Rob’s Rundown: Week of September 21 – September 25, 2020

September 25, 2020 | Rob's Rundown

Last Friday night Rob issued a statement mourning the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away at the age of 87. The next day, he issued a statement on the vacancy and his intention to fulfill his role as a U.S. Senator and judge whomever President Trump nominates based on their merits and qualifications.

Senator Portman was in Washington this week where he delivered remarks on the Senate Floor Wednesday urging his colleagues to pass his bipartisan legislation to replenish FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund so that the enhanced federal unemployment insurance benefit of $300 per week authorized by President Trump’s executive action can continue while also providing additional resources to support the federal government’s response to historic wildfires in the West and other natural disasters such as Hurricane Sally. At a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) hearing on Wednesday, Acting Secretary Wolf warned that if additional natural disasters happen this year, considering the ongoing wildfires on our west coast and Hurricane Sally, Hurricane Laura, and those that are yet to come this season, FEMA may have to request additional funds for the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF). 

On Thursday, Portman heard from a senior Homeland Security Department official who touted the effectiveness of Portman’s STOP Act, which aims to cut off the flow of fentanyl being trafficked into the U.S. through the mail system at a HSGAC hearing. Additionally, FBI Director Wray expressed his support for Portman’s bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act which will help federal efforts to stop China’s theft of U.S. taxpayer-funded research and intellectual property. 

On Friday, Portman joined Senators Sherrod Brown and Chuck Grassley in introducing the Accelerating Kids’ Access to Care Act to help families access life-saving care for children with complex medical conditions. The legislation aims to facilitate access to care by reducing regulatory burdens on providers. 

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

Monday, September 21, 2020

VIDEO: Portman Highlights OneFifteen’s Efforts To Help Those Recovering from Addiction

In a new video, Senator Portman discusses his recent participation in the ribbon cutting ceremony for OneFifteen Living, the residential housing facility which is part of OneFifteen’s health care ecosystem dedicated to the full and sustained recovery of people suffering from addiction. The 26,300 square foot building has 29 double-occupancy rooms with separate living spaces for men and women. Portman attended the launch of the OneFifteen campus grand opening back in June of 2019.   

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Portman, Stabenow Introduce Great Lakes Navigation Act to Increase Resources for the Great Lakes Navigation System

Senators Rob Portman and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Co-Chairs of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, introduced the Great Lakes Navigation Act, requiring the Great Lakes Navigation System to receive no less than 12 percent of total annual funding from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF). Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Gary Peters (D-MI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Todd Young (R-IN), Tina Smith (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined as original cosponsors. 

Similar language has been included in H.R. 7575, the Water Resources Development Act of 2020, which passed the House by voice vote on July 29. Senators Portman and Stabenow, along with several of their colleagues, have advocated for the Great Lakes Navigation Act to be included as part of a broader HMTF agreement or final water resources development legislation. 

“The Great Lakes are an invaluable resource to Ohio, critically important to both our environment and our economy,” said Senator Portman, co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. “They provide an essential transportation network for the movement of many goods, from iron and steel products to agricultural commodities, for domestic and international consumption. It’s vital that the Great Lakes Navigation System receives adequate funding to maintain our harbors and ensure that our navigation system is properly dredged so that vessels can continue to travel safely throughout the Great Lakes.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Portman Announces Nearly $2.5 Million in Federal Funding to Improve Wastewater Treatment Facility in Village of Rio Grande

Portman announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has allocated nearly $2.5 million in federal funding through its Rural Development Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program to improve the Village of Rio Grande’s 84-year-old wastewater treatment facility. The project will address excess inflow and infiltration issues in the wastewater collection system as well as expand the system to accommodate continued growth in the region.

 “This funding is great news for Gallia County, which will provide critical upgrades and improvements to the county’s water treatment facilities,” said Portman. “It’s important that the citizens of Gallia County have safe and reliable drinking water that meets Ohio EPA standards. I applaud USDA for providing these additional resources and look forward to seeing the county benefit from these much-needed improvements.”

