Rob’s Rundown: Week of September 9 – September 13, 2019

September 13, 2019 | Rob's Rundown

Today, Senator Portman participated in the Second Annual Taft Day breakfast celebrating the birthday of President William Howard Taft, the only U.S. president born and raised in Cincinnati. The William Howard Taft National Historic Site, where the event was held, has $2.1 million in long-delayed maintenance needs, and Portman has introduced legislation, the Restore Our Parks Act, to help address this backlog.

On the Senate floor earlier this week, Portman highlighted his visits in Ohio during the August state work period. He traveled more than 4,000 miles and visited 39 different counties in the state, completing his goal of visiting all 88 Ohio counties during this term. He met with Ohioans and discussed a variety of issues, including expanding skills training, protecting and preserving our Great Lakes, combating the drug epidemic, helping farmers by passing USMCA, supporting our military and more. On Monday, he honored the brave Dayton Police Officers who quickly responded to the active shooter in Dayton, Ohio last month, ending the tragedy before more innocent lives could be lost.

Finally, Senator Portman praised President Trump for authorizing the release of $250 million in Ukraine Security Assistance Funds (USAI) following the completion of a Department of Defense and State Department review of the program. This money, in conjunction with State Department Foreign Military Financing, will provide key support to the Ukrainian military to help it ward off Russian aggression and maintain its territorial integrity.  Portman emphasized that while our military aid to Ukraine is crucial, increased European security assistance is also important, and would make our support more effective. 

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

Monday, September 9, 2019

ICYMI: The Lima News Op-Ed from Senator Portman: “Good News for Our Country Found at JSMC”

In last Friday’s Lima News, Senator Portman wrote an op-ed about his support for the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC) in Lima. Portman has been a staunch supporter of the JSMC and recently fought for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2020, which will authorize $1.7 billion to increase the rate of production of M1 Abrams tanks, as well as upgrade tanks and Strykers that are already in service.

On the importance of keeping the JSMC up and running to its full potential, Portman writes: “One of my highest priorities in the U.S. Senate is to ensure that the men and women of our armed forces have the equipment and cutting-edge technology they need to carry out their critical missions around the world. … Simply put, the JSMC and those who work there are key to our military readiness.”

This op-ed comes after Portman visited JSMC recently during his three-day ‘Results Tour’, where he met the new Base Commander, received a briefing on how funding he helped secure is leading to increased employment, and saw the latest work on the Abrams Tank and Stryker vehicle line.   

Excerpts of the op-ed can be found here and the full op-ed can be found at this link.

Senator Portman Op-Ed in Washington Post: Democrats Should Join Republicans in Passing USMCA

In the Washington Post, Senator Portman wrote a new op-ed about his support for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and why Democrats should join Republicans in passing the trade agreement this fall. As a former U.S. Trade Representative, Portman has been a staunch supporter of the USMCA Portman supports the more modern USMCA to the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in part because it includes new and enforceable environmental and labor standards, a new section on digital trade, expanded opportunities for agricultural trade, and new opportunities for auto jobs in America.

On why Democrats should support USMCA, Portman writes: “Democrats should be leading the charge for its passage, because they have long criticized NAFTA, and because the USMCA addresses the major concerns they have raised with NAFTA. The new USMCA adopts long-held Democratic positions on jobs, labor and environmental standards, as well as other issues.”

Excerpts of the op-ed can be found here and the full op-ed can be found at this link.

On Senate Floor, Portman Honors Courageous Acts of Dayton Police Officers

On the Senate floor, Senator Portman honored the brave Dayton Police Officers who quickly responded to the active shooter in Dayton, Ohio last month, ending the tragedy before more innocent lives could be lost. President Trump honored their courageous acts by presenting them with the Medal of Valor at the White House Monday morning.  

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Senator Portman Op-Ed in Washington Times: Sensible Solutions to Protect Our Environment & Grow the Economy

In the Washington Times, Senator Portman wrote a new op-ed about his efforts to help to protect our environment and grow the economy, highlighting his bipartisan legislation to improve energy efficiency, protect tropical forests from deforestation, and reduce carbon emissions through carbon capture legislation.

In the op-ed, Portman writes: “These bills harness the power of America’s markets to spur innovation in the fields of energy efficiency and carbon capture, and I look forward to getting them across the finish line. We owe it to our children, our grandchildren and all Americans to come together to keep our environment clean and our economy strong.”

