Sen. Mitt Romney leads bipartisan group to save federal trust funds

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) U.S. Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, is show hosting a roundtable discussion at Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, Oct. 10, 2019. He is part of a bipartisan group hoping to seriously address coming insolvencies of some of the nation's trust funds in coming years.

Washington • Sen. Mitt Romney led a bipartisan chorus of lawmakers Tuesday to introduce legislation that would require Congress to set up new committees to write legislation to deal with a host of entitlement funds that are set to run out of money in the near future.

The bill would tackle potential funding problems of trust funds for highway maintenance, Medicare hospital insurance, Social Security disability insurance and two other Social Security programs that the lawmakers said will go bankrupt in the next 13 years unless the federal government finds new sources of money.

The legislation doesn’t tackle problems awaiting the primary Social Security and Medicare trust funds but would, if passed and utilized, help stave off some financial worries for those programs, Romney’s office says.

“It’s irresponsible for Congress to keep ignoring a preventable crisis,” Romney said in a statement. “We must put in place a responsible process now to prevent dramatic cuts to programs like Social Security and Medicare or be forced to enact massive tax hikes down the road, both of which would be devastating to middle-class Americans. We have a duty to work to secure these programs that provide a safety net for millions of Americans.”

Romney joined Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Doug Jones of Alabama and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona as well as GOP Sen. Todd Young of Indiana in introducing the bill Tuesday.

Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, is a co-sponsor of a companion House bill.

“Unfortunately, our fiscal irresponsibility has left critical programs like Social Security and Medicare heading towards insolvency,” Manchin said of the measure. “Congress cannot let these programs fail.”

If passed by Congress and signed by the president, the legislation would require the Treasury Department to produce a report on endangered federal trust finds within 30 days, after which congressional leaders would appoint “rescue committees” for each fund and mandate legislation to make them solvent. The bill also requires a bipartisan approach with two members of each party supporting the proposed solutions.

Any legislation flowing from those rescue committees would be privileged and be fast-tracked in each chamber.