Congress has been locked in a dispute for several weeks over whether to pass a fast track trade bill that would give President Obama authority to sign new international trade deals. Local Reps. Jim Renacci and Tim Ryan fall on opposite sides of the dispute.
Renacci supports the trade deal. He says Northeast Ohioans rely on exporting goods to keep the economy strong. Overall, Renacci says there is a trade surplus, meaning we export more than we import. When asked about the fast track authority that would be granted to President Obama, Renacci says Congress would still get an up-or-down vote on any trade agreements negotiated by the President.
Ryan, however, has been a vocal opponent to the trade deal. He says he is concerned about the impact on local workers if there are more imports from countries that do not have similar standards to the United States in pay and working conditions. He says there were many jobs lost in the area after the North American Free Trade Agreement passed in 1993 and that our trade deficit increased with Canada and Mexico. Ryan is also worried about the fast track authority, saying it would lessen Congress' role in negotiating trade agreements.
At every State of the Union address, the two political parties usually don't applaud the same things. It's no different among two Akron area members of Congress.
Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan supported Obama's free community college plan as well as his proposed child care tax credit. He split from the President, however, on the issue of trade. Ryan called for a solution to the devaluing of currency by other countries to give them a competitive advantage in international trade.
Republican Rep. Jim Renacci was not as enthusiastic about the president's policy ideas. He challenged Obama's tax proposal, saying that the new taxes do not constitute tax reform. Renacci called on Congress to work first on things that both sides agree on and pass bills in those areas before moving on to more divisive issues. He said he supports the idea of sick leave for employees, but is wary about mandating sick leave he believes a one-size-fits-all approach may not work.
The House of Representatives passed a controversial continuing resolution/omnibus spending bill known as CRomnibus that, if signed by the President before the end of the weekend, will prevent the federal government from shutting down. Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and Rep. Tim Ryan both say they're not happy with provisions in the bill regarding banks, but not unhappy enough to shut down the government. Ryan explains his no vote while Brown talks about why he plans to vote no.
President Obama's prime time address and action on illegal immigration has created quite a stir over not only illegal immigration, but also over the role of presidential actions in developing laws. Reps. Tim Ryan (D) and Jim Renacci (R) reacted to Obama's move on the show.
On the Ebola political front Akron area Congressman Tim Ryan -- who's district includes Tallmadge -- splitting from the Democrat pack, now backing visa restrictions on travelers from West Africa into the U.S. For the most part Republicans want restrictions, Democrats don't. The White House reportedly considering it but it's experts say it's a bad idea. Ryan says the nation "cannot continue to risk American security" and a travel ban is reasonable.
Congressman Ryan spoke addressed the issue with WAKR's Jasen Sokol on the WAKR Morning News with Ray Horner.
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(Congressman Tim Ryan) Congressman Tim Ryan today called on the U.S. State Department to temporarily ban travel visas for citizens of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea until the West African Ebola outbreak has been contained and American safety can been assured.
"I have urged Secretary of State John Kerry to ban travel visas for the West African nations affected by the Ebola outbreak," said Congressman Ryan. "I am proud of the countless American doctors, nurses and health professionals who are putting themselves in harm's way to provide humanitarian aid the region and I applaud those who are selflessly assisting these nations and understand the need for safe transportation to the region, but we cannot continue to risk American security by allowing open travel into the United States by West African citizens while this health crisis persists. A visa ban is a reasonable measure to help limit Americans' exposure to this virus.
Congressman Tim Ryan sent the following letter today to Secretary of State John Kerry and the U.S. State Department:
October 16, 2014
The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Mr. Secretary:
As you are aware, the 2nd U.S. nurse infected with the Ebola virus, Amber Vinson, traveled to my Congressional district just prior to exhibiting symptoms of the disease. Consequently, my constituents and I are rightly concerned that the federal government take all reasonable and appropriate measures to contain the spread of this virus in the U.S. and prevent its arrival in Ohio.
