Source: United States Senator for Ohio Rob Portman
December 23, 2019 | Portman Difference
Last week, Senator Portman helped secure more than 40 key legislative victories for Ohio and the country in the final FY 2020 funding measure as well as the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report. These legislative accomplishments – which include many of the bills he’s previously introduced this year – support economic growth, job creation, and greater retirement security, support Ohio’s military installations, bolster efforts to protect our environment, including our Great Lakes, combat the addiction epidemic, make health care more affordable and accessible, and increase cybersecurity. The president signed into law both the final FY 2020 funding measure as well as the FY 2020 NDAA conference report on Friday. In addition, several other Portman bills passed the Senate last week as well that are now waiting for the president’s signature as well.
Portman secured the following key wins for Ohio and the country:
SUPPORTING ECONOMIC GROWTH AND RETIREMENT SECURITY
1. A one-year extension of the New Markets Tax Credit which helps economically-distressed communities attract private capital for community redevelopment purposes, and Cincinnati and other cities in Ohio have been a significant beneficiary.
2. A one-year extension of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides employers with a tax credit for hiring and retaining veterans, ex-felons, disabled individuals, summer youth employees, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Supplemental Security Income recipients.
3. A one–year extension of the Craft Beverage Tax Relief, which provides excise tax relief to the growing craft beverage industry, helping these entrepreneurs reinvest more in their businesses and our communities. Ohio ranks number four in the country in craft beer production and the industry supports 15,000 jobs in the state.
4. A one–year extension of the CFC Look-Through Rules so that U.S. multinational companies can efficiently to bring back money and resources trapped overseas to invest in the American economy.
5. The SECURE Act, which includes reforms sponsored by Portman designed to help more Americans save for their retirement, including marquee provisions to encourage small businesses to offer retirement plans to their workers, ensure millions of part-time employees can access 401(k) plans, and increase the age for required minimum distributions from 70 and a half to 72.
6. Portman’s bipartisan Revitalizing Underdeveloped Rural Areas and Lands Act to preserve jobs and encourage infrastructure development by expanding tax-exempt cooperative organizations’ access to government grants and assistance, including rural broadband grants and FEMA disaster relief. This legislation provides certainty for co-ops looking to utilize government resources to deliver critical services to their members, such as broader access to high-speed internet or repairs to the electrical grid.
7. Helped secure pension benefits for nearly 6,000 Ohioans whose pensions would have been reduced dramatically beginning next year – through the inclusion of the Bipartisan American Miners Act, which Portman cosponsored and fought for.
SUPPORTING OHIO’S DEFENSE INSTALLATIONS
8. Authorizing $1.7 billion in funding to upgrade 165 Abrams tanks, increasing the rate of production of the upgraded Abrams tanks Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC) in Lima in order to ensure that our forward deployed tanks have the most cutting-edge capabilities. Portman has been a staunch supporter of the JSMC and visited the JSMC recently. While the Obama administration proposed shuttering the plant in 2011, Portman has made a commitment to ensuring the long-term viability of the JSMC since taking office and protecting Lima’s skilled workforce that provide a unique capability to our national security and defense industrial base.
9. Authorizing $394 million for upgrading Stryker Vehicles at the JSMC.
10. Authorizing $523 million for purchasing 152 Stryker A1 Vehicles to be built at the JSMC.
11. Authorizing $120.9 million in funding to upgrade the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) located at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report authorized $182 million for the modernization effort at NASIC. This measure authorizes $120.9 million to finish construction.
12. $300 million in security assistance to fund additional training, equipment, and advisory efforts for Ukraine’s forces. Portman has led efforts in the Senate to ensure these Ukraine security assistance funds were authorized and obligated pending critical defense reforms at the Ukrainian parliament.
13. Expanding existing financial protections for Gold Star military families’ residential and car leases.
14. The posthumous promotion of Lt Col Richard Cole to Colonel, the last of the living Doolittle Raiders until he passed away earlier this year at the age 103.
15. The production of four highly capable C-130J’s, which Portman will advocate to be assigned to one of our very deserving, hardworking Ohio squadrons.
16. Allowing fallen heroes to be honored at their gravesite with a replica of the Battlefield Cross. The Battlefield Cross is a memorial marker typically consisting of a soldier’s helmet, rifle, identification tag, and pair of boots that serves to honor and respect servicemembers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
17. $658 million for Portman’s CARA grant program, which provides resources for evidence-based prevention, treatment, and recovery programs to help people overcome their addiction. This is the largest investment in his CARA grant program since it was enacted into law.
18. Portman’s bipartisan Combating Meth & Cocaine Act to give states more flexibility to use federal opioid funding to address the resurgence of psychostimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine.
