Rob Portman

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Rob Portman
Rob Portman official portrait.jpg
United States Senator
from Ohio
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Serving with Sherrod Brown
Preceded byGeorge Voinovich
35th Director of the Office of Management and Budget
In office
May 29, 2006 – June 19, 2007
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byJoshua Bolten
Succeeded byJim Nussle
14th United States Trade Representative
In office
May 17, 2005 – May 29, 2006
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byRobert Zoellick
Succeeded bySusan Schwab
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 2nd district
In office
May 4, 1993 – April 29, 2005
Preceded byBill Gradison
Succeeded byJean Schmidt
White House Director of Legislative Affairs
In office
PresidentGeorge H. W. Bush
Personal details
Robert Jones Portman

(1955-12-19) December 19, 1955 (age 64)
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Jane Dudley
(m. 1986)
ResidenceTerrace Park, Ohio, U.S.
EducationDartmouth College (BA)
University of Michigan (JD)
Net worth$8.6 million (2018)[1]
WebsiteSenate website

Robert Jones Portman (born December 19, 1955) is an American politician, currently serving as the junior United States Senator from Ohio. A Republican, Portman previously served as a U.S. Representative, the 14th United States Trade Representative, and the 35th Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

In 1993, he won a special election to represent Ohio's 2nd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. He was reelected 6 times before resigning upon his appointment by President George W. Bush to become the U.S. Trade Representative in May 2005. As Trade Representative, Portman initiated trade agreements with other countries, and pursued claims at the World Trade Organization. In May 2006, Bush appointed Portman the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

In 2010, Portman announced his campaign for the United States Senate seat being vacated by George Voinovich. He won easily over then-Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher and was reelected in 2016. As a Senator, Portman portrays himself as a moderate Republican, though he has voted in line with President Donald Trump 92% of the time.

Early life[edit]

Portman was born in 1955, in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Joan (née Jones) and William C. "Bill" Portman II. Portman was raised in a Presbyterian family.[2][3] His great-grandfather on his father's side, surnamed "Portmann", immigrated from Switzerland; Portman also has Scots-Irish, English, and German ancestry.[4]

The Golden Lamb Inn, Ohio's oldest continually operating restaurant and inn,[5] is owned by the Portman family
Portman with President George H. W. Bush in 1990

In 1926, Portman's grandfather Robert Jones purchased the Golden Lamb Inn in Lebanon, Ohio, and, together with his future wife, Virginia Kunkle Jones, refurbished it, and decorated it with antique collectibles and Shaker furniture.[6] The couple ran the inn together until 1969, when they retired.[7]

When Portman was young, his father started the Portman Equipment Company, a forklift dealership where he and his siblings all worked growing up.[citation needed] It was from his mother Joan, a liberal Republican, that Portman inherited his political sympathy for the Republican Party.[8]

Education and early career[edit]

Portman graduated from Cincinnati Country Day School in 1974 and went on to attend Dartmouth College, where he started leaning to the right, and majored in anthropology and earned a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in 1978.[9] In Cincinnati, Portman worked on Bill Gradison's Congressional campaign, and Gradison soon became a mentor to Portman.[9] Portman next entered the University of Michigan Law School, earning his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in 1984 and serving as vice president of the student senate.[10] During law school, Portman embarked on a kayaking and hiking trip across China and met Jane Dudley, whom he married in 1986.[11] After graduating from law school, Portman moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked for the law firm Patton Boggs, with some describing his role as a lobbyist and others arguing that such a description was not accurate.[12][13][14][15] Portman next became an associate at Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP, a law firm in Cincinnati.[16]

In 1989, Portman began his career in government as an associate White House Counsel under President George H. W. Bush.[17] From 1989 to 1991, Portman served as George H. W. Bush's deputy assistant and director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs.[10] While serving as White House counsel under George H.W. Bush, Portman visited China, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.[18]

United States Representative: 1993–2005[edit]

In 1993, Portman entered a special election to fill the seat of Congressman Bill Gradison of Ohio's second congressional district, who had stepped down to become president of the Health Insurance Association of America. In the Republican primary, Portman faced six-term Congressman Bob McEwen, who had lost his Sixth District seat to Ted Strickland in November 1992; real estate developer Jay Buchert, president of the National Association of Home Builders; and several lesser known candidates.

