Senator Portman’s top priority in the Senate continues to be boosting Ohio jobs and the economy. That’s why he’s worked to expand markets for Ohio products, which means more Ohio jobs, and to combat unfair trade practices that hurt Ohio workers.  Portman has led the fight against countries who break the rules in order to ensure our workers can get a fair shake.  In fact, he was awarded the “Congressional Steel Champion Award” for his work to protect the steel industry and Ohio steelworkers.  Here’s a look at how Senator Portman has delivered for Ohio workers over the last five years:

Leveling the Playing Field Act for Ohio Workers. Portman sponsored bipartisan legislation with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), which was signed into law in June 2015.  It gives U.S. manufacturers new tools to fight against unfair trade practices in order to protect hard-working Ohio steel workers.  The law makes it easier for businesses and workers in the United States to petition the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission (ITC) when foreign producers sell goods in the U.S. below market price or receive illegal subsidies.  The law benefits, among others, Ohio’s steel companies including: Picoma Industries in Cambridge, Sharon Tube in Niles, Wheatland Tube in Warren, Vallourec Star in Youngstown, and AK Steel.  Portman and Brown urged the Commerce Department fully enforce the legislation this week.

Cracking Down on Illegal Imports. Portman also worked across the aisle to secure passage of the ENFORCE Act, legislation that will help crack down on efforts by foreign countries to illegally import goods and circumvent our laws. These critical provisions were signed into law by President Obama in February 2016.  The law fulfills a top priority of American manufacturers by cracking down on illegal schemes to evade our trade laws.

Helping Ohio Companies Win Trade Enforcement & Export Cases.  Senator Portman has led efforts to help Ohio companies win trade enforcement and export cases. Here is a sampling:

  • Last year, Portman and Senator Brown urged the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to protect United Steelworkers and Ohio paper workers from unfairly subsidized and undersold imports from five countries including China, Brazil and Indonesia.  In February of 2016, the ITC agreed.  Its ruling helps protect workers at Ohio paper mills such as Glatfelter in Chillicothe, Domtar in Washington Court House, and Mohawk Fine Papers in Hamilton.
  • Last February, following a meeting with United Steelworkers workers from Cooper Tire in Findlay to discuss the challenges posed by unfairly imported Chinese tires that violate trade laws, Portman got involved and the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled in favor of the United Steelworkers and Ohio jobs.
  • In 2015, Portman successfully went to bat for the Ohio company More Than Gourmet to tear down barriers that blocked exports of their Akron-made products to Japan. An agreement reached last January re-opened the Japanese market to U.S. processed beef products, allowing More Than Gourmet and other U.S. beef producers to export their product to Japan and support good-paying jobs in Akron.
  • In 2014, Portman and Senator Brown succeeded in urging the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to protect Ohio oil country steel manufacturers and the jobs they support. Following months of efforts by the senators to urge the ITC to crack down on countries that illegally dump their oil country steel in the U.S. market, the ITC ruled that it would do so by levying trade tariffs against the countries, including South Korea, whose unfair trade practices threaten American competitiveness.
  • In 2013, Portman successfully worked with Brown to maintain existing anti-dumping orders (through 2018) on unfairly traded hot-rolled steel.  The decision followed efforts by both senators to urge the ITC to maintain trade orders that would help ensure a level playing field for an already vulnerable domestic steel industry, including Ohio-based steel producers like ArcelorMittal of Cleveland and AK Steel of Middletown.
  • In 2012, Portman helped Whirlpool and their 10,000 Ohio employees secure a unanimous ruling from the ITC to protect against unfair imports from South Korea and Mexico.  Portman submitted testimony to the ITC in the case, imploring the agency to grant Whirlpool the opportunity to compete against fairly-traded imports.  In addition, his testimony highlighted the reality that if nothing is done to enforce our trade laws, companies may be discouraged from bringing production to the United States in the future. 
  • In 2011, Portman, Senator Brown, Rep. Turner and other members urged the Department of Commerce to protect Ohio jobs by ensuring that Appleton Papers, which employs 400 workers in West Carrollton, Ohio and 2,500 workers nationwide, is protected from unfair foreign competition.  As a result, the department reversed its initial ruling that did not protect Ohio jobs in the paper industry. Mark Richards, then-CEO of Appleton Papers, praises Senator Portman the other’s work here.
  • The examples above are just the beginning.  Portman has worked closely with Democrats and Republicans on more than two dozen trade enforcement cases to support Ohio workers and ensure that foreign competitors are playing by the rules.  He has supported cases involving solar products in Toledo, agriculture products like wheat grown throughout the state, specialty paper in Dayton, rebar in Cincinnati and Marion, high-density pipe in Columbus, roller bearings in Canton, and others.

Fighting Currency Manipulation. No one, Republican or Democrat, has done more to fight currency manipulation.  Criticized by fellow Republicans and many Democrats, along with business groups here in Washington, Portman never wavered in his support of Ohio workers.  During the trade debate last year, he offered the first amendment to add explicit and enforceable currency language to ensure that foreign competitors don't use their exchange rates to subsidize their exports at the expense of products made by American workers.  No one was more relentless in promoting this cause.  Watch Portman’s remarks on the Senate floor hereherehere, and here.  Or his remarks on this issue in the Senate Finance Committee herehere, and here.

Consistently Raising Concerns About TPP.  Over the last two years, Portman has consistently laid out his concerns — whether they be currency manipulation (here, here, here, here and here), U.S. auto exports to Japan (here, here, here, here and here), or protection for U.S. biologics (here and here) — on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  Because those concerns weren’t addressed, he made clear in January that he couldn’t support it in its current form, saying: “From currency manipulation, to rules of origin for automobiles, to protection for US biologics – we can do better.”  Anyone who listened to Portman outline his concerns on those issues over the last two years won’t be surprised at his current position.  

Supporting Expanded Markets for Ohio Products. Portman voted to give President Obama and his successor the authority for six years – through Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) – to negotiate potential trade agreements with other countries, while preserving the ability of Congress to reject those agreements if they aren’t good for America and Ohio.  More than one in five Ohio jobs are directly tied to trade, and trade-related jobs grew 16 times faster than total employment from 2004 to 2014.  As part of the TPA debate, and as outlined above, Portman worked to enact the Leveling the Playing Field Act and the ENFORCE Act to protect Ohio workers – all part of his balanced approach that both expands exports and levels the playing field.

Senator Portman has fought for Ohio workers and delivered for them, and he remains committed to a balanced approach for trade — supporting expanded markets for products made and grown in Ohio, while ensuring we protect our workers and farmers from unfair trade practices by global competitors.

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