Sen Rob Portman Committee Assignments Sample

The Senate Convenes

The Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution directs that a new Congress convene at noon on January 3 in each odd-numbered year, unless the preceding Congress has by law designated a different day for the new Congress's convening. On November 20, 2014, the 113th Congress completed action on H.J.Res. 129, setting the convening date for the 114th Congress as January 6, 2015. The joint resolution was signed into law by President Obama on December 4 (P.L. 113-201). Congressional leaders planned that the 115th Congress would convene January 3, 2017, obviating the need for a law to set the date.1

In recent years, it has been the exception rather than the rule for a new Congress to begin on January 3. Nine of the past 12 Congresses began on a date other than January 3—

  • 104th Congress (January 4, 1995),
  • 105th Congress (January 7, 1997),
  • 106th Congress (January 6, 1999),
  • 108th Congress (January 7, 2003),
  • 109th Congress (January 4, 2005),
  • 110th Congress (January 4, 2007),
  • 111th Congress (January 6, 2009),
  • 112th Congress (January 5, 2011), and
  • 114th Congress (January 6, 2015).

The 107th, 113th, and 115th Congresses were the only 3 of these 12 to begin on January 3, convening January 3, 2001; January 3, 2013; and January 3, 2017, respectively.2

The Vice President, named by the Constitution as President of the Senate, presides when the Senate first convenes; the Senate chaplain offers a prayer and the Vice President leads the Senate in the Pledge of Allegiance.3 The Vice President then announces the receipt of the certificates and credentials of election of Senators who were newly elected or reelected in the most recent general election, and of certificates of appointment for Senators newly appointed to fill a vacancy. The reading of these documents is waived by unanimous consent, and they are printed in full in the Congressional Record.4

Oath of Office and Quorum

The first order of business in a new Senate is the swearing-in of Senators elected or reelected in the most recent general election and of newly appointed Senators.5 On occasion in recent years, the majority leader or the majority and minority leaders might first be recognized for brief remarks.6 If there is a contested or undecided Senate election, the leadership might provide a status report and plan for its resolution, before or after Senators are sworn in.7

After the Vice President lays the certificates of election and appointment before the Senate and states that their reading will be waived if there is no objection,8 he calls those Senators to the front of the chamber, generally in alphabetical order in groups of four, to take the oath and to also "subscribe to the oath" in the official oath book.9 Each Senator may be accompanied by the other Senator from his or her state, the Senator he or she is replacing, or a former Senator.10

The oath, which is the same for Representatives and executive and judicial appointees, is as follows:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

An oath is mandated by Article VI of the Constitution; its text is set by statute (5 U.S.C. 3331).11

When Senators take the oath, they raise their right hand to swear or affirm, repeating after the Vice President. Many Senators hold a family Bible or another item,12 and some hold nothing. There is no requirement that a Bible or anything else be used when the oath is taken.

When the Vice President (or another individual of a Senator's choosing) and individual Senators subsequently reenact the swearing-ins in the Old Senate Chamber with the Senator's family, each Senator might hold a Bible, another item, or nothing in his or her left hand. Although photography is not permitted on the Senate floor, photographers are present for the ceremonial swearing-in. Individuals might also record a ceremonial swearing-in.

After the Senators have been sworn in in the Senate chamber, the Vice President recognizes the majority leader, who notes the absence of a quorum. The Vice President directs the Senate clerk to call the roll, and all Senators are normally present to respond, fulfilling the constitutional requirement that a quorum be present to conduct business.13

Notification to the President and the House

The majority leader offers simple resolutions that the President (S.Res. 1, 115th Congress) and the House (S.Res. 2, 115th Congress) be formally notified that a quorum of the Senate is assembled and ready to proceed to business. Subsequently, pursuant to the resolution providing for notification of the President, the House and Senate leadership telephone the President with the news that a quorum of each house of Congress has assembled and is prepared to begin its work.14

Election of the President Pro Tempore

As provided by the Constitution, the President pro tempore is chosen by the Senate to preside during the absence of the Vice President.15 Referred to as the President pro tem, this majority-party Senator usually has his party's longest continuous Senate service.16

When there is a change in party control of the Senate, or when a vacancy in the office of President pro tempore occurs, a new President pro tempore is elected by simple resolution and then escorted to the front of the chamber to be sworn in by the Vice President. Afterwards, the Senate adopts simple resolutions to notify the House and the President of the election of the President pro tempore.17

Party Leadership

Any changes in Senate party leadership take place in the respective party conference meetings prior to opening day or, if there is a vacancy, at another time. No floor votes are needed to ratify these changes.18

Election of Officers

Since the Senate is a continuing body, its officers—the secretary of the Senate, sergeant at arms and doorkeeper, chaplain, and majority and minority party secretaries—do not need to be reelected on the opening day of a new Congress.19 However, when there is a change in party control or a vacancy at the beginning of a Congress, any new officers are approved by the full Senate.

The Senate filled a vacancy at the beginning of the 112th Congress in electing a new secretary for the (Democratic) majority. (Party secretaries are approved by their party conferences and then elected by the Senate.) In addition, since the Senate's legal counsel and deputy legal counsel are typically appointed by the President pro tempore for the duration of only two Congresses, they are appointed or reappointed every four years and simple resolutions adopted effecting the appointments.20

When party control of the Senate switched with its convening in 2015, the Senate elected a new secretary and sergeant at arms, elected the majority and minority secretaries (since their roles had changed), and, as already indicated, effected the appointments of the legal counsel and deputy legal counsel for the 114th and 115th Congresses. The Senate also adopted simple resolutions to notify the President and the House of the election of the secretary and sergeant at arms.21

Daily Meeting Time of the Senate

The Senate establishes its daily hour of meeting by a simple resolution, which must be renewed each Congress. This resolution is usually offered by the majority leader.22

Other First-Day Floor Activities

Standing Orders for the Current Congress

Other organizational business is taken up on the Senate floor on the first day. At the beginning of the 115th Congress, as in preceding Congresses, the Senate adopted en bloc by unanimous consent 11 standing orders for the duration of the current Congress.23 These standing orders addressed—

  • meetings of the Select Committee on Ethics;
  • limiting roll-call votes to 15 minutes;
  • authorizing Senators to present reports at the desk;
  • allowing 10 additional minutes daily to speak for each party leader (so-called leader time);
  • forgoing the printing of conference reports and joint explanatory statements when they are printed as House reports;
  • allowing the Appropriations Committee to file reports during an adjournment or recess of the Senate;
  • authorizing the secretary of the Senate to make technical and clerical corrections to engrossments of Senate-passed bills, resolutions, and amendments;
  • during an adjournment or recess of the Senate, authorizing the secretary of the Senate to receive presidential messages and, except for House legislation, House messages, and authorizing the President pro tempore to sign enrollments;
  • allowing Senators to designate two staff members for floor access during the Senate's consideration of specific matters;
  • allowing treaties and nominations to be referred when received; and
  • permitting Senators to introduce bills and resolutions by taking them to the desk.

