Political briefs – Aug. 1

BROWN HELPS PASS AMENDMENT TO RENEW EXPORT-IMPORT BANK’S CHARTER— U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs – tonight helped pass an amendment that would reauthorize the Export-Import Bank through September 2019. The Senate approved the reauthorization of the bank, whose charter expired June 30, by a vote of 64-29 as an amendment to a pending transportation funding bill.

“Tonight’s overwhelming bipartisan vote puts the Export-Import Bank one step closer to getting back to work for Ohio businesses of all sizes and their supply chain,” said Brown. “Before it leaves for the August recess, the House of Representatives needs to have a vote that permits the bank’s renewal to be sent to President Obama and signed into law. U.S. workers and businesses must have a fair chance to go head-to-head with foreign competitors.”

Since 2007, the Ex-Im Bank has provided direct financial assistance to more than 350 Ohio businesses – including 226 small businesses – to support $3 billion of exports. In June, Brown released a county-by-county report detailing Ohio businesses that have relied on Ex-Im Bank funding over that period. Last year alone, the bank supported more than $250 million in Ohio exports – more than 60 percent of which were transactions done by small businesses.

FOLLOWING HIS URGING, BROWN ANNOUNCES THE REINSTATEMENT OF NATIONAL PRESCRIPTION DRUG TAKE-BACK DAY THAT ALLOWS OHIOANS TO SAFELY DISPOSE OF UNUSED MEDICATIONS – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced that, following his urging, the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will reinstate its National Take-Back Initiative (NTBI) – a program that sponsors events where Americans can safely dispose of unwanted prescription drugs, reducing the amount of expired or unused prescription drugs for illegal use or prescription drug abuse. At the last DEA-sponsored National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day event, the DEA and more than 4,000 of its partners collected 309 tons of unwanted drugs at nearly 5,500 sites around the country, bringing the total amount of drugs collected in four years to more than 2,400 tons. The next Prescription Drug Take Back Day will be September 26, 2015.

“Abuse of prescription drugs—especially painkillers—can devastate communities. Too many young people can get prescription drugs like OxyContin or Vicodin from family and friends who no longer use the medicine they were legally prescribed,” Brown said. “I worked to reinstate National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day so Ohioans can safely dispose of their unused prescription drugs to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.”

PORTMAN AND BLUMENTHAL INTRODUCE BILL TO STRENGTHEN GLOBAL EFFORTS TO STOP HUMAN TRAFFICKING – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Co-Chairs of the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking, have reintroduced the Human Trafficking Prioritization Act to increase the country’s ability to monitor and effectively combat sex and human trafficking across the globe. On Monday, the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office) released their Trafficking in Persons Report, an annual report that identifies progress and lapses in efforts to end human trafficking and has proven to encourage governments to address specific gaps in their responses to the issue.

Under the Human Trafficking Prioritization Act, the TIP Office would be established as a Bureau within the State Department. This will provide the TIP Office with greater ability to effectively advocate on behalf of anti-human trafficking initiatives and increase its ability to lead the global effort to end modern-day slavery. The TIP Office has become the center of the U.S. Government’s anti-slavery diplomacy, grant-making, and interagency collaboration. Additionally, designation of the TIP Office as a Bureau headed by an Assistant Secretary would greatly improve the organizational support for combatting trafficking, increasing the likelihood that rankings in the annual TIP Report are made solely on a country’s efforts to combat sex and labor trafficking and not influenced by any other considerations.

“Our provisions will empower those fighting human trafficking in the U.S. and worldwide,” Portman stated. “By elevating the status of those advocating on behalf of human trafficking victims, we will take important steps toward identifying and combating this form of modern day slavery.”