MAKING HEALTH CARE MORE AFFORDABLE AND ACCESSIBLE
19. Securing lifetime health care benefits for 3,119 miners in Ohio who would have lost their benefits entirely by March through the inclusion of the Bipartisan American Miners Act, which Portman cosponsored and fought for.
20. A one–year extension of the Medical Expense Deduction Expansion ensuring that more Americans have access to this deduction designed to reduce the tax costs of out-of-pocket medical expenses and long-term care.
21. A one–year extension of the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC), which helps subsidize the cost of continued coverage for retirees and other individuals who lost their health care coverage — in addition to their pensions and other benefits — when their employers either entered into bankruptcy or laid off workers due to foreign trade. The HCTC is critically important for many hardworking Ohioans, including as many as 5,000 Delphi salaried retirees in Dayton, the Mahoning Valley, and Sandusky. In addition, a few hundred workers from the Lordstown General Motors plant have applied for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and would benefit from the HCTC as well.
22. A five-month extension for his bipartisan Money Follows the Person Program, which helps transition Medicaid beneficiaries from nursing homes to long-term care in their homes.
23. A five-month extension the Protecting Beneficiary Access to Complex Rehab Technology Act, which will remove accessories to complex wheelchairs from Medicare’s competitive bidding, and thus improve access to those accessories for wheelchair-reliant seniors.
PROTECTING OUR GREAT LAKES AND ENVIRONMENT
24. $320 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the largest investment in the health, ecosystem, and water quality in the Great Lakes.
25. $4.9 Million for Portman’s Migratory Birds of the Americas Act, which provides the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with the resources it needs to protect the migratory bird populations that make Lake Erie one of the nation’s premier birdwatching destinations.
26. $1.68 Million for Portman’s bipartisan Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act, which provides critical resources to conserve and restore fish and wildlife populations in the Great Lakes.
27. Funding for the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA) and reauthorizing the HABHRCA program through FY2023, which has served as the federal government’s research and response toolkit for harmful algal blooms.
28. Enabling the U.S. Geological Survey to continue to conduct research to help support the over $7 billion Great Lakes sport and commercial fishery industries.
29. Protecting Lake Erie from dredged materials by prohibiting the Army Corps of Engineers from dumping material dredged from the Cuyahoga River shipping channel into Lake Erie without the approval from the State of Ohio that it is environmentally safe.
30. $15 Million for the National Park Service (NPS) Centennial Challenge, which was authorized by Portman’s National Park Service Centennial Act. The NPS Centennial Challenge provides funding to help preserve our national parks for generations to come.
31. $15 million for his bipartisan Tropical Forest Conservation Reauthorization Act, which has saved more than 67 million acres of tropical forest by allowing developing countries that meet certain criteria to be relieved of debt owed to the United States in exchange for their conservation efforts.
32. Improving coordination across the federal government in identifying and responding to emerging contaminants like per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The bipartisan Portman bill also provides support and resources to states dealing with the health challenges posed by these potentially harmful materials.
33. Reauthorizing funding for Dayton’s National Aviation Heritage Area through September 30, 2022.
34. Requiring the U.S. Postal Service to sell the approximately 50 million remaining Saving Vanishing Species Stamps left in stock.
35. $367 million for the cleanup of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, Ohio; $51 million for the onsite disposal cell; and $40 million as part of a three-year demonstration project to produce a cascade of 16 centrifuges at the former American Centrifuge Project in Piketon to demonstrate the production of high assay low enriched uranium.
PROTECTING FAITH-BASED INSTITUTIONS
36. $90 million, as Portman requested in December, for the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which provides grants to faith-based and other nonprofit organizations to help secure their facilities against a potential terrorist attack.
37. Authorizing Nonprofit Security Grant Programs for the next five years through Portman’s Protecting Faith-Based and Nonprofit Organizations From Terrorism Act.
38. Directing the Department of Defense to brief Congress on how they are developing and prioritizing explainable artificial intelligence.
39. Directing the Department of Defense to provide Congress with a comparative analysis and briefing on U.S. and Chinese artificial intelligence capabilities.
40. Ensuring the armed forces prioritizes the recruitment and retention of individuals with computer science and digital engineering skills to bolster artificial intelligence expertise in the military.
41. Requiring that the Department of Homeland Security make permanent “cyber hunt” and “cyber incident response” teams to work to help prevent cyberattacks at all levels of government and the private sector, and help mitigate the impact of such attacks when they occur.
42. Prohibiting the federal government and federal contractors from asking about criminal history of a job applicant prior to a conditional offer of employment.
43. Imposing mandatory sanctions on foreign banks and companies that facilitate illicit financial transactions for North Korea. This sanctions legislation, named in honor of Otto Warmbier, will hold North Korea accountable for their actions and human rights abuses.