Over the last year, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown worked with Republicans and Democrats to introduce more than 165 bipartisan bills – more than 60 of which he introduced with Senator Portman. Brown successfully sent five bipartisan bills to President Trump’s desk to become law, and secured priorities for Ohio’s military bases in the defense bill the President signed into law in December. Last Congress, Medill ranked Brown 4th on the list of Senators who had passed the most laws – that’s because Senator Brown works with Republicans to get things done.
Brown is the senior Senator from Ohio, having gained seniority on several of the Senate’s key committees where he has secured several wins for Ohioans. Brown is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. He is also a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees important issues like trade, healthcare, taxes and retirement. Brown also serves on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs and Agriculture Committees.
Here’s a look at Brown’s work on behalf of Ohio in 2017 and what’s ahead next year, including fighting for a five-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and securing the pensions of thousands of Ohio retirees.
BROWN BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW
Bill to Keep Fentanyl Out of Ohio
After months of Brown and law enforcement groups calling for passage of Brown’s INTERDICT Act, Brown successfully forced a unanimous vote on his bill before the Senate adjourned for the year. The bill will help law enforcement detect fentanyl before it enters the U.S. and keep it from reaching Ohio streets. The bill had already passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, and now goes to President Trump’s desk for his signature.
Brown’s INTERDICT Act will provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with additional hi-tech screening equipment and lab resources to detect fentanyl before it enters the U.S. Senator Portman supported Brown’s INTERDICT Act, and Brown is supporting Portman’s STOP Act. Both are endorsed by law enforcement. The two bills work together to help block the deadly synthetic opioid from reaching Ohio communities. Brown and Portman have also teamed up to expand treatment for Ohioans struggling with addiction. Brown has also repeatedly called for additional investment in the opioid crisis and fought attempts to gut Medicaid, Ohio’s number one tool in the fight against opioids.
Bill to Expand Opportunities for Ohio Veterans
In August, President Trump signed into law bipartisan legislation Brown helped author on the Veterans’ Committee to expand educational opportunities for post-9/11 student veterans, including direct relief for veterans who attended ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges, which failed and left veterans with meaningless degrees or without a degree at all.
Bill to Support Ohio’s Military Bases
As Co-Chair of the bipartisan Senate Air Force Caucus, Brown is uniquely positioned to fight for Ohio’s military installations and the jobs they support. Just this month, President Trump signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included several Ohio priorities, thanks to Brown’s advocacy, including:
Bill to Hold North Korea, Russia, Iran Accountable
The Senate Banking Committee, on which Brown is the top Democrat, has jurisdiction over sanctions. In August, President Trump signed into law a package of sanctions Brown helped negotiate to crack down on Iran, Russia and North Korea. Brown recently introduced another tough, new sanctions package to continue holding North Korea accountable. This bill passed out of the Banking Committee with broad, bipartisan support.
Bill to Hire Veterans to Fill Law Enforcement Posts
The American Law Enforcement Heroes Act was also signed into law. The law, which Brown helped introduce, prioritizes federal grant applications for DOJ’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) funding for those departments and agencies that seek to use COPS funding to hire veterans.
Bill to Create Civil Rights Network at National Parks
Brown worked with Republican Senator Lamar Alexander to pass a bipartisan bill to create an African American Civil Rights Network – a national network of historic sites, stories, research facilities, and educational programs connected to the African American Civil Rights Movement. The African American Civil Rights Network Act will establish a National Park Service (NPS) program to educate the public, and provide technical assistance for documenting, preserving, and interpreting the history of the Civil Rights Movement. The bill heads to President Trump to be signed into law.
Brown’s office is here to help Ohioans – whether it is seeking trade relief for Ohio companies, drawing investment and jobs to the state, or helping veterans get their medals. Brown’s office routinely works on behalf of Ohioans for help with federal agencies from the IRS to the VA. In addition, Brown and his office have developed new ways to hear from Ohio residents, leaders and business owners to support Ohio communities.
Hearing from Ohioans
During Brown’s second term in the U.S. Senate, Brown held public events in each of Ohio’s 88 counties, and since taking office he has held more than 300 roundtables across Ohio. Brown and his office have also hosted the Ohio Women’s Leadership Summit and the Propel Ohio Collegiate Leadership Summit for three years running. The Women’s Leadership Summit brings together Ohio women to share ideas on their personal and professional development, and Propel Ohio helps inspire Ohio students to lead in their communities.
Helping Ohioans with Federal Agencies
Mike Young of Woodsfield Ohio is the president of the Monroe County Firefighters Association, Inc. He filed for nonprofit status for the firefighters association with the IRS. After no response from the IRS for three months, Mr. Young contacted Brown’s office. Brown’s office, by working with the Taxpayer Advocate Service, was able to advise Mr. Young on what additional information was needed to process his application. With the additional information, the IRS awarded the Firefighters Association the nonprofit status. This is just one example of the way Brown’s office assists Ohioans with federal agencies.
Getting Ohio Students Interested in Manufacturing
For the fifth year in a row, Brown teamed up with local manufacturers, plants, community partners and schools to host 18 Summer Manufacturing Camps where young Ohioans learned about Ohio’s manufacturing sector. Campers visited local manufacturers, toured plants, and worked with their peers on hands-on projects specific to their communities. Brown’s office started organizing summer manufacturing camps in 2013, and since then, the number of camps throughout the state has grown every year. This year, Brown’s office helped organize 18 camps in 16 counties.
