This week, Senator Portman joined all Americans in mourning the loss of 17 students and teachers in the horrific shooting in Florida. Portman also joined the Westerville community and police officers around the country in remembering fallen Officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli.

Also this week, Portman continued his focus on delivering on the promises of tax reform, working to combat the opioid epidemic, helping secure resources for our men and women in uniform serving in Ohio, and more. For a more detailed look at Senator Portman’s week, please see the following:

Monday, February 12

Portman Statement on President Trump’s Infrastructure Plan

Portman issued the following statement on President Trump’s Infrastructure plan:

“The president’s infrastructure proposal is a good starting point for discussion and I’m hopeful both parties will work together on this issue. By rebuilding our aging infrastructure and improving job training programs targeted toward in-demand infrastructure-related jobs, we have a great opportunity to further strengthen our economy. I am also glad to see the administration is making infrastructure permitting reform a priority. I’ve led efforts in the Senate to streamline our permitting process, working to enact FAST-41 so we can rebuild our infrastructure more quickly. With a permitting process that makes sense and operates efficiently, we can put more people back to work, improve our infrastructure, and better protect the environment. I look forward to working with the administration and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to develop legislation on these issues in the coming months.”

NOTE: Portman has led efforts in Washington to streamline the federal permitting process.  Recently, the Trump administration has begun to use the tools authorized by Portman’s Federal Permitting Improvement Act, which helps streamline the federal infrastructure permitting process to boost our economy and create jobs. The bill was enacted into law last Congress as Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST-41). Two weeks ago, the Trump Administration and the state of Louisiana entered into the first memorandum of understanding between the federal government and a state to facilitate the infrastructure permitting process for a project covered by this new law.  FAST-41 requires that one agency serve as the lead agency for covered projects; all agencies involved in covered projects develop a coordinated permitting timeline at the start of the process; and agencies post the permitting timeline and updates to it on an online Permitting Dashboard throughout the permitting process for each covered project.  Last September, Portman chaired a Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) hearing on how permitting reform, like FAST-41, will create good-paying jobs across the country.

Portman Announces President’s Budget Increases Funding to Upgrade Abrams Tanks

On Monday, Portman announced that President Trump’s FY 2019 Budget proposes $1.53 billion in funding to upgrade 135, or 1.5 brigades worth, of Abrams tanks — increasing the rate of production of the newest upgraded Abrams tanks in Lima in order to ensure that our forward deployed tanks have the most cutting-edge capabilities. The funding builds on last years’ National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorized upgrading one brigade of Abrams tanks.  Portman released the following statement:

“The Pentagon’s latest National Defense Strategy highlights the harsh realities of the threats we face in the world and the steps we need to take to confront them.  We must invest in our men and women in uniform and give them the tools they need now and in the future to do their jobs.  The president’s budget for 2019 proposes an important down payment on those needed investments. 

“The newest Abrams tank is one of those vital investments.  Countries around the world, including potential adversaries, continue to invest in armor and anti-armor systems that challenge the supremacy of our armor brigades. The newest Abrams tank, designed to combat these advancements, has started coming off the line at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC) in Lima.  Not long ago, the plant was producing one tank a month for our U.S. soldiers.  With this proposal, we could be getting more than 10 upgraded tanks a month out to our soldiers.  As the Army plans to continue to grow their armor formations, this increased production will be enormously important.  It’s also tremendously important for Lima.  I am pleased that the president’s budget supports the skilled JSMC employees. I believe it will make a difference for our military and allow JSMC to continue assisting our men and women in uniform.”

NOTE: Senator Portman has been instrumental in securing funding for Lima and its workers. In 2011, when the Obama Administration proposed a costly plan to shut down the Abrams tank production line at the JSMC, Portman and other Ohio delegation members successfully fought to keep the plant open.  Since then, Portman has worked hard to push for more foreign military sales to U.S. allies, protect Lima workers during downturns, and secure funding for the Abrams Tanks and Stryker vehicles.  Last August, he visited the JSMC and hosted an employee town hall as part of his Ohio Defense Tour.  For more information on Portman’s work to protect Lima’s workers and keep our national security strong, see this fact sheet.