Senate Rules

Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution provides for a system of staggered six-year terms for Senators, one-third of their terms expiring at the conclusion of each Congress. The Senate has interpreted the constitutional arrangement to mean that it is a continuing body, since a quorum is always sworn, and that it therefore does not have to organize itself with each new Congress, as does the House of Representatives.24 One consequence, among others, of this interpretation is that the Senate does not adopt or re-adopt its rules when a new Congress convenes, the interpretation meaning that the rules continue in effect from one Congress to the next.25

Special Circumstances

Other first-day activities might occur as a consequence of specific circumstances. For example, following a presidential election, the Senate must adopt a concurrent resolution to meet in joint session with the House to count the electoral votes for the President and Vice President,26 continue the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, and permit use of the Capitol for inaugural activities.27

On the first day of the 106th Congress, there were several announcements and a discussion related to the pending impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.28

Legislative Agenda

The Republican and Democratic leaders might address the Senate, possibly describing highlights of the legislative schedule ahead or discussing other pertinent issues.29 Other Senators might be recognized to speak after the Senate has completed its proceedings involving the oath of office and the consideration of resolutions and unanimous consent requests.

Sometimes on the first day, the Senate might also adopt a concurrent resolution providing for a January adjournment or for the joint session at which Congress will receive the President's State of the Union address.30 The Senate might also by unanimous consent set an initial date other than the convening day on which bills and joint resolutions may be introduced, and might also agree to begin consideration of legislation at a later date.31

In the 112th Congress, one of the first matters the Senate took up after Senators were sworn was a simple resolution (S.Res. 4) honoring Senator Barbara Mikulski "for becoming the longest-serving female Senator in history."32 The Senate also agreed to S.Con.Res. 2, allowing the Capitol Rotunda to be used for a commemorative ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the inaugural address of President John F. Kennedy.33 Finally, Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed that the Senate should establish a working group under the chair and ranking minority member of the Senate Rules Committee to streamline the confirmation process for nominees to lower-level executive branch positions.34

The Senate has traditionally reserved bill numbers S. 1 through S. 10 for the majority party and S. 11 through S. 20 for the minority party. A Senator with his or her leadership's approval might introduce a bill at any time during the two-year Congress using one of the numbers reserved for the Senator's party. Senator John Hoeven, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's support, introduced S. 1 on the first day of the 114th Congress (see the next paragraph). Then-Majority Leader Harry Reid and his cosponsors used all 10 bill numbers on the first day of the 111th Congress, when President Obama was soon to be inaugurated and Democrats organized both houses of Congress. The bills addressed party priorities for economic, energy, health, social, and national security policies.

In the 114th Congress, the majority leader immediately began proceedings to introduce and bring to the floor S. 1, to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. The majority leader obtained unanimous consent to allow bills and resolutions to be introduced until 4:00 p.m., notwithstanding the Senate's adjournment before that time on its day of convening.35 He also sought, but did not receive, unanimous consent to make initial majority and minority assignments to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.36 He began the process under Senate Rule XIV to place S. 1 directly on the Senate Calendar.37 Separately, the majority leader with all other 99 Senators as cosponsors agreed to a resolution (S.Res. 19) expressing the sorrow of the Senate upon the death of former Senator Edward W. Brooke III, who in addition to his Senate service had been recognized for his achievements with both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

Other Administrative Matters

After the Senate has completed its organizational proceedings, it may turn to other activities it has agreed to undertake, such as the introduction and reference of legislation, speeches, and appointments.38 In addition, following the sine die adjournment of the preceding Congress through the convening of the new Congress, the secretary of the Senate will have received, in the Senate's behalf, messages from the House of Representatives,39 the President, and executive departments and agencies.40 The Senate also receives new messages, such as from the House on its convening and election of the Speaker and its officers.41 On the first day of a new Congress, messages will be disposed of, typically by reference to the relevant committee.

Certain administrative notices might also appear in the opening-day Congressional Record.42 Certain records might also appear in the opening-day Congressional Record.43

Committee Organization

Negotiations between parties over committee sizes and ratios and separate committee assignment processes begin prior to the convening of a new Congress, and mostly within the party groups—the Democratic and Republican Conferences.44The only action visible on the chamber floor is the subsequent adoption of simple resolutions assigning Senators from each party to committees agreed upon by the respective party conference. The adoption of both parties' resolutions is routine.45

Committee assignment resolutions are not normally considered on the opening day of a new Congress, but later in January.46 On the opening day of the 107th Congress, an assignment resolution (S.Res.) was taken up to designate committee chairs, pending an agreement on the organization of the Senate under the special circumstance of 50 Democratic and 50 Republican Senators.47 Committee funding resolutions (S.Res.) are also considered later in February or early March.48

In years in which a new President will be inaugurated, Senate committees begin hearings on designated Cabinet secretaries, pending the formal submission of nominations once the President-elect has been inaugurated.49

Author Contact Information

[author name scrubbed], Senior Specialist in American National Government ([email address scrubbed], [phone number scrubbed])

[author name scrubbed], Specialist on the Congress ([email address scrubbed], [phone number scrubbed])


This report was originally developed and maintained over many years by Mildred Lehmann Amer, a specialist on the Congress. Mrs. Amer has retired from the Congressional Research Service.



