Mitt Romney rebuked some of his Republican Senate colleagues, calling January 6 Capitol riots an ‘insurrection against the Constitution’

Mitt Romney
Sen. Mitt Romney speaks during a news conference in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington on December 1, 2020.

  • Sen. Mitt Romney rebuked some of his Republican colleagues after a hearing about the January 6 Capitol insurrection.
  • Romney reiterated the riots at the Capitol amounted to “an insurrection against the Constitution.”
  • Several Republicans at a hearing on Wednesday downplayed the insurrection, which resulted in five deaths.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Mitt Romney called the Capitol attack “an insurrection against the Constitution” following remarks from fellow Republicans trying to downplay the events of January 6.

The Republican senator from Utah was responding to a question from HuffPost reporter Igor Bobic about a House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday regarding police preparation during the attack.

Several Republicans spoke out during the hearing to downplay the riots with dismissive comments and baseless claims. GOP Rep. Andrew Clyde said accurately describing the insurrection as such constituted a “bold-faced lie” and compared the pro-Trump mob to tourists.

Hundreds of rioters stormed the Capitol building while Congress was trying to certify the 2020 presidential election results forcing lawmakers, including Romney, to evacuate the building to safety. Footage shows Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman directed Romney away from the rioters during the insurrection.

Five people died in the insurrection and more than 470 people are facing related federal charges.

Bobic on Thursday asked Romney for his response to Republicans “trying to rewrite history” about the January 6 riot.

“Well, I was there,” Romney said. “And what happened was a violent effort to interfere with and prevent the constitutional order of installing a new president, and as such it was an insurrection against the Constitution, it resulted in severe property damage, severe injuries and death.”

The comment marks the latest instance where Romney openly rebuked Republican lawmakers in the aftermath of January 6. The Washington Post reported that Romney erupted at Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, telling the Missouri lawmaker during a fiery confrontation that he “caused” the riot.

Romney posted on Twitter in the hours after the insurrection to label it as such, in addition to squarely placing blame on then-President Donald Trump.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Mitt Romney reportedly accosted Josh Hawley over the Capitol riot: ‘You have caused this!’

Hawley Romney
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) speaks as the Senate reconvenes after the Capitol was cleared of rioters on January 6, 2020, with GOP Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, left, and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, right, looking on.

  • Sen. Romney reportedly exploded at Sen. Josh Hawley over the January 6 Capitol insurrection.
  • According to The Washington Post, Romney told Hawley: “You have caused this!”
  • Hawley has been resoundingly criticized for raising objections to Biden’s electoral votes.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah exploded at Sen. Josh Hawley over the January 6 Capitol insurrection, The Washington Post reported. He’s said to have told Hawley, “You have caused this!”

The Post, citing sources familiar with the exchange, reported on the Romney-Hawley confrontation in a lengthy profile of the Missouri senator published on Monday.

The Post said that as senators were rushed out of the Capitol and into a secure location, “Hawley remained combative in pushing the very falsehoods that had helped stoke the violence,” prompting Romney’s rebuke.

The normally mild-mannered and affable Romney also shouted “this is what you’ve gotten!” at his Republican colleagues during the chaos of the siege on the Capitol, The New York Times reported.

Read more: FBI director Chris Wray barely survived the Trump era. Now he’s working with Biden’s attorney general taking on domestic terrorism and probing Trump allies.

Hawley generated significant controversy with his plan to sign onto an official objection to Congress counting Pennsylvania’s slate of 20 electoral college votes for President Joe Biden. He followed through with this move after the insurrection when senators were able to return to the Capitol after it had been secured by law enforcement.

Under the parameters of the Electoral Count Act of 1887, each chamber must split up to debate an Electoral College objection for a maximum of two hours. This meant that Congress debated the Pennsylvania objection late into the wee hours of January 7 after being able to return to the Capitol. Hawley specifically took issue with a law passed by the state’s GOP-controlled legislature that allowed voters to vote by mail without an excuse.

