Sen. Portman tours Pennex Aluminum in Leetonia - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Sen. Portman tours Pennex Aluminum in Leetonia

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LEETONIA, Ohio -

Touring the Pennex Aluminum Company, U.S. Senator Rob Portman spent the Friday afternoon learning more about what goes into their products.

"About 1,000 degrees right there," said an employee showing Portman around the facility.

The company expanded in 2015, bringing on 70 new employees. The success was in part attributed to their fight to keep China from illegally selling aluminum below cost -- often referred to as dumping.

"Leaders in the industry stepped forward to push forward with an Anti-dumping Countervailing Duty Case against the Chinese. We were fortunate to be successful with that," said Pennex CEO Rick Merluzzi.

Portman then sat down with company employees.  Questions from the group carried the conversation to everything from fighting the drug epidemic to efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

"Yeah, I want to get rid of Obamacare, but I want to get the replacement moving," said Portman.

Afterwards Portman spoke with reporters about his take on the Trump administration so far. 

"I think they got off to a rocky start on this immigration issue, on the travel ban, and what I said at the time was, right when they did it, was the extreme vetting wasn't that well vetted," said Portman. "I think they've got a new order coming out now that seems to make a lot more sense."

21 News asked Portman about recent reports that he's making an effort to avoid criticism from the Democratic Party. The Columbus Dispatch reported that Postman's office turned away Democrats from a Lincoln Day Dinner on Wednesday.  A decision Portman says was made by the area's Republican Party Chairman. "Which was within his rights in my view," said Portman. "I told him I'll do whatever you want to do. If you want all the people to come in that's fine, if you want to just have it be Republicans that's fine. I'm a guest here."

Portman says he attended 475 events in Ohio last year and says he doesn't think there is a senator more accessible.

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