Portman Announces President’s Budget Increases Funding for Wright Patterson Air Force Base’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center

Portman also announced that President Trump’s FY 2019 Budget proposes $116 million in funding to upgrade the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) located at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. 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. Portman released the following statement:

Last year, I had the opportunity to visit Wright-Patter Air Force Base and meet with the men and women serving in the National Air and Space Intelligence Center. I saw firsthand NASIC’s most recent military construction project for their Foreign Military Exploitation mission, as well as some of the groundbreaking analysis they are doing to keep our skies and our country safe from foreign threats. However, I also saw many of our intelligence professionals performing highly technical, 21st century work in World War II era facilities. The Pentagon’s latest National Defense Strategy highlights the harsh realities of the threats we face in the world and the steps we need to take to confront them. NASIC will continue to play an important role providing the nation and our leaders with an understanding of foreign threats to U.S. air and space operations. I am pleased the president’s budget for 2019 supports the mission of NASIC and Wright-Patt by providing the funding they need to upgrade their facilities and continue their important work. I believe it will make a difference to our Airmen and Air Force Civilians at Wright-Patt and to our troops around the world who rely on NASIC for accurate and timely intelligence.”

NOTE: Last year, Senator Portman’s amendments to support jobs and the important research mission at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base's Air Force Research Lab were signed into law as part of the NDAA. This legislation is critical to our national security and to maintaining our military’s technological edge. In May of last year, the Senate passed Portman and Senator Joe Donnelly’s (D-IN) resolution honoring the cutting-edge work of Department of Defense (DoD) laboratories such as the Air Force Research Lab at Wright-Patt. Portman visited NASIC and other units at Wright-Patt in March and August of last year.

Portman Announces President’s Budget Provides Funding for Camp Ravenna

Lastly, Portman announced that President Trump’s FY 2019 Budget proposes $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. Portman released the following statement:

Camp Ravenna’s strategic location in Northeast Ohio, optimal size, access to robust regional infrastructure, and professional Ohio National Guard staff make the base one of the premier Army training centers in the region. A new automated multi-purpose machine gun range will give the Ohio Army National Guard an important, new training capability.  It will provide our soldiers a realistic environment to meet their training requirements that currently is not available in the state. As our men and women in uniform confront the harsh realities we face in the world and take the steps they need to confront them, it is important they have the training, equipment, and facilities they need.  I am pleased this funding has been included in the president’s budget to help our National Guards units training at Camp Ravenna.”

NOTE: Senator Portman is a strong supporter and advocate for Ohio’s military facilities and research institutions.  These assets provide significant jobs and economic impact across Ohio and directly influence the national security of our country.  Forty-three of Ohio’s 88 counties are impacted by these facilities.  Ohio Defense spending accounted for more than 66,000 direct jobs, more than $4 billion in salaries, and more than a $14 billion economic impact. Portman was awarded the Ohio National Guard Association’s Major General Charles Dick Award for Legislative Excellence for his years of strong support for the Ohio National Guard.

Portman Opposes White House FY 19 Budget Request Cut to Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Portman issued the following statement on the release of the White House budget proposal for FY 2019 that would cut funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) from $300 million to $30 million in the upcoming year:

“I’ve successfully helped lead the effort to restore full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative after both Republican and Democratic administrations have proposed cuts to the program, and I will do so again this year. The Great Lakes are an invaluable resource to Ohio, and this initiative has been a successful public-private partnership that helps protect both our environment and our economy. As the world’s largest freshwater body, the Great Lakes provide drinking water for 40 million people, contribute $10 billion in tourism each year, and support hundreds of thousands of jobs across the region.  I have long championed this program, and I will continue to do everything I can to protect and preserve Lake Erie and all the Great Lakes, including preserving this critical program and its funding.” 