At Hearing, Portman Questions Nominee to be DHS Secretary Chad Wolf on Department’s Efforts to Ensure Election Security & Need to Replenish Disaster Relief Fund

At a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, Portman questioned the nominee to be Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Chad Wolf, on his ongoing efforts to ensure election security in the United States from foreign actors, like Russia, China and Iran.  Senator Portman has continued to attend briefings with senior leaders in the Intelligence Community, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to ensure he is fully aware of the threats our elections face.  Congress has recently appropriated an unprecedented amount of money for election security grants to state and local governments.  In FY 2020, Congress appropriated $425 million for election security and earlier this year, Congress provided an additional $400 million through the CARES Act.  Portman voted for both of those bills.     

In addition, Acting Secretary Wolf warned that if additional natural disasters happen this year, considering the ongoing wildfires on our west coast and Hurricane Sally, Hurricane Laura, and those that are yet to come this season, FEMA may have to request additional funds for the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF). Senator Portman recently introduced legislation to replenish FEMA’s DRF to continue the enhanced federal unemployment insurance benefit of $300 per week authorized by President Trump’s executive action and provide additional resources to support the federal government’s response to historic wildfires in the West and other natural disasters such as Hurricane Sally. This legislation would appropriate $86.6 billion to the DRF for these purposes, designated as emergency funding, through November 21, 2020.

 Excerpts of the hearing can be found below and a video can be found here.

On Senate Floor, Portman Calls on Senate to Replenish Disaster Relief Fund to Continue $300 Enhanced Federal UI Benefit, Provide Additional Resources for Wildfires & Natural Disasters

On the Senate floor, Portman discussed the need for the House and Senate to act to replenish Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) prior to Congress adjourning for the election. Portman called on the Senate to act on his new legislation to provide critical funding to the DRF to continue the enhanced federal unemployment insurance benefit of $300 per week authorized by President Trump’s executive action and provide additional resources to support the federal government’s response to historic wildfires in the West and other natural disasters such as Hurricane Sally. This legislation would appropriate $86.6 billion to the DRF for these purposes, designated as emergency funding, through November 21, 2020.

 The CARES Act appropriated $45 billion to the DRF, of which $44 billion has been obligated to cover six weeks-worth of lost wages assistance per state. The Lost Wages Assistance program provided $300 per week to complement each state’s unemployment insurance benefit. Once each state uses its appropriated six weeks’ worth of funding, the $44 billion cap will have been met, and the benefits will stop. Furthermore, since the DRF is currently funding COVID-19 support and both hurricane and wildfire season are ongoing, ensuring there is appropriate levels of funding in the DRF is crucial.

 Senator Portman urged his colleagues to swiftly pass this essential bill to replenish DRF funds so that FEMA is equipped to extend these enhanced federal unemployment benefits and help those impacted by the recent wildfires and natural disasters.

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

Portman Announces $500,000 in Grant Funding for New Workforce Training Center in Adams County

Portman applauded the announcement of $500,000 in Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant funding for the Adams County Board of Commissioners to renovate a former 15,100 square-foot grocery store into a workforce training center. The new training center will include virtual and physical classroom space as well as a virtual job center. Thanks to this grant funding, businesses in Adams County will have access to a newly trained workforce and at least 230 students will receive training at the center within one year of the project’s completion.“This grant funding is exciting news for the hard-working Ohioans and employers in Adams County,” said Portman. “This new workforce training center will bring needed skills training to the area while helping employers fill available jobs. I applaud the Adams County Commissioners and ARC for their work to strengthen economic development efforts in Adams County and I’ll continue to work at the federal level to support increased work skills training for all Ohioans.”

Thursday, September 24, 2020

At Hearing, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary for Dept. of Homeland Security & FBI Director Applaud Portman’s Efforts to Combat Synthetic Opioids & the Theft of U.S. Taxpayer-Funded Research

At a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on threats to the homeland, the senior official performing the duties of the Deputy Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Kenneth Cuccinelli and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Director Christopher Wray both expressed support for Portman’s work to combat synthetic opioids through his bipartisan Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, as well as his bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act which will help federal efforts to stop China’s theft of U.S. taxpayer-funded research and intellectual property. 