The Missouri senator has condemned the riots at the Capitol and distanced himself from the insurrectionists’ actions on multiple occasions since. But critics say Hawley casting doubt on the integrity of the 2020 election elevated the false claims of voter fraud that led to the insurrection.

Hawley’s actions around the riots led to some of his most prominent mentors, including former Missouri Senator John Danforth, publicly disavowing him and stating that they regret their roles in his political rise. Another one of Hawley’s Republican colleagues, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, said bringing the objections was “a really dumbass idea.”

Expanded Coverage Module: capitol-siege-module

Read the original article on Business Insider

Mitt Romney loudly booed and called a ‘traitor’ at Utah’s GOP conference over his opposition to Trump

Mitt Romney
Sen. Mitt Romney addresses the Utah Republican Party 2021 Organizing Convention Saturday, May 1, 2021, in West Valley City, Utah.

  • Utah GOP conference delegates booed Sen. Mitt Romney on Saturday.
  • Romney faced anger for his opposition to former President Donald Trump.
  • “You know I was not a fan of our last president’s character issues,” said Romney
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney was loudly booed when he took to the stage at a state Republican Party conference Saturday, according to a video published by the Salt Lake Tribune.

In the footage, the delegates start to boo when Romney takes to the stage and the jeering grows louder as he tries to speak.

Romney is one of the most prominent critics of former President Donald Trump. He was the only Republican who voted to convict Trump in the former president’s first impeachment trial, and one of 9 Republicans who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial.

According to the Tribune, delegates shouted insults at Romney, accusing him of being a “traitor” and a “communist.”

“I’m a man who says what he means, and you know I was not a fan of our last president’s character issues,” said Romney, as delegates tried to shout him down.

“Aren’t you embarrassed?” Romney asked the crowd as the boos continued.

The crowd only quietened down when Utah GOP chair Derek Brown stepped onto the stage and asked delegates to “show respect” to Romney. The senator was then able to continue with his speech.

Watch the racous introduction Romney received from the floor of the Utah convention, here:

According to the Associated Press, Romney narrowly escaped official censure at the convention over his opposition to Trump in a 798 to 711 vote.

The incident highlights the rift that still exists between moderate conservatives who’ve spoken out against Trump over the Capitol riot and other outrages, and many grassroots Republicans who remain loyal to him.

Romney, the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee, is one of the most prominent figures in the GOP. Yet his opposition to Trump has seen his popularity fall with Republicans, with an Ipsos/axios poll on January 14 finding that only 34% of Republicans approved of his political conduct.

In his remarks to delegates, Saturday Romney sought to remind them of his conservative credentials.

“You can boo all you like,” said Romney. “I’ve been a Republican all of my life. My dad was the governor of Michigan and I was the Republican nominee for president in 2012.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Republicans shake their heads, doze off, and live-tweet during Biden’s first joint address to Congress

rep lauren boebert
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) during U.S. President Joe Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress in the U.S. Capitol on April 28, 2021.

  • Many Republicans seemed unmoved during Biden’s joint address to Congress on Wednesday.
  • Rep. Lauren Boebert live-tweeted criticism of Biden during the speech.
  • Cameras caught Sen. Ted Cruz dozing off while Biden addressed immigration reform.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Several Republican lawmakers appeared impassive and even displeased throughout most of President Joe Biden’s first joint address to Congress on Wednesday night.

Freshman firebrand Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado live-tweeted criticism of Biden while he spoke about his administration’s agenda, covering items such as the economy, health care, and the criminal justice system.

“I miss President Trump,” Boebert tweeted shortly into Biden’s address. About halfway through the speech, Boebert pulled out a space blanket and draped it over her lap, according to reporters in the chamber.

“The Biden regime is an existential crisis,” she tweeted toward the end of the night.

When Biden touched on the economy, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio looked visibly troubled and began shaking his head vigorously, PBS NewsHour’s Lisa Desjardins observed.

Cameras in the House chamber showed Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas appearing to struggle to stay awake as Biden discussed immigration reform. Cruz put out a statement summing up his feelings after the speech concluded, calling it “boring, but radical.”

