U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) released the following statement on the nation's December jobs report, which showed the unemployment rate stalled at 7.8 percent:
"As the number of people unemployed remains well-above pre-recession levels, Ohioans are rightly concerned about the direction of our country. This is yet another sign that we need better policies coming out of Washington to grow the economy and create jobs. I will continue to fight for pro-growth tax reform, regulatory relief, expanded exports, and other new ways to increase economic growth. But to achieve real economic recovery, Washington must also address runaway spending. Only a combination of stronger economic growth and spending restraint will work to get America back on track. Just this week, Congress did manage to stop the huge tax increases from being imposed on the overwhelming majority of Ohio's taxpayers and job creators, but now Washington must address the underlying causes of our nation's weak economic growth.
"Yesterday, I found out that I will serve as a member of the Senate Finance Committee during the 113th Congress. In my new role, I will be in a better position to fight to rein in Washington's reckless spending, modernize our antiquated and inefficient tax code, and reform our important but unsustainable entitlement programs." Yesterday, on the first day of the 113th Congress, Portman announced that he will be joining the Senate Finance Committee as he continues to serve on the Senate Budget, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and Energy and Natural Resources Committees. Since 1981, no Republican Senator has joined the Senate Finance Committee more quickly than Portman. In addition, Portman announced that Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), the incoming Senate Minority Whip, has asked him to continue serving on the Whip team as a Deputy Whip:
"The Finance Committee is the place where I think I can help Ohio and my constituents most. The big issues that must be addressed to avoid a fiscal crisis all run through the Committee, and I look forward to being in the middle of efforts to both grow the economy and address the out of control spending. This means we must reform and preserve our vital yet unsustainable entitlement programs, modernize and simplify an out of date tax code, and substantially increase our exports by opening new markets for American workers, farmers, and service providers," stated Portman. "The Senate Finance Committee will be at the center of each of these debates, and I'm looking forward to using the experience gained on the House Ways & Means Committee, and as the U.S. Trade Representative and Director of the Office of Management and Budget, to ensure we do what is needed to truly turn the economy around and avoid a fiscal crisis."
Portman added, "I'm also pleased to continue as a Deputy Whip and plan to use this important role to get our economy back on track and encourage job creation."
On Tuesday, Portman released the following statement regarding his vote on the fiscal cliff agreement, The American Taxpayer Relief Act, which passed the Senate 89-8:
"I supported the fiscal cliff agreement because it stops huge tax increases from being imposed on the overwhelming majority of Ohio's families and job creators.
"I am also pleased that the $1.2 trillion sequester put in place by the Budget Control Act will not be unwound. Although I will keep fighting to reallocate the across-the-board cuts in our defense programs, with the debt at record levels, Washington cannot let the spending cuts lapse. It is reassuring to see that we've also been able to stop the President's planned salary increases for Congress on the same day the Treasury tells us the US government has once again hit the nation's debt limit.
"Now that the fiscal cliff has been averted, Congress and the Obama Administration must move forward on pro-growth tax reform and reform of the important but unsustainable entitlement programs."
During the fiscal cliff negotiations on Monday, Portman called on President Obama to rescind his Executive Order increasing Congressional pay. This pay increase for Members of Congress was ultimately removed from the fiscal cliff agreement:
"At a time when our country is facing record debt and trillion dollar deficits, the last thing Washington should do is reward itself with a pay increase. I am calling on President Obama to withdraw his recent Executive Order raising federal salaries - including for Members of Congress. Until a long-term deficit reduction agreement is reached, we should not consider increasing the pay for Congress."
The Veterans Missing in America Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Sunday night as part of the Dignified Burial and Other Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act (S. 3202). This bipartisan legislation, led by Portman and Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) in the Senate and Congressmen Pat Tiberi (R-OH-12) and Steve Stivers (R-OH-15) in the House of Representatives, would enable the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to work with veterans groups to help determine whether unidentified or abandoned remains are those of veterans eligible for burial at a National Cemetery. The bill passed the Senate earlier in December and then was sent to the President's desk to be signed into law.
"After working closely with Senator Begich and Congressmen Tiberi and Stivers for the past year, I am happy that this bill to show eligible veterans our respect and gratitude by honoring them with a burial in a National Cemetery will become law," Portman said. "Veterans have put country above self to defend our nation, and the least we can do is ensure that those who were willing to risk their lives to protect the freedoms we hold so dear receive a proper burial."