Sen. Mitt Romney is the only GOP senator who was not asked to be on President Donald Trump’s new bipartisan task force focused on reopening the country amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Nearly 100 lawmakers from both parties – including all of Romney’s Senate Republican colleagues – were tapped to join “the Opening Up America Again Congressional Group,” according to a list released by the White House Thursday.
The President reviewed the list of which lawmakers would be on the task force before it was finalized, an official told CNN. Romney was not included and was not asked to be on the call with other senators Thursday, another official confirmed.
The move marks just the latest slight in Romney and Trump’s contentious relationship – one that grew increasingly tense during the Senate’s impeachment trial of the President after the Utah Republican broke ranks with the party to vote to convict the President on the charge of abuse of power.
The President responded by attacking Romney as a “failed presidential candidate.”
The formation of the congressional task force comes as Trump pushes ahead with attempts to revive the economy even as business leaders, lawmakers and governors warn that persistent testing shortfalls could hamper any effort to relax social distancing measures.
In phone calls with members of the US House and Senate on Thursday, Trump was told by some lawmakers that without increased testing, asymptomatic people may return to workplaces and unknowingly spread further contagion, according to people familiar with the call.
Trump countered by saying his administration had worked to scale up testing and he repeated his dubious claim that the US had tested more people than any other country.
He also pointed to a new test that people could administer themselves that uses saliva, a person familiar with the conversation said.
The White House also said in their press release Thursday that “President Trump was pleased to hear such positive feedback” in his call with the task force “about the work that the Administration is doing to keep America healthy and prosperous, and thanked them for their participation.”