As Biden addressed issues including clean water, job creation, and child poverty, many Republicans, like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, remained stone-faced.

Once Biden wrapped up, McCarthy plainly said: “This whole thing could have just been an email.”

Republicans piled on the attacks on Twitter, labeling Biden’s speech “pathetic,” accusing him of “virtue-signaling,” and calling out Democrats for violating COVID-19 guidelines such as social distancing.

Only around 200 people were allowed in the House chamber for Wednesday’s address, as the event was scaled back due to coronavirus restrictions.

During his speech, Biden highlighted his infrastructure proposal, called on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and outlined parts of his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, which would invest in child care and education.

Democrats repeatedly rose from their seats and applauded the president as he spoke, while Republicans largely remained seated with their hands in their laps.

However, there were some bipartisan moments of the evening. When Biden briefly acknowledged first lady Jill Biden teaching as a community college professor, she received a standing ovation from Democratic and Republican lawmakers. Boebert was the only person who did not clap, according to the Capitol Hill pool.

Several GOP lawmakers also applauded after Biden encouraged Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina offered the GOP’s response to Biden’s address on Wednesday night.

“Our president seems like a good man. His speech was full of good words,” Scott said. “But three months in, the actions of the president and his party are pulling us further and further apart.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Republicans have an idea who should pay to overhaul the country’s infrastructure: average people

Collins Romney Senate Republicans
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and a group of Senate Republicans speak to reporters outside the White House in February.

  • Infrastructure talks are gaining steam in Congress, and Republicans are floating new road taxes on drivers.
  • The GOP is lining up against a corporate tax hike, arguing it would hurt job growth.
  • Instead, they’re hinting they may support user-fees such as a raise to the gas tax or vehicle mileage tax.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Infrastructure talks are starting to gain momentum in Congress two weeks after President Joe Biden rolled out his sprawling $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan.

A Republican-led group of 20 lawmakers is gearing up to make a counteroffer in a bid to strike a bipartisan deal on a smaller package. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia floated one this week in the range of $600 billion to $800 billion. But there are fresh signs of discord among Republicans on the price tag and it’s far from settled.

The sole factor binding them together is opposition to Biden’s corporate tax hike. Capito called it a “non-negotiable red line,” and other Republicans like Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Susan Collins of Maine agreed they wouldn’t budge.

Instead, they are suggesting potential “user-fees,” a set of charges levied on the users of a federal service or good, such as raising the federal gas tax. User-fees have the support from the Chamber of Commerce, a powerful business group.

“My own view is that the pay-for ought to come from people who are using it. So if it’s an airport, the people who are flying,” Sen. Mitt Romney told reporters on Wednesday. “If it’s a port, the people who are shipping into the port; if it’s a rail system, the people who are using the rails; If it’s highways, it ought to be gas if it’s a gasoline-powered vehicle.”

That could shift the financial burden of an infrastructure overhaul from companies onto people, Kevin DeGood, an infrastructure expert at the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress, told Insider. It has triggered intense resistance among Democrats.

“If the Republican position is that we’re going only going to do this by raising the gas tax and we won’t accept an additional penny of corporate revenue, that won’t be something our caucus can get behind,” a Senate Democratic aide granted anonymity to speak candidly said.

Pressing Republicans to roll back Trump tax cuts is like urging Democrats to repeal Obamacare

The US generally funds infrastructure – encompassing roads, highways, and public transit like commuter rail – through a blend of state and federal funding. Only about a quarter of spending on transportation and water projects stems from the federal government now, per the Congressional Budget Office.

That’s down from a peak of 38% in 1977, leaving state and local governments to pick up more of the tab in recent decades. Biden’s last two predecessors urged more infrastructure spending. Former President Barack Obama sought to close corporate tax loopholes to repair roads, bridges, and tunnels in a jobs plan, but Republicans lined up against it.

Then former President Donald Trump pitched $1 trillion in new infrastructure spending during his 2016 campaign. Several efforts at a bipartisan package collapsed throughout his four years in office.