The Senate concluded the 114th Congress pursuant to the terms of a unanimous consent agreement that scheduled specific pro forma sessions through January 3, 2017. See Sen. Rob Portman, "Orders for Tuesday, December 13, 2016, through Tuesday, January 3, 2017," unanimous consent agreement, Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 162 (December 9, 2016), p. S7167. See also Niels Lesniewski, "That's a Wrap for the 114th Congress," CQ Roll Call, December 12, 2016, available at


No law like P.L. 113-201 was enacted to set the convening date of the 107th Congress, the 113th Congress, or the 115th Congress because their convening was planned for the constitutionally anticipated date of January 3.


For an explanation of who is seated on and near the dais in the Senate, see CRS Report 98-397, Guide to Individuals Seated on the Senate Dais, by [author name scrubbed].


See The Vice President, "Certificates of Election," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 163 (January 3, 2017), pp. S1-S4. Senators appointed since the most recent election may also be sworn in when the Senate convenes. For example, Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina had been elected to the Senate in 2010, and announced his resignation on December 6, 2012, effective January 1, 2013. Rep. Tim Scott was appointed on December 17, 2012, to fill the vacancy and was sworn in on January 3, 2013. Later, Sen. Scott was a successful candidate in the election on November 4, 2014, to complete the unexpired term. He was sworn in December 2, 2014. Senators might also have been elected in the preceding general election to complete the term of a Senator who resigned or died. Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma was elected November 4, 2014, to complete the final two years of Sen. Tom Coburn's term, who on January 16, 2014, announced that he would resign after the conclusion of the 113th Congress. For background on Sen. Coburn's resignation, see Sen. Tom Coburn, "Letter in Relation to Resignation," letter, Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 160 (November 19, 2014), pp. S6141-S6142; and Niels Lesniewski, "Coburn Will Retire after 113th Congress," CQ News, January 17, 2014, available at An appointed Senator, Brian Schatz of Hawaii, had been sworn in on December 2, 2014, for the unexpired term of Sen. Daniel Inouye, who had died.

Senators elected to fill a vacancy may also have already been sworn in. For example, Christopher Coons of Delaware won the general election in 2010 to complete the final four years of the term of Sen. Joseph Biden, who had been elected Vice President in 2008. An appointee to the seat, Sen. Edward Kaufman, did not run for election. Sen. Coons was sworn in November 15, 2010. Similarly, upon the death of Sen. Robert Byrd, West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin appointed Carte Goodwin, who indicated he would not be a candidate for election to the balance of Sen. Byrd's term. Subsequently, Governor Manchin announced his candidacy, won election, and was sworn in November 15, 2010.

Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois, however, won both a special election and a new term in the general election of 2010. He was sworn in November 29, 2010, to complete the term (expiring January 3, 2011) of Sen. Barack Obama, who had been elected President in 2008. Sen. Kirk was then sworn in January 5, 2011, for a six-year term concluding January 3, 2017. An appointee to the seat, Sen. Roland Burris, was not a candidate for election. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand had been appointed to fill the vacancy in the 111th Congress created by the appointment of Sen. Hillary Clinton to become Secretary of State. When she on November 2, 2010, won both a special election to complete Mrs. Clinton's term in the 111th Congress and also election to the 112th Congress, Sen. Gillibrand completed her service in the 111th Congress and was sworn in on January 5, 2011, to serve the remaining two years of the Clinton seat's tenure.

Information on filling Senate vacancies appears in two CRS reports: CRS Report R40421, Filling U.S. Senate Vacancies: Perspectives and Contemporary Developments, by [author name scrubbed] (out of print but available from the report's author); and CRS Report R41031, Beginning and End of the Terms of United States Senators Chosen to Fill Senate Vacancies, coordinated by [author name scrubbed].


See CRS Report R41946, Qualifications of Members of Congress, coordinated by [author name scrubbed].


See, for example, Sens. Tom Daschle and Trent Lott, "A Historic Day," Congressional Record, vol. 147, part 1 (January 3, 2001), pp. 1-2.


See, for example, Sen. Trent Lott, "Louisiana Election Contest," Congressional Record, vol. 143, part 1 (January 7, 1997), p. 5. As Majority Leader Lott explained, Sen.-elect Mary Landrieu would be seated "without prejudice" to the Senate's ongoing investigation to determine the outcome of the Louisiana Senate election. By way of contrast, the majority and minority leaders commented very briefly on the undecided Minnesota Senate election between Al Franken and Sen. Norm Coleman, which was under consideration by the Minnesota state courts. A Senator from Minnesota was not seated, pending completion of court and state electoral authority proceedings. Sen. Harry Reid, "Welcoming the 111th Congress," Congressional Record, vol. 155, part 1 (January 6, 2009), p. 45; and Sen. Mitch McConnell, "Minnesota Senate Race," Congressional Record, vol. 155, part 1 (January 6, 2009), p. 49. See also CRS Report R40105, Authority of the Senate Over Seating Its Own Members: Exclusion of a Senator-Elect or Senator-Designate, coordinated by [author name scrubbed].


Forms of certificates of election and of appointment of Senators appear in Senate Rule II.


The historic oath book contains the signatures of all U.S. Senators dating from the period after the Civil War. A Senator signs this book each time he or she takes the oath of office. Each Senator is allowed to keep the pen he or she uses to sign the oath book. See


Senate Historian Richard A. Baker, Traditions, 110th Cong., 1st sess., S.Pub. 110-11 (Washington, DC: Senate Office of Printing and Document Services, 2007), pp. 3-4, available at (Hereinafter Traditions.)


The President's oath is set forth in the Constitution (U.S. Const. art. II, § 1, cl. 7).


Traditions, pp. 3-4.


A quorum is the number of Members required to be present in each house for the transaction of business. Under the Constitution (U.S. Const. art. I, § 5, cl. 1), a quorum in each house is a majority of the Members: 51 in the Senate and 218 in the House, assuming no vacancies. For an explanation of quorum requirements in the Senate, see CRS Report 98-775, Quorum Requirements in the Senate: Committee and Chamber, coordinated by [author name scrubbed]. A Senator might be absent on opening day due to illness, family needs, or another reason.

Senators also choose desk locations in the Senate chamber, based on party and seniority; certain specific desks are available by resolution to specific Senators, for example, the desk of Henry Clay is provided to the senior Senator from Kentucky. See; and Traditions,pp. 7-8. Seating plans may be found at


See "Informing the President of the United States That a Quorum of Each House Is Assembled," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 163 (January 3, 2017), p. S6.


