CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The senior United States Senator from Ohio, Sherrod Brown, spoke to Cleveland 19 about a wide variety of issues Monday including the Affordable Care Act, the president's plan to defund a program that preserves the Great Lakes and his thoughts on Russia.
Brown was in Cleveland Monday to speak about a proposed Irishtown Bend project. He stood with community partners at Cleveland Metroparks Merwin's Wharf, across from a hill on the bend that is unstable.
Community partners from the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency Planning for Greater Cleveland, NOACA, the Port of Cleveland and ArcelorMittal Cleveland joined Brown Monday to discuss a need for infrastructure improvements and buying American made products - starting with Irishtown Bend.
"Rebuilding American infrastructure will put Ohioans to work on projects like this one," said Brown. "We can create jobs building the roads, transit, and broadband systems that will support our 21st century economy. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and with President Trump to put Ohioans to work creating an infrastructure system that will be the envy of the world once again."
Cleveland 19 got a chance to talk with Brown about President Donald Trump's budget proposal that would completely defund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The GLRI started in 2010, and has spent nearly $1.8 billion on projects across the Great Lakes region. It has received $300 million annually for the past several years to spend on project that primarily do four things, preventing and controlling invasive species, reducing nutrient runoff that contributes to harmful/nuisance algal blooms, restoring habitat to protect native species and cleaning up Great Lakes Areas of Concern.
Several of those areas of concern are in northeast Ohio.
Brown said he's willing to work with the president on things like jobs, infrastructure and manufacturing but that, "he's dead wrong on this one."
He spoke about remembering what Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River looked like when he was younger, and described the "team effort" by the city, county, state and federal government to clean the water up.
"We've made huge progress, and this president who won his election because of the Great Lake states, ultimately Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan, has turned his back and we're gonna fight like hell to keep this movement going to clean up the lake and keep it clean," said Brown. "I don't know what's in store for the Cuyahoga and Lake Erie if these cuts go through, but I know it's bad news and I know it's always a struggle, because there are a lot of us that live near the lake, and a lot of industry and a lot of people put pesticides on our lawn and all the things we do in our society. So it's always a battle to keep this clean. I don't think the president understands that. It's up to us in the senate and the house, one, to explain that to him and second, to fight him if he doesn't back down on this."
He and his Republican counterpart, Rob Portman, have both spoken publicly against the proposed GLRI cuts.
He also addressed the House Republican's healthcare bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Brown said that the AHCA could mean fewer benefits for senior citizens, and those who have drug problems. The bill would roll back the Medicaid expansion put into place by the ACA.
"It's not alarmist or scare but people will die," said Brown. "Addiction will get worse. People that are almost recovered will fall back and I throw in with governor Kasich who says you don't repeal the Affordable Care Act without finding out a way to take care of these 700, 800, 900 thousand Ohioans who have insurance now and it will begin to scale back some of the benefits seniors are used to with the cost of their prescription drugs."
Brown also talked to Cleveland 19 as FBI director James Comey was testifying in front of the House Intelligence Committee, saying that the bureau was investigating if there were any ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.
"I'm amazed by what this president, how he treats Russia," said Brown. "He's critical of every foreign leader it seems that comes into his sights, and his connection with Putin - who is a KGB guy and a thug, his connections with Putin and his respect for Putin and some of the things he says about Putin, I don't even understand. Nobody I know understands why he's so close to Russia. one of this will surprise me no matter what comes out."