Rob’s Rundown: Week of September 19 – September 23, 2022

September 23, 2022 | Rob's Rundown

Senator Portman was back in Washington this week where he spoke on the Senate floor for the 23rd consecutive session week regarding the situation in Ukraine. Portman focused on recent discoveries of more Russian atrocities in the recently liberated territory in northeast Ukraine and made specific mention of the mass burial site found in the town of Izium, Ukraine, where over 400 graves were uncovered. On his eighth and most recent bipartisan trip to Ukraine last month with Senator Klobuchar, Portman saw similar grave sites and war-torn towns firsthand. Portman made clear that now is not the time to stop supporting Ukraine, as military aid from the United States, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, has turned the tide for Ukraine and enabled its defenders to liberate cities and save innocent civilians from Russian occupation. As Co-Chair and co-founder of the Senate Ukraine Caucus and member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Portman has long been a defender of Ukraine and has spoken consistently on the Senate floor since the Russian invasion began.

On Wednesday, Portman met with Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, Andriy Kostin to discuss the efforts to investigate and prosecute cases of war crimes conducted by Russia in Ukraine. Portman released a statement on the meeting.

Also on Wednesday, Portman, pressed the nominee for Archivist for the United States, Dr. Colleen Shogan, on her partisan and controversial views at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing.

On Thursday, joined FOX Business’ Kudlow to discuss the importance of working on permitting reform legislation in a bipartisan way. Portman also highlighted the Democrats’ massive spending spree, which has led to nearly 40-year high inflation and increased prices for consumers.

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Portman Applauds $100 Million Made Available for Smart Transportation Technology, Spurring American Innovation and Competitiveness

New SMART Program Made Available Through Portman’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law


Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman applauded the announcement by the Department of Transportation that it had begun accepting applications for the SMART Grants Program, made possible by Portman’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law last November. This program will make approximately $100 million available annually for the next five years to support projects that use technology to improve our transportation infrastructure.

“The SMART program will help spur American innovation and bring about cutting edge infrastructure projects,” said Portman. “This is just one more resource that will strengthen our nation’s infrastructure that is made possible by my Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. I encourage all those eligible to apply to do so immediately so they may have access to this new funding.”

The new Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants Program will offer up to $100 million in grants annually over the next five years and will fund projects that use data and technology to solve real-world challenges facing communities today. The SMART program will fund purpose-driven innovation and focus on building data and technology capacity and expertise. The program seeks proposals from public sector entities that will carry out demonstration projects in the following domains to address key transportation priorities: Vehicle technology, like automation and connectivity; systems innovation, like delivery and logistics, traffic signals, smart grid, and data integration; and new ways to monitor and manage infrastructure, like sensors and drones. The SMART Notice of Funding (NOFO) is open now.

The SMART Grant program is modeled off Portman’s legislation with Senators Cortez Masto (D-NV), Burr (R-NC), and Sinema (D-AZ), the Moving and Fostering Innovation to Revolutionize Smarter Transportation (Moving FIRST). Introduced in March 2021, the Moving FIRST Act establishes a grant program to award $100 million annually in grants to large, mid-sized, and rural communities that leverage technological innovation for transportation solutions to build upon the success of the 2015 Smart Cities Challenge.  

The 2015 Smart Cities Challenge received 78 applications across 36 states. By asking American cities to use emerging transportation technologies to address their most pressing problems, the Smart City Challenge aimed to spark and spread innovation through a mixture of collaboration, competition, and experimentation. During the selection process, Portman urged then-Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to award its Smart City Challenge grant to the city of Columbus, Ohio, citing its leadership in innovation and research, as well as its geographic fit. In the end, Columbus won the $40 million grant to develop smart technology to improve access to jobs, drive economic growth, establish the city’s leadership in logistics, and foster more sustainable transportation. In total, the Smart Cities grant helped leverage a total of $100 million for funding commitments and transportation upgrades in the capital city.

On Senate Floor, Portman Highlights Recent Ukrainian Advances, Russian War Crimes, Urges Support for Ukrainian Aid Package

This evening, U.S. Senator Rob Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor in support of Ukraine for the 23rd consecutive week while the Senate has been in session. Portman focused on recent discoveries of more Russian atrocities in recently liberated territory in northeast Ukraine, and made specific mention of the mass burial site found in the town of Izium, Ukraine, where over 400 graves were uncovered. On his eighth and most recent bipartisan trip to Ukraine last month with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Portman saw similar grave sites and war-torn towns firsthand.

Senator Portman made clear that now is not the time to stop supporting Ukraine, as military aid from the United States, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, have turned the tide for Ukraine and enabled its defenders to liberate cities and save innocent civilians from Russian occupation.

