Republican Sen. Mitt Romney insisted that he trusts President Joe Biden after the commander in chief walked back a conditional veto threat of the bipartisan infrastructure deal announced on Thursday.
The Utah senator said on Sunday that he “take[s] the president at his word” that he will ultimately sign the bipartisan deal even if Biden’s American Families Plan, which Republicans oppose, doesn’t pass as a budget reconciliation measure.
“I don’t know exactly where everybody is after the weekend. I certainly can understand why, not only myself, but a lot of my colleagues were very concerned about what the president was saying on Friday,” Romney said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “But I think the waters have been calmed by what he said on Saturday.”
“I do trust the president,” Romney said.
Romney’s praise for Biden’s trustworthiness marked a stark contrast with his comments for former President Donald Trump, whom he accused of pushing the “big lie” of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
“Well, I do think it’s important for each person to speak the truth and to make clear that the big lie is exactly that. … The election is over. It was fair,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “Look, the president was saying, was crying foul on election night and actually before election night. And the question is, what were his sources of information? Where did he hear that the election had been fraudulently carried out? Did he hear it from the Justice Department? No. Did he hear it from the intelligence community? No. So, where did he hear it from? The MyPillow guy? Rudy Giuliani? I mean, it’s pretty clear the election was fair. It wasn’t the outcome that the president wanted, but let’s move on.”
A frequent foil to Trump, Romney has become one of the most left-leaning Republicans in the Senate, often voting in support of Biden’s nominees for several positions.
Biden acknowledged in a Saturday statement that his Friday comments that he wouldn’t sign the bipartisan infrastructure deal “if [it] is the only thing that comes to me” was misleading in that it “created the impression that I was issuing a veto threat on the very plan I had just agreed to,” which was “certainly not my intent.”
“I expect in the coming months, this summer before the fiscal year is over, that we will have voted on this bill, the infrastructure bill, as well as voted on the budget resolution,” Biden had said on Friday, a day after a small group of Senate Democrats and Republicans gathered with him to announce a $1.2 trillion deal. “But if this is the only thing that comes to me, I’m not signing it. It’s in tandem.”
The comments, which were later reiterated by White House press secretary Jen Psaki, angered Republicans who supported the bipartisan negotiations, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, who called Biden’s strategy “extortion.”
Romney called the White House following Biden’s comments, and administration officials called other Republicans who were involved in the infrastructure negotiations to clarify that Biden supports the deal, he said on Sunday.
“[Biden’s] other agenda was never linked to the infrastructure effort,” Romney said. “We came to an agreement on the infrastructure effort in a way that I think is really impressive.”
Biden said on Saturday he will ask Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to schedule action on both the bipartisan infrastructure deal and reconciliation bill containing his American Families Plan.
“Ultimately, I am confident that Congress will get both to my desk, so I can sign each bill promptly,” Biden said.
Republicans have generally opposed Biden’s American Families Plan, which would raise taxes to pay for new and expanded social programs. Republican opposition means Senate Democrats would have to use the process of budget reconciliation, which only requires a simple majority of votes, to pass the legislation without any GOP support.