U.S. Const. art. I, § 3, cl. 5. The Vice President, named in clause 4 as the President of the Senate, usually presides only on opening day, during ceremonial occasions, and when needed to cast a tie-breaking vote. The Vice President also sometimes presides at the request of the majority or minority. New majority-party Senators preside over most hours of Senate session after they are sworn in. See Traditions, pp. 17-18 and 15-16.


The President pro tempore holds his office during his Senate term and is not reelected at the beginning of a new Congress. For information on this office, see CRS Report RL30960, The President Pro Tempore of the Senate: History and Authority of the Office, by [author name scrubbed].


When the majority party in the Senate switched with the Senate's convening for the 114th Congress in 2015, a Senator of the new majority party was elected as President pro tempore (S.Res. 3). See "Electing Orrin G. Hatch To Be President Pro Tempore of the Senate of the United States," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 161 (January 6, 2015), p. S6. The Senate then immediately adopted resolutions to thank Sen. Patrick Leahy for his service as President pro tempore (S.Res. 6) and to notify the President (S.Res. 4) and the House (S.Res. 5) of Sen. Hatch's election as President pro tempore.

In the preceding decade, the election of a new President pro tempore had been occasioned by a change in party control of the Senate and by the deaths of two Presidents pro tempore. See, "Election of the Honorable Robert C. Byrd as President Pro Tempore," Congressional Record, vol. 153, part 1 (January 4, 2007), pp. 65-66, including adoption of S.Res. 4 and S.Res. 5 (110th Cong.) to notify the President and the House, respectively, of the election of the President pro tempore. In 2007, where the election of Sen. Byrd was occasioned by the change in party majority in the Senate, the Senate also adopted a resolution (S.Res. 6, 110th Cong.) thanking the outgoing President pro tempore and appointing him President pro tempore emeritus. "Expressing the Thanks of the Senate to Senator Ted Stevens and Designating President Pro Tempore Emeritus," Congressional Record, vol. 153, part 1 (January 4, 2007), p. 66. See, subsequently, "Electing Senator Daniel K. Inouye President Pro Tempore," Congressional Record, vol. 156, part 8 (June 28, 2010), p. 11819, for the election of a new President pro tempore upon Sen. Byrd's death; and "Electing Patrick J. Leahy President Pro Tempore," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 158 (December 17, 2012), p. S8089, upon Sen. Inouye's death.


See, for example, Niels Lesniewski, "Schumer Expands Senate Democratic Leadership Team," CQ News, November 16, 2016, available at For information on organizational meetings held prior to the formal start of a new Congress, see CRS Report RS21339, Congress's Early Organization Meetings, by [author name scrubbed]. See also CRS Report RL30567, Party Leaders in the United States Congress, 1789-2017, by [author name scrubbed].


See CRS Report 98-747, Secretary of the Senate: Legislative and Administrative Duties, by [author name scrubbed]; CRS Report 98-748, Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper of the Senate: Legislative and Administrative Duties, by [author name scrubbed]; and CRS Report R41807, House and Senate Chaplains: An Overview, by [author name scrubbed]. See also CRS Report RS20544, The Office of the Parliamentarian in the House and Senate, by [author name scrubbed]; and CRS Report RS22891, Office of Senate Legal Counsel, by [author name scrubbed]. Some information on party secretaries may be found at


"Electing Gary B. Myrick as the Secretary for the Majority," Congressional Record, vol. 157, part 1 (January 5, 2011), p. 15. If a vacancy occurs during a two-year Congress, it may be filled at that time. When David Schiappa resigned as minority secretary on August 1, 2013, the Senate elected Laura Dove to the position. See "Electing Laura C. Dove as Secretary for the Minority of the Senate," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 159 (August 1, 2013), p. S6259. The Senate legal counsel (S.Res. 16) and deputy legal counsel (S.Res. 17) were appointed to four-year terms on the opening day of the 114th Congress: "Appointment of Senate Legal Counsel," and "Appointment of Deputy Senate Legal Counsel," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 161 (January 6, 2015), p. S8.


See "Electing Julie Adams as the Secretary of the Senate," et seq., Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 161 (January 6, 2015), pp. S7-S8. See also S.Res. 8-S.Res. 15 (114th Cong.); and the Senate website at


See S.Res. 3 (115th Cong.), agreed to in the Senate January 3, 2017. See also CRS Report 98-865, Flow of Business: A Typical Day on the Senate Floor, by [author name scrubbed].


Sen. Mitch McConnell, "Unanimous Consent Agreements," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 163 (January 3, 2017), p. S7.


See CRS Report RL30788, Parliamentary Reference Sources: Senate, by [author name scrubbed] and [author name scrubbed]; and CRS Report 98-503, Publications of the U.S. Senate, by [author name scrubbed].


Senate Rule V, para. 2. The modern history of this attribute of the Senate is traced in Floyd M. Riddick and Alan S. Frumin, Riddick's Senate Procedure, 101st Cong., 2nd sess., S.Doc. 101-28 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1992), pp. 1220-1224. An assertion to the contrary has been that the Senate may amend its rules by majority vote when the Senate of a new Congress convenes, without a two-thirds vote as provided in Senate Rule XXII to cut off a filibuster against a rules change. See Sen. Tom Udall, "Senate Rules Changes," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 159 (January 3, 2013), pp. S10-S12. Debate over potential rules changes in the 113th Congress occurred on January 3 and culminated in the Senate's adoption by wide margins of S.Res. 15 and S.Res. 16 on January 24. See Senators' remarks and debate on the resolutions beginning with Sen. Tom Harkin, "The Filibuster," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 159 (January 24, 2013), p. S247, and continuing through p. S274. See CRS Report R42996, Changes to Senate Procedures at the Start of the 113th Congress Affecting the Operation of Cloture (S.Res. 15 and S.Res. 16), by [author name scrubbed]. (The Senate later in the 113th Congress created a new precedent related to the filibuster of nominations. See "Rules Reform," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 159 (November 21, 2013), pp. S8414-S8418. See also CRS Report R43331, Majority Cloture for Nominations: Implications and the "Nuclear" Proceedings of November 21, 2013, by [author name scrubbed].

