Sen. Rob Portman meets with local Ohio constituents despite gove - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Sen. Portman meets with constituents despite shutdown

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (10/02/2013) - While half of federal employees in our nation's capital are furloughed due to the government shutdown, Ohio Senator Rob Portman (R) conducted business as usual Wednesday, opening his office to local constituents visiting from Ohio for one of his weekly breakfasts.

"Our job is to continue to represent Ohio even with half the employees," Portman said.

Constituents from all across Ohio were in Washington to speak with Portman about many things, including education, jobs, and personal finance.

"You actually have an opportunity to talk to someone and visit with people," said Brad Ohlemacher, a constituent.

Ohlemacher is the president of a manufacturing company in Elyria. He comes to Washington a couple times a year to lobby, and he said it's a little easier during the shutdown.

As Portman made his way around the room greeting constituents, Ohlemacher said he wanted to talk to Portman about business advice when it comes to investing in his company.

"The different things that allow me to have more money so that I can invest it into equipment and into people, rather than put it into taxes where it just gets lost," Ohlemacher said.

Another local constituent, Brian Page, also attended the breakfast. He said he wanted to talk to Portman about high school curriculum. He said he wants Portman to make a personal finance class available for his students at the high school where he teaches at in Cincinnati.

"We think we should empower our students with the financial education they deserve to make wise and informed financial choices," Page said.

Regarding the country's own financial issues, Page said, "I understand this is more of a macroeconomic issue, and what we're looking for is more personal finance, but certainly it's pretty ironic."

In an interview with Washington Bureau Chief Jacqueline Policastro, Portman said opportunities to speak with his constituents will carry on despite the shutdown.

"Our job is to try to work through this issue of a government shutdown, get that over with and behind us…but in the meantime, we're going to continue to hear from our constituents and get their input."

Meanwhile, Portman's Ohio colleague, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), is without much of his office personnel. The doors to his office are locked, and the reception staff were sent home because of the government shutdown. A sign on the door asks constituents to send an e-mail if they have any immediate concerns, but that the office would remain closed until further notice.

Brown called the furlough a "hardship."

"We only have people that we absolutely need to do our jobs in terms of trying to find a way to get the government to re-open and convince the House of Representatives to do what they were legally elected to do," he said.

"So people answering the phones, people doing mail, people doing constituent service, people doing the press, most of them are not here. It's a hardship to them, and it's a hardship to a lot of people in the country. "

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