During consideration of the budget resolution last week, the Senate adopted an amendment introduced by U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) aimed at restoring and strengthening endangered federal trust funds. The measure, cosponsored by 11 Republicans and Democrats, is based on Romney’s TRUST Act, which would create a process for Congress to develop solutions to save the government’s biggest, most important programs related to transportation, health care, and financial security.

The amendment passed by a vote of 71-29 – including all Republican senators and nearly half of Senate Democrats. Cosponsors of the amendment included Senators Angus King (I-ME), Rob Portman (R-OH), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Todd Young (R-IN), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and John Cornyn (R-TX).

“Last [week’s] vote indicates there is broad, bipartisan recognition of the need to address the looming insolvency of our federal trust funds,” Senator Romney said. “Congress has shown a willingness to spend what it takes to get us through the COVID-19 pandemic, and I’ve supported all of these efforts thus far. But that has required us to borrow trillions in the process, which has accelerated our fiscal problems. If we don’t take steps now to tackle a long-term problem we all see coming, it may hurt our ability to combat the next pandemic—or any other type of emergency for that matter.”

Background:

The TRUST Act is cosponsored by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Todd Young (R-IN), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Angus King (I-ME), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Rounds (R-SD), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK). U.S. Representatives Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Ed Case (D-HI), William Timmons (R-SC), Ben McAdams (D-UT), and Scott Peters (D-CA) previously introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

  • Upon passage of the TRUST Act, the Treasury Department would have to deliver to Congress a report of the government’s major, endangered federal trust funds.
  • Congressional leaders would appoint members to serve on “Rescue Committees”—one per trust fund—with the mandate to draft legislation that restores solvency and otherwise improves each trust fund program.
  • Rescue Committees would ensure bipartisan consensus by requiring at least two members of each party to report legislation.
  • If a Rescue Committee reports a qualifying bill for its trust fund program, it would receive expedited consideration in both chambers. While 60 votes would be required to invoke cloture prior to final passage in the Senate, only a simple majority would be needed for the motion to proceed, which would be privileged.