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Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, pauses to answer questions from reporters as Senators arrive to vote on President Joe Biden’s candidate for United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at the Capitol in Washington, DC, Tuesday February 23, 2021. Scott J. Applewhite / AP

  • Senator Mitt Romney criticized Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package 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 editorial.

  • Visit Insider’s Business section for more stories.

Utah Senator Mitt Romney sharply criticized President Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion in economic aid as excessive, wasteful, and lacking in bipartisanship at a New York Times DealBook Policy Project conference Tuesday night.

“There isn’t much going on behind the scenes that involves Republicans,” Romney told Andrew Ross Sorkin. “I think the Democratic leadership has decided that they want to pass the plan without any changes, and without any input from Republicans and because it will be through budget reconciliation, they don’t need any of our votes. “

Through fiscal reconciliation, the Senate can pass budget laws with a simple majority of 51 votes instead of the usual 60-vote majority required in the Senate to bypass the filibuster.

“I find this a very inconvenient bill, not so much because of the price, which is quite high, but because there are a lot of things in there that are just unnecessary. I wish we could using the money in there that we’re going to go out and borrow from China to do things that will make a difference, ”Romney said.

In a Wall Street Journal editorial also published Tuesday, Romney called the bill a “clunker” which he said is “filled with bad policies and sloppy math.”

In particular, Romney has said that much of the $ 350 billion in aid allocated in the bill to states currently experiencing budget surpluses could be better spent.

“Most of our states haven’t had bad years. Most of our states are doing very well. Twenty-one states actually saw their incomes rise during COVID,” Romney said, adding, “California has a record surplus, for example, but it is expected to obtain $ 27 billion in loans from the federal government. “

Romney said he “brought a large map of the United States” to a meeting with Biden who “was color-coded for the economic conditions in each state” to try and convey his concerns to the White House.

“He hasn’t had a response to that,” Romney said. “He found my painting, I hope, interesting, and he and the vice-president looked at it. But I stressed that we are sending it to a group of states that don’t need it. “

The Senate is currently divided between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the deciding vote.

Romney has warned that reconciliation is a double-edged sword for Democrats.

“What’s going on comes around. We’ll be in the majority someday, and we’ll probably take the same kind of actions that they are, which is unfortunate,” Romney said.

The Utah senator also opposes Democrats’ efforts to raise the federal minimum wage, which is currently $ 7.25 an hour, to $ 15 an hour thanks to the stimulus package. Romney argues that the jump from $ 7.25 to $ 15 will be too expensive for small businesses.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that an increase to $ 15 an hour would cost 1.4 million jobs but help lift 900,000 Americans out of poverty.

Ultimately, it is up to Senate MP Elizabeth McDonough to determine what can be included in a reconciliation package within the parameters of the Byrd Rule, which states that matters “extraneous” to the budget process cannot be passed through reconciliation.

She is expected to render her ruling on the matter on Wednesday or Thursday, but even if she gives the green light for the $ 15 minimum wage increase to be included in the bill, its inclusion could cost key votes Democrats cannot. allow yourself to lose.

Two key moderate Senate Democrats, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, have both said they oppose increased minimum rage throughout the reconciliation process , Biden telling a group of governors on a recent appeal not to count on. a salary increase of $ 15 per hour is included in the package.

Romney and Republican Senator Tom Cotton 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 of employees. ‘undocumented immigrants and impose tougher penalties on employers who do so.

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