On Tuesday, Senator Portman attended President Trump’s State of the Union address, bringing him with him Jay McDonald as his guest. Jay is the National Vice President of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and an active member of the Marion, Ohio Police Department, where he is a Major. He and the law enforcement officers he represent are key partners in the fights against the opioid crisis and human trafficking. Also this week, Portman continued to highlight the benefits of the historic Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, made progress on his bill to help Habitat for Humanity, stood up for our ally Israel, led an Ohio delegation letter urging Amazon to choose Columbus as the location for its HQ2, and more. For an in depth look at Senator Portman’s week, please see the following:

Monday, January 29

Portman Bill to Protect Habitat for Humanity Passes the House

On Monday, the House of Representatives passed the Housing Opportunities Made Easier (HOME) Act, legislation authored by U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) that would ensure that Habitat for Humanity affiliates and other organizations can receive donated appraisals on the homes they build. Portman issued the following statement:

Habitat for Humanity makes an indispensable contribution to Ohio, providing safe and affordable homes for families in need. The HOME Act will make it easier for Habitat to carry out its mission by eliminating unnecessary red tape and freeing up more resources that Habitat can use to help more people in Ohio and across our great country. I want to thank my colleagues in the House for recognizing that and for passing this bill, and I now urge the Senate to act.

“We have long appreciated Sen. Portman’s strong support of the work of our 52 Habitat affiliates to end poverty housing in Ohio, and thank the Senator for introducing this important legislation. Donated goods and services help Habitat keep home prices low, and more qualified Ohioans will become Habitat homeowners if this bill is enacted,” said Ryan Miller, executive director, Habitat for Humanity of Ohio.

Habitat for Humanity greatly appreciates Sen. Portman’s sponsoring legislation to ensure appraisers can continue to voluntarily donate their services to Habitat affiliates,” said Christopher Ptomey, Habitat for Humanity International’s director of government relations. “With Habitat affiliates annually providing approximately 4,000 homeownership opportunities to lower-income families in the United States, each of which will require an appraisal, this legislation will save Habitat affiliates millions of dollars annually and maximize the impact of limited donor and government funding for qualified families in need of decent housing.”

For more information, go here.

Portman Votes to Protect Life, Supports Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

Monday afternoon, Portman voted to protect life by supporting the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which restricts abortions on unborn children after the 20-week mark, the point at which scientific evidence tells us an unborn child can feel pain.  The latest Marist Poll found that more than six in 10 Americans – by a 66-33 margin – support a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.  Portman issued the following statement:

“The U.S. is one of just seven nations that allows abortions after five months of pregnancy. This legislation would protect unborn babies and make a strong statement that we value all life.  I’m disappointed that this important legislation was blocked by Senate Democrats.  While members have differing views on abortion, we should at least be able to agree that if an unborn child has reached the point where he or she can feel pain, that child’s life deserves protection. The sanctity of life is fundamental, and I am committed to protecting it.”

NOTE:  Portman has consistently voted to protect the unborn and has a 100% pro-life voting record from National Right to Life Committee.  He is also the author the Child Custody Protection Act, which would make it a federal offense to transport a minor across a state line for an abortion if it would circumvent a state law requiring parental involvement in that minor’s abortion. 

Tuesday, February 30

Ahead of the State of the Union Address, Portman Applauds Trump Administration for Major Step in Permitting Reform

Ahead of Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) today applauded the Trump administration for using the tools authorized by his signed-into-law 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). The Trump Administration and the state of Louisiana have 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 FAST-41. Portman released the following statement:

“I appreciate the efforts of the Trump administration to make permitting reform a priority because it will improve our economy, create more jobs, and help us rebuild our infrastructure more quickly. When I introduced the Federal Permitting Improvement Act of 2015, I envisioned project sponsors, federal agencies, and states all coming together at the start of a project to set out a plan that would make the permitting process make sense. When Congress enacted FAST-41, we hoped it would reduce delays and costs, provide more certainty, help create jobs, and ensure the environment is protected appropriately. 

“I am pleased to see that vision take a crucial step toward becoming reality. Last week, the state of Louisiana and six federal agencies signed the first memorandum of understanding between the federal government and a state to facilitate the infrastructure permitting process for a project covered by FAST-41. Under this agreement, the parties will work together to reduce the estimated permitting timeline from five years to two years. As the lead agency on this $1.3 billion Louisiana coastal restoration project, the Army Corps of Engineers did an outstanding job bringing all of the parties together to develop an integrated plan. This memorandum will provide a roadmap for the project going forward, and it will streamline a complicated, years-long permitting process. 

“This memorandum represents a significant step toward an improved infrastructure permitting process. I look forward to continuing to building on this progress with the administration and the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council to develop innovative ways to streamline and improve the federal infrastructure permitting process.”

