Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) called out his own party ahead of a looming fight with Democrats over government funding that is set to take place once Congress returns next month from its annual summer recess.
Lawmakers must pass a bill funding the government by Sept. 30, but demands for steep spending cuts from the ultraconservative wing of the House GOP are ratcheting up fears of another costly government shutdown.
“When President Trump was president you didn’t hear anything from we Republicans about how we were spending too much and trillion-dollar deficits ― quiet as little lambs,” Romney noted in an interview with Utah news host Boyd Matheson on “KSL Sunday Edition.” “Now President Biden is president, ‘Oh, we’re going to shut down government if we don’t rein in spending.’ Well, we do need to cut back on spending but a little less hypocrisy would be a good thing.”
Romney argued that Congress should instead rein in spending on entitlement programs ― a major driver of deficits that neither party is eager to tackle ― and predicted “a lot of screaming and shouting” in Washington that will ultimately result in a government shutdown this fall.
“We’ll end up shutting down the government and a lot of people will be inconvenienced,” Romney said. “It’s not like that means we’ll win. No, no, we just shut down government to show we’re fighting and make noise.”
Recent history has seen an uptick in government shutdowns, which shutter federal services and parks, harm the economy, and increase unemployment. In 2013, Republicans shut down the government over demands to “defund” the Affordable Care Act. The two government shutdowns during President Donald Trump’s tenure in 2018 and 2019 occurred due to disputes over immigration policy.
The House Freedom Caucus announced earlier this month that its members won’t vote to keep the government’s lights on unless they get concessions on border security, “unprecedented weaponization” of the Department of Justice and “woke policies” at the Department of Defense. They’ll be facing off against the White House, Senate Democrats and even some national security-minded Senate Republicans who prefer to fund the government, especially the Pentagon and its efforts to aid Ukraine
“To threaten to close down government is ridiculous,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) told reporters last week. “It costs the taxpayers money. It costs taxpayers services. It causes uncertainty within the [financial] markets. it’s totally irresponsible to do that.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has indicated he would back a stopgap bill that would avert a shutdown for several months, until December. But it’s unclear whether it would have enough support within his caucus.
Along with the Freedom Caucus’ list of demands, Republican House members are demanding all sorts of things in order to keep government running, including provisions seeking to defund probes and prosecutions of Trump. One GOP lawmaker is even planning to introduce amendments that would eliminate federal funding for the three prosecutors who indicted Trump, signaling the kinds of grievances on the right McCarthy will have to navigate once the House returns in September.