In the primary, Portman was criticized for his previous law firm's work for Haitian president Baby Doc Duvalier.[19] Buchert ran campaign commercials labeling Portman and McEwen "Prince Rob and Bouncing Bob."[19] Portman lost four of the district's five counties. However, he won the largest, Hamilton County, his home county and home to 57% of the district's population. Largely on the strength of his victory in Hamilton, Portman took 17,531 votes (36%) overall, making him the overall winner.

In the general election, Portman defeated his Democratic opponent, attorney Lee Hornberger by 53,020 (70%) to 22,652 (29%).[20]

Portman was re-elected in 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2004, defeating Democrats Les Mann,[21] Thomas R. Chandler,[22] and then Waynesville mayor Charles W. Sanders four times in a row.[23][24][10]

House legislative career[edit]

Rob Portman testifying before the Senate Budget Committee in 1998

As of 2004, Portman had a lifetime rating of 89 from the American Conservative Union, and ranked 5th among Ohio's 18 House members.[25]

One of Portman's first votes in Congress was for the North American Free Trade Agreement on November 17, 1993.[26]

Of Portman's work on the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union said, "He set a professional work environment that rose above partisanship and ultimately gave taxpayers more rights."[23] Democratic Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones from Cleveland said Portman, "compared to other Republicans, is pleasant and good to work with."[27] Additionally, during the first four years of the Bush Administration, Portman served as a liaison between Congressional Republicans and the White House.[27] Portman voted for the Iraq War Resolution in 2002.[28] Portman was known for his willingness to work with Democrats to ensure that important legislation was enacted.[17]

Portman has said that his proudest moments as a U.S. Representative were "when we passed the balanced budget agreement and the welfare reform bill."[23] As a congressman, Portman traveled to Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait and Mexico.[18] During his time in the House, Portman began assisting prominent Republican candidates prepare for debates by standing in for their opponents in practice debates. He has taken on the role of Lamar Alexander (for Bob Dole in 1996), Al Gore (for George W. Bush in 2000), Hillary Clinton (for Rick Lazio in 2000), Joe Lieberman (for Dick Cheney in 2000), John Edwards (for Cheney in 2004), and Barack Obama (for John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012).[29][30] His portrayals mimic not only the person's point of view but also their mannerisms, noting for instance that he listened to Obama's audiobook reading to study his pattern of speech.[31]

George W. Bush administration: 2005–2007[edit]

United States Trade Representative[edit]

Portman spoke on March 17, 2005 at the White House during a ceremony at which President George W. Bush nominated him to be United States Trade Representative, calling Portman "a good friend, a decent man, and a skilled negotiator."[32] Portman was confirmed on April 29,[33] and sworn in on May 17, 2005.[34][35][36]

Portman sponsored an unfair-trading claim to the World Trade Organization against Airbus because American allies in the European Union were providing subsidies that arguably helped Airbus compete against Boeing. European officials countered that Boeing received unfair subsidies from the United States, and the WTO ruled separately that they each received unfair government assistance.

Portman spent significant time out of the United States negotiating trade agreements with roughly 30 countries, visiting Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, France, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, South Korea, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.[18] During his tenure, Portman also helped to win passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement.[37] Portman utilized a network of former House colleagues to get support for the treaty to lift trade barriers between the United States and Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras. According to The Hill, Portman took his wife, Jane, with him to the Capitol on their wedding anniversary so he could work on the deal.[38]

Hong Kong and trade suit[edit]

Portman nominated for OMB Director and Schwab nominated for USTR, 2006

As the United States' Trade Representative, Portman was an attendant of the World Trade Organization's Hong Kong conference in 2005. He addressed the conference with a speech on development in Doha, and advocated a 60% cut in targeted worldwide agricultural subsidies by 2010.[39][40] Portman then sponsored a claim against China for extra charges it levied on American auto parts. U.S. steel manufacturers subsequently beseeched the White House to halt an influx of Chinese steel pipe used to make plumbing and fence materials. This was a recurring complaint and the United States International Trade Commission recommended imposing import quotas, noting "the economic threat to the domestic pipe industry from the Chinese surge." With Portman as his top trade advisor, Bush replied that quotas were not part of U.S. economic interest. He reasoned the American homebuilding industry used the pipe and wanted to maintain a cheap supply and that other cheap exporters would step in to fill China's void if Chinese exports were curtailed. This occurred at a time when the U.S. steel industry lost $150 million in profit between 2005 and 2007, although China's minister of commerce cited the U.S. industry's "record high profit margins" in the first half of 2004 and continued growth in 2005. China next lobbied Portman to leave matters alone, meeting with his office twice and threatening in a letter that restrictions and what it called "discrimination against Chinese products" would bring a "serious adverse impact" to the U.S.-China economic and trade relationship.[41] Portman vowed to "hold [China's] feet to the fire" and provide a "top-to-bottom review" of the U.S.–China trade relationship.[37] Portman's claim that China had improperly favored domestic auto parts became the first successful trade suit against China in the World Trade Organization.[37] During Portman's tenure as trade ambassador, the U.S. trade deficit with China increased by 21 percent.[37]

