McConnell on House Passage of Partisan Spending Bill

Source: United States Senator for Kentucky Mitch McConnell

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued the following statement regarding House action on partisan COVID legislation: 

“In 2020, Congress passed five COVID-19 rescue packages. All five were completely bipartisan. It was the largest peacetime fiscal expansion in American history, yet no bill earned fewer than 90 votes in the Senate or less than about 80% support in the House. That’s because both parties had shaped the bills together and they met Americans’ urgent needs.

“Tonight House Democrats snapped that bipartisan streak. They jammed through a bill that even liberal economists and editorial boards say is not well targeted to this stage of the fight. More than a third of its spending, including more than 90% of the K-12 school funding, would not even go out this fiscal year.

“Even worse than all the non-COVID-related liberal spending are the actively harmful policies that would stall our reopening, block rehiring, and slow down the recovery for American families. It’s like Washington Democrats think it’s still March 2020 and we need to prepare for more indefinite shutdowns. Just one provision of their bill would kill 1.4 million jobs on its own.

“This is exactly the wrong attitude. We should be optimistically teeing up a roaring American comeback — reopening schools now, accelerating vaccines, and matching laid-off workers with job openings as quickly as possible.

“After Republicans led five bipartisan bills last year, Democrats have chosen the polar opposite. When Senate Republicans went to the White House to suggest cooperation, President Biden’s team said no thanks. The White House Chief of Staff admits this liberal wish-list is ‘the most progressive domestic legislation in a generation.’ So much for common sense and common ground.

“The House’s partisan vote reflects a deliberately partisan process and a missed opportunity to meet Americans’ needs.”

###

McConnell Statement on Strikes in Syria

Source: United States Senator for Kentucky Mitch McConnell

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued the following statement today regarding strikes in Syria: 

“I support President Biden’s decision to authorize strikes against facilities associated with Iranian-backed terrorist groups responsible for attacks against American interests in Iraq.  

“We will need more information to judge the efficacy of the strikes and the signal they send to Tehran and its proxies, but I believe the President acted well within the authorities of his office. 

“The attacks on American diplomatic and military facilities and personnel are just one early test of the new Administration by this dangerous adversary. Iran supports an entire constellation of terrorist groups that stretches from Yemen to Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, right to the borders of Israel. It will take sustained work to defend and deter against the threats posed to U.S. interests. 

“President Biden has an opportunity to craft a strong, effective, enduring, and bipartisan approach to Iran. The Administration must confront this growing terrorist threat and rally our partners to impose meaningful, multilateral costs on Tehran and its proxies for their terror and violence that threaten an entire region.” 

###

Reaction Of Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy And House Foreign Affairs Committee Vice Chair Tom Malinowski On The ODNI Report On The Murder Of Jamal Khashoggi

Source: United States Senator for Vermont Patrick Leahy

02.27.21

(SATURDAY, Feb. 27, 2021) — “We are concerned by early indications that the Biden Administration does not intend to impose a visa ban on all those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  U.S. law is unequivocal:  section 7031(c) of H.R.133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 requires that “officials of foreign governments and their immediate family members about whom the Secretary of State has credible information have been involved, directly or indirectly, in…a gross violation of human rights shall be ineligible for entry into the United States.” The law provides a waiver if it would serve a compelling national interest.  We look forward to working with the State Department to ensure that the law is faithfully applied.”

# # # # #



Senator Baldwin Reintroduces Legislation to Support Women in Trucking

Source: United States Senator for Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin

02.27.21

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Jon Tester (D-MT) – members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation – reintroduced the Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act, legislation to support women in the trucking industry and establish a Women in Trucking Advisory Board. Currently, women make up 47 percent of the United States’ labor force, yet represent 24 percent of America’s trucking workforce and only about seven percent of drivers.

“In Wisconsin, we make things, and we need to ensure we have a strong workforce to transport our goods to market,” said Senator Baldwin. “Women currently make up less than 10 percent of the truck driving workforce, and removing the barriers that get in the way of women pursuing and retaining careers in trucking is key. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan effort with Senator Moran because more job opportunities for Wisconsin women will lead to more economic security for working families.”

“Over the past year, we have relied on the essential service the trucking industry provides to transport critical resources to Kansas and across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Moran. “As the trucking industry continues to face a driver shortage, we must find new ways to recruit and retain drivers, including supporting women pursuing careers in trucking. This sensible and bipartisan legislation will lead to new job opportunities for women and promote equality for those who are currently working in the trucking industry.”

“Truckers are essential to keeping Nebraska’s economy running, but the industry is experiencing a shortage of drivers,” said Senator Fischer. “Women currently make up only 6.6 percent of truck drivers and 12.5 percent of all truck transportation workers. Examining ways to encourage more women to enter the trucking industry is good policy and could connect more women with good jobs.”

“Montana women represent a growing force in the transportation sector, but still face obstacles when it comes to careers in the trucking industry,” said Senator Tester. “This bill is a hat-trick, ensuring we’re breaking down barriers for Montana women, bringing more good-paying jobs to the Treasure State, and strengthening our workforce so we can deliver more of our world-class products to market.”

This legislation received wide-spread support from shipping and trucking organizations, including FedEx, American Trucking Associations, Women in Trucking Association and United Parcel Service (UPS).

“Although women currently make up 47% of the United States’ labor force, they represent less than seven percent of truck drivers and only a quarter of all transportation and warehousing jobs in trucking,” said American Trucking Associations Senior Vice President Edwin Gilroy. “While the trucking industry has taken great strides over the last decade, growing the number of women truck drivers by 68% since 2010, the fact is that women remain underrepresented in the industry. We agree that more work needs to be done. The Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act represents a tangible step toward a stronger and more diverse trucking workforce.”

“By creating an advisory board to utilize the expertise and resources of the Federal Motor Carrier Administration and the members of the board, we can increase the opportunities for women as drivers, technicians, owners, trainers and in other relevant career roles,” said Women in Trucking Association President and CEO Ellie Voie.“Although women have strengthened their presence in supply chain in the past few years, we know there are still issues that cause women to reject a transportation career. Our goal is to better identify these concerns and address them to create a more diverse industry. I look forward to working with you and your office in advancing this bill.”

