Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is on many pundits’ short lists of potential running mates for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and now Portman is defending himself against criticism from former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and President Barack Obama’s senior adviser David Axelrod.
Both Strickland and Axelrod have questioned Portman’s experience as a trade ambassador and budget director for former President George W. Bush. Last week, Axel-rod said Portman’s links to Bush’s budget policies would represent a “challenge” for him.
Strickland, who served with Portman in the House, called the Ohio Republican “a very conservative guy with good manners.”
“I guess they’re worried,” Portman said on a conference call with reporters later in the week, adding that he was proud of his record as budget director. He added that in 2007, when he was White House budget director, the federal budget deficit was $161 billion, compared with $1.3 trillion today. “And that seemed high to me,” he said.
“If they’d like to talk about budgets, I’d love to have that discussion,” Portman said.
U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Centerville, included language in a bill that would make the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base a location for cybersecurity training for government employees. He included the measure in legislation aiming to strengthen security of the federal government’s information technology systems. The bill passed the House last week.
The provision said “agencies may utilize existing government cyberspace technical centers of excellence for purposes of training and certification attainment.” AFIT is recognized as the Air Force’s “cyberspace technical center of excellence.”
Turner is also pushing for the inclusion of language in the FY11 National Defense Authorization Act that would expand AFIT’s authority to enroll government and non-government civilian personnel in its programs.
A Senate subcommittee last week formally approved $150 million for a proposed uranium enrichment plant in southern Ohio — part of a larger spending bill paying for federal energy and water programs for fiscal 2013.
The money will go toward research and development at the proposed American Centrifuge Plant near Piketon, about 90 miles southeast of Dayton.
The Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee passed the funding bill late Thursday afternoon. Last week, a House subcommittee passed a similar measure, adding $100 million to their bill for the Piketon plant.
The Senate bill did not allocate new money, but instead gave the Department of Energy the authority to transfer the money from other programs.
The Piketon plant, however, has yet to receive federal dollars for fiscal 2012. Earlier this year, the Senate included $150 million in the highway bill for research and development at the American Centrifuge Plant, but the House did not include the money in its version of the transportation bill. However, both the House and Senate still must iron out differences in their version of the bills, meaning there still may be an opportunity for Congress to pass the money for fiscal 2012.
USEC, the Maryland-based company that would operate the plant, three years ago requested a $2 billion loan guarantee to commercialize the technology at the plant, but the Obama administration has yet to approve the loan guarantee.
Jessica Wehrman covers Washington news for the Dayton Daily News and The Columbus Dispatch.