Director of the Office of Management and Budget[edit]

Portrait of Rob Portman used during his time as OMB Director

On April 18, 2006, President George W. Bush nominated Portman to be the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, replacing Joshua Bolten, who was appointed White House Chief of Staff.[42] Portman said at the time that he looked forward to the responsibility, "It's a big job. The Office of Management and Budget touches every spending and policy decision in the federal government," while President Bush expressed his confidence in the nominee, "The job of OMB director is a really important post and Rob Portman is the right man to take it on. Rob's talent, expertise and record of success are well known within my administration and on Capitol Hill."[43] He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate unanimously by voice vote on May 26, 2006.[44][45]

As OMB director from May 2006 to August 2007, Portman helped to craft a $2.9 trillion budget for fiscal year 2008. The Cincinnati Enquirer wrote that "The plan called for making the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent, at a cost of more than $500 billion over the five-year life of the proposal. It requested a hefty increase in military spending, along with reductions in low-income housing assistance, environmental initiatives, and health care safety-net programs."[37][46] Portman is said to have been "frustrated" with the post, calling the budget that President Bush's office sent to Congress, "not my budget, his budget," and saying, "it was a fight, internally." Edward Lazear of President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers said that Portman was the leading advocate for a balanced budget, while other former Bush administration officials said that Portman was the leading advocate for fiscal discipline, within the administration.[47]

On June 19, 2007, Portman resigned his position of OMB director, citing a desire to spend more time with his family and three children.[48] Democratic Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee Kent Conrad expressed regret at Portman's resignation, saying, "He is a person of credibility and decency that commanded respect on both sides of the aisle."[49]

Post-White House career[edit]

On November 8, 2007, Portman joined the law firm of Squire Sanders as part of the firm's transactional and international trade practice in Cincinnati, Ohio. His longtime chief of staff, Rob Lehman, also joined the firm as a lobbyist in their Washington, D.C. office.[50][51] In 2007, Portman founded Ohio's Future P.A.C., a political action committee dedicated to ensuring "the critical policy issues important to Ohioans remain at the forefront of Ohio's political agenda."[52][53] In 2008, Portman was cited as a potential running mate for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.[54][55][56] Portman remained critical of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, passed while he was out of office.[57]

United States Senator: 2011–present[edit]

Map detailing the Ohio counties that Portman received pluralities within (shown in red) during the 2010 U.S. Senate election
Map detailing the Ohio counties that Portman received pluralities within (shown in red) during the 2016 U.S. Senate election

2010 election[edit]

On January 14, 2009, two days after George Voinovich announced he would not be running for re-election, Portman publicly declared his candidacy for the open U.S. Senate seat.[58][59] Running unopposed in the Republican primary, Portman benefitted substantially from Tea Party support, and by July 2010 had raised more campaign funds than Democrat Lee Fisher by a 9 to 1 margin.[60] Portman campaigned on the issue of jobs and job growth.[61] He toured Ohio in a large RV, meeting with voters and reporters between events.[62]

Of all candidates for public office in the U.S., Portman was the top recipient of corporate money from insurance industries and commercial banks in 2010.[61][63] Portman possessed the most campaign funds of any Republican during 2010, at $5.1 million, raising $1.3 million in his third quarter of fundraising.[64]

Portman won the election with a margin of 57 to 39 percent, winning 82 of Ohio's 88 counties.[65] In a 2010 campaign advertisement, Portman said a "[ cap-and-trade bill] could cost Ohio 100,000 jobs we cannot afford to lose;" subsequently, The Cleveland Plain Dealer and PolitiFact called Portman's claim "barely true" with the most pessimistic estimates.[66]