As the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden, stated in his testimony to Congress, the Administration remains open to any measures it believes will help reduce this crisis. As such, I urge you to implement an immediate ban on visas being issued to citizens of the West African counties that have been the worst hit by the Ebola epidemic – Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea – until this crisis in those countries has been brought under control.
While there are those who raise concerns that travel restrictions from West African counties could limit the ability of U.S. aid and health workers, I believe these temporary measures would help reduce the spread of the disease in the U.S., while not impacting the travel of essential U.S. personnel and resources to the region. The United States must do everything we can to help the men and women in West Africa who are suffering from this ongoing crisis and concurrently keep in mind the health and safety of our nation's citizens.
This ongoing Ebola epidemic is an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and I applaud your work in helping to limit the spread of the virus while continuing to provide the West African countries with the resources necessary to combat this disease. I appreciate the time and attention you will give this important matter, and I look forward to working with you as we move forward to help combat this disease here at home and around the world."
Four Ohio legislators are sending a letter to Lockheed Martin asking the defense contractor to not close its Akron operation with 600 jobs affected. Senator Sherrod Brown and congressmen Tim Ryan, Marcia Fudge and Marcy Kaptur all signed the letter.
They says the company’s draft consolidation plan reportedly includes closing the Akron plant and relocating its workers to Lockheed Martin facilities in other states.
Staff members for area Republican lawmakers - Congressman Jim Renacci, Congressman Dave Joyce and Senator Rob Portman - tell AkronNewsNow.com that they've all contacted Lockheed Martin officials, and are working to try to keep the Akron operation going.
“Ohio has a rich manufacturing history with among the most skilled and hardest workers in the world,” Brown said. “That is why Lockheed Martin should do everything in its power to find an alternative to closing its Akron facility, eliminating jobs, and forcing workers to leave Ohio. This would significantly hurt the economy of Northeast Ohio and the community that has loyally served Lockheed for decades. My congressional colleagues and I therefore offer whatever assistance we can to ensure that that this doesn’t happen.”
13th district Congressman Tim Ryan is one of the area lawmakers who signed a letter to Lockheed Martin.
Representative Ryan says that the loss of about 600 jobs linked to the local facility would be devastating to the area.
"It's a hell of a hit to lose five or six hundred jobs," Ryan tells AkronNewsNow.com. "That's not something you can make up right away...those are good jobs, engineering jobs, high paying jobs."
Since reports of this consolidation plan came to light, the offices of Brown, Fudge, and Ryan have held individual discussions with Lockheed Martin’s management to express both their concern and disappointment that Lockheed would consider shuttering the competitive Akron plant.
Missiles may soon be coming to Camp Ravenna.
The military training center in Portage County more commonly known as the Ravenna Arsenal is one of five locations in the running to hold a new ballistic missile interceptor site.
WKYC reports the size of the nearly 20,000 acre facility helped make it a finalist.
Congressman Tim Ryan and Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman all gave their support to Camp Ravenna, which is competing with sites in Maine, New York, Vermont, and Michigan.
A final decision may not come for several years.
On the Web: www.wkyc.com
For years, people who wanted to visit Downtown Kent had difficulties finding places to park. Many who came into Kent on buses didn't have a direct route into the central business district.
That, along with so many other things in Downtown Kent, is changing.
The Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority cut the ribbon on the new $25 million Kent Central Gateway Monday.
Funded in large part by a $20 million federal TIGER grant, it adds 365 much-needed parking spaces to a revitalized Downtown Kent in addition to ten covered bus bays and retail and meeting space.
PARTA general manager John Drew said the project had its doubters from the start, including those who didn't believe the project would be funded.
"Once we got the money, we had a number of people who said 'you're not going to be able to build it, you're in the transit business,'" he said. "Once we built it, by George, 'you're not going to be able to run it.' Well, yes we are."
The parking spaces are a welcome addition to an area that has added a number of new businesses, shops, and restaurants as well as a hotel over the last few years. But Drew said he sees the bus depot as the main attraction.