“Working with Congress to make careers in trucking appealing, sustainable and successful for anyone who wants to enter our industry is a priority for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association,” said Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association President Todd Spencer. “We support the Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act because it will not only help more women begin careers in trucking, but will improve conditions for drivers currently behind the wheel. Some of the safest and most successful truckers on the road today are female members of OOIDA. We commend the sponsors of this legislation for ensuring their unique perspective and experience as small business owners will play an integral role in efforts to promote women in trucking.”

The Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act would direct the administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to establish a “Women of Trucking Advisory Board.” Under this bill, the board would identify barriers to entry for women in the trucking industry, work across organizations and companies to coordinate formal education and training programs and help identify and establish training and mentorship programs for women in the industry. The legislation also requires the FMCSA administrator to submit a report to Congress on the board’s findings and recommendations.

U.S. Representatives Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Sharice Davids (D-KS) introduced the bipartisan companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. More information about the legislation is available here.



Bennet Applauds House Passage of Biden American Rescue Plan

Source: United States Senator for Colorado Michael Bennet

Denver – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet released the statement below following House passage of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion proposal to fight the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and help Americans weather the economic fallout of the crisis. The package will now head to the Senate. 

“Colorado and the country are facing a massive public health crisis that has precipitated a massive economic crisis. We need to take bold, decisive action to stem the tide of the pandemic and build our economy back better than it was before. That’s why I fought for the American Rescue Plan to include my proposals to expand the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, which will cut child poverty in half and provide economic security to millions of families. It is the most transformative thing we can do during a time of great need, and I will keep fighting to ensure these tax credits are made permanent.”  

Along with expanding the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Bennet fought tirelessly to secure other Colorado priorities in Biden’s plan. These include: 

Direct Support for Coloradans:

  • Extend unemployment benefits through August 2021, including a $400 additional weekly payment, and a commitment to work to make unemployment benefits tied to economic conditions.
  • Extend the eviction moratorium through September 2021 and provide $30 billion in additional rental assistance to help prevent evictions.
  • Extend the 15% SNAP increase through September 2021 and work with Congress to turn it into an automatic stabilizer, which is consistent with the Bennet-Neguse bill
  • Deliver immediate relief to Colorado families with $1,400 checks per person, including all dependents. The payments phase-out starting at incomes of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples.

Public Health: 

Support for Communities Struggling in the Wake of COVID-19: Bennet has continually pushed for strengthening and expanding the Paycheck Protection Program, providing additional funds to state and local governments, and funding for the E-Rate program to equip students with devices and internet connectivity.

State/Local/Tribal Funding:

  • $350 billion for states, localities, and territories 
  • $20 billion for Tribal governments 
  • $20 billion for public transit

Small Business Relief:

  • $15 billion in grants for the hardest-hit small businesses 
  • Additional $7.25 billion toward the Paycheck Protection Program

Schools & Students: 

  • $7 billion for E-Rate to provide low-income schools and students with Wi-Fi enabled devices and hotspots.

Peters Applauds House Passage of American Rescue Plan, Pushes for Quick Senate Passage

Source: United States Senator for Michigan Gary Peters

02.27.21

Next week Senate to begin considering relief package to provide $1,400 stimulus checks, critical funding to safely reopen schools and speed up vaccine distribution

DETROIT, MI – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today applauded House passage of robust and comprehensive Coronavirus relief that would provide critical aid to Michiganders and Americans across the nation. He urged the Senate, which is scheduled to begin considering the package next week, to pass it swiftly. The American Rescue Plan includes funding to distribute direct stimulus checks, accelerate vaccine distribution and help schools reopen safely.

Peters supports the American Rescue Plan and has spoken directly with President Biden and Vice President Harris in the Oval Office about the need to swiftly pass this legislation. Last week, he joined President Biden during a visit to Pfizer’s facility in Portage, where they thanked Michigan workers and discussed the importance of ramping up vaccine production and equitable distribution.

“As we close in on the one-year anniversary of this pandemic gripping our nation, it’s very clear that more action is needed to deliver urgent relief to struggling Michiganders and emerge from this public health and economic crisis,” said Senator Peters, Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “Whether it’s direct stimulus checks – ramping up vaccinations – or ensuring schools have the resources to safely re-open – the American Rescue Plan has the robust relief needed to help our state and country get through this pandemic. The vast majority of Americans – as well as mayors, governors, business leaders and economic experts from across the political spectrum – support this bill, and I will work with my Senate colleagues to swiftly pass this package and send it to the President’s desk.”

Critical provisions in the American Rescue Plan include:

  • Direct Stimulus Checks: The bill includes a new round of direct payments of $1400 per adult and child to most Americans. This would ensure that a family of four would receive an additional $5600. It fulfills Peters’ push to provide individuals with $2000 stimulus checks, after enacting $600 stimulus checks in December.
  • Resources to Expand and Accelerate Vaccine Distribution Programs: The plan includes $50 billion to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency support a national vaccination program that administers the vaccine and provides frontline medical professionals the personal protective equipment, testing supplies and workforce needed to slow and eventually eliminate the spread of COVID-19. As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters will monitor FEMA’s efforts to ensure that the vaccine is widely available to every community as quickly and efficiently as possible, particularly in historically underserved communities.
  • Support for Schools: The package includes $130 billion, which will be supplemented by additional state and local relief, to help schools reopen safely under the guidance of public health officials. This will include grants to help schools acquire personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies, facilitate smaller class sizes, and improve ventilation systems.
  • Unemployment Assistance: The package provides an additional $400 per week for all workers receiving unemployment benefits, through August 29th, 2021. This will cover over 10 million Americans that are currently without a job and includes provisions to extend the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which expands eligibility to self-employed workers. Peters helped lead efforts to originally pass these provisions in the CARES Act.
  • Rental and Housing Assistance: The bill includes $25 billion for rental assistance, which is in addition to the $25 billion Peters helped secure in the latest round of relief enacted this past December. The American Rescue Plan provides $10 billion to support struggling homeowners, who face a looming foreclosure crisis, and $5 billion to support people experiencing homelessness. These programs are similar to policies Peters has supported. Peters was a cosponsor of the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act, which would create an Emergency Rental Assistance program to help families and individuals pay their rent and utility bills, and a cosponsor of legislation to create a Housing Assistance Fund to help protect renters, homeowners, and communities by preventing avoidable foreclosures, evictions, and utility shut offs.
  • Support for Small Businesses and Strengthening the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): The measure includes $7 billion in support for the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses to retain staff and adapt operations. This funding is in addition to the $284 billion that Peters helped secure this past December in the latest round of relief. The bill also reauthorizes and provides $10 billion in federal funding to the State Small Business Credit Initiative, including $1.5 billion set-aside for minority-owned businesses, which helps small businesses grow and create jobs. Peters previously led the effort to reauthorize the program in the Senate and championed the original language creating the program in the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 as a member of the House of Representatives.
  • Support for State and Local Governments: The legislation would provide $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local and territorial governments to help them continue essential services and retain critical public servants such as police officers, firefighters, EMTs and teachers. The bill would also grant $20 billion to help public transit agencies in Michigan and across the nation avoid layoffs and service reductions.