2016 election[edit]

The 2016 re-election campaign posed several special challenges to Portman and his team—it would be run in heavily targeted Ohio, it would occur in a presidential year when Democratic turnout was expected to peak, and both parties would bombard Buckeye State voters with tens of millions of dollars in TV, cable and digital ads for the national, senatorial and downticket contests. For his manager, Portman chose Corry Bliss, who had just run the successful re-election of Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas. Portman and Bliss chose to run what Time magazine called "a hyperlocal campaign without betting on the nominee's coattails."[67]

As Real Clear Politics noted, Portman faced "the thorny challenge of keeping distance from Trump in a state Trump [was] poised to win. Portman, in the year of the outsider, [was] even more of an insider than Clinton ... Yet he [ran] a local campaign focused on issues like human trafficking and opioid addiction, and secured the endorsement of the Teamsters as well as other unions" (despite being a mostly conservative Republican).[68]

Polls showed the race even (or Portman slightly behind) as of June 2016; afterwards, Portman led Democratic ex-Gov. Ted Strickland in every public survey through Election Day. The final result was 58.0% to 37.2%, nearly a 21-point margin for Portman.

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post argued that the context of Ohio's result had wider implications. "There are a lot of reasons Republicans held the Senate this fall. But Portman's candidacy in Ohio is the most important one. Portman took a seemingly competitive race in a swing state and put it out of reach by Labor Day, allowing money that was ticketed for his state to be in other races, such as North Carolina and Missouri ..."[69]

The Washington Post said "Portman took the crown for best campaign",[69] while Real Clear Politics said, "Sen. Rob Portman ran the campaign of the year.".[70] Portman himself was generous in praising his campaign manager: "With an emphasis on utilizing data, grassroots, and technology, Corry led our campaign from behind in the polls to a 21-point victory. He's one of the best strategists in the country."[71]

Tenure events[edit]

Portman speaks at the memorial of Neil Armstrong, 2012

In the 112th Congress, Portman voted with his party 90% of the time.[72] However, in the 114th United States Congress, Portman was ranked as the third most bipartisan member of the U.S. Senate by the Bipartisan Index, a metric created jointly by The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy to reflect Congressional bipartisanship.[73] During the first session of the 115th Congress, Portman's bipartisanship score improved further, propelling him to second in the Senate rankings (only Senator Susan Collins scoring higher),[74][75] Portman's intellectual leadership among the Senate G.O.P., and his fundraising capabilities,[76] led to his being named the Vice Chairman for Finance of the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the 2014 election cycle.[77] In March 2013, Portman was one of several Republican senators invited to have dinner with President Obama at The Jefferson Hotel in an attempt by the administration to court perceived moderate members of the upper chamber for building consensual motivation in Congress; however, Portman did not attend and instead had dinner with an unnamed Democratic senator.[78]

Portman delivered the eulogy at the August 2012 funeral of Neil Armstrong,[79] and the commencement address at the University of Cincinnati's December 2012 graduation ceremony.[80]

In August 2011, Portman was selected by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to participate in the United States Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.[81] During the committee's work, Portman developed strong relationships with the other members, especially Sen. John Kerry and Rep. Chris Van Hollen.[82] The committee was ultimately unsuccessful, with Portman left disappointed, saying "I am very sad about this process not succeeding because it was a unique opportunity to both address the fiscal crisis and give the economy a shot in the arm."[83]

Portman spoke at the May 7, 2011 Michigan Law School commencement ceremonies, which was the subject of criticism by some who opposed his stance on same-sex marriage.[84] He and his wife walked in the 50th anniversary march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge commemorating Bloody Sunday and the March on Selma.[85]

Committee assignments[86]

Caucus memberships

Portman belongs to the following caucuses in the United States Senate:

Political positions[edit]

Portman greeting President Donald Trump in 2019

Senator Rob Portman is sometimes considered to be a more moderate Republican.[95][96] GovTrack places Portman toward the center of the Senate's ideological spectrum; according to GovTrack's analysis, Portman is the third most moderate Republican in 2017 being to the right of Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski but to the left of his other Republican colleagues.[97] The American Conservative Union gives Portman a lifetime 80% conservative grade.[98] The progressive Americans for Democratic Action gave Portman a 25% liberal quotient in 2014.[98] The non-partisan National Journal gave Senator Portman a 2013 composite ideology score of 71% conservative and 29% liberal.[98]