Excerpts of the op-ed can be found here and the full op-ed can be found at this link.

Portman, Brown, Ohio Delegation Praise $7.5 Million DOT Grant for ODOT, TRC, OSU, and DriveOhio to Test and Deploy Automatic Driving System Technology in Ohio

Senators Portman and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), along with the entire Ohio delegation in the House of Representatives, praised the announcement that the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded a $7.5 million Automatic Driving System (ADS) Demonstration grant to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and its consortium, which includes the Transportation Research Center Inc. (TRC), The Ohio State University, and DriveOhio. ODOT and this consortium, in partnership with the University of Cincinnati, the City of Youngstown, and the City of Athens, plan to develop a statewide demonstration plan to test and deploy ADS technology. Through this demonstration plan, the partnership will better integrate rural, suburban, and urban environments into the larger statewide transportation technology ecosystem. ADS Demonstration grants aim to gather significant safety data to inform rulemaking, foster collaboration amongst state and local government and private partners, and test the safe integration of ADS on our nation’s roads.  

This is great news for Ohio and will help ensure that the state’s transportation technology ecosystem becomes a model for the country.  I applaud Secretary Chao for providing Ohio with the resources to invest in a statewide demonstration plan,” said Portman. “The Transportation Research Center is playing a big role in helping Central Ohio to become a leader in using smart transportation to help create economic growth and expand opportunity, and now they’ll be able to work in partnership with ODOT, The Ohio State University, and DriveOhio to expand what they’ve learned in Central Ohio to the rest of the state. During my visit in August, I was pleased to see how the SMARTCenter will be testing vehicles in a safe and secure, real-world environment before they are used on public roads and highways. I look forward to seeing how this partnership benefits communities across Ohio.  I will continue to work with ODOT, TRC, The Ohio State University, and DriveOhio to make sure they achieve their goals.”

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

At Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee Hearing, Portman Testifies on Bipartisan Energy Efficiency Bill

At a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Energy Subcommittee hearing, Portman testified in support of his bipartisan Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (ESIC), which he introduced with Senator Jeanne Shaheen earlier this year. The legislation will improve energy efficiency in three key sectors – buildings, industrial, and the federal government. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, residential and commercial buildings accounted for about 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption in 2018.  In addition, reports from the U.S. Department of Energy have found that the federal government is the largest single energy consumer in the country. By improving energy efficiency in these three key sectors, this legislation will help reduce emissions, protect the environment, and create jobs. The legislation also includes important provisions to reduce water usage and promote water conservation. A summary of the bill is here.

The full text of his remarks can be found here and a video can be found here.

Portman Praises Trump Administration Decision to Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes

Portman issued the following statement praising the Trump administration’s decision to ban flavored e-cigarettes: 

“I applaud the Trump administration for taking action to curb youth smoking rates. Banning flavored e-cigarettes is a key step to doing so, and I hope that Congress will follow up this progress by raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21.”

Thursday September 12, 2019

Portman, Brown Introduce Legislation to Rename NASA’s Plum Brook Station Test Facility After Neil Armstrong

Senators Portman and Brown formally introduced legislation to rename NASA’s Plum Brook Station, the agency’s test facility in Sandusky, Ohio, after Neil Armstrong. Portman and Brown announced their intention to rename the facility in July, in advance of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Plum Brook is part of the NASA Glenn Research Center. It houses unique world-class facilities that conduct critical and innovative ground tests for the international aerospace community.  

“From his service as a Navy fighter pilot, to his courageous experiments as a test pilot, to his space exploration and first step on the surface of the Moon, Neil Armstrong left an indelible mark in mankind’s history of flight.  In all his accomplishments, he considered himself first and foremost a test pilot who pushed the boundaries of what was possible in the air and in space,” Senator Portman said. “Neil was a humble and patriotic Ohioan who believed the honor of serving his country was a reward in and of itself. That’s why, when I asked him the year before he passed away whether he wanted me to pursue naming Plum Brook after him, he demurred.  But he was a strong supporter of Plum Brook Station and the important simulations and testing being done there, and I believe it is precisely because of his humility, coupled with his unparalleled accomplishments, that the renaming is appropriate. In consultation with his family and NASA, Senator Brown and I are proud to introduce this legislation renaming Plum Brook in his honor. This is a fitting tribute, and a way to help ensure that future generations will be inspired by Neil Armstrong‘s amazing accomplishments in air and in space.”

