U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) issued the following statement on President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP):
“One in four Ohio manufacturing jobs depends on exports, and one in three acres of Ohio farmland is planted for export. Growing exports is critical to our economy. But at the same time, we shouldn’t allow countries like China to violate trade laws with unfair imports. We can and should crack down on those who cheat and insist on a level playing field.
“For more than two years, I expressed concern that any final TPP agreement needed to address currency manipulation, provide a level playing field for American automobile manufacturers, and protect U.S. biologics. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration moved forward without addressing these concerns, and that is why I opposed the TPP. We can do better, and I look forward to working with the Trump administration and engaging our allies on better trade agreements that open markets for ‘Made in the U.S.A. products’ and protect American workers.
“Lastly, during the campaign last year, I also made clear that NAFTA should be updated. I stand ready to help the Trump administration update the agreement to help our local businesses that export Ohio-made products and to better protect Ohio jobs.”
Portman Announces Support for Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State
Portman, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced Monday that he intends to vote for the nomination of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State during a vote at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He issued the following statement:
“After much deliberation, I plan to vote for Rex Tillerson to be our next Secretary of State. I have long argued that every president — no matter the party — should be given considerable leeway when it comes to putting together his or her team. President Trump needs a Secretary of State at his side as he begins the task of restoring American leadership and confronting the many threats to our security around the world. After meeting with Mr. Tillerson and listening carefully to his answers at his Committee hearing, including his answers to specific questions I raised about NATO, Ukraine and Israel, I believe he is the right person for the job. I believe his relationships with an array of world leaders and his experience at the negotiating table will be an asset to President Trump and help him navigate complex strategic challenges and opportunities around the world.
“Based on my dialogue with Mr. Tillerson, I expect the Trump administration to maintain America's longstanding commitment to our alliances around the world, particularly NATO, and to lead these allies in standing up to threats against shared interests and ideals such as Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine and Syria. I was reassured by Mr. Tillerson’s responses to my questions during his confirmation hearing in which he confirmed America’s unconditional support for the NATO Article V security guarantee, pledged not to lift sanctions on Russia or accept a change in the U.S. position on Crimea without the agreement of the Ukrainian people and committed to stand with Israel, including combatting the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. These policy positions represent key elements of longstanding bipartisan consensus on American foreign policy, and I take Mr. Tillerson at his word that he supports them. In response to my questions, Mr. Tillerson also declared his support for defensive lethal assistance to allow the Ukrainians to defend themselves, which would be a welcome change from the Obama Administration position. Because of these commitments, I was pleased to support Mr. Tillerson’s nomination and look forward to helping him implement the policies needed to fulfill them.”
NOTE: On January 11, Senator Portman questioned Secretary of State Nominee Rex Tillerson on his views about restoring America’s role in the world, commitment to the NATO alliance, his plan to stand up for Ukraine against Russian aggression, and the threat of foreign propaganda and disinformation. Excerpts of his questioning can be found here.
Portman, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and founding co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus has long led the drive to provide Ukraine the assistance necessary to resist Russian aggression and maintain its territorial integrity, and recently received the Ukrainian-American community’s highest honor, the Shevchenko Freedom Award, for his efforts. In addition to leading 27 of his colleaguesin a bipartisan letter urging the President-elect to support Ukraine and stand up to Russia, Senator Portman also authored federal law — theCountering Disinformation & Propaganda Act — that will help the U.S. and its allies such as Ukraine better counter and combat the extensive propaganda and disinformation operations directed against us from countries like Russia.
Portman Votes to Confirm New CIA Director
Portman issued the following statement on Monday night after voting to confirm Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) as the new Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA):
“The men and women of the CIA make incredible sacrifices each and every day in order to keep the American people safe, and they deserve our full support. I want to thank Rep. Pompeo for his service to our country, and for his willingness to step forward and serve in this new role. I know that he is committed to ensuring our intelligence professionals have the tools and resources they need to execute their mission and protect our country, and I look forward to working with him.”
Tuesday, January 24
Portman Questions HHS Secretary Nominee, Secures Commitment to Expand Opioid Treatment & Implement CARA
Portman, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, questioned Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Nominee Dr. Tom Price and secured his commitment to help ensure access to addiction treatment for individuals currently getting insurance coverage through Affordable Care Act exchanges or Medicaid expansion as well as his commitment to fully implement the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA). Portman urged Dr. Price to consider changes to the IMD exclusion to expand access to treatment for people on Medicaid. Portman also questioned Dr. Price on ways he will work to ensure that Ohioans “have access to affordable health care coverage with a healthy insurance market” and ways to provide better care under Medicaid.
Portman Backs Nomination of Governor Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the United Nations
Portman issued the following statement after the nomination of Governor Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the United Nations was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
“I am pleased to support the nomination of Governor Haley for the position of Ambassador to the United Nations. In our increasingly dangerous and volatile world, we must restore American leadership. I was reassured by Governor Haley’s responses during our hearing, and her commitment to promote U.S. national security interests, stand up for our allies such as Israel, and better engage and respond to the disinformation and propaganda campaigns being waged by Russia, China, and others.”
NOTE: On January 18, Senator Portman questioned Ambassador to the United Nations Nominee Nikki Haley on her views about restoring America’s role in the world and how she intends to make the UN a more effective body toward promoting a more peaceful and less volatile world. Transcript of his questioning can be found here.