According to FiveThirtyEight, which tracks Congressional records, their analysis found that Portman voted in line with Trump's position on legislation about 92% of the time as of September 2019.[99] CQ RollCall, which also tracks voting records, found that Portman voted with President Obama's positions on legislation 59.5% of the time in 2011.[100] Portman was one of five Senate Republicans who voted with President Obama's position more than half the time.[101]

2012 presidential election[edit]

Portman was considered a possible pick for Vice President on the Republican presidential ticket in 2012.[102][103]

Many national publications speculated on Portman becoming the vice presidential nominee soon after Romney became the presumptive nominee. In "Why Rob Portman Will Be Romney's Vice Presidential Nominee," an article in The Atlantic, acclaimed syndicated journalist Major Garrett authored "In the frenzied environment that will accompany the prelude to Romney's pick, the Portman choice may land with a thud on the charisma meter, but it won't set in motion a wave of "guess what" stories and will allow Romney to focus on the campaign, not thorny revelations that must be ritualistically turned into an us-against-them media meme. In fact, Portman might actually talk Boston out of its hypertensive and allergic reactions to reporters."[104]

Closer to the time of a selection, news agencies began highlighting Portman's perceived strengths and weaknesses. Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post wrote "[Portman]'s spent time in both the executive and legislative branches and everywhere he's served he's won kudos for his abilities. It's hard to imagine that even his staunchest Democratic opponents would be able to argue that Portman wouldn't be up to the task of being vice president or even president."[105]

After the selection of Paul Ryan, Portman spoke at the 2012 Republican National Convention about trade and his family business.[106] On trade agreements, Portman stated: "President Obama is the first president in 75 years-Democrat or Republican-who hasn't even sought the ability to negotiate export agreements and open markets overseas. Now why is this important? Because 95 percent of the world's consumers live outside our borders. And to create jobs, our workers and our farmers need to sell more of what we make to those people."[106] On October 13, 2012 Mitt Romney spoke at and toured the Golden Lamb Inn.[107]

Portman portrayed President Obama in Romney's mock debate sessions for the general election, reprising a role that he played in 2008 for GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain's mock debates.[108]

2016 presidential campaign[edit]

In March 2014, Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia Center for Politics speculated that Portman might run for president in 2016.[109] Sabato forecasted: "[Portman] might have an edge in 2016. Americans tire of their incumbent presidents, and often choose a very different successor with dissimilar characteristics. Portman is all steak and no sizzle."[110] In October 2014, students from the College of William and Mary formed the Draft Rob Portman PAC to encourage Portman to run for president in 2016.[111] However, Portman announced in December 2014 that he would not run for president and would instead seek a second term in the United States Senate.[112]

Portman initially endorsed his fellow Ohioan, Gov. John Kasich during the Republican Presidential primaries.[113] Following Kasich dropping out of the race and Trump becoming the presumptive GOP nominee, he endorsed Trump at a campaign stop in May 2016.[114] After the emergence of old audio recordings where Trump bragged about inappropriately touching women without their consent in October 2016, Portman announced that he was rescinding his endorsement of Trump and would instead cast a write-in vote for Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.[115]


On abortion, Portman describes himself as pro-life. He voted in favor of banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.[116] Portman supports legal access to abortion in cases of rape and incest or if the woman's life is in danger.[117] National Right to Life Committee and the Campaign for Working Families, both pro-life PACs, gave Portman a 100% rating in 2018; NARAL Pro-Choice America gives him a 0%, Planned Parenthood, which is pro-choice, gives him a lifetime 4% rating, and Population Connection, another pro-choice PAC, gave Portman an 11% rating in 2002.[98]

Portman supports making it more difficult for non-parental adults to help minors bypass state abortion laws. On January 24, 2013, Portman sponsored a bill that would make it a federal crime to transport a minor across state lines for an abortion if it would circumvent a state law requiring parental involvement.[118]

Budget & economy[edit]