Now, a five-year highway funding bill expires in September, providing lawmakers with something close to a deadline to get their public-works priorities through Congress. Clashes are intensifying between Democrats urging tax hikes on corporations and high-earners, and Republicans pushing new fees on individuals.

Biden wants to raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, a partial repeal of Trump’s 2017 tax law. Brian Riedl, a budget expert at the right-leaning Manhattan Institute, said Republicans were unlikely to support rolling back their biggest economic achievement of the past decade.

“Republicans worked extraordinarily hard to enact a major rewrite of the tax code,” Riedl told Insider. “They’re not going to reverse their signature policy to pay for Joe Biden’s spending. That’s like asking Democrats to repeal Obamacare to pay for a Republican tax cut.”

He outlined a potential plan that would include repurposing unspent emergency stimulus funds to state and local governments, and moving federal money around in the annual budget.

Republicans floated a gasoline tax or a vehicle mileage tax on electric vehicles to finance infrastructure in lieu of business tax hikes. The federal gas tax hasn’t been lifted since 1993, and a vehicle miles-traveled tax has never been implemented at the federal level. Only two states have it in place, The Washington Post reported.

Business groups favor spending on roads and bridges, but don’t want to pay for it

Business groups generally want infrastructure spending, though targeted in scope. The Business Roundtable supports up to $1.5 trillion “to return US physical infrastructure to a state of good repair.”

“There are clear benefits to business from additional infrastructure investing, but we also think it’s unfair to ask business to shoulder or cover all of the additional costs of this public infrastructure investment,” Brendan Bechtel, a leading figure in the Business Roundtable, told CNBC on Wednesday.

But experts say there is simply not enough to be raised through charging new fees on drivers or other types of road taxes. “User-fees are not going to be sufficient and there are sectors that don’t have them,” DeGood told Insider. “For example, the Biden administration wants to put money into electrical transmission.”

Republicans are indicating they will favor a package that’s narrowly tailored to address roads, bridges, ports and other physical infrastructure. One Republican aide argued Democrats swelled the size of their plan, dampening the odds of a deal.

“I think this is going to turn into a slush fund for priorities for important constituencies and important members,” the aide said. “You’re going to get a much better work product if you have Republican senators involved in this. It will give it more longevity.”

Still, some Democrats such as Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said it may be possible to split off elements of Biden’s plan and strike a $1 trillion bipartisan agreement, giving Democrats space to push through the rest using budget reconciliation in a party-line vote. GOP lawmakers wouldn’t be likely to endorse that, according to Riedl.

“Republicans aren’t gonna allow themselves to be chumps like that,” Riedl said.”They won’t give bipartisan cover to a process that will run them over in the end using reconciliation.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

JPMorgan says it’s time for US corporate taxes to catch back up with the rest of the world

venue

Trump Biden
Presidents Joe Biden (L) and Donald Trump (R).

  • JPMorgan said the US should increase corporate tax rates to catch up to other world economies.
  • The US is more focused than other countries on raising tax revenue from personal income and housing.
  • Even before the 2017 Trump tax cut, it found US corporate tax revenues lower than the global average.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden kicked off a major debate in early April when he proposed raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% to fund his $4 trillion infrastructure plan. Now JPMorgan has weighed in on the matter and it finds corporate tax revenue is lower in the US than elsewhere, even if the rate is now close to the international average.

And as sentiment appears strong in the US that American corporations don’t “pay their fair share,” the bank found that relative to other economies, the US “prioritizes raising tax revenue from personal income and property.” In other words, the current American tax system raises more from people’s paychecks and real-estate investments than from companies, compared to the rest of the world.

JPMorgan’s economic research note on Thursday found that prior to President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, the US statutory corporate tax rate of 35% was high compared to other countries, but that law slashed them by 13.2% – the largest decline ever.

Furthermore, the bank found that dating back to 2000, revenues actually collected from American corporate taxes only represented about 2% of gross domestic product (GDP), versus a 3% average globally. This reflects, the bank said, “a complex system of exemptions and deductions embedded in the US tax code that reduces the corporate tax base and results in corporate taxes contributing a much lower share of total tax revenue in the US than elsewhere.”

