Romney rips critics of debt limit deal: ‘There are people who want to make noise, and there are people who want to make law.’

Sen. Mike Lee says the proposal was a ‘capitulation’ by Republicans.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sen. Mitt Romney talks with reporters during a visit to the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District's Education Center, May 5, 2023. On Thursday, June 1, ahead of a Senate vote on debt limit legislation, Romney ripped critics of a deal between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden.

Sen. Mitt Romney was jubilant during a Thursday afternoon press call with Utah media to discuss the compromise debt limit bill currently winding through Congress. Romney says he plans to vote for the bill while throwing subtle shade at some Republican colleagues who are grousing that the legislation doesn’t go far enough to curb federal spending.

“There are people who want to make noise, and there are people who want to make law,” Romney said.

“You’ll hear from people who want to make noise and will express anger and frustration at something they don’t think is perfect,” Romney continued. “There are others who want to make law and want to vote for something they think is an improvement.”

The legislation overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday night 314-117. Utah’s entire House delegation voted in favor of the bill.

“When I ran for Congress, I committed to use my role in Congress to reverse Washington’s dangerous debt culture. Tonight, I will vote for the Fiscal Responsibility Act, a significant step toward reversing our federal spending trajectory,” Utah’s Rep. Blake Moore said in a statement ahead of his yes vote Wednesday night.

The proposal suspends the nation’s debt limit of $31.4 trillion through Jan. 1, 2025, The New York Times reported. That allows the government to continue borrowing money to pay its bills. Non-defense discretionary spending remains relatively flat for the current fiscal year, then increases by 1% in fiscal 2025. The bill also claws back about $11 billion in unspent COVID-19 relief funds and $10 million in funding for the Internal Revenue Service in 2024 and 2025.

The legislation imposes new work requirements for Americans who receive some government benefits and ends the pandemic-related freeze on student loan payments. It also reforms permitting to get energy projects approved more quickly.

Romney praised House Speaker Kevin McCarthy for his negotiations with President Joe Biden that led to the compromise legislation.

“He did a very sound job,” Romney said. “Perfect? No. Better than I could have done? Almost certainly, and better than most of the people who don’t like the bill.

The Senate should vote on the legislation Thursday night, Romney told CNN. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned lawmakers last month that the federal government could default on its debt as early as June 5.

Compliments for the deal from Romney are offset by the criticism from Sen. Mike Lee, who has loudly denounced the agreement, saying the White House duped McCarthy.

“If this bill did what its lead advocates claim that it did, I’d be thrilled to vote for it,” Lee said during a Thursday morning appearance on Fox News. “I think the drafters probably had good intentions in mind, but they were supremely naive.”

Lee, along with a handful of House Republicans, pushed for more significant spending reductions and wanted to add sweeping regulatory reform measures. Neither of those were included in the final proposal.

“This was a capitulation,” Lee said bluntly.

Lee plans to vote against the debt limit deal but also introduce an amendment to strip a provision from the bill he feels gives the Biden administration the ability to circumvent some of the bill’s spending cuts. Romney says he plans to support Lee’s proposed changes but is doubtful there’s enough support in the Democratic-led Senate to find approval.

“The only way you can get an amendment or a law to pass in Washington is if it’s supported by Republicans and Democrats. Amendments that come only by Republicans and for Republicans will not become law unless Democrats sign on. The amendments I’ve seen so far are Republican amendments that Democrats won’t accept,” Romney said.