Portman is a leading advocate for a balanced budget amendment.[119] Portman worked with Democratic Senator Jon Tester in 2012 to end the practice of government shutdowns and partnered with Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill on an inquiry into the Obama administration's public relations spending.[120] Portman has proposed "a balanced approach to the deficit" by reforming entitlement programs, writing "[r]eforms should not merely squeeze health beneficiaries or providers but should rather reshape key aspects of these programs to make them more efficient, flexible and consumer-oriented."[121] Portman became known for his ability to work in a bipartisan fashion when working to pass a repeal of the excise tax on telephone service.[122] He also unsuccessfully proposed an amendment to the surface transportation reauthorization bill to allow states to keep the gas tax money they collect, instead of sending it to Washington with some returned later.[120]

Civil rights[edit]

LGBT rights and same-sex marriage[edit]

On March 14, 2013, Portman announced that he had changed his stance on gay marriage, and now is in support of its legalization.[123][124][125] The change came two years after his son Will came out to Portman and his wife as gay in 2011; Portman says in the March 2013 CNN interview that "I'm announcing today a change of heart [for] gay marriage."[126] Prior to this revelation, Portman was noted as having a voting record that was strongly opposed to gay rights, consistent with statements he had made on the subject.[127][128] Portman co-sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996, defining marriage as one man and one woman,[127] and in 1999 he voted for a measure prohibiting same-sex couples in Washington, D.C., from adopting children.[128] The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which supports same-sex marriage and gay rights, gave Portman an 85% score in 2016 and a 45% in 2014; the HRC also gives Portman a 100% rating for sharing their position on marriage equality.[98] Log Cabin Republicans, a Republican PAC which supports gay rights, endorsed Portman.[129]

In November 2013, Portman was one of ten Republican senators to vote in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), after the Senate adopted an amendment proposed by him to expand the religious protections.[130]

Women's rights[edit]

Portman voted for reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2013.[131]


In 2011, Portman voted to limit the government's ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, and in 2015, he voted against the Clean Power Plan.[132][133] In 2013, he voted for a point of order opposing a carbon tax or a fee on carbon emissions.[134] In 2012, Portman said he wanted more oil drilling on public lands.[135] Portman supported development of the Keystone XL pipeline, stating "The arguments when you line them up are too strong not to do this. I do think that at the end of the day the president [Obama] is going to go ahead with this."[136]

In July 2019, Portman was one of nine lawmakers to become a founding member of the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus, a group of Republican members of Congress meant to focus on environmental issues with specific priorities including reducing water and ocean plastic pollution, and heightening access to public lands and waters in the United States for outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing.[137]

On June 27, 2013, Portman co-sponsored a bill that would reauthorize and modify the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act of 1998 and would authorize the appropriation of $20.5 million annually through 2018 for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to mitigate the harmful effects of algal blooms and hypoxia.[138][139]

Portman co-sponsored an amendment to the 2017 Energy Bill that specified that climate change is real and human activity contributes to the problem.[140]

Foreign policy[edit]

Portman with George W. Bush

Portman opposes U.S. membership of the Law of the Sea.[141]

In March 2016, Portman authored the bipartisan bill the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act, along with Democratic Senator Chris Murphy.[142] Congressman Adam Kinzinger introduced the U.S. House version of the bill.[143] After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, worries grew that Russian propaganda on social media spread and organized by the Russian government swayed the outcome of the election,[144] and representatives in the U.S. Congress took action to safeguard the National security of the United States by advancing legislation to monitor incoming propaganda from external threats.[142][145] On November 30, 2016, legislators approved a measure within the National Defense Authorization Act to ask the U.S. State Department to take action against foreign propaganda through an interagency panel.[142][145] The legislation authorized funding of $160 million over a two-year-period.[142] The initiative was developed through the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act.[142]


Portman and Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) proposed the Israel Anti-Boycott Act in late 2018 which would make it illegal for companies to engage in boycotts against Israel. Cardin and Portman have been strongly in promotion of the bill, working to integrate it into larger spending legislation to be signed by President Trump.[146]

Portman co-authored the Israel Anti-Boycott Act,[147] which would make it illegal for companies to engage in boycotts against Israel or Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.[148]

Free trade[edit]

Portman supported free trade agreements with Central America, Australia, Chile and Singapore, voted against withdrawing from the World Trade Organization, and was hailed by Bush for his "great record as a champion of free and fair trade."[149][150]