"It's just a wonderful adjunct to our program," he said of the parking spaces.
The ten bays in the bus depot are more than PARTA will need for its current services and those that will be provided by Akron's Metro RTA. Drew says the extra spaces could come in handy in the future.
"Greyhound, I think, may be our next opportunity," he said. "But it won't be for a while before we're able to do that."
Drew said he has not reached out to Greyhound yet about the possibility of adding service.
Several federal officials attended the opening, including Congressman Tim Ryan and representatives from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the offices of Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman.
Ryan helped PARTA secure the TIGER grant that made construction of the facility possible. He said some people have forgotten the value of public-private partnerships.
"We've made big public investments before that have transformed our economy," he said. "And now, these more targeted, regional, smaller investments are having the same effect for older industrial downtowns."
In a statement, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called the Kent Central Gateway a "great example of how transportation can help the local economy, both by bringing new businesses and development to the downtown area, and by attracting the young graduates local businesses need by providing the transportation choices they want."
The parking spaces opened in June. Buses will begin serving the Gateway next week as the PARTA system's hub moves from a facility on the Kent State University campus. Drew said no timetable is in place for the retail space, but he expects to have it filled "in no time."
There's another hat that won't be thrown into the ring for the Ohio Governor's race next year.
In a letter to the Plain Dealer, former Democratic congresswoman Betty Sutton said she will not seek the office in 2014.
She lost her seat on Capitol Hill to Republican Jim Renacci in a re-drawn district last November.
Sutton, from Copley Township, is the latest among prominent state Democrats who have turned down the chance to take on GOP incumbent Governor John Kasich.
It includes congressman Tim Ryan and former Governor Ted Strickland.
One name still out there for the Dems--Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald, who is forming an exploratory committee to look at his chances of winning.
The congressman who's district stretches from Youngstown to Akron is declining a bid for the Ohio Democratic nomination for Governor in 2014.
Tim Ryan's decision comes on the heels of Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald's decision to set up an exploratory committee that allows him to start fundraising and setting up a campaign organization before making any run official. Fitzgerald, Ryan and federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau czar Richard Cordray had been mentioned as the strongest candidates Ohio Democrats could field for the right to challenge Republican Governor John Kasich next year.
In a statement released by his office, Ryan said he would continue to lead in efforts to grow opportunity in Ohio. He specifically mentioned Akron's Austen BioInnovation Institute as well as efforts to build Tech Belt linking businesses and Universities crossing not only local congressional districts but also into Pennsylvania.
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(Congressman Tim Ryan) "This is the most exciting time in the history of Northeast Ohio and it has become increasingly clear to me that I will be able to do more for the region, state, and country by continuing to serve in the House of Representatives rather than running for governor. For decades, our young people have yearned for more opportunities, and now those opportunities are growing everyday. By continuing to lead that effort from my current position in Congress, together we can continue to build upon those accomplishments.
We have already accomplished much in our region, from the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, to the Kent Central Gateway project, to the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute and a new billion dollar steel pipe factory in Youngstown. We have made great progress because of regional cooperation including Tech Belt, a vibrant 21st century mega-region that stretches from Cleveland and Akron over to Youngstown and Pittsburgh. Our region's success has been recognized as a model by national and international publications, as well as the President of the United States in his State of the Union.
Although the region has seen a tremendous turnaround, we are still at the early stages of our revitalization with too many people who have yet to share in that recent success. I recognize that I am in a unique position to help create opportunities for these people. I also wish to continue the work I am doing with our active duty troops and veterans, especially those who carry so much of the trauma of war and suffer from post-traumatic stress.
It has been an honor to serve in Congress for the great people of Northeast Ohio. I am and forever will be grateful for the support I've received over the years. I want to thank all of my dear friends, family and staff members for their views and support while I was considering this decision. I am blessed to have so many smart and caring leaders in my life from so many of the great communities around Ohio. I look forward to continuing this important work as we help Ohio reach its full potential."