And after the Trump tax cut, this percentage fell to just 1% of GDP. This explains the American reliance on taxing personal income and housing, the note said.

“The US stands out as having both the highest share of revenue from personal income (both labor and investment) across the economies we examine, and the smallest share of tax revenue from taxes on goods and services,” the note said.

While Biden and Democrats have supported raising the corporate tax rate to fund infrastructure, Republican lawmakers oppose doing so. For example, Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, said that rolling back Trump’s 2017 tax cuts would be “an almost impossible sell” to get bipartisan support.

And Insider reported on Thursday that a group of Republican senators are drafting their own infrastructure plan – one that would cost between $600 billion and $800 billion, and would be funded without any corporate tax hikes.

“My own view is that the pay-for ought to come from people who are using it. So if its an airport, the people who are flying,” Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who is helping draft the plan, told reporters. “If it’s a port, the people who are shipping into the port; if it’s a rail system, the people who are using the rails; If it’s highways, it ought to be gas if it’s a gasoline powered vehicle.”

But Biden has remained firm on increasing the corporate tax rate to 28%, saying in a speech last week that the tax hike would level the playing field for large companies and average Americans.

He said: “I’m not trying to punish anybody, but damn it, maybe it’s because I come from a middle-class neighborhood, I’m sick and tired of ordinary people being fleeced.”

JPMorgan doesn’t put it in quite those terms, but its note concludes that so-called ordinary people account for a greater share of tax revenue in the US than elsewhere.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Senate Republicans are drafting their own infrastructure plan and want to tax people for it, not corporations

Mitt Romney
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT).

  • Republicans are starting to draft an infrastructure plan in a bid to strike a deal with Biden.
  • It may shift the financial burden of the plan onto people instead of large corporations.
  • The plan could come in at less than half of the $2.3 trillion proposal laid out by the White House.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A group of Senate Republicans is assembling an infrastructure plan, part of a bid to strike a deal with President Joe Biden on a package that’s more narrowly targeted in scope.

The Republican faction appears to consist of the same 10 GOP senators who pitched Biden a $618 billion stimulus package in early February. Those negotiations didn’t yield a breakthrough, as the Democrats passed a $1.9 trillion stimulus without any Republican votes.

These infrastructure proposals are shaping up to be similar, as the Republican group is preparing to unveil an infrastructure bill likely worth $600 billion to $800 billion, much smaller than Biden’s $2.3 trillion plan.

The bloc includes Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

Here are some emerging outlines of the plan, based on comments from those Republican lawmakers:

  • $600 billion to $800 billion price tag.
  • Focused on roads, bridges, highways, airports, water and broadband.
  • May double the spending on roads and bridges from Biden plan ($115 billion).
  • Financed with “user-fees” such as a tax on vehicle-miles traveled.
  • No corporate tax hikes.

Romney said told reporters the plan remained in its “early stages,” an indication many details still need to be hashed out. Yet the developments could lead to weeks of negotiations between the Republican-led group and the White House on a smaller infrastructure plan.

Capito on Wednesday said “a sweet spot” for an bipartisan infrastructure deal would range between $600 billion to $800 billion – less than half of the $2.3 trillion package Biden laid out.

“What I’d like to do is get back to what I consider the regular definition of infrastructure in terms of job creation. So that’s roads, bridges, ports, airports, including broadband into that, water infrastructure,” she told CNBC.

‘The people who are using it’ should pay for infrastructure

Other Republicans say they would back shifting the cost of the package from large companies onto the “users” who benefit from government spending. Many are strongly opposed to reversing the Trump tax law to pay for an infrastructure overhaul.

“My own view is that the pay-for ought to come from people who are using it. So if its an airport, the people who are flying,” Romney told reporters. “If it’s a port, the people who are shipping into the port; if it’s a rail system, the people who are using the rails; If it’s highways, it ought to be gas if it’s a gasoline powered vehicle.”

