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Utah's congressional delegation split on budget deal that Utah Sen. Mitt Romney warned 'perpetuates fiscal recklessness'

FILE - In this Jan., 18, 2019, file photo, U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks with reporters, in Ogden, Utah. Utah's congressional delegation is split over a federal budget deal reached by President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Sen.
FILE - In this Jan., 18, 2019, file photo, U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks with reporters, in Ogden, Utah. Utah's congressional delegation is split over a federal budget deal reached by President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, warned "perpetuates fiscal recklessness."
Rick Bowmer, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's congressional delegation is split over a federal budget deal reached by President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, warned "perpetuates fiscal recklessness."

The state's only Democrat in Congress, Rep. Ben McAdams, joined Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, in voting against the two-year deal in the U.S. House, while Republican Reps. Chris Stewart and Rob Bishop both voted for it.

A number of conservatives have balked at the deal, which would head off another government shutdown and avoid a looming default on payments on the country's debt, despite a push Thursday by the president.

FILE - Congressman Ben McAdams speaks during an event held to address the need for more funding for suicide prevention at the UNI Downtown Behavioral Health Clinic in Salt Lake City on Monday, July 8, 2019.
FILE - Congressman Ben McAdams speaks during an event held to address the need for more funding for suicide prevention at the UNI Downtown Behavioral Health Clinic in Salt Lake City on Monday, July 8, 2019.
Colter Peterson, Deseret News

Trump tweeted earlier in the day that "House Republicans should support the TWO YEAR BUDGET AGREEMENT which greatly helps our Military and our Vets. I am totally with you!"

McAdams said in a statement that the deal "shows that both parties in Congress and the president have completely thrown in the towel on trying to behave in a fiscally responsible manner."

He said the price tag for the bill was "about as much as the 2017 tax cuts" with close to record levels of discretionary spending, leaving "no more pretense that people here care about reducing our crippling debt burden."

The case for his balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, McAdams said, "has never been stronger — Washington has shown today it lacks the political will to live within its means."

Curtis said he has "consistently voted against budgets that fail to address our growing debt crisis, and must do so again today," describing the deal as "dramatically" increasing spending while suspending the debt ceiling.

"Representing the youngest district in the country, full of families who strive every day to live within their means, I feel a deep responsibility to ensure that we give stronger consideration to the crippling deficit we are passing along to the next generation," he said.

Bishop, however, said the "budget deal is an example of compromise making government go. This deal will continue the crucial task of rebuilding our military after the deleterious years of the prior administration."

He blamed the nation's financial woes on "spending on too much stuff," such as programs better left to the states, and said "to right the wrong of fiscal irresponsibility, we must embrace the tenants of federalism in order to hold together."

FILE - Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, is interviewed during the Utah Republican election night party at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.
FILE - Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, is interviewed during the Utah Republican election night party at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.
Ravell Call, Deseret News

Stewart also cited the benefits to the military.

The deal, he said, "provides strong funding for our men and women in uniform, excludes Democrat poison-pill riders, ensures taxpayer funds don’t pay for abortions, and excludes Democrat’s prohibition on border wall construction."

Romney, the first member of Utah's congressional delegation to weigh in on the deal, said in a statement he can't back it because it adds trillions of dollars to the national debt, currently at $22 trillion.

"When I ran for Senate, I promised the people of Utah I would oppose irresponsible spending that adds to our national debt and burdens future generations," he said of lifting the debt limit for two years and capping spending at $1 trillion-plus annually.

"This deal unfortunately perpetuates fiscal recklessness by adding another $2 trillion to the debt, and I cannot support it," he said, calling on Washington to "repair our fiscal foundation and set a course to a balanced budget" instead.

Utah's junior senator pointed out that the state "balances its budget every year, and while it may not be in fashion in Washington, we still care deeply about fiscal responsibility."

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, will also be a no vote.

"If we can't control spending now when the economy is performing about as well as it possibly can, then when can we?" Lee asked. "When is it going to be any easier to deal with this problem?"

The state's senior senator said the way to "start making steps in the right direction is to vote against bills, bills like this one, that do not meaningfully address the problem."