See also Sen. Tom Udall, "Amending Senate Rules," Congressional Record, vol. 157, part 1 (January 5, 2011), pp. 35-38. Debate over amending Senate rules at the beginning of the 112th Congress occurred over four days: January 5, 25, 26, and 27, 2011. See the Congressional Record for those days. Sen. Udall more recently offered a resolution governing the filibuster (S.Res. 20) on the opening day of the 114th Congress, which he and Sen.Jeff Merkley discussed on the floor. Sen. Tom Udall, "Resolution Over, Under the Rule—S.Res. 20," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 161 (January 6, 2015), pp. S23-S26. See also CRS Report R42928, "First Day" Proceedings and Procedural Change in the Senate, by [author name scrubbed].


See S.Con.Res. 2 (115th Cong.), agreed to in the Senate January 3, 2017; and "Providing for the Counting of the Electoral Votes for President and Vice President of the United States," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 163 (January 3, 2017), pp. S6-S7. See also CRS Report RL32717, Counting Electoral Votes: An Overview of Procedures at the Joint Session, Including Objections by Members of Congress, coordinated by [author name scrubbed] and [author name scrubbed].

By law (3 U.S.C. 15), the House and Senate meet to count the electoral votes on January 6 at 1:00 p.m. in the House chamber, following the previous month's meeting of the electors. In 2013, January 6 fell on a Sunday. The 112th Congress enacted a change in the law applicable only to the counting of electoral votes following the 2012 presidential election, setting the date of the joint session as January 4, 2013 (H.J.Res. 122, P.L. 112-228).


See S.Con.Res. 1 (115th Cong.), agreed to in the Senate January 3, 2017; and "Extending the Life of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 163 (January 3, 2017), p. S6.

The 114th Congress agreed on February 3, 2016, to create the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies to make arrangements for the inauguration (S.Con.Res. 28). The 114th Congress also agreed the same day to S.Con.Res. 29, allowing the use of the Capitol Rotunda and Emancipation Hall for proceedings and ceremonies related to the inauguration.


Sen. Trent Lott, "The Public's Access to the Impeachment Proceedings," "Unanimous-Consent Agreement—Senate Access," and "Senate Agenda," Congressional Record, vol. 145, part 1 (January 6, 1999), pp. 8-11.


For the opening-day remarks of the leaders of the 115th Congress, see Sen. Mitch McConnell, "Welcoming Members of the Senate," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 163 (January 3, 2017), p. S5; and Sen. Charles Schumer, "A Time To Look Forward," pp. S7-S11. In the 114th Congress, Sen. Harry Reid, the minority leader, was absent following an injury. Sen. McConnell included wishes for recovery in his remarks, and Sen. Richard Durbin, the assistant Democratic leader, spoke in behalf of the Democrats. See Niels Lesniewski, "Reid Suffers Broken Ribs in Workout Accident," CQ News, January 2, 2015, available at

The majority leader might also have been recognized earlier in the day's proceedings for a special purpose. See, for example, Sen. Bill Frist, "Moment of Silence for Tsunami Victims," Congressional Record, vol. 151, part 1 (January 4, 2005), p. 1.


See S.Con.Res. 3 (113th Cong.), agreed to in the Senate January 3, 2013.


See Sen. Harry Reid, "Introduction of Bills and Joint Resolutions," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 159 (January 3, 2013), p. S7. See also CRS Report 98-429, The Senate's Calendar of Business, coordinated by [author name scrubbed].


"Honoring Senator Mikulski as She Becomes the Longest Serving Female Senator," Congressional Record, vol. 157, part 1 (January 5, 2011), pp. 6-15 and 19-21.


"Senate Concurrent Resolution 2—Authorizing the Use of the Rotunda of the Capitol for an Event Marking the 50th Anniversary of the Inaugural Address of President John F. Kennedy," Congressional Record, vol. 157, part 1 (January 5, 2011), p. 71.


"Working Group—Lower Level Executive Nominations, Congressional Record, vol. 157, part 1 (January 5, 2011), p. 16. See also S.Res. 116 (112th Cong.), agreed to in the Senate June 29, 2011, establishing a standing order on privileged nominations entitled to expedited procedures; and P.L. 112-166, the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011. See also CRS Report R41872, Presidential Appointments, the Senate's Confirmation Process, and Changes Made in the 112th Congress, by [author name scrubbed]; and CRS Report RL31980, Senate Consideration of Presidential Nominations: Committee and Floor Procedure, by [author name scrubbed].


Sen. Mitch McConnell, "Order for Record To Remain Open," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 161 (January 6, 2015), pp. S22-S23.


Sen. Mitch McConnell, "Unanimous Consent Request—Energy and Natural Resources Committee," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 161 (January 6, 2015), p. S9. Initial assignment resolutions were adopted the next day. See, immediately below, "Committee Organization."


Sen. Mitch McConnell, "Measure Read the First Time— S. 1," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 161 (January 6, 2015), p. S23. See CRS Report RS22309, Senate Rule XIV Procedure for Placing Measures Directly on the Senate Calendar, by [author name scrubbed].


See CRS Report 96-548, The Legislative Process on the Senate Floor: An Introduction, by [author name scrubbed]. See also CRS Report 98-728, Bills, Resolutions, Nominations, and Treaties: Characteristics, Requirements, and Uses, by [author name scrubbed]; CRS Report 98-706, Bills and Resolutions: Examples of How Each Kind Is Used, by [author name scrubbed]; and CRS Report RS20617, How Bills Amend Statutes, by [author name scrubbed]. The Senate might pass legislation if its introduction was alowed. See, for example, "Robert T. Stafford White Rocks National Recreation Area," Congressional Record, vol. 153, part 1 (January 4, 2007), pp. 267-270. See also "Provision of a 5-Month Extension of the Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation Act of 2002," Congressional Record, vol. 149, part 1 (January 7, 2003), p. 70.


See "Messages from the House Received during Adjournment, 114th Congress" Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 163 (January 3, 2015), pp. S18-S20.


See "Executive and Other Communications," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 159 (January 3, 2013), p. 13. See also: The President is required by law (2 U.S.C. 2a(a)) to inform the Senate and House of Representatives of the apportionment of seats in the House following the decennial census. Upon the convening of the 112th Congress, this message was received from the President and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. "Report of the Apportionment Population for Each State as of April 1, 2010, and the Number of Representatives to Which Each State Would Be Entitled—PM 1," Congressional Record, vol. 157, part 1 (January 5, 2011), pp. 64-65. See also "Removal of Injunction of Secrecy—Treaty Document No. 107-1," Congressional Record, vol. 147, part 1 (January 3, 2001), p. 15.