NOTE: In 2015, Sens. Portman and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) cosponsored legislation that ultimately became Title 41 of the FAST Act.  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 must post the permitting timeline and updates to it on an online Permitting Dashboard throughout the permitting process for each covered project.  FAST-41 also established the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council to help implement best practices in the permitting process and serve as resource for coordinating covered projects. 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. Last June, Portman and McCaskill sent a letter to President Trump urging his administration to use the tools authorized by their signed-into-law Federal Permitting Improvement Act and appoint a permanent Executive Director for the Council.

On Senate Floor, Portman Highlights PSI Report on Drug Traffickers Shipping Fentanyl Into the U.S. Through the Postal Service

Last week, Portman’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), which he chairs, released a shocking bipartisan report, which details how drug traffickers exploit vulnerabilities in our international mail system to easily ship synthetic drugs like fentanyl from China into the United States though the U.S. Postal Service. He held a hearing on the report last Thursday. On Tuesday, Portman, who has been a national leader in the effort to fight addiction, discussed the investigation’s findings on the Senate floor. Portman urged his Senate colleagues to act on the bipartisan Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, saying “there is clearly a need for a legislative solution to prevent these drugs from entering our country through our own mail system.”

Transcript of the speech can be found here and a link can be found here.

Portman Leads Ohio Delegation Letter Urging Amazon to Select Columbus for its Second Headquarters

Following Amazon’s announcement of their top 20 finalists for its second headquarters, Portman led an Ohio delegation letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos urging the company to choose Columbus, Ohio, as the location of Amazon’s HQ2 and invited him to meet with the Ohio delegation to discuss how Columbus and Central Ohio are best suited to meet the needs of the company.

We are fully committed to facilitating job growth in the State and pleased to offer our support to this important project,” wrote the delegation. “This potential multi-billion-dollar investment, which could lead to 50,000 direct employment jobs, will have a significant economic impact for Ohio.”

For more information, go here.

On Fox News, Portman Discusses SOTU, Tax Reform & Jobs, PSI Report on Drug Traffickers Shipping Fentanyl Through the Mail

During an interview on Fox News on Tuesday, Portman discussed the new jobs, higher wages, and other positive benefits we’re seeing as a result of tax reform, what he hopes to hear during the president’s State of the Union Address, and his stunning new bipartisan report released last week that details how drug traffickers exploit vulnerabilities in our international mail system to easily ship synthetic drugs like fentanyl from China into the United States. Portman said that President Trump should talk tonight about the need to improve workforce development for 21st century jobs and do more to address the opioid crisis.

Excerpts of the interview can be found here and a video can be found here.

Portman Joins 35 Senators in Urging President Trump to Effectively Modernize NAFTA

Portman joined Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and 34 of their colleagues in sending a letter to President Trump highlighting how the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) benefits the United States and urging him to modernize the agreement to better reflect the 21st century economy.

NAFTA supports 14 million jobs, representing thousands of jobs in each of the 50 states,” the senators wrote. "Despite all of its benefits, however, we can do better and there are opportunities to improve the agreement. Modernizing NAFTA to increase market access, expand energy exports to maximize domestic energy production and including provisions on intellectual property and e-commerce will make this agreement even more beneficial to the United States.”

The full letter can be found here.

Portman Statement on President Trump’s State of the Union Address

Portman released the following statement ahead of President Trump’s State of the Union Address:

“I hope President Trump uses this speech as an opportunity to bring the country together around a common-sense agenda focused on building a safe, strong, and proud America. Over the last year, we have made progress on a host of important issues. We are already seeing the benefits of the new tax reform law across Ohio with companies giving pay raises and bonuses, expanding benefits and investing more in equipment. The administration has taken action to provide regulatory relief to small businesses and is making permitting reform a priority to reduce needless delays and help us rebuild our infrastructure more quickly.  We’ve also begun to restore America’s leadership role in the world, imposing new sanctions on Russia and North Korea, and passing a defense authorization bill to give our troops a pay raise and ensure they have the tools and resources they need to succeed in their mission.  Lastly, we not only successfully confirmed Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch, but also a record number of circuit court of appeals judges in the first year of a presidency and numerous district court judges.

“While we have made some progress, there is much more work to do and I hope the president talks about how we can work together to further improve the economy, address the opioid crisis, and strengthen our national defense.  We have a real opportunity to help the most vulnerable among us, whether it’s those who are suffering from addiction or women and children who are victims of human trafficking. I’m hopeful the Senate will pass two common-sense bills, the STOP Act and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, which will help us better combat the opioid epidemic and stop online sex trafficking. We must also continue to strengthen our economy by working together to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and improve job training programs targeted toward in-demand infrastructure-related jobs. These are just a few of the important issues ahead of us.  I’m looking forward to playing a significant role in helping to deliver results over the next year. I’m ready to work with the president, his administration, and anyone else, Republican or Democrat, toward solutions that address these issues.”

