Rob Portman is a United States Senator from the state of Ohio, a position he has held since he was first elected in 2010, running a campaign that focused on common-sense conservative ideas to help create jobs and get the deficit under control. Rob won with a margin of 57 to 39 percent, winning 82 of Ohio’s 88 counties. In 2016, he was re-elected, winning by an even larger margin of 58 to 37 percent and winning 84 out of Ohio’s 88 counties.
Rob was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he still lives today with his wife, Jane. Together they have three children: Jed, Will, and Sally. Rob grew up in a small-business family, where he learned early on the value of hard work, leadership, and fiscal responsibility. When Rob was young, his dad, Bill Portman, borrowed money to start Portman Equipment Company, where Rob and his brother and sister all worked while growing up. His father, and then his brother, built the family business from a small forklift truck dealership with five employees, with Rob's mom as the bookkeeper, to one that employed more than 300 people. Rob became a lawyer and developed his own private practice, representing Portman Equipment Company and other small businesses.
In 1993, Rob was first elected to Congress, where he represented the diverse, seven county Second District in southern Ohio. He was proud to serve the Second District for 12 years, and in seven elections, he never received less than 70 percent of the vote.
During his time in the House, Rob earned a reputation as a serious leader who focused on results. In September 1996, Rob founded the Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati, now known as PreventionFIRST!, to help keep young people from substance abuse. He authored the Drug-Free Communities Act, which has provided more than $1 billion to community coalitions around the country in its more than two decades as law of the land.
Rob also authored several federal laws to increase retirement savings, reform the IRS, and add more than 50 new taxpayer rights, curb unfunded mandates, reduce taxes, and expand land conservation efforts. He also authored the original Second Chance Act with the late-Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones in 2005, and it was later signed into law in 2008. Since 2009, more than 850 Second Chance Act grant awards have been made to government agencies and nonprofit organizations from 49 states for reentry programs serving adults and juveniles. More than 164,000 individuals have participated in these programs. Ohio has received more than $39 million in Second Chance Act grants.
In 2005, Rob left Congress when he was asked to serve as the United States Trade Representative, the Cabinet-level official responsible for implementing and enforcing U.S. trade policy. As America’s Trade Representative, Rob was successful in reducing barriers to U.S. exports and increasing enforcement of trade laws to help level the playing field for American farmers, workers, and service providers. Under his leadership, American exports increased and the U.S. brought successful legal challenges against international trade law violations—including against China.
Following his accomplishments as Trade Representative, Rob was asked to serve in another Cabinet post, this time as Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Rob made his mark by proposing a balanced budget, fighting irresponsible earmarks, and putting in place new transparency measures for all federal spending.
During his Senate tenure, Rob has introduced more than 240 bills, including 200 bipartisan bills, and more than 150 of his legislative priorities have been signed into law.
Rob has continued the work he started in the House to combat addiction. In 2016, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, bipartisan legislation he authored, was signed into law. It provides resources for evidence-based prevention, treatment, and—for the first time in federal law—recovery programs to combat addiction. In 2018, the STOP Act, bipartisan legislation he authored, became law as part of larger opioid legislation. The STOP Act closes the loophole in our international mail screening that overseas drug traffickers have exploited to ship dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil into the United States.
Rob is the co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking. He is the author of five federal anti-trafficking laws signed by President Obama and has long championed efforts to stop sex trafficking. He also authored the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), which was signed into law by President Trump in 2018. SESTA was the result of a bipartisan investigation into Backpage.com, which culminated in a bipartisan report exposing the company for knowingly facilitating criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls and covering up evidence of these crimes in order to increase its own profits. SESTA allows victims to get the justice they deserve and allows prosecutors to hold websites accountable for knowingly facilitating criminal sex trafficking.
Rob has continued fighting to expand U.S. exports and crack down on unfair and illegal imports. He co-authored the bipartisan Leveling the Playing Field Act, which was signed into law by President Obama and gives the federal government better tools to fight unfair imports. He also authored the ENFORCE Act, which President Obama signed into law and helps the federal government crackdown on countries like China that try to evade our trade laws. Rob also been a staunch advocate for Ohio jobs in dozens of cases at the International Trade Commission. He has supported cases involving solar products in Toledo, agriculture products like wheat grown throughout the state, specialty paper in Dayton, rebar in Cincinnati and Marion, hot-rolled steel in Cleveland, high-density pipe in Columbus, roller bearings in Canton, and others.
As co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force and the International Conservation Caucus, Rob is also a leader in the U.S. Senate in the effort to preserve our environment. He authored several federal laws to protect Lake Erie from invasive species, harmful algal blooms through scientific research prioritizing bodies of fresh water, the use of microbeads, which pollute Lake Erie and harm fish and other wildlife.
He is also the author of the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act to help tackle the nearly $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog at our national parks, including over $100 million at Ohio’s eight national park sites. Additionally, he also authored the National Park Service Centennial Act, which President Obama signed into law in December of 2016. This law ensures that the National Park Service has the resources necessary to protect and preserve our parks for future generations to enjoy.
Rob has been a strong advocate for protecting our environment by reducing our energy use while also strengthening jobs and the economy. His energy efficiency legislation with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (ESIC), contains important energy efficiency policy reforms that will strengthen the economy and reduce pollution without any new taxes or mandates. Components of the bill were signed into law by President Obama in April 2015 and are already helping individuals and companies use less energy, creating jobs, and reducing emissions. Taken together, these bipartisan reforms include common-sense initiatives that will create nearly 200,000 new jobs, save consumers $16.2 billion annually in reduced energy costs, and reduce carbon emissions equivalent to taking 22 million cars off the road.
In June 2019, Portman introduced the Carbon Capture Improvement Act, which would help power plants and industrial facilities finance the purchase and installation of carbon capture and storage equipment, allowing states like Ohio to continue to utilize our natural resources while protecting our environment at the same time. Specifically, this bill would allow businesses to use private activity bonds (PABs) issued by local or state governments to finance a carbon capture project, storing carbon dioxide that would have otherwise been emitted into the atmosphere.
As co-founder and co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, Rob is working to align the 21st century education system with the 21st century workforce. His bipartisan Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act was signed into law in 2018 to allow states and localities to use Perkins grant funding to establish CTE-focused academies and promote partnerships between local businesses, regional industries, and other community stakeholders to create work-based learning opportunities for students. He also authored the CAREER Act, federal law that helps Ohioans train for and find the jobs that are available today.
Rob is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and the Committee on Foreign Relations.