See "Messages from the House," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 159 (January 3, 2013), S13.


See, for example, "Reports of Committees during Adjournment," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 163 (January 3, 2017), pp. S20-S21; Sen. Bob Corker, "Arms Sales Notification," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 163 (January 3, 2017), pp. S14-S18; and "Notice: Registration of Mass Mailings," Congressional Record, vol. 157, part 1 (January 5, 2011), p. 71.


See "Foreign Travel Financial Reports," Congressional Record, vol. 151, part 1 (January 4, 2005), p. 31.


For information on organizational meetings held prior to the formal start of a new Congress, see CRS Report RS21339, Congress's Early Organization Meetings, by [author name scrubbed]. See also CRS Report RL34752, Senate Committee Party Ratios: 98th-114th Congresses, by [author name scrubbed] and [author name scrubbed].


See CRS Report RL30743, Committee Assignment Process in the U.S. Senate: Democratic and Republican Party Procedures, by [author name scrubbed]; CRS Report 98-183, Senate Committees: Categories and Rules for Committee Assignments, by [author name scrubbed]; and CRS Report 98-635, Assignments to Senate Subcommittees, by [author name scrubbed]. Initial assignments to committees for the 114th Congress occurred on January 7, 2015, with the adoption of a majority committee assignments resolution (S.Res. 21) and the minority committee assignments resolution (S.Res. 22).


On the opening day of the 115th Congress, Majority Leader McConnell introduced S.Res. 4, making majority committee assignments. He asked for the resolution's immediate consideration and then objected to his own request, in order to "send the resolution over, under the rule." The resolution then qualified for consideration the next day at the end of morning business. The Senate, however, approved S.Res. 7, making majority committee assignments, on January 5, 2017. For an explanation of the procedure Majority Leader McConnell used, see Walter Kravitz, Congressional Quarterly's American Congressional Dictionary, 3rd ed. (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2001), pp. 169-170.


Sen. Tom Daschle, "Senate Resolution 7—Designating the Chairmen of the Following Senate Committees," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 147, part 1 (January 3, 2001), pp. 14-15. Committee assignments were made on the opening day of the 104th Congress, however. See "A Resolution Making Majority Party Appointments to Certain Senate Committees for the 104th Congress," and "To Make Minority Appointments to Senate Committees under Paragraph 2 of Rule XXV for the One Hundred and Fourth Congress," Congressional Record, vol. 141, part 1 (January 5, 1995), p. 8.


See CRS Report R43160, Senate Committee Funding: Description of Process and Analysis of Disbursements, by [author name scrubbed]; and CRS Report R40424, Senate Committee Expenditures Resolutions, 115th Congress, and Funding Authorizations Since 1999, by [author name scrubbed].


See, for example, the number of Senate committee hearings scheduled on President Trump's Cabinet nominations two weeks prior to the presidential inauguration. "Congressional Program Ahead," Congressional Record, Daily Digest, vol. 163 (January 6, 2017), p. D21.

Not to be confused with Rob Porter.

Rob Portman
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 – May 17, 2005
Preceded byBill Gradison
Succeeded byJean Schmidt
Personal details
BornRobert Jones Portman
(1955-12-19) December 19, 1955 (age 62)
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Jane Dudley (m. 1986)
EducationDartmouth College(BA)
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor(JD)
WebsiteSenate website

Robert Jones Portman (born December 19, 1955) is an Americanattorney, serving as the junior United States Senator for Ohio, and a member of the Republican Party. 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).

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Portman graduated from Dartmouth College and the University of Michigan Law School. He worked briefly in the White House during the George H. W. Bush administration before entering the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the eastern half of Greater Cincinnati and neighboring counties along the Ohio River, and serving six consecutive terms. Portman resigned from Congress to serve as U.S. Trade Representative from May 2005 to May 2006. As Trade Representative, Portman is cited for initiating worldwide trade agreements between other countries and the United States, and pursuing claims against China and the European Union at the World Trade Organization. He later served in the George W. Bush administration from May 2006 to June 2007 as Director of the Office of Management and Budget, where he advocated a balanced budget. Portman is married and has three children.

A center-right member of the Republican Party, Portman was elected U.S. Senator in 2010. He has been listed as a possible Republican vice presidential candidate in the past two presidential elections. In the Senate, Portman was a member of the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. Throughout his time in Congress, the Cabinet, and the Senate, Portman has visited over thirty countries, including Israel, China, and Iraq. In 2013, Portman became the first incumbent statewide or national-level Republican to publicly support legal recognition of same-sex marriage since Lincoln Chafee in 2004.[1][2][3] Rob Portman was listed among the ten United States Senators receiving the most funding from the National Rifle Association.[4]

Heritage and early life[edit]

Portman was born in 1955, in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Joan (née Jones) and entrepreneur William C. "Bill" Portman II. Portman was raised in a Presbyterian family.[5][6] His great-grandfather on his father's side, surnamed "Portmann", immigrated from Switzerland; Portman also has Scots Irish, English, and German ancestry.[7]

In 1926, Portman's grandfather Robert Jones purchased the Golden Lamb Inn in Lebanon, Ohio, and, together with his future wife, Virginia Kunkle Jones, whom he married two years later, refurbished it, and decorated it with antique collectibles and Shaker furniture.[9] The couple ran the inn together until 1969, when they retired and leased the Golden Lamb to the Comisar family, owners of the now defunct five-star Maisonette restaurant.[10]

When Rob was young, his father borrowed money to start the Portman Equipment Company, a forklift dealership where he and his siblings all worked growing up. The company grew from a small business with five employees to one that employed over 300 people.[11] According to a 2010 Weekly Standard profile, Portman "developed a political philosophy grounded in entrepreneurship," as a result of his experiences growing up at a time when his father was starting his own company, and hearing conversations at home "about regulations, and taxes, and government getting in the way of small business".[12] It was from his mother Joan, a liberalRepublican, that Portman inherited his political sympathy for the Republican Party.[13]