Romney also said he supports implementing a mileage fee on drivers of electric vehicles. Then Capito suggested redirecting unused stimulus money to pay for an infrastructure plan among other measures.

“We’re going to look at Vehicle Miles Traveled as a possibility when you look at fleets or when you look at electric vehicles. We’re going to look at assessing electric vehicles for road usage even though they don’t pay into the gas tax,” she said.

Meanwhile, Cassidy is pushing for an even bigger federal commitment to repair roads and bridges.

“Something I would like to see is double the money for roads and bridges,” he said Wednesday, adding he was in talks on a plan alongside Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, the head of the National Governors Association.

News of the Republican plan triggered some early criticism from Sen. Bernie Sanders, who heads the Senate Budget Committee.

“We have a major crisis in terms of roads, bridges, water systems, affordable housing, you name it. [The GOP price tag] is nowhere near what we need,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

Read the original article on Business Insider

GOP Senator says a ‘sweet spot’ on bipartisan infrastructure deal is less than half of what Biden wants

Shelley Moore Capito
Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va

  • Sen. Shelly Moore Capito said a “sweet spot” for a bipartisan infrastructure deal is less than half of what Biden wants.
  • “I would say probably into the $600 or $800 billion, but we haven’t put all of that together yet,” Capito told CNBC.
  • Other Republicans like Mitt Romney and Bill Cassidy are signaling there’s an infrastructure plan being drafted.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia said a middle ground between Democrats and Republicans on an infrastructure deal would be significantly less than half of the $2.3 trillion package that President Joe Biden seeks.

“I think the best way for us to do this is hit the sweet spot of where we agree and I think we can agree on a lot of the measures moving forward. How much? I would say probably into the $600 or $800 billion, but we haven’t put all of that together yet,” Capito told CNBC.

Capito laid out some potential revenue elements, including unused coronavirus relief funds, road usage fees for electric cars, and a vehicle miles-traveled tax. She also suggested raising the gas tax, a measure the Biden administration has already ruled out.

“It’s going to have to come from a lot of different sources, but this is important,” she said. Capito did not bring up lifting corporate taxes.

The West Virginia Republican later told Capitol Hill reporters there was a group were drafting a counterproposal, suggesting it would be sized somewhere between $600 billion to $800 billion. Capito was part of the Republican group that pitched a $618 billion counterproposal, which Biden along with Democrats ultimately rejected.

Other Republicans are signaling they are putting together a new package. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday there is a bipartisan group of 20 lawmakers evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats drafting one.

Then Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana said on Tuesday that a bipartisan group was assembling an “alternative” to the Biden plan. He indicated it would double the amount of spending on roads and bridges from the $115 billion that the president is seeking.

The Biden infrastructure plan includes major funding to fix roads and bridges and set up clean energy incentives. It also has federal funds for in-home elder care, public transit, and schools, among other areas.

Democrats are pressing to take advantage of the cheap cost of borrowing to fund new investments they say will curb inequality and grow the economy.

Republicans, however, are opposed to the Biden package, viewing it as a colossal liberal wish-list. Capito criticized the Biden proposal’s expansive scope, arguing it should be constrained to roads, bridges, airports, broadband, and water infrastructure.

“If we’re going to do this together, which we want to do and is our desire, we’ve got to find those areas and take away the extra infrastructure areas that the president put into his bill like home health aides and school building and all of these kinds of things,” she told CNBC.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Senate Republicans to discuss repealing ban on earmarks, key tactic for passing difficult legislation

Mitt Romney
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT).

  • The Senate GOP will meet next week to decide on bringing earmarks, funding members can use for their districts, back.
  • This follows House Republicans approving the restoration of earmarks in March.
  • Some GOP Senators opposed bringing earmarks back because of past abuses with the funding measure.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Almost a month after House Republicans voted to approve the restoration of earmarks, Senate Republicans are expected to meet next week to discuss bringing back the so-called community funding measures.

