WASHINGTON — Saying partisan gridlock is becoming worse, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, announced Monday he will not seek re-election in 2022.
Portman, who spent 12 years in the House, eight years working for four different administrations in the executive branch and the last 10 years in the Senate, said it’s becoming harder and harder to be in public service.
“I don’t think any Senate office has been more successful in getting things done, but honestly, it has gotten harder and harder to break through the partisan gridlock and make progress on substantive policy, and that has contributed to my decision,” Portman said in a statement. “We live in an increasingly polarized country where members of both parties are being pushed further to the right and further to the left, and that means too few people who are actively looking to find common ground.”
Portman, who said he hasn’t made up his mind on former President Donald Trump’s recent impeachment, did blame Trump for the Jan. 6 Capitol riot that left six people dead and hundreds facing charges.
“Both in his words before the attack on the Capitol and in his address afterward, President Trump bears some responsibility for what happened January 6,” Portman said following the riot.
Portman, the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said he has legislation in the works for the next two years, and pointed out 82 of his bills were signed into law by Trump and another 68 were signed by President Barack Obama.
“This was not an easy decision because representing the people of Ohio has been an honor,” Portman said. “But I’ve been doing this a long time, longer than I ever intended. I don’t think any Senate office has been more successful in getting things done, but honestly, it has gotten harder and harder to break through the partisan gridlock and make progress on substantive policy, and that has contributed to my decision.”
Portman has already challenged an executive order from President Joe Biden that stopped work on the Keystone XL pipeline, but he said he’s ready to work with Biden if he sticks with a commitment to reach across the aisle.
On Sunday, Portman participated in a bipartisan call on a new COVID-19 relief package. He wants a more targeted relief effort, focusing on vaccine distribution, testing and opening schools.
“This is a tough time to be in public service. For many of the issues I am most passionate about, I will continue to make a difference outside of the Senate, beyond 2022. In the meantime, I am hopeful that President Biden will follow through on his inaugural pledge to reach across the aisle, and I am prepared to work with him and his administration if he does,” Portman said.
Ohio GOP Chairman Jane Timken said Portman will be missed.
“Rob Portman is a statesman whose service to our country and our party over nearly three decades has been invaluable.” Timken said. “His leadership and temperament will be missed in the halls of the U.S. Senate and amongst Ohio Republicans. While we have huge shoes to fill in the U.S. Senate, I thank Senator Portman for his service and hope all Ohioans will join me in recognizing his accomplishments that furthered our great state.”