Education and early career[edit]

Portman graduated from Cincinnati Country Day School in 1974, where he had served as treasurer of his class, enjoyed playing baseball, and developed an interest in politics, later telling the National Review, "[In high school,] I wasn't a Democrat or a Republican. No one in my family had ever been in politics. My dad thought it was something that got in the way."[14] He 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.[14] At Dartmouth, he was a member of the Ledyard Canoe Club, and went on several kayaking and canoeing expeditions around the world. He spent summers throughout college in the American West, on cattle farms and ranches, tending to livestock, riding horses, and assisting in related chores.[13] In Cincinnati, Portman worked on Bill Gradison's Congressional campaign, and Gradison soon became a mentor to Portman.[14] 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.[15] During law school, Portman embarked on a kayaking and hiking trip across China, and, not long before, blind dated a young Democratic volunteer, Jane Dudley.[16] Dudley's aunt and uncle lived in Cincinnati and were friends with Portman's parents. Dudley embarked on a hiking trip with her aunt in the Himalayas, and took part in the date with Portman following her aunt's advice.[16] Dudley had become interested in politics by working for a family friend who was running for the state legislature in North Carolina. She majored in political science at Vanderbilt University, and wanted to work on Capitol Hill. She then worked in a U.S. Senate campaign in 1984 for Jim Hunt who was governor of North Carolina.[16] After graduating from law school, Portman moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked for the law firm Patton Boggs.[17][18][19] Portman next became an associate at Graydon Head & Ritchie law firm in Cincinnati.[21]

Early appointments and return to Ohio[edit]

In 1989, Portman began his career in government as an associate White House Counsel under President George H. W. Bush.[22] From 1989 to 1991, Portman served as George H. W. Bush's deputy assistant and director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs.[23] While serving as White House counsel under George H.W. Bush, Portman visited China, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.[24]

In September 1996, after his return to Ohio and after a 16-year-old named Jeff Gardner died from huffing gasoline, Portman founded the Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati.[25] Portman wrote of the effort:

I decided we could not afford to wait for another tragedy to prompt us to action. Over the last year and a half, I have spearheaded an effort to establish the Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati. [...] It's a serious, long-term initiative that brings together for the first time community activists already involved in the antidrug effort, key business figures, religious leaders, the media, parents, young people, law enforcement officials, and others. Our aim is to develop and implement a comprehensive, community-based strategy to reduce drug abuse in our region.[26]

The coalition advances "a comprehensive effort to address youth substance abuse."[27]

United States Representative: 1993–2005[edit]

Congressional elections[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.

Primary election[edit]

In the primary, Portman was criticized for his previous law firm's work for Haitian president Baby Doc Duvalier.[28] Buchert ran campaign commercials labeling Portman and McEwen "Prince Rob and Bouncing Bob."[28] 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.

General elections[edit]

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

Portman was re-elected in 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2004, defeating Democrats Les Mann,[30]Thomas R. Chandler,[31] and then Waynesville mayor Charles W. Sanders four times in a row.[12][32][33]

House legislative career[edit]

As of 2004, Portman had a lifetime rating of 89 from the American Conservative Union, and ranked 5th among Ohio's 18 House members.[34]

One of Portman's first votes in Congress was for the North American Free Trade Agreement on November 17, 1993.[35]

During his tenure in Congress, Portman authored or co-authored over a dozen bills that became law,[36] including legislation to reform the Internal Revenue Service, curb unfunded mandates, and expand pensions.[37] Portman also co-authored legislation to swap Costa Rica's debt for the preservation of tropical forests.[38] He published an article called "Addicted to Failure" in the congressional Policy Review in autumn 1996.[39] In the article, Portman writes:

President Clinton hurt the antidrug effort by cutting the Office of National Drug Control policy from 147 to 25 full-time positions, by hiring a surgeon general who advocated legalization of drugs, by cutting funding for interdiction efforts, and by sending confusing messages about the stigma of illegal drug use. It is no surprise, then, that after dramatic reductions in drug use during the decade before Clinton took office, drug use has nearly doubled among teenagers during his administration. [...] The public rightly expects the federal government to do something about drug abuse, which diminishes and threatens the lives of so many of our young people. And the federal government clearly has an important role in combating drug abuse: protecting our borders and interdicting drugs from other countries, strengthening our federal criminal-justice system, and providing federal assistance for the best prevention and treatment programs. [...] Despite a significant federal effort, however, our country is still seeing dramatic increases in drug use among our teenagers. In the last two years alone, use of drugs has increased 50 percent. We need a new approach.[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."[12] Democratic Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones from Cleveland said Portman, "compared to other Republicans, is pleasant and good to work with."[40] Additionally, during the first four years of the Bush Administration, Portman served as a liaison between Congressional Republicans and the White House.[40] Portman voted for the Iraq War Resolution in 2002.[41] Portman was known for his willingness to work with Democrats to ensure that important legislation was enacted.[22]

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."[12] As a congressman, Portman traveled to Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait and Mexico.[24] 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).[42][43] 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.[44]

White House appointments: 2005–2007[edit]

Further information: Presidency of George W. Bush

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."[45] Portman was confirmed on April 29,[46][47] and sworn in on May 17, 2005.[48][49][50]

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.[24] During his tenure, Portman also helped to win passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement.[51] 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.[52]

Hong Kong and trade suit[edit]

See also: World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 2005

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.[53][54] 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.[55] Portman vowed to "hold [China's] feet to the fire" and provide a "top-to-bottom review" of the U.S.–China trade relationship.[51] Portman's claim that China had improperly favored domestic auto parts became the first successful trade suit against China in the World Trade Organization.[51] During Portman's tenure as trade ambassador, the U.S. trade deficit with China increased by 21 percent.[51]

Director of the Office of Management and Budget[edit]

See also: Office of Management and Budget

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.[56] 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."[57] He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate unanimously by voice vote on May 26, 2006.[58][59]

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."[51][60] 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.[61]

On June 19, 2007, Portman resigned his position of OMB director, citing a desire to spend more time with his family and three children.[62] Democratic Chairman of the Senate Budget CommitteeKent 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."[63]

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.[64][65] 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." [66][67] In 2008, Portman was cited as a potential running mate for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.[68][69][70] Portman remained critical of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, passed while he was out of office.[71]

