- Senator Mitt Romney criticized Biden’s $ 1.9 billion stimulus plan at a New York Times DealBook event.
- Romney said the bill designates too much aid to states with budget surpluses.
- The senator also criticized the bill as a “clunker” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
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Utah Sen. Mitt Romney harshly criticized President Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 billion economic relief as excessive, wasteful and lacking in bipartisanship during a New York Times DealBook Policy Project conference Tuesday night.
“There is not much going on behind the scenes that involves Republicans,” Romney told Andrew Ross Sorkin of The Times. “I think the Democratic leadership has determined that they want to push through the plan without any changes at all, and without any input from Republicans and because it will be done through budget reconciliation, they don’t need any of our votes.”
Through budget reconciliation, the Senate can pass budget-related legislation with just a simple majority of 51 votes instead of the usual 60-vote majority required in the Senate to overcome obstructionism.
“It seems like a very problematic bill to me, not so much because of the price, which is quite high, but because there are many things there that are simply a waste. I wish we could use the money we have. I will go out to borrow from China to do things that will mark the difference, “Romney said.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed also published Tuesday, Romney called the bill “a clunker” that, in his opinion, is “full of bad policy and sloppy math.”
In particular, Romney said that much of the $ 350 billion in aid allocated in the bill to states currently experiencing budget surpluses could be better used.
“Most of our states did not have a bad couple of years. Most of our states are doing very well. Actually, twenty-one states had an increase in their revenue during COVID,” Romney said, adding, “California it has a record surplus, for example, but is slated to borrow $ 27 billion in money from the federal government. ”
Romney said he “brought a large map of the United States” to a meeting with Biden that “had a color code for the economic conditions of each state” to try to convey his concerns to the White House.
“He didn’t have an answer to that,” Romney said. “He found my graph, I hope, interesting, and he and the vice president looked at it. But I pointed out that we are shipping it to a lot of states that don’t need it.
The Senate is currently divided between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the runningoff vote.
Romney cautioned that reconciliation is a double-edged sword for Democrats.
“What happens, comes around. One day we will be the majority, and we will probably carry out the same kinds of actions that they do, which is unfortunate,” Romney said.
The Utah senator also opposes efforts by Democrats to increase the federal minimum wage, which is currently $ 7.25 an hour, to $ 15 an hour through the stimulus package. Romney argues that the jump from $ 7.25 to $ 15 will be too costly for small businesses.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that an increase to $ 15 an hour would cost 1.4 million jobs but help 900,000 Americans lift themselves out of poverty.
Ultimately, it is up to Senate MP Elizabeth McDonough to determine what can be included in a reconciliation package under the parameters of the Byrd rule, which states that matters “outside” of the budget process cannot go through reconciliation.
He is expected to render his ruling on the matter on Wednesday or Thursday, but even if he gives the green light for the $ 15 minimum wage increase to be in the bill, its inclusion could cost key votes that Democrats cannot afford. to lose.
Two key Senate moderate Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have said they oppose increasing minimal anger through the reconciliation process, and Biden told a group of governors in a Recent calls that do not have a wage increase to $ 15 an hour is included in the package.
Romney and Republican Sen. Tom Cotton have introduced their own bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $ 10 an hour by 2025, while requiring all employers to use E-Verify to prevent hiring undocumented immigrants and impose penalties. tougher employers to do so.