Securing Trade Relief for Ohio Workers Wronged By Unfair Trade
Brown has worked with Senator Portman to seek relief for Ohio workers at Whirlpool’s plant in Clyde, Ohio. The two both testified on behalf of the company at the International Trade Commission, requesting relief for workers at the plant who’d been hurt by unfairly traded washing machine imports. Following Brown’s call, ITC rule in favor of Ohio workers. Now, Brown is pushing the Administration to provide real relief in the case. The case builds on Brown’s work to provide trade relief to Ohio companies and workers, including Brown’s legislation, the Leveling the Playing Field Act, signed into law in June 2015.
Next year, Brown intends to build on his work in 2017 to pass legislation to extend CHIP, secure Ohioans’ pensions, make work more valuable for Ohioans on the job, and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. He’ll also continue efforts to work with President Trump to retool U.S. trade policy so it works better for working Ohioans, and continue his fight to protect Ohioans’ healthcare, and the Social Security and Medicare benefits they’ve paid into for years. Brown will also help write the next farm bill, from his position on the Agriculture Committee.
Reauthorizing Children’s Health Insurance Program
One of Brown’s main priorities at the end of this year was to reauthorize CHIP for Ohio kids for five years. Unfortunately, Congress went home without giving Ohio children and families the certainty that they’ll have healthcare. Brown is a sponsor of the bipartisan bill to extend the program for five years, and plans to work with his Republican colleagues to get it passed next year.
Securing Ohio Pensions
Brown is leading efforts in Congress to ensure Ohio retirees can keep the pensions they have earned. Brown has introduced legislation named for late Ohioan Butch Lewis, a Teamster, that would put the plans on solid footing so they can meet their obligations to current retirees and workers for decades to come without cuts. Brown has successfully garnered strong support in both the House and Senate, where Leadership has indicated Brown’s bill is a top priority, increasing its chances for passage.
Making Work Pay
In March, Brown unveiled a plan to increase the value of work in America for all workers – whether they punch a time sheet, make a salary or earn tips. For more than a year, Brown and his office studied the challenges facing workers in Ohio and across the country to compile an agenda of solutions outlined in his plan, “Working Too Hard for Too Little: A Plan for Restoring the Value of Work in America.” Brown’s plan aims to make hard work pay off once again by doing four things: raising workers’ wages and benefits; giving workers more power in the workplace; making it possible for more workers to save for retirement; and encouraging more companies to invest in their workforces. As part of his plan, Brown has also introduced legislation to provide employees advanced notice of their work schedules, expand two anti-poverty tax credits that help put money back in the pockets of working Ohioans and families, provide paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave, expand overtime pay and strengthen collective bargaining rights.
Rebuilding Crumbling Infrastructure
Brown has offered to work with President Trump on Trump’s promise to invest $1 trillion in our nation’s infrastructure and put Ohioans back to work rebuilding our roads and bridges. In January, Brown unveiled a comprehensive infrastructure plan with his colleagues, and early next year, Brown will introduce legislation aimed at rebuilding our nation’s bridges, which are critical to the flow of Ohio-made products and the safety of Ohioans as they travel to work, school or the grocery store.
Pushing for Better Trade Policy for Ohio Workers
Since just days after President Trump’s election, Brown has offered to work with President Trump and his team to retool U.S. trade policy to support Ohio jobs. Brown outlined his priorities in a letter, and President Trump responded with a handwritten note. Brown has built strong relationships with top trade officials, including fellow Ohioan U.S. Trade Rep. Bob Lighthizer and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Brown successfully requested the President withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Next year, Brown will continue to work with the Administration’s trade team to renegotiate a strong NAFTA, crackdown on unfair trade and reduce China’s steel overcapacity, which has hurt Ohio’s steel sector.
Protecting Ohioans’ Healthcare
Brown spoke out time and again in 2017 against attempts to take away care from more than 900,000 Ohioans who got coverage through the Affordable Care Act.
Brown has offered specific legislation to make improvements to the Affordable Care Act including: legislation to add a public option to individual marketplaces so all consumers can access an affordable plan no matter where they live; legislation to repeal the so-called “Cadillac tax” on certain high-cost plans; legislation to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) to prevent arbitrary cuts to Medicare; and legislation to fix a glitch in the law that prevents spouses or children from accessing subsidies to help get coverage in the exchange if one spouse gets employer coverage.
Brown has introduced a package of proposals to help bring down the cost of prescription drugs, including language he authored to increase access to biosimilar drugs and tax the windfall profits of drug companies when they drive up costs of drugs overnight. Brown’s bill has been described as “just about every policy idea drug lobbyists hate.” And that’s something he’s proud of.
Now, as Congressional Republicans have set their sights on so-called entitlement reform, Brown will lead efforts in the Senate to protect the Medicare and Social Security Ohioans have paid into for years.
Writing the 2018 Farm Bill
In 2014, Brown was part of the Farm Bill Conference Committee that successfully negotiated a five-year farm bill, helping secure key provisions for Ohio farmers. Over the summer, Brown kicked off a series of discussions with Ohio farmers and stakeholders to get input as helps write the 2018 Farm Bill. Brown is the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 50 years.