United States Senator: 2011–present[edit]

2010 election[edit]

See also: United States Senate election in Ohio, 2010

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.[72][73] Running unopposed in the Republican primary, Portman benefitted substantially from Tea Party support, and by July 2010 had raised more campaign funds than DemocratLee Fisher by a 9 to 1 margin.[74] Portman campaigned on the issue of jobs and job growth.[75] He toured Ohio in a large RV, meeting with voters and reporters between events.[76]

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.[75][77] 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.[78]

Portman won the election with a margin of 57 to 39 percent, winning 82 of Ohio's 88 counties.[79] 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.[80]

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."[81]

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).[82]

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 . . ." [83]

The Washington Post said "Portman took the crown for best campaign",[84] while Real Clear Politics said, "Sen. Rob Portman ran the campaign of the year.".[85] 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."[86]

Tenure events[edit]

In the 112th Congress, Portman voted with his party 90% of the time.[87] However, in the 114th United States Congress, Portman was ranked as the third most bipartisan member of the U.S. Senate (and the second most bipartisan member of the U.S. Senate from the American Midwest after Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly) in the Bipartisan Index created by The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy that ranks members of the United States Congress by their degree of bipartisanship (by measuring the frequency each member's bills attract co-sponsors from the opposite party and each member's co-sponsorship of bills by members of the opposite party).[88] Portman's intellectual leadership among the Senate G.O.P., and his fundraising capabilities,[89] led to his being named the Vice Chairman for Finance of the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the 2014 election cycle.[90] 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.[91]

Portman delivered the eulogy at the August 2012 funeral of Neil Armstrong,[92] and the commencement address at the University of Cincinnati's December 2012 graduation ceremony.[93]

In August 2011, Portman was selected by Minority LeaderMitch McConnell to participate in the United States Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.[94] During the committee's work, Portman developed strong relationships with the other members, especially Sen. John Kerry and Rep. Chris Van Hollen.[25] 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."[95]

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.[96] He and his wife walked in the 50th anniversary march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge commemorating Bloody Sunday and the March on Selma.[97]

Committee assignments[98][edit]

  • United States Senate Committee on Finance
  • United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources[99]
  • United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
  • United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
    • Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation
    • Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counter-Terrorism
    • Subcommittee on State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development
    • Subcommittee on Multilateral Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Monetary Policy

Caucus memberships[edit]

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

Political positions[edit]

Fiscal policy[edit]

Portman is a leading advocate for a balanced budget amendment.[104] 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.[105] 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."[106] 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.[107] 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.[105]

Foreign policy[edit]

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.[108] 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.[109] 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.[110] While in the Senate, Portman has visited Afghanistan twice, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates; additionally, he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.[24]

A bill by Portman that would allow construction of a memorial to Peace Corps volunteers in the nation's capital was approved by the House of Representatives in January 2014 in a 387 to 7 vote. No public money will be spent on the memorial.[111]

Portman opposes the Law of the Sea Treaty and released a joint statement with Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, stating:

Proponents of the Law of the Sea treaty aspire to admirable goals, including codifying the U.S. Navy's navigational rights and defining American economic interests in valuable offshore resources. But the treaty's terms reach well beyond those good intentions. [...] The terms of the treaty are not only expansive, but often ill-defined. [And as] Justice John Paul Stevens noted in a concurring opinion in Medellin v. Texas, the Law of the Sea treaty appears to "incorporate international judgments into domestic law" because it expressly provides that decisions of the tribunal "'shall be enforceable in the territories of the States Parties in the same manner as judgments or orders of the highest court of the State Party in whose territory the enforcement is sought.'" [T]he treaty equates tribunal decisions with decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. This means that private litigants will likely be able to invoke tribunal judgments as enforceable in U.S. courts—against the government and possibly against U.S. businesses.[112]

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."[113][114]

In March 2016, Portman authored the bipartisan bill the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act, along with Democratic Senator Chris Murphy.[115] Congressman Adam Kinzinger introduced the U.S. House version of the bill.[116] After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, worries grew that Russian propaganda spread and organized by the Russian government swayed the outcome of the election, 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.[115][117] 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.[115][117] The legislation authorized funding of $160 million over a two-year-period.[115] The initiative was developed through the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act.[115]

Interior policy[edit]

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.[118][119] In 2013, he voted for a point of order opposing a carbon tax or a fee on carbon emissions.[120]

In July 2012, Portman remarked in a speech delivered on the Senate floor:

We've got to produce more [oil], we've got to produce it here at home to get away from the OPEC cartel. [...] I come from Ohio [and] we have a tradition of producing oil and gas. [...] We kind of got away from it [but] we're back in the business thanks to the shale finds. It's the Marcellus Shale, it's the Utica Shale, it's natural gas, but it's also oil and what they call wet gas. [...] People are really excited about this.[121]

During a radio interview with Fox News Radio in 2012, Portman said: "The president [Obama] says, you know, 'we're doing more.' Well, on public lands, we're doing less. Last year, we produced 14 percent less oil on public lands than we did the year before. We should be doing more on public lands, and that's the outer continental shelf and what's going on in Alaska and so on."[122] Portman supports 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."[123]

Portman has expressed concern about the slow pace of approving loan guarantees for developing nuclear power facilities by the Department of Energy during the Obama administration.[124] Portman would later co-sponsor an amendment to the 2017 Energy Bill that specifies climate change is real and human activity contributes to the problem.[125]

On June 27, 2013, Portman co-sponsored the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013 (S. 1254; 113th Congress), 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.[126][127] Portman said that "this legislation takes critical steps toward protecting Lake Erie and grand Lake St. Marys from harmful algae that has become a tremendous problem for our state... we cannot afford to let this threat to our tourism, fishing industries, and health go unchecked."[128]

Portman introduced the World War II Memorial Prayer Act of 2013 (S. 1044; 113th Congress), a bill that would direct the United States Secretary of the Interior to install at the World War II memorial in the District of Columbia a suitable plaque or an inscription with the words that President Franklin D. Roosevelt prayed with the United States on June 6, 1944, the morning of D-Day.

Congressional portrait of Portman, 1997
Portman nominated for OMB Director and Schwab nominated for USTR, 2006
Portrait of Rob Portman used during his time as OMB Director


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *