How were COVID funds spent? Mitt Romney, GOP senators want answers

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, laughs as he excursions Kenworth Gross sales in West Valley Metropolis on Nov. 12, 2021. Earlier than the federal authorities spends one other greenback on COVID-19 aid, Romney and plenty of of his Republican colleagues wish to know what occurred to the trillions already on the market. (Shafkat Anowar, Deseret Information)

Estimated learn time: 2-3 minutes

WASHINGTON — Earlier than the federal authorities spends one other greenback on COVID-19 aid, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and plenty of of his Republican colleagues wish to know what occurred to the trillions already on the market.

Romney led 35 GOP Senators in a letter Wednesday to President Joe Biden searching for an accounting of how the federal government has allotted taxpayer funds to fight the pandemic.

“Since passage of the American Rescue Plan in February, questions are mounting about the place precisely the extra cash has gone,” the senators wrote.

The Biden administration advised lawmakers final month it might want about $30 billion in further support to fight the coronavirus, because it seems to be to restock key public well being packages with new funds and guarantee it’s ready towards any future variants, the Washington Put up reported final month.

In his State of the Union handle Tuesday, Biden stated the nation wants to organize for brand spanking new COVID-19 variants.

“And, if Congress gives the funds we want, we’ll have new stockpiles of exams, masks, and drugs prepared if wanted,” he stated.

The senators say whereas they’ve supported bipartisan measures to supply unprecedented investments in vaccines, therapeutics and testing, it’s not clear why further funding is required.

“Earlier than we might think about supporting a further $30 billion for COVID-19 aid, Congress should obtain a full accounting of how the federal government has already spent the primary $6 trillion,” they wrote.

Among the many issues senators wish to know is how a lot American Rescue Plan funding stays unspent, how a lot the federal government has spent on vaccines and testing, and the way a lot of the $350 billion made out there to state and native governments has been used so far for vaccines and testing.

Romney and the Republican senators additionally pointed to a Washington Put up investigation that discovered “immense fraud” in using coronavirus funds. The report, the senators wrote, particulars the federal authorities’s “surprising failure” to supply a trustworthy accounting of the way it has spent the cash.

On Tuesday, Biden introduced that the Division of Justice Division will title a chief prosecutor for pandemic fraud.

“We’re going after the criminals who stole billions in aid cash meant for small companies and thousands and thousands of Individuals,” the president stated.

Federal authorities have prosecuted a number of Utahns for defrauding the Paycheck Safety Program that Congress created to supply aid to companies amid the pandemic.

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Who is Kim Reynolds? Iowa governor giving GOP SOTU response : NPR

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will give the official Republican response to President Biden’s State of the Union deal with.

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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will give the official Republican response to President Biden’s State of the Union deal with.

Charlie Neibergall/AP

Since taking workplace in 2017 as Iowa’s first feminine governor, Kim Reynolds has pushed for conservative insurance policies, like limiting instructing about systemic racism in faculties and in search of to ban transgender women from women’ sports activities groups.

However it’s Reynolds’ response to the pandemic that has gotten her nationwide consideration.

Companies and enormous gatherings in Iowa have had few or no restrictions for a lot of the previous two years, usually towards the recommendation of public well being specialists.

Reynolds is more likely to tout her method to the pandemic as she delivers the official Republican response after President Biden’s State of the Union deal with Tuesday night time.

In a current Iowa PBS interview, she contrasted her insurance policies with these from Democrats.

“Individuals are so annoyed. They’ve simply had it, and so they really feel their freedoms and liberties are being infringed upon,” Reynolds stated. “And we’re seeing that right here in america. And also you’re seeing it truthfully within the president’s ballot numbers. They’re tanking, and also you’re seeing, I believe, Democratic governors in different states understand what’s occurring and the place Individuals are in the present day.”

Reynolds required Iowa faculties to supply in-person studying for many of the pandemic and rejected $95 million in federal funding for COVID testing in faculties. Final spring, she banned faculties from requiring masks, main the Biden administration to launch a civil rights investigation.

Reynolds says federal pandemic aid has contributed to inflation and workforce points. However the billions of {dollars} coming into the state helped make an enormous legislative win potential for her: On Thursday Reynolds signed laws to chop revenue taxes.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, informed Fox Information he is happy with Reynolds and gave a preview of what he thinks she’s going to say.

“I count on her to say that Iowa has led the best way,” Grassley stated. “And it is about time that the federal authorities do the identical factor and the president present management that’s one thing apart from shutting down the financial system to battle the virus.”

