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“But the real reasons for Rob’s influence is his deep knowledge, work ethic and passion for finding his way into the depths of any subsequent problem… He was one of this body’s sharpest early warning signals for crises like opioid addiction and human trafficking. He has used the investigative powers of Congress to find solutions. And he built the relationships to make laws.’

WASHINGTON, DCRepublican US Senate Chairman Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following comments about Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) in the Senate today:

“Less than 40 miles from Ohio’s Kentucky border, about halfway between Cincinnati and Dayton, there is a suburb called Lebanon.

“The corner of Main Street and Broadway looks much the same as it did almost a century ago in 1926, when a young couple, Robert and Virginia Jones, bought and renovated a modest brick building called the Golden Lamb Restaurant and Hotel.

“But the unassuming exterior of the Golden Lamb hides a great story. Its prime location on the Cincinnati-Columbus freeway made it a key stop for important travelers. By 1926, each of our country’s eight presidents from Ohio, plus Henry Clay, plus a long list of other luminaries — each of whom had spent a night at that inn, or at least broke bread in its dining room.

“The Joneses’ small-town American entrepreneurship has placed their family squarely in the history of American statecraft. And as it turns out, that started a family tradition. Because a few years later, these new innkeepers had a daughter, Joan. And then Joan and her husband Bill had their own children. And although Bill Portman would die just months before being sworn in, his son would one day cap off an incredible career in government by representing Ohio right here in the US Senate.

“As Rob explained in his inaugural address, he spent his own formative years in and around another family business. Bill risked everything in early middle age to make a living and start a small gear business. Joan kept the books. And from what I’ve heard, young Rob’s own involvement was as practical as it gets. Not only was there no nepotism, Mr. President, there was negative nepotism. During a summer break, Rob had to sand old paint off the trucks. Even his boss called it – quote – “the lowest job in town”.

“This team effort has allowed Portman Equipment to grow from five jobs created to more than 300. Rob has seen firsthand how growing wealth, when done right, can create huge win-win situations for both small business owners and well-paid workers.

“So there were two family businesses in Rob’s bloodline. A crossroads where statesmen have had consistent discussions… and a company that has created jobs and helped workers support their families. And our esteemed colleague has spent his career continuing to do both of these things – on an even larger scale.

“For decades, from the Executive Branch to the House of Representatives to the Senate, Rob’s desk and phone line have been the scene of history-changing conversations, like his grandparents’ inn. And he has worked to create a national climate where millions more Main Street entrepreneurs like his father can uplift workers and communities.

“Well, I suppose Rob gets the feeling from time to time that law, business and politics aren’t that different from sanding paint off rusty trucks. But the gifts and talents our friend possesses have made making a difference seem easy.

“Our future colleague was such a first-rate attorney that he ended up as a young Associate White House Counsel and then Director of Legislative Affairs for President Bush 41. Then he was such a genius at the legislative process that his neighbors in Ohio sent him back to Washington as their congressman. Then such a leader in economic policy that President Bush 43 appointed Rob US Trade Representative and then asked him to head the Office of Management and Budget.

“No wonder Rob fit right in and hit the ground running when he came into the Senate in 2011.

“Sometimes our friend even fitted in a little too well. You see, Rob has a great talent for imitation. He’d spent several presidential cycles impersonating some of our former colleagues in the Republican prep debate. Rob’s talent became such an open secret that during the 2000 campaign, Joe Lieberman joked that he would start sending Rob to do election stoppages in his place.

“But the real reasons for Rob’s impact are his in-depth knowledge, work ethic and passion for finding the depth of any problem that matters.

“Our friend’s focus on growth and prosperity put him at the center of the most consequential tax reform in a generation. Rob led the complex international tax policy overhaul that was passed as part of the 2017 bill and helped unleash a tidal wave of growth, reinvestment and job creation.

He has spent long nights securing major bipartisan wins on infrastructure policy – much like Ohio statesmen debated ‘internal improvements’ around a wooden table in the Golden Lamb 150 years earlier.

“But Rob isn’t just a macro-level expert focused on the top-line numbers. As passionate as Rob is about increasing the overall pie, he also knows that rising tides don’t automatically lift every boat. Sometimes Ohioans and Americans face challenges that require a special champion. So Rob performed. He was one of the panel’s strongest early warning signals for crises like opioid addiction and human trafficking. He has used the investigative powers of Congress to find solutions. And he built the relationships to make laws.

“The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and its sequels have brought hope to families in Ohio and across the country who have been battling the opioid rush. The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act forced the big techs to fight back and scream to end the exploitation. And on and on. From international trade… to national parks… and everything in between.

“Even at the end of a long session, Rob is known to linger longer in the dressing room, patiently resolving the last few objections to a final directive he has on the one-yard line.

“But even if you get results of that magnitude, even if you make Ohio and our country a better place, late-night political vigils eventually lose their luster when you have an even more attractive home front.

“We know Rob loves public service, but we also know that even that passion comes second to his beloved wife and partner Jane and their three children – Jed, Will and Sally – who I know Rob considered his proudest achievement of all. For years, the great gains of Washington and Ohio were their sacrifice. So while the Senate is sorry about the loss of our friend, we can’t get too upset that we now have to return the favor.

“Rob, congratulations on your excellent service.”


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