U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) today voted in favor of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which includes measures he fought for to secure clean water for Utah Navajos, end surprise medical billing, support Hill Air Force Base, and help Utah’s rural communities. The package, which passed with over 90 votes in favor, funds the federal government through September 30, 2021, and includes COVID-19 relief legislation that reflects many of Senator Romney’s priorities to help Utah’s workers, businesses, and families.
“The legislation which passed today includes several measures which I have been fighting for and that are important for Utah,” Senator Romney said. “The Navajo Nation, which faces among the highest COVID infection rates in the country, will finally have access to running water. Utah’s families will be protected from surprise medical bills for unexpected out-of-network and emergency care. Hill Air Force Base will receive the funding it needs to fulfill its vital missions. Utah’s rural communities will gain access to funding for expanded broadband. The bill also provides for the nation’s ongoing operations, including our military, healthcare and education.”
Romney continued, “But the omnibus bill also contains spending and programs with which I disagree and which I would have voted against—if that were an option. Because all the provisions are rolled into one bill without any opportunity for amendment or individual disapproval, I am forced to swallow the bad in order to obtain the good and the essential for Utah and for Utahns who are hurting. I am working with a group of similarly concerned Senators who want to find a way to change the process, but that is a decidedly uphill climb. Ultimately reining-in the deficit and reducing waste may depend upon our success.“
Romney-backed provisions in the government funding bill:
- The Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act, Romney’s legislation to settle a decades-long negotiation among the Navajo Nation, federal government, and the State of Utah over water rights for Utah Navajos, which unanimously passed the Senate earlier this year.
- $300 million to improve broadband technologies, including for communities in rural Utah. Romney has made access to rural broadband a priority in underserved parts of Utah.
- Full funding for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Program, which Senator Romney cosponsored to provide long-term financial security for rural counties in Utah.
- $21 million for the Central Utah Project, which provides water from the Colorado River for irrigation, municipal, recreational, and industrial use.
- $47.8 million for Moab Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) project.
- The Miracle Mountain Designation Act, legislation which Romney cosponsored to designate a mountain near Elk Ridge City and Woodland Hills in Utah as “Miracle Mountain” following a damaging wildfire.
- $2 billion for the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program, which is the federal funding source for regional transit projects like the Orem-Provo Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) program and the Ogden BRT.
- $310 million for wildfire suppression activities.
- Provision to require the Director of National Intelligence to monitor China’s Belt and Road Initiative and its efforts to control critical mineral supply globally, which Romney introduced as an amendment to the American Energy Innovation Act earlier this year.
- Funding to enhance our national security and support the work of Utah’s Hill Air Force Base.
- Full funding for the Department of Defense (DoD) and a 3% pay raise for our troops.
- Provision to end surprise medical billing, which has been a concern and priority of Senator Romney.
- Provision to prohibit the online sales of e-cigarettes to children. Romney has led efforts to address the youth vaping crisis, notably introducing legislation to regulate e-cigarette standards and protect public health by prohibiting non-tobacco flavors and ensuring that electronic nicotine delivery systems are tamper-proof.
- Reauthorization of the E-Verify program through September 30, 2021. Romney has authored legislation to make the E-Verify program permanent by removing the termination provision that has required Congress to repeatedly act to extend the program.