Legislation Includes Key Portman Priorities to Combat Opioid Abuse, Support Ohio’s Defense Installations, Ensure Cleanup at Piketon & Protect Lake Erie 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) praised Senate passage of the FY 2019 Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act conference report, which will provide funding for various programs to benefit our men and women in uniform, address our energy and water infrastructure needs, and fund needed improvements and innovations at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to improve care for our veterans, including programs to combat opioid abuse.  After the Senate passed the conference report, Portman issued the following statement: 

“This conference report will benefit Ohio, and I’m pleased that the House and Senate worked together to pass it on a bipartisan basis.  It includes a number of my key priorities, including providing additional funding for CARA programs to combat opioid abuse at the VA, supporting Ohio’s defense installations, ensuring cleanup at Piketon, and protecting Lake Erie. I am proud that we continue to deliver results for Ohio and I look forward to the president signing this into law in the coming weeks.” 

NOTE: Here’s a look at how the FY 2019 Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act conference report benefits Ohio: 

  • Providing More Resources for VA Opioid Prevention & Treatment. The conference report includes $400 million for Opioid Prevention and Treatment programs at the VA. This includes $348 million for prevention and treatment programs, of which $52 million is allocated for continuing implementation of Senator Portman’s Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) law.  CARA outlined new opioid public safety initiatives at the VA to ensure safe prescribing and prevent diversion, abuse, and over-prescribing. The additional CARA resources will be used to strengthen VA’s Opioid Safety Initiative as well as to develop programs aimed at ensuring that non-VA providers treating veterans through the community care programs are informed and in compliance with all VA standards for opioid safety and prescription guidelines. 
  • Upgrading Wright-Patt’s National Air & Space Intelligence Center. The conference report includes $61 million in funding to upgrade the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) located at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Portman had urged the Armed Services Committee’s leadership to authorize the funding.  NASIC’s main campus facilities are overcrowded and require modernization to meet today’s missions. With significant total force growth that has outpaced their facility growth, NASIC has been forced to utilize antiquated World War II era facilities on base and temporary structures. This investment in NASIC infrastructure will provide the command with much-needed secure spaces that meet the demands of the growing workforce and the associated information technology requirements of modern facilities. 
  • Bolstering the Ohio National Guard’s Training Capabilities at Camp Ravenna.  The conference report includes $7.4 million to expand training capabilities at the Ohio National Guard’s Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center with a new automated machine gun range, which will give the Guard an important, new, and much needed training capability. It will provide our soldiers a realistic environment to meet their training requirements that currently is not available to them in the state of Ohio.  Portman has advocated for this funding and sent a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee requesting this investment in Camp Ravenna be authorized. 
  • Ensuring Continued Cleanup of Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon. The conference report includes an additional $26.8 million above the FY 2018 bipartisan funding agreement and $60 million above the President’s FY19 budget request to fully fund Piketon cleanup without the DOE’s uranium barter program. This includes $366 million for decontamination and decommissioning of the plant and $41 million for the onsite disposal cell.  The cleanup and redevelopment of this plant is critical for jobs, economic development, and the future of Southern Ohio.  Earlier this year, Portman announced that he had secured a commitment from DOE to clean up the existing landfills and plumes at the plant. 
  • Protecting Lake Erie: The conference report includes language to prohibit the Army Corps of Engineers from dumping toxic material dredged from the Cuyahoga River shipping channel into Lake Erie without the approval from the State of Ohio.  Recently, Portman concluded an investigation in his capacity as chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) which showed that the Army Corps of Engineers did, indeed, lobby Congress to reduce its own funding by about $3.5 million in FY 2016 so it would be unable to safely dispose of dredged material from the Cleveland Harbor in a confined disposal facility. In addition, the conference report urges the Army Corps of Engineers to complete its Chief’s Report on the Brandon Road study by February 2019.  This report is crucial to ensuring that Asian Carp do not enter the Great Lakes and threaten the lakes’ $7 billion fishing industry. Portman has long urged to complete this report by early 2019. 

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