A decade ago, Republicans banned earmarks, which allow members to put funding for their districts in a larger bill, following a series of scandals related to earmark abuses. But now, both House Democrats and House Republicans have voted to bring them back, and Senate Republicans are set to meet next Wednesday to ratify their rules and discuss earmark usage, according to Bloomberg.

As some moderate Democrats, notably Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, stress the importance of bipartisan legislation, earmarks could be an important tactic for easing difficult legislation through congress on bipartisan lines.

Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama told The Hill on Tuesday that Democrats are already going forward with restoring earmarks, so he thinks “the decision is headed toward letting every member decide if they want to participate in the earmark process.”

On March 2, House Democrats introduced new guidelines for earmarks to bring them back while increasing transparency and requiring members to verify they have no financial interest in the funding requests, among other things.

On March 17, House Republicans voted by secret ballot to bring earmarks back as well. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said after the vote that there was “real concern” about solely the Biden administration directing where money goes.

“This doesn’t add one more dollar,” McCarthy said. “I think members here know what’s most important about what’s going on in their district, not Biden.”

However, some Senate Republicans did not feel the same. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told reporters after the vote that earmarks “are not the right way to go.”

“They have been associated with excess, and it would represent a turn to the worst,” he said.

The ban on earmarks once had bipartisan support, as a series of scandals led to former President Barack Obama saying in 2011 that he would veto any bill containing earmarks.

A defining earmark scandal occurred in 2005, when Alaska Rep. Don Young secured $233 million for a bridge that would connect two small cities, which became known as the “bridge to nowhere,” as critics said the bridge would not significantly benefit Young’s community. The same year, former California Rep. Duke Cunningham landed himself eight years in prison for accepting $2.4 million in bribes in return for promising earmarks to defense contractors.

As recently as March 1, a group of 10 Republican senators, led by Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Steve Daines of Montana, introduced a bill to permanently ban earmarks. Rubio said in a statement that earmarks had led to “corruption and waste, and bought votes in Congress for unpopular legislation.”

Although Republican lawmakers have largely opposed President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan thus far, bringing earmarks back could help pass difficult legislation as it allows lawmakers to include funding for their specific districts in bills.

The House is already using earmarks again, and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is accepting member requests for community funding through April 23 .

Read the original article on Business Insider

Sen. Mitt Romney received a JFK Profile in Courage Award for going against the GOP and voting to convict Donald Trump

mitt romney
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, leaves the Senate Republican Policy luncheon in Russell Building on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

  • The JFK Library Foundation gave Sen. Mitt Romney the JFK Profile in Courage Award Friday.
  • Romney received the award for voting to convict Trump during his first impeachment trial.
  • The Republican senator was the first person to vote to convict a member of their own party.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney was named the 2021 recipient of the Profile in Courage Award on Friday for going against his party and voting to convict former President Donald Trump in his first impeachment trial last year.

The award, which is given by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, was created by the late president’s family to honor public figures who risk their careers or lives to act upon their conscience in favor of the national interest despite popular opinion or pressure.

Romney was the only Republican senator to vote in favor of convicting Trump in January 2020 after the president was impeached on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The foundation released a statement announcing Romney as the recipient, praising “his consistent and courageous defense of democracy.”

“As the first Senator to have ever voted to convict a President of his own party, Senator Romney’s courageous stand was historic,” a statement said. “During a time of grave threat to U.S. democratic institutions, Mitt Romney has been a consistent but often solitary Republican voice in defense of democracy and the rule of law.”

At the time, Romney described his conviction vote as “the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my life.” He received widespread condemnation from his Republican colleagues and from the president himself.

In 2019, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also received the Profile in Courage Award “for putting the national interest above her party’s interest to expand access to health care for all.”

The foundation said that as a result of her working to pass the Affordable Care Act, she became the target of GOP political attacks and lost her first tenure as House Speaker in 2010. But, it said, she persisted, and “led Democrats in electing the most diverse Congress in U.S. history.”

Former Presidents Barack Obama and George H.W. Bush have also received the award.

Read the original article on Business Insider