Portman has repeatedly supported legislation to treat currency manipulation by countries as an unfair trade practice and to impose duties on Chinese imports if China does not stop the practice.[151] Portman opposes the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement in its current form because he said it does not address currency manipulation and includes less-strict country-of-origin rules for auto parts.[152] In April 2015, Portman co-sponsored an amendment to Trade Promotion Authority legislation which would require the administration to seek enforceable rules to prevent currency manipulation by trade partners as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.[153]

In January 2018, Portman was one of thirty-six Republican senators to sign a letter to President Trump requesting he preserve the North American Free Trade Agreement by modernizing it for the economy of the 21st Century.[154]

In November 2018, Portman was one of twelve Republican senators to sign a letter to President Trump requesting the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement be submitted to Congress by the end of the month to allow a vote on it before the end of the year as they were concerned "passage of the USMCA as negotiated will become significantly more difficult" if having to be approved through the incoming 116th United States Congress.[155]

Gun laws[edit]

Portman has an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA) for his support of the 2nd amendment. The NRA has endorsed Portman in past elections.[156] As of 2017, Portman has received $3,061,941 in donations from the NRA.[157]

In January 2019, Portman was one of thirty-one Republican senators to cosponsor the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, a bill introduced by John Cornyn and Ted Cruz that would grant individuals with concealed carry privileges in their home state the right to exercise this right in any other state with concealed carry laws while concurrently abiding by that state's laws.[158]

Health Care[edit]

Portman is a staunch opponent of the Affordable Care Act and has called for it to be repealed and replaced.[159][160] In 2017, Portman voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.[161] He opposed steep cuts to Medicaid because the expansion of the program had allowed some Ohioans to gain coverage, including some impacted by Ohio's opioid crisis.[162] However, as a member of a group of 13 Republican Senators tasked with writing a Senate version of the AHCA,[163] he subsequently supported proposed cuts to Medicaid that would be phased in over seven years.[164][165]


In June 2018, Portman was one of thirteen Republican senators to sign a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting a moratorium on the Trump administration family separation policy while Congress drafted legislation.[166] In March 2019, Portman was one of a dozen Republicans who broke with their party, joining all Democrats, to vote for a resolution rejecting Trump's use of an emergency declaration to build a border wall.[167] He later co-sponsored a bill to provide for congressional approval of national emergency declarations.[168]

Portman opposed President Donald Trump's Muslim ban. He stated that the executive order was not "properly vetted" and that he supported the federal judges who blocked the order's implementation.[169]


In February 2014, Portman voted against reauthorizing long-term unemployment benefits to 1.7 million jobless Americans. He expressed concern with the inclusion of a provision in the bill which would allow companies to make smaller contributions to employee pension funds.[170] Portman voted in April 2014 to extend federal funding for unemployment benefits. Federal funding had been initiated in 2008 and expired at the end of 2013.[171]

In April 2014, the United States Senate debated the Minimum Wage Fairness Act (S. 1737; 113th Congress). The bill would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) to increase the federal minimum wage for employees to $10.10 per hour over the course of a two-year period.[172] The bill was strongly supported by President Barack Obama and many of the Democratic Senators, but strongly opposed by Republicans in the Senate and House.[173][174][175] Portman opposed the bill, arguing that Ohio already had a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum wage, indicating that the states should be able to make their own decisions.[175]

In March 2015, Portman voted for an amendment to establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to allow employees to earn paid sick time.[176]


Portman and Brett Kavanaugh in July 2018

In September 2018, Portman stated he would support Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, stating "The Brett Kavanaugh I know is a man of integrity and humility" and did not call for an investigation by the FBI for sexual assault allegations.[177]

In September 2020, with less than two months to the next presidential election, Portman supported an immediate vote on President Trump's nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy caused by the death of justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Previously in April 2016, around six months before the next presidential election, Portman argued that President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court should not be considered by the Senate, as it was "a very partisan year and a presidential election year … it’s better to have this occur after we’re past this presidential election."[178]

Electoral history[edit]