Mr. Cuccinelli expressed his gratitude for Senator Portman’s bipartisan Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, which became law in 2018. The STOP Act is working to help reduce the supply of fentanyl shipped into Ohio through the U.S. Postal Service.  The witnesses confirmed that the STOP Act was making a difference. As the chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), Portman conducted an 18-month investigation into this issue and released a stunning bipartisan report detailing how drug traffickers exploit vulnerabilities in our international mail system to easily ship synthetic drugs like fentanyl from China into the United States through the U.S. Postal Service. The STOP Act closes this loophole by requiring 100 percent advanced electronic data on all packages coming from China. 

In addition, FBI Director Wray once again expressed the importance of Portman’s bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act which will help federal efforts to stop China’s theft of U.S. taxpayer-funded research and intellectual property. The legislation will help stop foreign governments, particularly China, from stealing American taxpayer-funded research and intellectual property developed at U.S. colleges, universities, and research institutions. It was passed by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee earlier this year. Earlier this year, both FBI Director Wray and Attorney General Barr, spoke about the threat to American taxpayer-funded research and intellectual property from foreign governments, particularly China, which would be addressed by this legislation. As referenced in the hearing, FBI Director Wray announced previously that the FBI is opening a new China-related investigation every 10 hours with around 2,500 open counterintelligence investigations across the country. Portman is urging the Senate to take the next step and vote on this important legislation soon. 

Finally, Portman highlighted his bipartisan Protecting Faith-Based and Nonprofit Organizations From Terrorism Act. This legislation authorizes $75 million annually for five years, from FYs 2020-2024, for the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP).  The program provides grants to nonprofits and faith-based organizations to help secure their facilities against a potential terrorist attack. It was signed into law earlier this year.  

Excerpts of the hearing can be found here and videos can be viewed here and here.

Portman, Lankford, Johnson Introduce Legislation to Remove Unnecessary Regulations that Undermined Pandemic Preparedness

Senators Portman, chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, James Lankford (R-OK), chairman of the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, and Ron Johnson (R-WI), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced the Pandemic Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Act, which would help Congress repeal or modify regulations that have impeded our nation’s ability to rapidly respond to the coronavirus pandemic and/or that would impede a future response. Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) introduced the House companion bill, H.R. 8038.

 “I am proud to introduce the Pandemic Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Act along with Senators Lankford and Johnson. I have long advocated reforming our regulatory system so we can appropriately account for the costs and benefits of regulations. It’s never been more apparent that we need to better understand the barriers regulations place between the American people and their access to medication and health care and provide relief where we can do so safely. The bipartisan commission this bill would establish would give us an objective starting point for improving our regulatory system so that it better serves Americans both during future crises and their daily lives,” said Portman.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Portman, Brown, Grassley Introduce Bill to Increase Health Care Access for Children

Senators Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), along with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), introduced the bipartisan Accelerating Kids’ Access to Care Act to help families access life-saving care for children with complex medical conditions. The legislation aims to facilitate access to care reducing regulatory burdens on providers. Joining the introduction of the bipartisan legislation as original co-sponsors are Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Josh Hawley (R-MO), and Patty Murray (D-WA).

“The last thing that families should have to worry about when seeking care for their kids is whether red tape will prohibit or deter an out of state provider from taking their Medicaid coverage, just because they’ve chosen to seek the best possible care a provider that isn’t in their home state. In Ohio, we’re blessed to have world class children’s hospitals that care for kids from across the country but are oftentimes slowed down by these regulatory hurdles. We must do more to support families and kids, and I’m proud to be introducing this bipartisan legislation to streamline these processes and to correct these mistakes,” Portman said.

Portman Announces Nearly $2.3 Million Federal Grant to Support Career Training Services to Low-Income Older Individuals in Ohio 

Portman announced that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has awarded Vantage Aging in Akron, Ohio a nearly $2.3 million Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) grant to provide career services and training services to low-income older individuals who seek to enter or re-enter the workforce. Vantage Aging offers state-wide assistance to low-income adults seeking job training employment through their SCSEP by updating job skills for people 55 and older and placing them in part-time employment.

“I applaud the Department of Labor for awarding this nearly $2.3 million Senior Community Service Employment Program grant to Vantage Aging,” said Portman. “This grant funding will help senior citizens in Akron and across Ohio gain the skills needed to fill the jobs available today. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to make sure all Ohioans, no matter their age, can reach their God-given potential.”