As co-chair and co-founder of the Senate Ukraine Caucus and member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Portman urged his colleagues to support the administration’s new request to provide Ukraine with the weapons, equipment, and ammunition it needs to stop Russia’s genocide against innocent Ukrainian civilians.

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Portman Condemns Russian War Crimes in Ukraine Following Meeting with Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin

Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman and Dick Durbin (D-IL), Co-Chairs of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, met with Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, Andriy Kostin to discuss the efforts to investigate and prosecute cases of war crimes conducted by Russia in Ukraine. Portman released the following statement:

“The United States stands with Ukraine and its efforts to hold Russia accountable for its heinous war crimes against the Ukrainian people. I enjoyed speaking with Prosecutor General Kostin today about ways that the United States can aid Ukraine in its efforts to investigate and prosecute cases of war crimes conducted by Russian soldiers in Ukraine,” said Portman. “I strongly encourage my colleagues to approve more funding for Ukraine. This will help Ukrainian prosecutors investigate more war crimes cases and secure justice for innocent victims, and it will help Ukrainian soldiers liberate their fellow citizens from future Russian atrocities.”

Last night, Senator Portman spoke on the Senate floor for the 23rd consecutive in-session week to detail Russia’s war on Ukraine. Portman focused on discoveries of Russian atrocities in recently liberated territories in northeast Ukraine, and made specific mention of the mass burial site found in the town of Izium, Ukraine, where over 400 graves were uncovered. On his eighth and most recent bipartisan trip to Ukraine last month with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Portman saw similar grave sites and war-torn towns firsthand.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Portman Co-Chairs Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing, Hears How the U.S. Can Better Support Those Fighting Back Against Authoritarian Governments Around the World

At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Rob Portman heard testimony from several women, who at the risk of their own safety and the safety of their loved ones, continue to advocate against the authoritarian regimes in their countries. Senator Portman asked what more the United States could do to support those in authoritarian countries, like Cuba, Iran, China, etc. who are speaking out and fighting for democracy. The witnesses asked that the United States become more active in the fight for freedom abroad and suggested that the U.S. ensure access to information via the Internet so individuals could have access to the, free world. The witnesses also discussed efforts to increase sanctions on malign government officials and leaders which would then create hardships for both them and their families.

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

Portman, Risch, Rubio: International Atomic Energy Agency Should Maintain Investigation into Iran’s Nuclear Activities

U.S. Senators Rob Portman, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Jim Risch (R-ID), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Marco Rubio (R-FL), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi expressing concern regarding Iran’s demand to end the IAEA’s investigation into its undisclosed nuclear activities as part of JCPOA re-entry negotiations.

“Earlier this month, as negotiations were reaching their culmination, Iran demanded the IAEA permanently close its ongoing investigation into Iran’s unreported nuclear activities in order to move forward with the deal,” wrote the members. “As you know, when Iran deployed this tactic in 2015, the P5+1 capitulated in order to advance the JCPOA. By prematurely closing the IAEA’s investigation into probable ties between Iran’s nuclear program and its military, the international community enabled Iran to hide the intent and scope of its nuclear program, severely undermining the credibility of the body and our nonproliferation regime.”

“Since the IAEA opened its current inquiry in 2018, Iran has repeatedly blocked IAEA efforts to inspect and assess unreported and suspicious nuclear activity detected at numerous sites,” they continued. “To suggest closing this investigation without knowing the nature or extent of Iran’s nuclear activities, where the material in question is located now, or whether Iran is continuing such activities will again weaken the legitimacy of the IAEA and further embolden Iran to advance its nuclear program with impunity and outside the parameters of its international obligations.”

“Your leadership has been substantial and should be credited with restoring the credibility of the IAEA, in particular with regard to its work in Iran,” they concluded. “As you engage with the United States and other parties to the prospective nuclear agreement with Iran, we urge you to remain steadfast in your commitments that Iran provides honest responses regarding its nuclear program and is held to account for any wrongdoing under its international nuclear commitments.”

Full text of the letter can be found here.

On FOX Business’ Kudlow, Portman Discusses Permitting Reform, Democrats’ Massive Spending Spree

Senator Portman joined FOX Business’ Kudlow this afternoon to discuss the importance of working on permitting reform legislation in a bipartisan way. Senator Portman is a staunch advocate for permitting reform and has long pushed for bipartisan solutions. Portman then highlighted Democrats’ massive spending spree, which has led to a near 40-year high inflation rate and higher prices for consumers. He also touched on the importance of keeping the government open and urged Democrats and Republicans to come together and put an effective bill on the Senate floor to keep the government funded and spending under control.

You can watch the interview here.

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