Portman Welcomes President Trump Decision on Security Assistance & Urges Other NATO Countries to Do More to Help Ukraine

Portman, co-founder and co-chairman of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, praised the decision by President Trump to authorize the release of $250 million in Ukraine Security Assistance Funds (USAI) following the completion of a Department of Defense and State Department review of the program. This money, in conjunction with State Department Foreign Military Financing, will provide key support to the Ukrainian military to help it ward off Russian aggression and maintain its territorial integrity.  He released the following statement: 

“I appreciate President Trump releasing the security funds for Ukraine, and I want to thank him for doing so. I strongly support the president’s position that NATO allies and especially our European countries in the region can and must do more to support Ukraine. Our military aid is crucial to allow Ukraine to defend itself, but increased European security assistance is also crucial, and would make our support more effective. President Zelensky is a strong ally of the United States and I support his anti-corruption agenda. With this funding we will provide vital assistance to help the Ukrainian military continue on their path of reform and implement improved training and readiness to be able to defend their homeland against Russian aggression.”

On Senate Floor, Portman Highlights August Visits Around Ohio

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

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

Portman, King Urge Library of Congress to Make Constitution Annotated Available to All Americans

In advance of Constitution Day on September 17th, Senators Portman and Angus King sent a letter to Dr. Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, urging her to make the Constitution Annotated easily available to all Americans. The Constitution Annotated is compiled by the Library of Congress and details how the Supreme Court has interpreted each provision of the Constitution. While the Constitution Annotated is a phenomenal resource, it’s also an enormous one, running more than 2,700 pages. Currently, Congress has access to a user-friendly digital version of the Constitution Annotated. However, the online public version is only made available online as one large and cumbersome PDF, or via an app that only shows that same large PDF and isn’t available for non-Apple phones. Public publication of this resource would foster civic engagement and improve the ability of students and scholars to study the Constitution.

“Since 1913, the Library of Congress has authored, and the Government Publishing Office (GPO) has published, The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation, or simply, the Constitution Annotated,” the Senators wrote.  “We urge you to publish the Constitution Annotated to the public in the same manner it is made available to Congress – as a series of web pages that are continually updated and viewable on multiple devices.”

The full text of the letter is available here.

Friday September 13, 2019

In Cincinnati, Portman Participates in Second Annual Taft Day

Portman participated in the Second Annual Taft Day breakfast celebrating the birthday of President William Howard Taft, the only U.S. president born and raised in Cincinnati. Portman participated in this program last year. The breakfast celebration was held at the William Howard Taft National Historic Site, which includes the two-story house where William Howard Taft was born and grew up. The site, including the house, surrounding landscape, and education center, has $2.1 million in long-delayed maintenance needs, and Portman has introduced legislation to help address this backlog.

“Today I was honored to participate in the Second Annual Taft Day. President Taft holds a special place in my heart, as the only U.S. president born and raised in Cincinnati, and William Howard Taft National Historic Site provides unique insights for visitors to understand the environment that shaped this historic Cincinnatian,” said Portman. “I’m committed to protecting our national parks and that’s why I introduced the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act to help address the nearly $12 billion backlog of long-delayed maintenance projects at the National Park Service. This includes more than $100 million in deferred maintenance at Ohio’s eight national parks, and $2.1 million here at the Taft National Historic Site. These parks are national treasures and we must do our part to ensure that these parks can be enjoyed for many generations to come.” 

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

 

USMCA is a needed upgrade from NAFTA. Let’s get it passed.

As Congress reconvenes this week, we’ll have a choice to make — stand by an outdated, 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, or vote to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a modern trade agreement that will create thousands of new American jobs. Democrats should be leading the charge for its passage, because they have long criticized NAFTA, and because the USMCA addresses the major concerns they have raised with NAFTA. The new USMCA adopts long-held Democratic positions on jobs, labor and environmental standards, as well as other issues.

That’s why, if Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) were to bring USMCA to the House floor for a vote, I am confident it would pass. And I know the Senate would quickly follow suit.

Taken together, Canada and Mexico make up the most important foreign market for U.S. products, fueling economic growth here at home and supporting export jobs that pay, on average, 16 percent more than equivalent jobs that produce only for our domestic market. According to the most recent data, one-third of all American exports in 2019 have gone to Mexico or Canada, well ahead of any other foreign markets. In all, trade with Mexico and Canada supports more than 12 million jobs nationwide.

