Portman criticizes Trump budget

Published 11:22 am Friday, March 24, 2017

Senator opposes cuts to Great Lakes, Appalachian Regional Commission

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, reaffirmed his support for expanded Medicaid coverage, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and the Appalachian Regional Commission during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday afternoon.

Portman told reporters that while the ACA “status quo” was “unsustainable,” the proposals that eliminated Medicaid expansion were also unacceptable. While the House has come back with new plans that do more to address the concerns of those who benefit from expanded Medicaid coverage, Portman said, he “still worr(ies) about the impact on (mental health and drug addiction) treatment  under expanded Medicaid.”

The latest plan floated by the House would fix that issue, at least until 2020, by allowing the expanded coverage to remain in place. How coverage for those individuals would be handled after 2020, however, has still not been clearly defined.

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Portman also decried the proposed elimination of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. He noted that the GLRI has made great strides to improve the water quality on the Great Lakes, including battling toxic algae blooms. Portman said he would continue to fight for funding for the program, which he said has had “demonstrable success”.

“I will continue to do everything I can to protect and preserve the lake,” Portman said.

He also said that he has seen the Appalachian Regional Commission work to create jobs, opportunities, and infrastructure investment in the southeastern region of our state. He said that the work of the ARC, especially in the realm of supporting infrastructure and job creation, was important in “an area of our state with relatively high unemployment.”

“I’m a supporter of the ARC,” Portman said. “I’ve seen the projects, I know they work.”

He said that he also has the support of other Senate Republicans who oppose the cuts, as well as the support of colleagues across the aisle.

“I know that’s an issue a number of other Republicans also care about,” he said, noting his colleagues from West Virginia specifically.

“It isn’t a partisan thing,” Portman added, “and it shouldn’t be.”

Portman also discussed his Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, noting that the proposal had recently won the support and endorsement of the Major County Sheriffs of America.

His Unfunded Mandates Accountability Act was another topic of the conference call. Portman explained that the act would “cut unfunded mandates on employers” to expand the focus on the private sector and would require federal agencies to choose “market based alternatives to legislation.”