WASHINGTON (ABC4) – Utah Sen. Mitt Romney spoke to the media after meeting with President Biden regarding a COVID-19 relief proposal that was unveiled Monday morning.
Romney and 10 other Republican senators met with President Biden in the oval office at the White House to discuss the 6th COVID-19 relief proposal.
“There was no agreement reached, nor did we expect there to be an agreement reached,” Romney said of his two-hour meeting today with the President and Vice President.
9 senators were present in the oval office, including 1 senator attending the meeting by phone after a flight cancelation. In a meeting that Romney called “an honor,” with the Utah senator acknowledging a moment where a snowball hit one of the windows of the oval office, as President Biden’s dogs tried to get inside the office. The differences between where the President believes the COVID-19 relief bill should be and where the Republican senators believe the bill should be.
The meeting was the first that Biden has held outside the members of his staff in the White House.
Romney said Biden showed “genuine interest” in working with the Republican senators on reaching an agreement for the COVID-19 relief proposal.
“There are differences in almost every area,” Romney said of the negotiations of the latest COVID-19 relief bill with President Biden. Romney highlighted one area in which he and the group of Republican senators agree, which was Biden proposing that $160 billion be allocated to getting more PPE, COVID-19 vaccinations, and faster COVID-19 testing.
Romney tells ABC4 that he can’t “begin to predict” whether a bipartisan plan will go forward or if the Democrats will move forward with the COVID relief plan as he originally proposed it, but says he is “hopeful.”
“I acknowledge like people across the country that we can’t keep borrowing massively more,” Romney said. “This represents a real peril to our kids and our grandkids, and the interest mounts up as well,” Romney added.
“That’s a real effort on our part that if we do need additional funding, that we make sure we’re spending on actual need, not just sending money out that’s not absolutely required.”
The COVID relief bill drafted by the group of Republican senators calls for $20 billion to be put towards the effort of reopening schools, to which Biden said the effort needs to be greater in that area, proposing that $170 billion be spent on the efforts to reopen schools, build more classrooms, hire more teachers, are installing higher quality HVAC systems in schools.
President Biden also told the senators in the meeting that he remains committed to the $1,400 figure for stimulus checks.
According to Romney’s website, since March 2019, Congress has passed five bipartisan COVID-19 relief bills and provided more than $4 trillion in COVID-19 relief, the latest of which provided $900 billion in relief. That relief package was signed into effect on Dec. 27, 2020.