Republican primary results[179]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rob Portman 667,369 100.00%
Total votes 657,354 100.00%
United States Senate election in Ohio, 2010[180]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Rob Portman 2,168,742 56.85% -6.61%
Democratic Lee Fisher 1,503,297 39.40% +2.85%
Constitution Eric Deaton 65,856 1.72% N/A
Independent Michael Pryce 50,101 1.31% N/A
Socialist Daniel LaBotz 26,454 0.69% N/A
N/A Arthur Sullivan (write-in) 648 0.02% N/A
Majority 665,445 17.44%
Total votes 3,815,098 100.00%
Republican hold Swing NA
Republican primary results[181]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rob Portman (incumbent) 1,336,686 82.16%
Republican Don Eckhart 290,268 17.84%
Total votes 1,626,954 100.00%
United States Senate election in Ohio, 2016 [182]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Rob Portman (incumbent) 3,118,567 58.03% +1.18%
Democratic Ted Strickland 1,996,908 37.16% -2.24%
Independent Tom Connors 93,041 1.73% N/A
Green Joseph R. DeMare 88,246 1.64% N/A
Independent Scott Rupert 77,291 1.44% N/A
Independent James Stahl (write-in) 111 0.00% N/A
Total votes 5,374,164 100.0% N/A
Republican hold

Personal life[edit]

Throughout his career, Portman and his family have resided in Terrace Park, Ohio

Portman married Jane Dudley in July 1986.[8] Dudley, who previously worked for Democratic Congressman Tom Daschle, "agreed to become a Republican when her husband agreed to become a Methodist."[183] The Portmans attend church services at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church.[184][185] Jane Portman has served on the board of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center for 7 years and has driven a route for Meals on Wheels for 12 years.[11] The Portmans have three children.[8] Portman still owns the Golden Lamb Inn with his brother Wym Portman and sister Ginna Portman Amis.[186] In 2004, a Dutch conglomerate purchased the Portman Equipment Company. Portman had researched the firm's local acquisitions, stating "It's a concept I've heard described as 'Glocalism.' All these companies are trying to achieve economies of scale. This lets us develop a network and coverage globally. But you can still have the local spirit, the local name and the customer intimacy to accomplish great things."[187] A July 2012 article about Portman stated that in 40 years, his only citation has been a traffic ticket for an improper turn while driving.[188] Portman is an avid kayaker, is fluent in Spanish, and enjoys bike rides.[9][189]

In December 2004, Portman and Cheryl Bauer published a book on the 19th century Shaker community at Union Village, in Turtlecreek Township, Warren County, Ohio. The book was titled Wisdom's Paradise: The Forgotten Shakers of Union Village.[190]


  • Barone, Michael; Ujifusa, Grant (1993). The Almanac of American Politics, 1994. National Journal. Washington DC. ISBN 0-89234-058-4.
  • Barone, Michael; Ujifusa, Grant (1997). The Almanac of American Politics, 1998. National Journal. Washington DC. ISBN 0-89234-080-0.
  • Michael Barone, Richard E. Cohen, and Grant Ujifusa. The Almanac of American Politics, 2002. Washington, D.C.: National Journal, 2001. ISBN 0-89234-099-1
  • Congressional Quarterly Almanac, 49th Edition, 103rd Congress, 1st Session. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press. 1994. ISBN 1-56802-020-1 Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • "Politics in America, 1992: The 102nd Congress". Congressional Quarterly. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press. 1991. ISBN 0-87187-599-3.


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  184. ^ "What Is Rob Portman's Religion". Huffington Post. 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
  185. ^ The couple is cited as "Mrs. Jane Dudley Portman and Mr. Robert Portman" in the Giving Reports of the Forsythe County Day School, which are available online at She is also cited as Jane Dudley Portman in property records available at, where she is listed as the owner of property the couple once owned together.
  186. ^ Pauwels, Cynthia L. (2009). "Historic Warren County: an illustrated history". ISBN 9781935377092. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  187. ^ "Dutch firm buys equipment business owned by Rep. Portman's family". Cincinnati Business Courier. March 1, 2004. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  188. ^ "Rob Portman's thin opposition research file: In 40 years, one traffic ticket". Yahoo!News. June 26, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2012.
  189. ^ "Veepstakes: 9 Things You Didn't Know About Rob Portman". ABC News. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  190. ^ Portman, Rob; Bauer, Cheryl (2004). Wisdom's Paradise: The Forgotten Shakers of Union Village. Orange Frazer Pr Inc. ISBN 978-1882203406.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bill Gradison
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 2nd congressional district

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Jean Schmidt
Political offices
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United States Trade Representative
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George Voinovich
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Ohio
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2010, 2016
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U.S. Senate
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U.S. senator (Class 3) from Ohio
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United States Senators by seniority
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