Portman Announces Federal Aviation Administration CARES Act Grants to Assist Ohio Regional Airports Impacted By COVID-19

 

Portman announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded nearly $1.4 million in federal grants to the Rickenbacker International, the Alexander Salamon Airport, and the Vinton County Airport to help provide economic relief for lost revenue due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This announcement builds on the nearly $123 million in federal grants that Ohio airports have received.

 

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. 

 

“A functioning and effective aviation industry is critical to our U.S. economy. During this ongoing coronavirus pandemic, travel has significantly changed, thus leaving the aviation industry in a tough economic position,” said Portman. “I’m pleased to see that these regional airports have received this funding thanks to the CARES Act. The CARES Act funding is helping airports like Rickenbacker International, the Alexander Salamon Airport, and the Vinton County Airport continue to serve Ohio. 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. Portman among group of Senators to introduce “Protect and Serve Act”

U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced legislation that would appropriate $86.6 billion in emergency funding for the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) through Nov. 21.

Sen. Portman on Sept. 17 sponsored S. 4618 with lead cosponsor Sen. Tillis to replenish the DRF, which is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), so that it may continue the enhanced federal unemployment insurance benefit of $300 per week, and provide additional resources to support the federal government’s response to catastrophic wildfires in the West and other natural disasters, such as the hurricanes in the Gulf Coast.

 

“Before Congress adjourns for the election, the House and Senate should act to replenish FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund,” Sen. Portman said. “Thanks to the president’s executive action, this fund is also ensuring that Americans who lost their job through no fault of their own can make ends meet.” 

“Congress must ensure this important lifeline has sufficient funds to assist those in need, and I am proud to co-introduce this legislation with Senator Portman to replenish the Disaster Relief Fund,” said Sen. Tillis.

The CARES Act appropriated $45 billion to the DRF, of which $44 billion has been obligated to cover six weeks worth of lost wages assistance per state, according to information provided by Sen. Portman’s office, which noted that the Lost Wages Assistance program provided $300 per week to complement each state’s unemployment insurance benefit. Once each state uses its six weeks worth of funding, the DRF will have less than what FEMA said would be necessary to fight natural disasters, according to the information.  

At the same time, the DRF also is funding ongoing COVID-19 support, according to the senator’s office.  

“If Congress cannot come together to negotiate another COVID-19 response package, then at the very least we must act to extend these enhanced federal unemployment benefits and help those impacted by the recent wildfires and natural disasters,” Sen. Portman said. “I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this important legislation.” 

Portman, Tillis introduce bill to authorize $86.6B for Disaster Relief Fund

U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced legislation that would appropriate $86.6 billion in emergency funding for the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) through Nov. 21.

Sen. Portman on Sept. 17 sponsored S. 4618 with lead cosponsor Sen. Tillis to replenish the DRF, which is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), so that it may continue the enhanced federal unemployment insurance benefit of $300 per week, and provide additional resources to support the federal government’s response to catastrophic wildfires in the West and other natural disasters, such as the hurricanes in the Gulf Coast.

“Before Congress adjourns for the election, the House and Senate should act to replenish FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund,” Sen. Portman said. “Thanks to the president’s executive action, this fund is also ensuring that Americans who lost their job through no fault of their own can make ends meet.” 

“Congress must ensure this important lifeline has sufficient funds to assist those in need, and I am proud to co-introduce this legislation with Senator Portman to replenish the Disaster Relief Fund,” said Sen. Tillis.

The CARES Act appropriated $45 billion to the DRF, of which $44 billion has been obligated to cover six weeks worth of lost wages assistance per state, according to information provided by Sen. Portman’s office, which noted that the Lost Wages Assistance program provided $300 per week to complement each state’s unemployment insurance benefit. Once each state uses its six weeks worth of funding, the DRF will have less than what FEMA said would be necessary to fight natural disasters, according to the information.  

At the same time, the DRF also is funding ongoing COVID-19 support, according to the senator’s office.  

“If Congress cannot come together to negotiate another COVID-19 response package, then at the very least we must act to extend these enhanced federal unemployment benefits and help those impacted by the recent wildfires and natural disasters,” Sen. Portman said. “I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this important legislation.” 

 

###