###



Feinstein, Lieu, Padilla Call on VA to Support West Los Angeles VA Campus

Source: United States Senator for California – Dianne Feinstein

            Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla and Congressman Ted Lieu (all D-Calif.) today called on Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough to support the West Los Angeles VA Campus in its efforts to provide supportive housing for homeless veterans.

            “The West LA VA Campus, encompassing 388 acres deeded to the federal government in 1887, represents one of the best and most immediate opportunities to provide a stable home for homeless veterans in Southern California,” wrote the members.

            The members continued: “We were pleased to hear during your confirmation hearing that you are committed to carrying out President Biden’s goal of ending veteran homelessness. The West LA VA Campus offers an immediate opportunity to make an impact in this respect. We invite you to visit the West LA VA Campus at your convenience to see firsthand the unique opportunity this campus represents to help improve the lives of veterans.”

            Full text of the letter follows:

February 26, 2021

The Honorable Denis McDonough

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

810 Vermont Avenue NW

Washington, D.C., 20420

Dear Secretary McDonough:

            Congratulations on your recent confirmation as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Your continued commitment to public service is truly commendable, and we look forward to working with you and President Biden to help serve those who have served our nation. We write today to request your personal attention and support as we work to address the veteran homelessness crisis in Southern California, specifically by supporting the construction of supportive housing on the West Los Angeles VA Campus.

            The West LA VA Campus, encompassing 388 acres deeded to the federal government in 1887, represents one of the best and most immediate opportunities to provide a stable home for homeless veterans in Southern California. The 2016 Draft Master Plan included plans to build at least 1,200 units of supportive housing on campus, and we continue to strongly support its implementation. More than 3,900 veterans experience homelessness on any given night in Los Angeles County alone, representing nearly 10 percent of the nation’s homeless veteran population. That number is even higher when homeless veterans living in other counties in the West LA VA service area are taken into account.

            One immediate concern is the VA’s recent decision to significantly reduce the scope of funding for seismic retrofits of 12 buildings on campus, some of which will be converted into housing. We are concerned that this reduction in scope could further delay implementation of the Master Plan. Our offices have discussed this issue with West LA VA leadership and ask that you review the current situation.

            We were pleased to hear during your confirmation hearing that you are committed to carrying out President Biden’s goal of ending veteran homelessness. The West LA VA Campus offers an immediate opportunity to make an impact in this respect. We invite you to visit the West LA VA Campus at your convenience to see firsthand the unique opportunity this campus represents to help improve the lives of veterans. Thank you for your attention to this important matter, and please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein

United States Senator

Ted Lieu

United States Representative

Alex Padilla

United States Senator

###

Rob’s Rundown: Week of February 22 – February 26, 2021

Source: United States Senator for Ohio Rob Portman

February 26, 2021 | Rob’s Rundown

Senator Portman was in Washington this week as the Senate continued working on a COVID-19 response package. On Monday, Portman was given the distinct honor of delivering President George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address on the Senate floor. Every year since 1896, the Senate has observed Washington’s Birthday by selecting one of its members, alternating parties, to read the 7,641-word statement in legislative session.

On Tuesday, Portman delivered opening remarks at a joint oversight hearing to examine the security failures that led to a breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Portman then questioned the former Chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, Steven Sund; the Acting Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, Robert Contee; and the former Senate Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper, Michael Stenger; on the lack of Capitol Police preparedness on January 6. Portman made clear that the Capitol Police officers were owed the proper training and equipment to ensure that a tragedy like what occurred on January 6 will not happen again at the Capitol.

On Wednesday evening, Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor about the addiction crisis in America, which worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Overdose deaths across the country continue to rise. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in May 2020, the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period. Portman highlighted two bipartisan bills he introduced this week to respond to this troubling trend: the Telehealth Response for E-prescribing Addiction Therapy Services (TREATS) Act and Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act

Finally, Portman penned an op-ed in The Washington Post Wednesday evening calling on the Biden administration and Congressional Democrats to reach across the aisle and work with Republican members to craft a targeted bipartisan COVID-19 package. This comes as Democrats are preparing to use the budget reconciliation process to pass their $1.9 trillion COVID-19 bill without Republican support. 

For a more detailed look at Senator Portman’s week, please see the following:

Monday, February 8, 2021

Portman Applauds Rule Change Allowing Second Chance Access to Paycheck Protection Program

Portman praised the announcement by the Biden Administration that Second Chance individuals will no longer be excluded from obtaining Paycheck Protection Program loans, the small business loan relief program created under the bipartisan CARES Act and reauthorized by the FY 2021 Omnibus Spending bill that passed in December, both of which Senator Portman supported. 

The PPP application initially asked applicants to declare unrelated felony records, which prohibited former convicts from accessing the loan program. To address this issue, Portman introduced the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program Second Chance Act to remove barriers to PPP for owners with unrelated felony records while preserving the presumption of innocence and keeping in place the five year timeframe for felony crimes related to financial fraud. This legislation followed Portman’s letter last year to the Department of the Treasury and the Small Business Administration (SBA) urging that the SBA allow small business owners with criminal records to apply for the PPP. National and Ohioan reentry and second chance coalition leaders, law enforcement, and local officials voiced their support for the initiative.  

In their announcement today, the Biden Administration cited Portman’s legislation as the basis for this rule change. 

