Ohio senators team up to fight for Great Lakes

Ohio’s junior senator, Rob Portman, is willing to take on President Trump regarding the latter’s effort to line-item out the entire $300 million from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

And to heck that both Portman and Trump are Republicans. However, when it comes to protecting Lake Erie, Portman is ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with his Ohio senior senatorial colleague, Sherrod Brown, a Democrat.

Both men are more than willing to join forces in a bipartisan move to restore the Initiative in spite of an overt attempt by the Trump Administration to zero-out funding for the highly regarded Great Lakes protection program.

Rob Portman

Portman said in a May 2 teleconference with Ohio media members that, likewise, full funding of the national Sea Grant program is equally necessary, including the installment in Ohio.

“Winning full funding for the bipartisan Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is a victory for Lake Erie, the Great Lakes and Ohio,” Portman said. “Lake Erie is critical to Ohio for tourism, for our fishing industry, and for the drinking water of three million Ohioans.”

Portman noted, too, that not only did the Trump administration seek to erase initiative funding for fiscal year 2018, it even wanted to cut dollars from the current fiscal-year cycle, which was approved during the Obama administration.

However, Portman says the initiative has demonstrated that it is an effective public-private program protecting the Great Lakes from threats like harmful algae and invasive species like Asian carp.

“When the Obama administration tried to cut funding for this program, I fought that proposal at every turn until we fully funded it each year and then we extended the program for five years,” Portman said.

Sherrod Brown

Asked why the Great Lakes Congressional congregation must continue to fight for Sea Grant and Initiative funding, Portman said it’s always been about educating presidents and their budgeting staffs about the importance of the Great Lakes.

“The Great Lakes are surrounded by only eight or nine states and that’s it; and some congressional delegations are not as active on the subject as we are from Ohio,” Portman said. “So it’s not really a surprise to me that we have to keep doing this work with each administration. There’s always pressure on any budget proposal.”

Thus, said Portman, he will “continue to work with my bipartisan colleagues to protect this program in the future.”

Similarly, Brown says he’s fully backing the bipartisan strategy to fuel the initiative via refueling the program through the federal budgetary process.

“Investing in Lake Erie means investing in local jobs and ensuring clean drinking water for Ohio,” Brown said. “I’m proud to see Ohio Republicans and Democrats coming together to support our Great Lake and do what’s right for Ohio.”

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