During an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Senator Portman urged his Senate colleagues to support common-sense legislation that would both fund the government and put in place a long-term funding solution for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Portman similarly discussed CHIP and the need to avoid a government shutdown last night on the Senate floor.

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


Absolutely. I mean, look, it’s an unusual situation because you have a spending bill that’s going to come before the Senate that no one really objects to on the other side. In other words, there’s nothing in it they don’t like. In fact, one of their highest priorities is included which is the long-term extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which has to be done because in a couple of weeks there will be some states that will literally run out of money. So it’s unusual that you have this kind of opposition when there’s really nothing objectionable there. But there’s an issue outside of spending that they’d like to have included, as would a lot of us, but it’s an issue that hasn’t been resolved yet and it will take a little more time. My hope is that we do have not just 10 or 11, but enough Democrats to get this across the floor today. It just gives us a month to be able to resolve the broader issue of immigration reform, which is something that a lot of us want to do. It’s an unusual situation.”


I think [the Democrats] have found some soft ground to fight on here, though, because this is not a good way to score political points. When you look at it, it simply continues the spending, the current spending, and it adds something that has been a huge priority that a lot of people care about around the country, which is extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program. That’s what it is, there’s nothing else in here…

“Let’s make it less dramatic and let’s go ahead and do what we would normally do, which is when you don’t object to something that’s in a short-term spending bill, and in fact there is something very positive in it for Democrats and Republicans. Let’s get it done and continue the discussions. Within a month’s time I believe that we can both negotiate something and get it drafted into law and have it be passed that deals with the immigration issue. That’s the way it ought to be handled and I am hopeful that’ll happen today.”


People have had enough drama, the economy is doing well right now. It’s finally hitting on all cylinders. The tax reform and tax cut measure is actually working as well as any of us expected, including our conversations about this, Joe, you know, we didn’t expect for there to be this kind of immediate reaction. We knew there’d by a longer-term reaction. It’s been fantastic in terms of companies making investment decisions, in terms of salaries, bonuses, 401k contributions. Things are going well right now. I think the American people are looking for a little stability, so let’s not shut down the government, let’s keep it operating, let’s do a deal with the Children’s Health Insurance Program—nine million kids and their families are depending on us with this one—and let’s continue the discussion on immigration.”


It’s been a big priority for me for a long time. I went on the floor in December and called on our leadership to get it done, and I called on the Democratic leadership because it was being used as a political chip then I went on the floor again this week on it. This Children’s Health Insurance Program, it expired in September and we’ve been kicking the can down the road since then. It gives no stability. This is the right thing to do and it’s not a political issue, it’s an issue that affects families and kids.”


I think what people are asking is that there simply be that balance where we do take care of the DACA issue, which I’m in support of, but we also have the kind of enforcement that enables us not to have to continue to deal with these kinds of issues like DACA. In other words, we need to have a better system, both at the border, at the workplace, the visas, and I think there’s a general agreement on that. Now there are some specifics, obviously, where we’ve got some differences, but my understanding is that the administration is willing to be flexible and Democrats, at least in that meeting, are willing to be flexible. I’m hopeful that in a month’s time we can put all of that together.”


I did write a letter in support of Ohio, including all three sites [Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland]. I’m glad that one Ohio site ended up on the final 20. Being in Columbus would benefit the entire state because this is a huge investment, both in terms of amount of money invested and people and all of the suppliers. So it would be great. It would be great, by the way, for them as well. Amazon knows that this is a state that’s centrally located, we have a great workforce, have a big tech community in Columbus, and so this is an opportunity for them as well.”