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Mitt Romney hopes history ‘looks more kindly’ on him than others in the GOP

Democratic lawmakers thank the Republican for his integrity during a virtual meeting.

(J. Scott Applewhite | AP file photo) Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, arrives at the Senate for a roll call vote to confirm Antony Blinken, President Joe Biden's nominee to be secretary of State, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. Romney made a remote visit to the Democratic Caucus in the Utah House on Tuesday.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney says he hopes history “looks more kindly on me than many members of my party,” in response to state House Democrats who thanked him following his decisions to uphold the presidential election results and support Donald Trump’s impeachment.

Romney conceded that at certain points in his career, he’s made decisions with political expediency in mind but said he’s been determined to follow his conscience while serving as one of Utah’s U.S. senators.

“It’s been greatly relieving and allows me to sleep at night,” Romney said during virtual meeting with House Democrats on Tuesday. “And maybe the history books will mention it. I think most of what I’ve done is a footnote in history, if at all.”

Romney was one of seven Republicans who joined all 50 Democrats to vote to convict Trump earlier this month, but that fell short of the two-thirds majority needed. His vote led some Utah Republicans to push to censure him, but he has continued to denounce Trump’s “big lie” that the election was rigged against him.

“I consider an attempt to corrupt an election to keep oneself in power one of the most reprehensible acts that can be taken by a sitting president,” Romney said in a statement last week. “The second impeachment resulted from the president’s continued effort to do just that.”

In Trump’s first trial, Romney became the first member of Congress in history to vote to impeach a president of his own party.

During Tuesday’s roughly 10-minute meeting, Rep. Suzanne Harrison expressed her gratitude for what she described as Romney’s integrity and loyalty to the Constitution and predicted that history would regard him in a favorable light.

“I’m proud to be a constituent,” Harrison, D-Draper, said.

The Republican senator also reviewed some of his work over the past year on COVID-19 relief, medical bills and securing federal funds for priorities within Utah. And he expressed concern about aspects of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that President Joe Biden has brought forward, saying that Utah would receive little benefit from the $350 billion set aside for state and local governments.

“I don’t know whether any of that money under the allocation system will come to Utah because the allocation is based on unemployment rate,” he said. “And our low unemployment means that the money is going to be going, for instance, to California.”

Romney also touched on the minimum wage proposal that he unveiled Tuesday as an alternative to Biden’s plan for hiking baseline hourly pay to $15. Romney has instead called for raising the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour over four years and for tying future increases to inflation. Furthermore, his proposal would mandate that all employers to use E-Verify to make sure their employees are authorized to work in America.

And he said he’s been fighting for the TRUST Act, which would trigger the creation of congressional committees tasked with restoring and strengthening federal trust funds for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other programs.

In response to a question about climate change, Romney said he favors bold action on the problem rather than just “doing things around the edges” and indicated he was open to a carbon tax or carbon dividend that incentivized greater efficiency in the private sector.

However, the senator said any big moves will require support from other members of his caucus.

“I’ll just say, it’s hard for me to get that level of support for the big, bold actions that are needed,” he said.

Romney also visited Republican lawmakers on Tuesday, but those caucuses closed their meeting with the senator.

Correction • 5:37 p.m., Feb. 23, 2021: An earlier version incorrectly indicated that the Senate Democrats held a separate meeting with Romney. They participated in his visit with House Democrats.

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