Wednesday. February 14

At Senate Finance Committee Hearing, Portman Discusses Impact of Tax Reform with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin

During a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, Portman discussed how the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act is already delivering results for American workers with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Mnuchin told Portman that, in the coming weeks, they expect 90 percent of Americans will see more money in their paychecks due to withholding changes. Portman also discussed how tax reform is delivering on the two main goals Portman and others had when crafting the legislation: to encourage economic growth and investment, and to put more money in the pockets of American families. The proof, said Portman, is in what’s happening at Ohio companies like the Sheffer Corporation in Cincinnati and at Ohio’s major-private sector companies that are announcing more investment in plants and equipment, wage increases, bonuses, higher 401(k) matches, and more.

Transcript of the questioning can be found here. A video can be found here.

Thursday, February 15

Portman Joins Senator Brown & Bipartisan Senators to Introduce Bill to Combat Drug-Facilitated Human Trafficking

On Thursday, Senators Portman, Sherrod Brown (D-OH), John Cornyn (R-TX), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) joined U.S. Reps. John Ratcliffe (R-TX-4) and Kathleen Rice (D-NY-4) to introduce bipartisan, bicameral legislation to crack down on drug-facilitated human trafficking. The Protecting Rights of Those Exploited by Coercive Trafficking (PROTECT) Act would specifically address the use of drugs to facilitate human trafficking and protect vulnerable victims of trafficking.

Human traffickers often introduce or exploit drug addiction to control or force victims into prostitution or forced labor. This compounds the trauma experienced by human trafficking victims and undermines recovery efforts for individuals suffering from addiction.

Too often, drugs are used to coerce victims of human trafficking,” said Sen. Portman. “This bipartisan legislation would better equip law enforcement to bring human traffickers to justice.”

For more information, go here.

At Senate Finance Committee Hearing, Portman Presses HHS Secretary to Fund CARA’s Evidence-Based Opioid Programs

During a Senate Finance Committee hearing Thursday, Portman discussed the importance of providing additional funding from the federal level to combat the opioid crisis that is devastating Ohio and our country. Last week, Portman helped secure an additional $6 billion in funding over two years to combat the opioid crisis. Portman also discussed the importance of the Drug Free Communities Act, legislation he authored during his time in the House of Representatives that has been proven to work, urging Secretary Azar to ensure the program, as well as his bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA), is fully funded.

Transcript of the questioning can be found here. A video can be found here

Thune, Portman, and Moran Introduce Legislation to Enhance Border Security and Codify DACA Protections

Senators Portman. John Thune (R-SD), and Jerry Moran (R-KS) om Thursday filed an amendment to the underlying immigration reform vehicle that would establish a $25 billion trust fund to enhance U.S. border security. The amendment would also codify protections for those individuals who, at no fault of their own, entered the United States illegally as children and are currently covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  

A sensible and fair solution is to codify the protections for the DACA population while also putting in place stronger border security measures consistent with the president’s proposal,” said Portman.Those in the DACA program are here through no fault of their own, and for many this is the only country they know. This proposal represents a permanent legislative solution that will allow those in the DACA program to stay here and continue to contribute to our society while strengthening our border security to protect all Americans. Despite the failure to make progress today, I believe we still have a responsibility to resolve this issue, and this proposal is a fair and responsible solution that could get the necessary votes to become law.”

Portman Statement on Special Counsel Indictments

Portman issued the following statement after a federal grand jury indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for interfering in the 2016 presidential election:

“This announcement is a positive step towards holding Russia accountable for its efforts to undermine our democracy. I’ve long said that the issue of Russian meddling in our presidential election must be investigated fully, and that the Special Counsel should follow the facts wherever they lead because the American people deserve to see all the facts.  We must not forget that this is one small part of the larger process of understanding the extent of ongoing Russian disinformation and influence operations against the United States and our allies.  That’s why I have continued to help lead the effort in Congress to enact bipartisan legislation to better counter foreign propaganda and disinformation from our enemies.”