over last five years, says report from Sen. Rob Portman. Cleveland.com. September 17)

Bipartisan congressional report puts cost to taxpayers of recent government shutdowns at $4 billion

The past three U.S. government shutdowns have cost taxpayers roughly $4 billion, according to an incomplete tally released Tuesday following a months-long bipartisan congressional investigation.

A report detailed at least $3.7 billion in back pay to furloughed federal workers and at least $338 million in other costs associated with the shutdowns, including extra administrative work, lost revenue and late fees on interest payments.

The tally was based on a survey of 26 federal agencies but did not include data from some of the largest government agencies, including the departments of Defense, Agriculture, Justice and Commerce, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency.

Those agencies were unable to provide complete shutdown cost estimates, according to the report by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which is chaired by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

“Rather than saving taxpayer money, shutdowns produce significant costs to the American taxpayer,” said the report, which noted that Congress has routinely provided full back pay to federal workers who were furloughed and unable to work.

The report estimates the collective lost productivity of the furloughed workers at the surveyed agencies as 56,938 years.

The report covers three government shutdowns from the past five years: 16 days in October 2013 during the Obama administration; three days in January 2018 during the Trump administration; and, most recently, a record 35 days in December 2018 and January 2019 during the Trump administration.

The 180-page report details numerous government functions that were suspended during the shutdowns, including investigations of “bad actors who were potentially breaking federal laws” by agencies including the Justice Department.

Other impacts noted in the report from the most recent shutdown include the cancellation of about 60,000 immigration hearings; delays in decisions on potentially dangerous consumer products; closed and unattended national parks; and closed Smithsonian museums, which resulted in a loss of “significant revenue from its on-site shops, theaters and dining facilities.”

(Bipartisan congressional report puts cost to taxpayers of recent government shutdowns at $4 billion. Washington Post. September 17)

 

###