Mitt Romney Is the Only Republican Senator Not on Trump's New Congressional Coronavirus Task Force

The White House on Thursday announced the bipartisan congressional members serving on the Trump administration's Opening Up American Again Congressional Group, and there was one Republican senator missing from the list: Mitt Romney.

President Donald Trump and members of his administration held phone calls today with Republican and Democrat Senators and Representatives serving on this new task force, the Trump administration said. The Opening Up American Again Congressional Group discussed plans to address the need for additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, ways to energize the economy, determining essential and nonessential workers, along other things related to economic recovery amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The list of congressional members includes 32 representatives and 65 senators from both sides of the aisle. All Republican senators are on the team, except Mitt Romey of Utah. A source familiar with the matter confirmed to Newsweek that Romney was not invited to be on the new task force.

Democratic senators of red states Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Doug Jones of Alabama were also not included, as well as dozens of other Democrats, such as Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, both of whom recently dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination. Sanders is an independent, but ran as a Democrat.

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During the call with Trump, the group also discussed strategies to expand America's pandemic response, such as rapidly expanding access to COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody tests, ventilators, face masks and other PPE.

Newsweek reached out to a Romney spokesperson for comment.

Romney
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) talks to reporters before heading into the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol January 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Romney has been a vocal Trump critic within the Republican party since he became a senator in 2019. The Utah lawmaker, who was the GOP presidential nominee in 2012, was the only Republican senator to vote for an article of impeachment against Trump in February. During the impeachment trial, Romney voted for the abuse of power charge and against the obstruction of Congress charge.

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Eventually, the Republican-controlled Senate voted to acquit Trump 52-48 on the abuse of power charge and 52-47 on the obstruction of Congress charge, ending Democrats' bid to remove the president from office.

Romney's impeachment vote was not the first time the senator has signaled criticism of Trump or broken with his fellow Republicans.

Trump and Romney have traded jabs for years, dating back to 2016. During Trump's presidential campaign, Romney called the candidate a "phony" and a "fraud." In response, Trump called Romney "one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of Republican politics."

The two politicians have reconciled and fallen out again since then. Trump endorsed Romney's Senate campaign in 2018, but later went on to call for the senator to be removed from the GOP caucus.

Mitt Romney Is the Only Republican Senator Not on Trump's New Congressional Coronavirus Task Force | U.S.