Wednesday, January 25
Portman: Under New CARA Grant, New Resources Now Available to Help Local Communities Combat the Heroin Epidemic
On Wednesday, Portman announced that U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is now accepting applications for a new grant program authorized by Portman’s bipartisanComprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA) that will provide additional resources for a number of key priorities, including treatment, recovery services, and diversion programs that serve as an alternative to incarceration. This is the third grant program now up and running thanks to CARA. Last week, for the first time ever, the federal government set up a new grant to support recovery support services, and earlier this month, funding for drug and veterans courts was made available. Portman released the following statement:
“This is a major step forward in the fight against addiction. To date, treatment programs for recovering addicts have been unable to keep up with the scourge of drug abuse that has reached epidemic levels. With the new funding awarded in these grants, recovery services, local communities, and those working in the trenches to combat the heroin epidemic will have additional resources to expand treatment options and ensure people get the help they need. Now up and running, this grant, along with the grant programs for recovery-support services and drug and veterans courts already available, will help save lives. I look forward to supporting Ohio efforts to secure this funding and ensuring that the rest of CARA is implemented as quickly as possible.”
For more information about the DOJ’s grant program and about how to apply, go here.
Portman, Kaine Introduce Bipartisan JOBS Act to Help Workers Access Training For In-Demand Career Fields
Portman and Tim Kaine (D-VA), co-chairs of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, introduced the Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, a bill that would help students access training for the 5.5 million vacant jobs that are unfilled in part due to a shortage of qualified workers. The JOBS Act would close this “skills-gap” by expanding Pell Grant eligibility to cover high-quality and rigorous short-term job training programs so workers can afford the skills training and credentials that are in high-demand in today’s job market. Under current law, Pell Grants – needs-based grants for low-income and working students — can only be applied toward programs that are over 600 clock hours or at least 15 weeks in length, even though many job training programs are shorter term.
“We must do a better job of ensuring that more Americans have the skills that match the jobs that are available today, and part of that is making sure our students are job-ready after graduation,” Portman said. “We’ve got a lot of great Career and Technical Education programs in Ohio, but some kids need help getting access to them. By expanding Pell Grant eligibility, the JOBS Act will help kids from low-income families get the job training they need for careers that will give them economic security and help them join the middle class. We will all benefit from that.”
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statists, 5.5 million U.S. jobs are currently vacant largely because of a shortage of qualified workers. The JOBS Act would amend the Higher Education Act to expand Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in high-quality job training programs that are at least eight weeks in length and lead to industry-recognized credentials and certificates. Under the bill, eligible programs would offer training that meets the needs of the local or regional workforce.
“In advanced manufacturing, we rely on apprenticeship and other training strategies to develop a skilled workforce,” said Randy Bennett, Co-Owner of Automation Tool and Die in Brunswick, Ohio. “The JOBS Act will support the critical first steps along that pathway by investing in people who want to work in in-demand industries like mine, and connecting them to Ohio businesses currently struggling to hire skilled workers.”
The National Skills Coalition estimates that nearly half of all job openings between now and 2022 will be “middle-skill” jobs that require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree. While the number of students pursuing postsecondary certification is growing, the supply of skilled workers still falls short of industry demand. The JOBS Act encourages industry and employers to work with institutions of higher education to identify in-demand career fields.
For more information about the JOBS Act, go here.
Thursday, January 26
Portman Commends Investment in the Transportation Research Center and OSU Center for Automotive Research
On Thursday, Portman commended the announcement from Governor John Kasich, The Ohio State University (OSU), JobsOhio, and the State of Ohio on plans to invest millions at the Transportation Research Center and the OSU Center for Automotive Research Center to boost jobs and economic development in Central Ohio. Portman released the following statement:
“This investment solidifies Ohio as a global leader in autonomous vehicle research and development. Central Ohio is quickly becoming a model for the rest of the country on how to use smart transportation to help create economic growth and expand opportunity. Visitors spend roughly $5.7 billion every year in Columbus, creating an economic impact of $8.7 billion and supporting the jobs of more than 70,000 Ohioans. This investment will help attract more visitors to Ohio and make commuting easier for local residents, all while providing a new source of jobs and economic development for the region. I look forward to working with the Transportation Research Center and the OSU Center for Automotive Research in the future to make sure it achieves its goals.”
Portman worked to protect the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Research Testing Center in East Liberty, just outside of Columbus, by urging the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to keep its facility there after plans had been made to change locations. Following Portman’s letter, the GSA announced that the location would stay.
For more information on the grant and Portman’s efforts to help Columbus secure the grant, go here.
Friday, January 27
Portman Statement on Reports Suggesting Sanctions on Russia May be Lifted
Portman released the following statement today on media reports suggesting that sanctions on Russia may be lifted:
“I am deeply concerned about reports suggesting that sanctions imposed on Russia may be lifted without resolving the unacceptable and hostile actions that caused the sanctions to be imposed by the U.S. and our allies. I would encourage the president to reject this course of action. To lift the sanctions on Russia for any reason other than a change in the behavior that led to those sanctions in the first place would send a dangerous message to a world already questioning the value of American leadership and the credibility of our commitments after eight years of Obama administration policies. We must stand by our allies in the region, including Ukraine. I believe the U.S. Senate should take pro-active steps to codify the sanctions against Russia into law to ensure we live up to our commitments to our allies and uphold longstanding American values and ideals.”