CINCINNATI — Ohio Sen. Rob Portman said he hopes his work on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act encourages others to reach across the aisle and get deals done.
The Cincinnati native announced earlier this year he will not seek a third term in 2022, saying it has gotten harder and harder "to break through partisan gridlock." At President Joe Biden's signing of the infrastructure bill, Portman continued to talk about the nation's political divide.
"The increasing polarization of our country is keeping us from getting things done, and we have a responsibility to do better," Portman said at the White House Monday.
Portman said he hopes to lead by example, encouraging others to bridge the divide. He also said the voters have the power to stop the polarization of political parties by supporting politicians who work toward bipartisanship.
"When somebody is doing something that, you know, helps move the ball forward, if you can get rewarded for that, you're going to see more of it," Portman said. "And if you get criticized and attacked for it, or can't win an election because of it, then there's going to be less of it."
While his time in the Senate is coming to an end, Portman said he has more work to be done — focusing on retirement security, on-the-job training and cyber attacks, all bipartisan issues.
"My hope is that it will be somewhat of a model so people can look at this and say, 'OK, this is how it can work,'" Portman said.
Portman said those issues — transportation, infrastructure and more — are easier to agree on across the board, knowing bipartisanship is hard to achieve in Congress.
"It ultimately comes down to the voters saying, you know, I want to reward that kind of behavior — and that's in a divided country, that's more difficult today," Portman said.
He said his office is working with the governors of Ohio and Kentucky to make sure the application process for federal dollars for the replacement Brent Spence Bridge goes smoothly. Ohio is expected to receive more than $12 billion in funding from the plan, while Kentucky would get around $6.94 billion.