Washington • The grudge holds.
President Donald Trump on Thursday rolled out a long list of members of Congress who are joining his task force aimed at bringing back an economy ravaged by the coronavirus outbreak.
The “Opening Up America Again Congressional Group” includes every Republican senator but one: Sen. Mitt Romney.
That, of course, would be the same Utah Republican who voted to convict Trump on one of the two articles of impeachment during the Senate trial earlier this year and whom Trump has lambasted since.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, was named to the group, which includes 74 Republicans and 22 Democrats, including several senators on the Democratic side who voted to convict Trump. Romney was the only member of the president's party to support impeachment.
Lee said it was an “honor” to serve on the task force.
“Utah has a plan and is leading the way in solutions to this economic crisis and I look forward to sharing those ideas with the president,” Lee said in a statement. “We had a booming economy before this crisis, and with the right safeguards in place, we will have a booming recovery too.”
Asked for comment about being left out, Romney’s office didn’t respond directly.
“Senator Romney and his team are 100% focused on helping Utah families and businesses get access to federal assistance as they deal with the fallout from this crisis,” Romney spokeswoman Liz Johnson said.
But it clearly broke down when Romney said that he believed Trump was guilty of abuse of power and voted to oust the president in the Senate trial, even though Trump was never close to being convicted with Republicans in the majority in that chamber.
After Romney announced he was going into quarantine after possibly being exposed to a fellow senator who contracted COVID-19, Trump’s response was, “Gee, that’s too bad.” The president said he wasn’t being sarcastic. Others disagreed.
Romney, who once called Trump a “phony, a fraud,” has been less vocal about his criticism of the president since the impeachment trial ended. The senator declined to respond to Trump's “too bad” comment.
It's unclear how much influence the 97-member task force the president will have on the federal efforts to reopen the economy, a quarter of which has been shuttered because of the virus.
At least one Democrat said he's joining the group even if he disagrees with Trump.
“The American people need action, support and direction from the federal government,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., noting that a paycheck protection program has run out of money and millions of Americans are seeking unemployment benefits. “Though we continue to share obvious and pronounced disagreements, the task at hand is too important for partisanship. As a member of the council, I will continue to fight to get working-class Americans the relief they need to make it to the other side of COVID-19.”
Lee earlier Thursday had tweeted a link to an Atlantic story calling for the end to some state licensing requirements, starting with a mandate that new lawyers pass a bar exam.
“As we reopen our economy," Lee tweeted, “let’s be sure to look at those regulations we suspended and ask if we really needed them in the first place.”