Wednesday, January 31 

Portman, Brown Back Bipartisan Bill to Prosecute Criminals in DNA Cold Cases, Exonerate Wrongfully Convicted

Senators Portman and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined colleagues in introducing bipartisan legislation, the Justice Served Act, which would provide funds to prosecute the rape kit backlog and justice for victims of heinous crimes like sexual assault by resolving cold cases and exonerating those wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit.

The Debbie Smith Act has given law enforcement the tools to process the rape kit backlog by using DNA technology,” said Portman. “I’m proud of the work being done in crime labs across Ohio. This legislation will ensure that we put a priority on resolving old sexual assault cases and providing victims the justice and closure they deserve.”

For more information about the bill, go here.

Portman Statement on Train Accident

Portman issued the following statement following Wednesday’s train accident on the way to the House and Senate Republican Member retreat in West Virginia:

Jane and I were on the train this morning traveling to the House and Senate Republican Member retreat. We are both fine. We are keeping those who were injured in our prayers and are grateful for the first responders who quickly arrived on the scene.”

Thursday, February 1

Portman, Cardin Statement on UN Human Rights Council Report Compiling Anti-Israel Blacklist 

Senators Portman and Ben Cardin (D-MD), co-authors of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720), issued the following statement in response to the UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) report detailing its work establishing a list of companies operating or investing in certain Israeli-controlled territories, which preliminarily targeted 22 U.S. companies:

We strongly oppose the ongoing efforts to compile a blacklist of companies that do business in Israeli-controlled territories. Twenty-two U.S. companies have been preliminarily identified by the UNHRC’s methodology. 

“We oppose all efforts by international organizations seeking to undermine prospects for resuming negotiations for a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians.   

“In response to specific actions like the 2016 UNHRC resolution that created the blacklist, we introduced the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. This bipartisan legislation protects U.S. companies from unsanctioned international boycotts and preserves the space for direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.  The preliminary list released yesterday by UNHRC underscores the urgent need for swift action to modernize existing anti-boycott laws.”

NOTE: The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, sponsored by Senators Cardin and Portman in the Senate and Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Juan Vargas (D-CA) in the House, was introduced in response to a March 2016 UNHRC resolution, which directed the preparation of a database of companies operating or investing beyond the “Green Line,” including, among other areas, East Jerusalem and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.  The bill would amend the Export Administration Act of 1979 to prohibit boycotts or requests for boycotts imposed by international governmental organizations against Israel—similar to prohibitions already long in place with respect to boycotts imposed by foreign countries. The legislation makes clear that the Israel Anti-Boycott Act does not “alter the established policy of the United States or establish new United States policy concerning final status issues associated with the Arab-Israel conflict, including border delineation that can only be resolved through direct negotiations between the parties.”

Friday, February 2

In a New Video, Portman Highlights Results for the Middle-Class Tax Reform Tour

On Friday, Portman, following the positive jobs report showing strong job gains and the fastest wage growth since 2009, unveiled a new video highlighting his Results for the Middle-Class Tax Reform Tour in Ohio. In January, Portman visited Sheffer Corporation in Cincinnati, Wolf Metals in Columbus, Tremco in Cleveland, and Bruns General Contracting in Tipp City, all of which have announced more investment in plants and equipment, wage increases, bonuses, and/or additional retirement security benefits because of the savings they expect from tax reform. These are four of many Ohio companies that are increasing investments and strengthening worker benefits following passage of the historic Tax Cuts & Jobs Act. Portman released the following statement:

“Tax reform was an investment in American workers, American families, and American businesses. The results are what’s happening at places like Sheffer Corporation, Wolf Metals, Tremco, and Bruns General, where small businesses are taking advantage of this new tax reform bill. The historic tax reform legislation allows companies to add jobs and hire more workers, purchase more equipment, strengthen retirement benefits, and more. The workers I spoke with during my tour in January know this tax bill is helping to make their business more competitive and will help give them a healthier family budget. I’m pleased that we continue to see these kinds of positive responses from Ohio businesses as a direct result of this tax reform law, and I believe this is only the beginning.” 

Portman Applauds Strong Jobs Report, Fastest Wage Growth Since 2009

Portman issued the following statement on the Labor Department’s January 2018 jobs report showing strong job gains and wage growth

“Today’s report shows strong job gains and the fastest wage growth since 2009, and that’s good news for American workers and their families. Our economy is improving, and growing wages is a critically important part of that effort, but we must put a priority on helping Americans who are still struggling to make ends meet. I’m hopeful that we can make progress this year on strengthening our workforce development programs, rebuilding our aging infrastructure, and combating the opioid epidemic that, in some cases, is undermining employers’ efforts to hire the workers they need.  We have much more work to do, but I’m pleased that Ohio companies are making more investment in plants and equipment, increasing wages, paying bonuses, and strengthening retirement benefits for their workers as a result of the new tax reform law. It is making a real difference for working families, for businesses large and small, and our economy, and I’m committed to working with my colleagues to continue the economic progress we’re making.”