In honor of Women’s History Month, let’s take a look at the recent voting past of Rob Portman and Bob Latta on issues that matter to women. Part 1 deals with issues like reproductive rights and legislation specifically involving women. But of course, women care about all kinds of issues. This part focuses on health and safety.
Most recently, Sen. Portman voted in favor of Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services, despite serious ethical concerns related to trading medical and pharmaceutical stocks while serving in the House. It is highly disappointing that Sen. Portman joined in this strict party-line vote to install a cabinet member with these issues. There may be some hope of party independence in Portman’s letter stating his opposition to gutting the Medicaid expansion. Let’s take a look at some other health and safety issues.
Rob and Health and Safety: Overview
So, how does Portman stack up? Sen. Portman has made a lot of hay from his principled work on the issue of opioid addiction. And his website emphasizes this issue in his questioning of Tom Price–without mentioning that Price has financial entanglements with drug companies. Certainly Sen. Portman is doing some good work for Ohio in this area.
However, in many other health and safety areas, his record is not as strong. For example, Food Policy Action, a group that “holds legislators accountable on votes that have an effect on food and farming,” rates Portman’s voting record at 40%. The Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, that works with the Alzheimer’s Association to “make Alzheimer’s a national priority,” rates his voting record at 0%. And, of course, as mentioned in Part 1 of this series, Portman rated poorly by Planned Parenthood, but highly by the National Right to Life. It’s not all bad news, though: the American Veterinary Medical Association rates his record at 100%.
In 2015, Portman voted in favor of the “Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act” — an Orwellian-named piece of legislature that sought to “terminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which provides for investment in prevention and public health programs to improve health and restrain growth in health care costs.” That description is from Title I of the actual bill–why would anyone be in favor that? Luckily, President Obama was there to veto this bill.
Obama was not around to veto HJ Res 40, a use of the Congressional Review Act to roll back a rule that prevented people collecting disability benefits for mental illness from purchasing guns. That’s right–the net effect of this legislation is that it is now easier for severely mentally ill people to buy guns, and Portman voted in favor of this measure.
When it comes to health and safety, Sen. Portman is more likely to vote with his party for big business and powerful lobbyists like the NRA rather than take principled stands. While his work on drug addiction is appreciated, his record overall, especially in this current session of Congress, is troubling. He has ignored the ethical issues of the new secretary of HHS and voted in favor of allowing unstable people to own guns: these are not responsible decisions to keep us all safe. Rob’s record on health and safety? Needs improvement.
As shown in Part 1 of this series, Bob Latta is an extremist when it comes to working against women. So, it’s not surprising that he’s also among the voices in the house calling for swift repeal of the ACA, even without a CBO score. What else is Bob up to when it comes to health and safety?
Bob and Health and Safety Overview
So, how does Bob stack up? Looking at the ratings from the same organizations evaluated above with Rob, Bob stacks up the same or worse–Food Policy Action: 24%, Alzheimer’s Impact Movement: 0%. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists do rate his voting record at 100%, which is odd considering his draconian votes on women’s issues–maybe they haven’t really met Bob.
Bob also voted for the (vetoed) Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015 and HJ Res 40, making it easier for the severely mentally ill to purchase guns. And, unlike Rob, Bob is in favor of the horrifying new GOP “repeal and replace” healthcare bill.
Just as Bob Latta is no ally of women, he is no friend to those in need of rational health and safety legislation, either. His votes suggest that he values de-regulation and corporate profits more than people. Bob’s record on health and safety? Poor.