Ohio's Portman Among Republican Senators Meeting Biden On COVID Relief

Feb 2, 2021

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) is among the 10 Republican Senators who met with President Biden to talk about their COVID relief packages, though the Republicans' plan is a third the size of the one Democrats want. But Portman is hoping for more talks on those dueling deals.

Portman said the Senators had a "good meeting" with Biden over their COVID relief plans, which include some common elements.

But Biden’s $1.9 trillion package includes $350 billion in emergency funding for state and local governments, and the Republicans’ $600 million proposal does not. Portman said that could be a bargaining point.

“I support more state and local, but it should be based on need. Obviously not all of my Republican colleagues agree. So that's not in our initial proposal. But that would be something that would be included to get into a real negotiation," Portman said.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is backing the idea of a fund with half the money for cities, towns and villages and the other half for counties.

Several Ohio cities have said they spent all the earlier CARES Act pandemic relief funding they received.

On the issue of the upcoming Senate trial of former President Trump, Portman said he will be an impartial juror in the trial, though he said, "I've got real questions about the constitutionality of holding a Senate trial and removing from office someone who is gone. He's an outside citizen." Portman sided with 44 other Republicans in voting to debate the question of constitutionality. That question was set aside when all Senate Democrats and five Republicans voted to move forward with the trial.

Portman has said he won't seek re-election in 2022, touching off a scramble among Republicans and Democrats who are interesting in running to replace him.