“I am pleased that the Biden administration took action to expand Paycheck Protection Program access to Second Chance small business owners,” said Portman. “This is a long-overdue rule change that we originally sought to address with our bipartisan PPP Second Chance Act, and will ensure that small business owners who have spent time in the criminal justice system are not defined by their past mistakes, and instead have equal access to these invaluable small business loans that have helped thousands stay in business through the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Portman, Manchin Introduce Bipartisan FIGHT Fentanyl Act to Permanently Schedule Fentanyl-Related Substances

Senators Rob Portman and Joe Manchin (D-WV) today introduced the bipartisan Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act to permanently schedule illicitly manufactured and deadly fentanyl. In February 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a temporary scheduling order to schedule fentanyl-related substances that has allowed federal law enforcement authorities to bring criminal actions against individuals who manufacture, distribute, or handle fentanyl-related substances. This scheduling order is set to expire on May 6, 2022. The FIGHT Fentanyl Act codifies DEA precedent to permanently schedule fentanyl-related substances.   

Overdose deaths across the country due to fentanyl-related substances continue to rise, which is causing a significant impact on communities across the country.  According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in May 2020, the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period. 

“Fentanyl hit Ohio communities particularly hard, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The most recent 12-month data we have shows the highest number of overdose deaths in the history of the United States and I’m deeply troubled that the full-year data for 2020 will be even higher,” said Senator Portman. “This deadly, synthetic drug knows no zip code and is devastating individuals and families all across the country. This bipartisan legislation is vital to our efforts to keep fentanyl out of our communities, and I urge my colleagues to join Senator Manchin and me in passing this common-sense legislation.”

Portman Statement on OMB Director Nominee Neera Tanden

Senator Portman Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, issued the following statement on Neera Tanden, nominee to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB): 

“When President Biden announced his intention to nominate Ms. Tanden as OMB Director, I expressed concern and urged him to reconsider. As a former OMB Director, I know that the OMB Director has to be able to work productively with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. I believe that the tone, the content, and the aggressive partisanship of some of Ms. Tanden’s public statements will make it more difficult for her to work effectively with both parties in this role. I’m also concerned about her decision to delete thousands of tweets in the month after the election and the lack of transparency in her decision to do so, as well as her lack of experience on key issues for OMB, such as the regulatory and budgeting processes. While the president has the right to choose his own Cabinet, and thus far I have supported all of this administration’s nominees, I will not be supporting the confirmation of Ms. Tanden.”

Portman, Whitehouse Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Access to Telehealth Services for Substance Use Disorder Treatment 

Senators Rob Portman and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the Telehealth Response for E-prescribing Addiction Therapy Services (TREATS) Act to support the expansion of telehealth services for substance use disorder treatment. The bill would build upon the Trump Administration’s action to waive regulatory restrictions for accessing care in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the temporary waivers provide a necessary reprieve for patients so that they may continue their treatments and counseling virtually, they are time-limited and will ultimately expire at the conclusion of the Public Health Emergency. 

The TREATS Act would extend these telehealth flexibilities by making permanent key waivers, including the ability to prescribe Medication Assisted Therapies (MAT) and other necessary drugs without needing a prior in-person visit and the ability to bill Medicare for audio-only telehealth services.  By taking these steps, the TREATS Act will increase overall access to MAT and support telehealth needs in rural communities where broadband may be needed. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives and the increase in overdoses we’re seeing only increases the need for additional flexibility to help those suffering from addiction. I’ve had the opportunity to hear about the successes of telehealth in treating substance use disorder directly from behavioral health providers who have continued their fight against the addiction epidemic amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Portman. “The rollout of telehealth waivers has both helped patients maintain access to care safely at home and increased access to care for those who didn’t otherwise have access to in-person treatment. As we move forward and look to life beyond this pandemic, we must make sure that the advances to care and access that telehealth is currently providing are not lost, and that’s exactly what this bill will do. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this common-sense legislation to make telehealth a permanent part of substance abuse disorder treatment.” 

Portman Honored to Deliver President George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address on Senate Floor

Portman was given the distinct honor of delivering President George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address on the Senate floor. Every year since 1896, the Senate has observed Washington’s Birthday by selecting one of its members, alternating parties, to read the 7,641-word statement in legislative session. The full history of the address can be found here. 

The full address can be found here and a video of Senator Portman’s recitation can be found here.

Portman, Bipartisan Colleagues Introduce Conservation Legislation to Protect Tropical Forests & Coral Reef Ecosystems

Senator Portman, along with Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Burr (R-NC), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Tropical Forest and Coral Reef Conservation Reauthorization Act of 2021. U.S. Representatives Steve Chabot and Brad Sherman (D-CA) have introduced companion legislation in the House.

This legislation reauthorizes a program, known as a debt-for-nature-swap, that allows developing countries that meet certain criteria to be relieved of debt owed to the United States in exchange for protecting and preserving tropical forests and coral reefs. This legislation reauthorizes the program, which was first created in 1998, for FY 2022 through FY 2026, at $20 million per year. Since its inception, this program has helped protect more than 67 million acres of tropical forests, which has not only preserved native wildlife and ecosystems, but has also helped protect the environment by sequestering over 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of taking more than 11 million cars off the road.

“This bipartisan legislation takes significant strides to protect our natural resources for the next generation while strengthening ties with countries that could become significant economic and national security partners with the United States,” said Portman, Co-Chair of the International Conservation Caucus. “This is a common-sense and proven approach that has protected millions of acres of tropical forest from deforestation – one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions. I want to thank Senator Coons, Burr, Whitehouse, and Schatz for their support of this legislation and urge my colleagues to join us in ensuring that our natural resources are protected and preserved for the next generation.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2021 

Portman Delivers Opening Remarks at Joint HSGAC & Rules Oversight Hearing on Breach of U.S. Capitol on January 6

Portman, Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, delivered opening remarks at a joint oversight hearing to examine the security failures that led to a breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Current and former officials responsible for securing the area surrounding the U.S. Capitol on the preparations and response efforts on January 6, 2021, when a criminal mob was able to breach the Capitol complex, testified at today’s hearing. Portman made clear that the following key questions need to be answered by the witnesses: Was there credible intelligence about potential violence; when was it known; and who knew it? Did the U.S. Capitol Police request approval to seek National Guard assistance prior to January 6, and if so, why that request was denied? Were Capitol Police officers were properly trained and equipped to respond to an attack on the Capitol, and if not, why not?  

A transcript of his opening remarks can be found here and a video can be found here.

Portman, Stabenow, Braun, Peters, Baldwin Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen American Manufacturing and Create Jobs Across the Country

Senators Rob Portman, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mike Braun (R-IN), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced their bipartisan bill to strengthen our Buy American laws. The Make It in America Act will make it harder for federal agencies to use waivers to get around Buy American requirements, requiring the federal government to give preference to American companies and spend taxpayer dollars on American-made products and American jobs. 

“We must do everything we can to protect and maximize American jobs, and that starts by ensuring that our tax dollars aren’t used to create jobs overseas,” said Senator Portman. “By improving transparency, the Make It in America Act will encourage federal agencies to support American workers and American jobs by faithfully complying with Buy American law. This is a bipartisan bill that is needed now to help protect American jobs.”

Roll Call: “Washington’s Farewell Gets Personal for Retiring Sen. Portman”

A new story published this morning in Roll Call highlights Senator Portman’s thoughts and reflections on delivering President George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address on the Senate floor. Every year since 1896, the Senate has observed Washington’s Birthday by selecting one of its members, alternating parties, to read the 7,641-word statement in legislative session. It remains today one of the Senate’s oldest, most cherished traditions. Of note in the story is this excerpt: 

Senators read the words of President George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address each year on the floor of the Senate — it’s an enduring chamber tradition. It was an especially meaningful tradition this year for Sen. Rob Portman. 

Washington in his letter to “Friends and Fellow-Citizens” described why he would be leaving a life of public service, something personal to Portman, who has announced he will not run for reelection in 2022. 

“He felt like he’d done his duty and it was time for others,” the Ohio Republican said. 

The speech bidding the country goodbye was penned by America’s first president weeks before electors cast ballots in the third American presidential election. The campaign was bitterly fought, and it was the first contested election in the country’s history in which political parties played a role. 

…. 

“It’s timeless,” Portman said. “And it’s timely because, you know, here we are in a period of our country’s history when we just came through a contentious election and impeachment and in the middle of a crisis, and people are really divided.” 

The full story can be viewed here.

Portman, Brown, Joyce, and Ryan Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to Extend Funding for Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area

Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have reintroduced their bipartisan legislation to increase investment in the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area by extending the funding reauthorization for an additional 15 years, through 2036, and increasing the funding cap by $10 million. The Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area spans more than 110 miles between New Philadelphia and Cleveland. This bill will help ensure it can continue to draw investment, and support local jobs, tourism, and economic development in northeast Ohio. Representatives Dave Joyce and Tim Ryan (D-OH) are leading the House version of the bill, which is also sponsored by Representatives Anthony Gonzalez and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH). 

“This legislation will provide greater funding certainty to continue the public-private partnerships that have protected and improved the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, which will help bring jobs and investments to the area,” said Portman. “The canal holds great significance to the state of Ohio, from helping our early towns and communities prosper to linking our state to the rest of the nation. I am proud to be one of the 2.5 million visitors who enjoy the canal’s towpath trail each year, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in both the Senate and the House on getting this legislation signed into law”

Portman, Romney, Rubio, Grassley Urge President to Implement Rule on Confucius Institutes

Senators Rob Portman, Mitt Romney (R-UT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) urged the Biden Administration to implement the proposed rule requiring U.S. academic institutions disclose their relationships with Confucius Institutes, which are funded by the Chinese Communist Party. The letter reflects a similar effort in the House of Representatives. 

“We have significant concerns regarding the CCP’s nefarious actions and urge you to follow through on your commitments to advancing the interests of the American people as we collectively respond to the challenge that the CCP poses,” the senators wrote. “We believe it is critically important to better understand and reduce the CCP’s influence on the American people, including through the Hanban, its propaganda arm that runs Confucius Institutes through the PRC Ministry of Education. The proposed rule is a necessary step in that effort and would bring needed transparency to Confucius Institutes.” 

The text of the letter can be found here and here.

Portman Op-Ed: Biden Promised Bipartisanship. That Rhetoric Hasn’t Been Matched By Action.

Senator Portman penned an op-ed in The Washington Post this evening calling on the Biden Administration and Congressional Democrats to reach across the aisle and work with Republican members to craft a targeted bipartisan COVID-19 package. This comes as Democrats are preparing to use reconciliation to jam through a partisan, $1.9 trillion COVID-19 bill without Republican support.  

Both parties have worked together to enact five COVID-19 packages since the beginning of this crisis. All five have garnered overwhelming bipartisan support.  

The op-ed can be viewed here.

On CBS This Morning, Senator Portman Discusses Bipartisan Oversight Hearing into Capitol Riot

On CBS This Morning, Senator Portman discussed the bipartisan investigation he is co-leading in the Senate into the January 6 Capitol riot that resulted in seven deaths, including three police officers. Yesterday, Portman, as Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), questioned the current and former officials responsible for securing the Capitol on January 6 during a joint hearing of HSGAC and the Senate Rules Committee. He stressed the need for greater coordination between law enforcement and intelligence groups to effectively respond to significant threats. 

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

Portman, Carper Applaud Treasury Department’s Sanctions Targeting Leaders of Burmese Military Coup and Urge Biden Administration to Heed Bipartisan Recommendations Regarding Future Penalties 

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Senators Portman and Tom Carper (D-DE), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and a senior Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, respectively, commended President Biden’s Execution Order 14014, which placed sanctions on individuals and entities linked to the military coup in Burma earlier this month. Specifically, the bipartisan lawmakers applauded the implementation of financial penalties  on immediate family members of sanctioned individuals — a key recommendation made by the Senators in their July 2020 Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) report, which exposed how U.S. policies have been exploited by individuals to undermine and evade sanctions. In the letter, the Senator also urged the Administration to place sanctions on the family members of Burmese officials immediately. 

“We are pleased to see that under Executive Order 14014, the Treasury Department can target the spouses and adult children of sanctioned Burmese individuals,” the senators wrote. “Given this known practice of transferring assets to family members to evade sanctions, we urge the Treasury Department to swiftly consider additional sanctions against the relatives of designated Burmese officials.” 

In their letter, the senators also asked the Biden Administration to consider that future sanctions be announced and implemented simultaneously to stop individuals from exploiting delays to evade sanctions – another recommendation made by the Senators in their 2020 report which would limit the opportunity for individuals to transfer before sanctions were put into place. 

The senators continued, “Our July 2020 report also demonstrated the dangers associated with delays between the general announcement of sanctions and naming specific individuals and entities to the SDN List.  In the case of the recent Burma-related sanctions, the Treasury Department did not name the first set of specific individuals and entities until February 11, 2021—one day after President Biden announced his intention to impose sanctions. While brief, this 24-hour window raises the possibility that newly-designated Burmese individuals and entities could have transferred significant assets from or through the United States immediately prior to their inclusion on the SDN list. This risk is even more pronounced for the two individuals the Treasury Department added to the SDN List on February 22, 2021.” 

BACKGROUND: 

In July of 2020, Senators Portman and Carper, as the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation (PSI), released a bipartisan report detailing how Russian oligarchs exploited the secrecy of the art industry to evade U.S. sanctions. In that report, the Senators outlined key recommendations to close loopholes in our policies that were being utilized by foreign actors to avoid sanctions, including asking the Treasury Department to 1) impose sanctions on the immediate family members of sanctioned individuals to stop the transfer of assets to family members, and 2) take necessary actions to both announce and implement sanctions concurrently to avoid creating a window of opportunity for individuals to transfer assets before sanctions were put into action.  

The text of the letter available here.

Portman Introduces Bill to Strengthen E-Verify & Prevent Future Illegal Immigration

Portman introduced the E-Verify Act, legislation to require employers to use an electronic employment verification (E-Verify) system in order to stem the tide of illegal immigration. Currently, the E-Verify program is an optional pilot program for most employers, and it has significant limitations—primarily, it does not sufficiently validate the authenticity of the identity documents new employees present to their employers.  Senator Portman’s version of E-Verify will validate each new employee’s identity and work authorization status.  Federal Reserve economists found that when states have mandated the use of E-Verify, it  “reduces the total number of likely unauthorized immigrants who stay in that state by about 10 percent.” 

“The goal of E-Verify is to provide a simple, reliable way for employers to confirm a new employee’s work eligibility and identity,” said Portman. “Since the program is optional, however, it has failed to eliminate the job magnet that remains a draw for unauthorized workers.  This measure requires all employers to use E-Verify going forward and it would strengthen the E-Verify system to help curtail the widespread unauthorized employment that fuels illegal immigration.” 

Citing Increasing Overdose Levels During Pandemic, Portman Highlights Bipartisan Legislation to Address Addiction on Senate Floor

On the Senate Floor, Portman spoke about the addiction crisis in America, which worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Overdose deaths across the country continue to rise. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in May 2020, the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period.  

Portman highlighted two bipartisan bills he introduced this week to respond to this troubling trend. First, his Telehealth Response for E-prescribing Addiction Therapy Services (TREATS) Act will support the expansion of telehealth services for substance use disorder treatment. The bill would build upon the Trump Administration’s action to waive regulatory restrictions for accessing care in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Second, his Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act will permanently schedule dangerous fentanyl-related substances. In February 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a temporary scheduling order to schedule fentanyl-related substances that allowed federal law enforcement authorities to bring criminal actions against individuals who manufacture, distribute, or handle fentanyl-related substances. This scheduling order is set to expire on May 6, 2022. The FIGHT Fentanyl Act codifies DEA precedent to permanently schedule fentanyl-related substances. 

Lastly, he discussed his CARA 2.0 legislation he will soon reintroduce to increase the funding authorization levels for the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA) programs enacted in 2016 and put in place additional policy reforms to help combat the opioid epidemic that has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic 

A transcript of the speech can be found here and a video can be found here.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Portman, Romney, Cotton, Capito, Collins Introduce Bill to Raise Minimum Wage, Protect Jobs for Legal Workers

Senators Rob Portman, Mitt Romney (R-UT), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Susan Collins (R-ME) today introduced the Higher Wages for American Workers Act, legislation which would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $10 and mandate E-Verify to ensure the wage increase only goes to legal workers. The bill will also index future minimum wage increases to inflation and includes protections for small businesses. 

Earlier this week, Senator Portman introduced the E-Verify Act, legislation to require employers to use an electronic employment verification (E-Verify) system in order to stem the tide of illegal immigration. Currently, the E-Verify program is an optional pilot program for most employers, and it has significant limitations—primarily, it does not sufficiently validate the authenticity of the identity documents new employees present to their employers.  Senator Portman’s version of E-Verify will validate each new employee’s identity and work authorization status.  Federal Reserve economists found that when states have mandated the use of E-Verify, it “reduces the total number of likely unauthorized immigrants who stay in that state by about 10 percent.” 

“For years I have supported the way Ohio handles the minimum wage by indexing it to inflation. This takes some of the politics out of the issue, provides more certainty for small businesses and workers, and prevents the sudden spikes that cost jobs,” Senator Portman said. “I’m pleased to support this legislation to provide a responsible and gradual increase to the federal minimum wage after this pandemic ends and then indexing the minimum wage to inflation moving forward.  This approach will give both businesses and people the certainty they need and deserve. It also ensures that younger employees seeking their first job are not priced out of the workforce. Unlike the Democrats’ proposal, this bill would protect tipped workers by ensuring they are still able to work in a capacity that ensures they have larger take-home pay. This legislation also ensures the use of E-Verify. I’ve taken a lead on advocating for a workable E-Verify because of its proven effectiveness of deterring unlawful immigration and helping employers ensure they are hiring Americans. Hiring Americans for jobs available across the country will be crucial as our economy continues to reopen and businesses get back on their feet.”

At Finance Hearing, Portman Secures Commitment from USTR Nominee to Conduct Top-to-Bottom Review of U.S.-China Trade Relationship, Pursue Reform at World Trade Organization

At a Senate Finance Committee hearing, the nominee to be the U.S. Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, committed to Portman that if she were to be confirmed for the position, she would work to conduct a “Top to Bottom Review” of the U.S.-China relationship. She also committed to pursuing reform opportunities at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and aggressively challenge China’s non-market techno-nationalism. Senator Portman, as former U.S. Trade Representative during President George W. Bush’s administration, conducted the first “Top to Bottom Review” on China 16 years ago, which warned of many of the present challenges in the U.S.-China relationship. Updating the review will ensure that U.S. trade policy accounts for the latest developments in Sino-American economic relations. 

Portman believes reform of the WTO is necessary in order to put America on the same level playing field as the rest of the world.  Last year, Senators Portman and Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced a bipartisan resolution expressing support for U.S. leadership at the WTO while also calling for reform to parts of the institution. The resolution describes the long history of productive American leadership at the WTO, as well as the ways in which the WTO has failed to address new trade barriers and market distortions by countries like China. The resolution also offers specific reform proposals of the WTO. 

Excerpts from the hearing can be found below and a video can be found here.

SOCIAL MEDIA

 

 

Biden is repeating Obama’s first mistake

Our country seems more divided along partisan lines than at any time I can remember. That’s why I was pleased to hear President Biden encourage bipartisanship in his inaugural address. I agree with his statement that, at “our historic moment of crisis and challenge … unity is the path forward.” Unfortunately, that rhetoric has not yet been matched by action.

Most disappointing is the partisan approach the new administration is taking to the covid-19 pandemic, one of the few areas where there has been real bipartisanship over the past year. We know covid policy can be bipartisan, because Congress already passed five laws appropriating more than $4 trillion with huge bipartisan majorities. The most recent $900 billion package passed at the end of December by a vote of 92 to 6.

The basis for this year-end legislation came from a bipartisan group of five Democrats and five Republicans who worked over several weeks to come up with the $900 billion consensus package. As a member of that group, I am convinced we can find that common ground again.

Yet the new administration has chosen to go around Republicans this time, not just by proposing a huge $1.9 trillion package with no consultation with any Republican — or Democrat — in the bipartisan working group, but also by trying to pass the $1.9 trillion plan under reconciliation, bypassing the normal 60-vote Senate margin. In a 50-50 Senate, Democrats seem determined to proceed without a single Republican vote.

Trying to find a way forward together, I worked with nine of my Republican Senate colleagues over the past month to develop a targeted $618 billion covid-19 response proposal that can gain significant bipartisan support. Our plan focuses on priorities we share with the president, including providing the same increase in funding for producing and distributing vaccines; offering economic relief for Americans with the greatest need; extending enhanced federal unemployment benefits; supporting our small businesses; helping get kids back to school; and addressing the drug addiction epidemic that is a heartbreaking part of the pandemic.

Our approach builds on the $900 billion package that Congress recently passed, barely half of which has been spent thus far.

We were hopeful that the administration would be interested in good-faith negotiations. Instead, administration officials are insisting on provisions that Republicans oppose. For instance, under the Democrats’ plan, stimulus checks will go to a family making up to $200,000 a year, even if they haven’t borne the brunt of the pandemic. The package also includes numerous items that have nothing do with covid-19, amounting to a wish list of Democratic policy priorities.

Many of us also have concerns over the economic effects the Biden administration plan could have on the economy. Prominent Democratic economist Lawrence H. Summers and others have warned that the stimulus in the massive $1.9 trillion plan could overheat an already recovering economy and lead to higher inflation, hurting middle-class families and threatening long-term growth.

Recently, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported that the economy is expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels by midyear without any new stimulus. The consensus among many economists is that even absent any new coronavirus legislation, 2021 will bring higher economic growth and lower unemployment. Instead of adding to our record debt and deficits with a massive $1.9 trillion package that is not justified by the current conditions, we should focus on the most urgent economic and health-care needs of the American people. That’s what our more targeted Republican proposal does.

The Biden administration’s partisan approach repeats the same mistake that Barack Obama made early in his presidency. It sets the wrong tone for the beginning of a new administration and risks undermining other bipartisan efforts going forward.

Past presidents showed they can get big things done early in a new administration by working with both parties. President Bill Clinton famously worked with Republicans in 1993 to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement. President Ronald Reagan’s economic reforms of 1981 passed the Senate by an overwhelming margin of 89 to 11. President George H.W. Bush rallied both parties to support the Americans With Disabilities Act before the two-year mark in his term. President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act passed both chambers with widespread support. In contrast, Obama’s first order of business was to ram through a nearly $800 billion stimulus proposal on a nearly party-line basis. There was plenty of partisanship in the Trump administration, but on covid-19 we worked together each time.

Biden faces an early choice. He can act on the hopeful bipartisan rhetoric of his inaugural address — and his presidential campaign — or contradict that message by trying to jam a $1.9 trillion bill through reconciliation with no GOP support. Working together has the benefit of crafting more-targeted policies, while showing a divided country that we can unite at a time of crisis.

 

Washington’s farewell gets personal for retiring Sen. Portman

Senators read the words of President George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address each year on the floor of the Senate — it’s an enduring chamber tradition. It was an especially meaningful tradition this year for Sen. Rob Portman.

Washington in his letter to “Friends and Fellow-Citizens” described why he would be leaving a life of public service, something personal to Portman, who has announced he will not run for reelection in 2022.

“He felt like he’d done his duty and it was time for others,” the Ohio Republican said.

The speech bidding the country goodbye was penned by America’s first president weeks before electors cast ballots in the third American presidential election. The campaign was bitterly fought, and it was the first contested election in the country’s history in which political parties played a role.

Washington warned Americans of political dangers to the fledgling country, urging them to put aside their political factions in order to achieve a common national interest. He encouraged the new nation’s future leaders to respect the separation of powers and avoid national debt during times of peace and prosperity.

Some of the subjects Washington touches on feel urgent again right now, as the chamber for the second consecutive year echoes Washington’s words soon after a presidential impeachment trial.

“It’s timeless,” Portman said. “And it’s timely because, you know, here we are in a period of our country’s history when we just came through a contentious election and impeachment and in the middle of a crisis, and people are really divided.”

Portman voted to acquit former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, arguing that the Constitution does not allow the Senate to impeach the president once he leaves office. But, he said, his decision in “no way condones the president’s conduct.”

The standing rules of the Senate dictate that the speech be read on the “twenty-second day of February in each year, or if that day shall be on Sunday, then on the day following.” The senator chosen to read the 7,641-word document alternates between political parties.