Deidre DeJear, a Democrat operating for governor in Iowa, stated Reynolds being chosen for the GOP response reveals she’s following nationwide Republican speaking factors as an alternative of addressing challenges particular to the state.

Reynolds nonetheless hasn’t introduced if she’s operating for reelection this yr, however she’s anticipated to run. She has by no means stated publicly if she needs to run for greater workplace sooner or later. Reynolds has been talked about as a possible vp for Donald Trump if he runs once more.

Mitt Romney calls pro-Putin sentiments from some in GOP and media ‘almost treasonous’

The Utah senator has lengthy been essential of the U.S. method to Russia.

(Screenshot) Throughout an look on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney referred to as pro-Putin sentiments from throughout the Republican celebration and a few right-wing media “virtually treasonous”.

Sen. Mitt Romney had a terse rebuke for People, together with the media and members of the Republican Celebration, who’ve voiced assist for Vladimir Putin and the Russian assault on Ukraine in latest days, calling such actions “virtually treasonous.”

Talking on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, the Utah senator mentioned the assault on Kyiv, Russia’s menace to the U.S. and the world, and the pro-Putin sentiments throughout the GOP.

“A whole lot of these persons are altering their stripes as they’re seeing the response of the work and the political response right here within the U.S.,” Romney mentioned. “However how anyone on this nation, which loves freedom, can facet with Vladimir Putin, who’s an oppressor, a dictator, he kills folks, he imprisons his political opponents, he has been an adversary of America at each probability he’s had, it’s unthinkable to me. It’s virtually treasonous.

“It simply makes me ailing to see a few of these folks do this. … It’s disgusting. I’m hopeful you’re seeing a few of these folks acknowledge simply how incorrect they’re.”

Requested particularly if he thought-about the pro-Putin remarks from former President Donald Trump to be treasonous, Romney stopped nicely wanting leveling the accusation.

“I mentioned it’s almost treasonous,” the senator replied. “Standing up for freedom is the suitable factor to do in America. Something lower than that’s unworthy of American assist.”

Romney has lengthy been vocal about his issues relating to Russia and Putin. He was mocked in some political circles throughout his 2012 presidential marketing campaign for calling Russia a geopolitical adversary to the USA, with President Barack Obama saying throughout one debate that “the Nineteen Eighties are calling to ask for his or her international coverage again.”

“I’ve clear eyes on this,” Romney mentioned on the time. “I’m not going to put on rose-colored glasses relating to Russia or Mr. Putin.”

Romney didn’t appear concerned with taking a victory lap Sunday. He referred to as China the best financial and army menace to America long run. However the senator reiterated his longstanding issues with Putin’s Russia.

“They assist the world’s worst actors,” Romney mentioned, citing Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro and North Korean chief Kim Jong-un. “They mainly poke us within the eye each time they’ll. …

“Russia, in a variety of respects is circling the drain, given their shrinking inhabitants, their weak economic system. John McCain used to joke that Russia is a gasoline station parading as a nation. However they’re a geopolitical adversary poking us the place they’ll.”

Romney lamented the White Home’s method to dealing with Russia over a few years.

“What does concern me,” he mentioned, “is that we’ve had president after president — not simply President Obama, however President Trump, President Bush — who have been resetting relations with Russia, hoping as they regarded within the eyes of Vladimir Putin they might see a accountable individual. And John McCain was proper. He mentioned he regarded in Vladimir Putin’s eyes and noticed the KGB.

“That’s what we’re seeing, a small, evil, feral-eyed man who’s attempting to form the world within the picture the place as soon as once more Russia could be an empire.”

Romney additionally lamented “tepid” responses to Putin’s earlier assaults on Georgia, Crimea and U.S. elections.

“In consequence, he feels emboldened to enter Ukraine,” Romney mentioned. “We lastly are saying no — partly due to folks with telephones and braveness from the folks of Ukraine. The world acknowledges the distinction between good and evil right here. This, I feel, goes to reset his calculation of what he’s going to do subsequent.”

The Utah senator reaffirmed assist for NATO’s Article 5, the mutual protection clause, ought to Russia assault a NATO nation.

“We’ll reply with full power,” Romney mentioned. “Now we have a duty. We’re folks with honor and integrity and we are going to fulfill our commitments.”

In the long run, Romney expressed optimism that Putin could be stopped.

“The folks of the world see him and see Russia for what it’s,” Romney mentioned. “We’ll battle for freedom. What we’re seeing is inspiring. It’s highly effective. And it’ll assist change the world in a optimistic method.”