With so many jobs and livelihoods at stake, our trade relationship with our neighbors must be built on a healthy foundation. It’s been 25 years since we entered into NAFTA, and it must now be updated to reflect our 21st-century economy.

When Democrats say that the USMCA is just like the NAFTA agreement they oppose, they’re ignoring the facts to score political points. According to a study by the independent International Trade Commission, because of these USMCA improvements over NAFTA, wages will rise and we will add 176,000 jobs to the U.S. economy, including more than 20,000 in the auto industry. In fact, it will grow our economy by double the gross domestic product of that projected under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which many Democrats praised a few years back for its potential economic impact.

Passing the USMCA will help the U.S. compete in today’s 21st-century economy. A vote for the USMCA is a vote for improved market access, more U.S. manufacturing, and a level playing field for American workers and farmers. A vote against the USMCA is a vote for the status quo of unenforceable labor and environmental standards, nonexistent digital economy provisions, and outdated rules of origin provisions that allow more automobiles and auto parts to be manufactured overseas rather than here in America. Put these two agreements side by side and it’s clear: The USMCA is a much-needed upgrade.

Over the next several weeks, Democrats must decide whether they support the NAFTA deal that they’ve long criticized, or the better USMCA pact that is ready to go, having already been signed by all three countries. There will be plenty of time for politics between now and the 2020 election. This fall, let’s work together to put the American people first and pass this agreement.

(USMCA is a needed upgrade from NAFTA. Let’s get it passed. Washington Post. September 9)

 

Sensible Solutions to Protect Our Environment and Grow the Economy

Even in these partisan times, and even on topics like the environment and energy that are so caught up in politics, there are some promising areas where progress can be made. One is energy efficiency. Done right, more efficient use of energy reduces greenhouse gas emissions, grows the economy and reduces costs for taxpayers. It makes sense.

That’s why, since 2011, I’ve worked with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen to promote bipartisan energy efficiency legislation that will do just that. Such legislation passed the Senate a few years ago but was mostly stopped in the House. What did get through is already making a difference, including provisions that are resulting in more energy efficiency in 4.5 million square feet in leased building space through our Tenant Star program at EPA and an estimated $29 million per year in energy savings from water heaters, which reduce energy consumption during peak hours and lower household energy costs.

There is room to do so much more. That’s why, in July, Sen. Shaheen and I introduced the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (ESIC). It improves energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings, the federal government and the manufacturing sector.

In addition to ESIC, I’m working with Sen. Michael Bennet to pass effective carbon capture legislation. Carbon capture is a common-sense solution that will allow America to use its natural resources while protecting the environment at the same time. Our bill, the Carbon Capture Improvement Act, would allow businesses to use private activity bonds (PABs) issued by local or state governments to finance a carbon capture project. PABs have been used for decades to finance pollution control equipment at U.S. power and industrial facilities — capturing carbon dioxide is a logical next step. Business groups, energy groups and environmental groups all support this bipartisan measure. It is a great example of how a policy change can result in both more jobs and a significant reduction in carbon emissions.

The bipartisan Tropical Forests Conservation Act, which I authored 21 years ago and reauthorized with Sen. Tom Udall last year, is designed to provide resources to protect and preserve forests that are being threatened around the world. It uses market forces to incentivize countries to protect their forests in exchange for reductions in the debt they owe the U.S. These debt-for-nature swaps have protected more than 67 million acres of tropical forests over the past two decades, including more than 1.1 million acres in Brazil when they had foreign debt owed to us. This progress was made at minimal cost to taxpayers and without losing a single job. Such forest burning destroys important biodiversity, and protecting our forests is a leading way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide through sequestration. Now, we must look at different ways to use market forces to incentivize countries like Brazil that no longer have foreign debt with us.

If we step back from politics, we can figure out ways to improve the environment while creating more economic opportunities. The bipartisan legislative initiatives outlined above with Sens. Shaheen, Bennett and Udall are good examples. These bills harness the power of America’s markets to spur innovation in the fields of energy efficiency and carbon capture, and I look forward to getting them across the finish line. We owe it to our children, our grandchildren and all Americans to come together to keep our environment clean and our economy strong.

(Sensible Solutions to Protect Our Environment and Grow the Economy. Washington Times. September 9)

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