Florida’s Paula Hawkins set the 39-minute record for fastest reading in 1985, while 1962’s 68-minute reading by West Virginia’s Jennings Randolph took the longest, according to Senate records.

Portman delivered this year’s address in about 42 minutes.

“I was trying not to drag it out, but it’s hard to do it any faster and sort of make it understandable,” he said.

Washington himself did not publicly deliver the address. It was first published on Sept. 19, 1796, in the Philadelphia American Daily Advertiser. Other papers across the country picked it up soon after.

Each senator who reads the speech gets to write in a leather-bound book maintained by the Secretary of the Senate. The earliest entries typically explained the practice and were accompanied by a member’s signature and date, according to Senate records.

In more recent years, the writings have become more personal and sometimes verbose.

Portman said he had planned remarks ahead of time to write in the book but tossed them aside when the moment came. Instead, he wrote about the optimism in Washington’s words and the hope that America’s founding on the bedrock of documents like the Constitution would endure for many generations.

“What I wrote about was that, you know, hope and strength, thanks to founders like him,” he said.

Last year, Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin said it was remarkable how relevant Washington’s words still are today.

“Beginning with his caution to jealously protect the Union from factions, both of geographical and partisan origins, he continues with sage advice about our dealings with foreign nations,” she wrote in her entry, just weeks after Trump’s first impeachment trial.

“I’m grateful that his message is shared every year, to remind us that the Constitution and the Union and our loyalty to each are essential to our liberty, security and pursuit of happiness.”

The speech tradition began in the Senate on Feb. 22, 1862, as a way to boost the country’s spirits during the depths of the Civil War, and the Senate and House started annual readings in 1888 and 1899, respectively.

The House stopped reading it annually in 1984. The Senate, which can eliminate the standing order through unanimous consent or by changing the Senate rules, continues its reading on the anniversary of Washington’s birth on Feb. 22, 1732.

If anything, the speech is more meaningful than ever, said Jim Manley, a former Senate aide.

“Hell, the references to keeping our government together haven’t been this relevant in years,” he said.

Manley, who worked for former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, said on the one hand he thinks it’s great that the chamber known for its adherence to tradition continues its annual speech.

“But on the other hand, I remember thinking, especially as a leadership staffer, that once the address began I didn’t have to focus on the floor so much and that I can get other stuff done while my TV was [on] mute.”

 

##

 

Shaheen Hosts Virtual Discussion with Key Granite State Health Care Leaders on Frontlines of COVID-19

Source: United States Senator for New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen

February 26, 2021

 

 

Shaheen hears more from health care leaders on the challenges their sector has faced amid the pandemic during today’s virtual meeting

 

**Later in the day: Shaheen Delivers Remarks during Webinar to Help Child Care Providers in NH Seeking Pandemic Relief**

 

(Manchester, NH) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) hosted a virtual discussion with representatives from the Core Health Care Group to discuss the challenges New Hampshire’s health care sector continues to face during the COVID-19 crisis. Formed at the beginning of the pandemic to coordinate communication between Granite State health care leaders, the Core Health Care Group is made up of 23 New Hampshire organizations that have facilitated the state’s response to COVID-19, helping to treat, care for and provide crucial resources and support to Granite State communities. During the virtual meeting, Shaheen listened to participants on what they are seeing on the ground and highlighted her work in the Senate to secure additional federal resources for New Hampshire’s health care sector.

The event can be viewed here.

“I appreciate the opportunity I had this morning to speak to members of the Core Health Care Group on the challenges our health care sector is facing amid the pandemic. From medical treatment providers to long-term care facilities and patient advocates, New Hampshire’s health care sector has been the backbone of our state’s response to COVID-19,” said Shaheen. “It is essential that the COVID-19 relief package pending in Congress provide the resources these organizations need to continue their essential work on the frontlines of this pandemic, and I’ll prioritize this relief in upcoming negotiations.”

Shaheen participates in today’s SBA and NHDHHS webinar on available resources for New Hampshire child care providers during the pandemic 

Later in the day, Shaheen delivered remarks during a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and NH Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) webinar on relief resources available to Granite State child care providers. The webinar featured advice from SBA and DHHS representatives on what federal and state programs are available to providers in need of relief during the pandemic. Child care providers have been severely impacted by the fallout of the public health and economic crisis and many are at risk of permanent closure, threatening the state’s economic recovery and the ability of working families to fully return to work. During her remarks, Shaheen highlighted her efforts to advocate for child care providers and secure relief for child care programs during the pandemic.

“Without access to affordable child care, many working families will be unable to return to work — hurting our economy and our ability to get to the other side of this pandemic. That’s why our child care providers must have every possible resource to stay afloat during this crisis,” said Shaheen. “I was glad to join this informational webinar with the Small Business Administration and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services to help child care providers access urgently needed relief. I’ll do everything in my power to make sure our families have access to affordable child care, and fighting for child care funding will continue to be a top priority for me in upcoming COVID relief negotiations.”

In the emergency COVID-19 relief legislation that passed Congress and was signed into law in December, Shaheen successfully included language that provided billions of dollars in urgently needed relief for child care providers and resulted in New Hampshire receiving nearly $20 million to support child care programs during the pandemic. 

Feinstein Statement on Intelligence Community Assessment of Khashoggi Murder

Source: United States Senator for California – Dianne Feinstein

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement on the release of an intelligence community assessment detailing the murder of Jamal Khashoggi:

“The intelligence assessment of Saudi Arabia’s role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi confirms what the U.S. government has believed for more than two years: that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for Khashoggi’s brutal killing.

“The language used by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is clear: ‘We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.’

“The public release of this evidence and information, including the names of 22 additional individuals related to the killing, is an important step in holding the Saudi government accountable.

“Even though Khashoggi was a U.S. resident and journalist, the Trump administration took no concrete action to hold his killers responsible. I commend President Biden and DNI Haines for showing that transparency and accountability will be hallmarks of this administration.

“I’m appalled that the Saudi leadership directed the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. I have met with his fiancée Hatice Cengiz and saw firsthand the lasting pain that his death caused. I call on Saudi Arabia to begin respecting human rights and pledge that such a reprehensible event will never happen again.”

###