Daylight emerges between Romney, GOP

Mitt Romney and Republican leaders in Congress have a surprising number of policy differences, ranging from energy to term limits to immigration.

The policy daylight is significant because Romney is attempting to unify the party in the wake of his bruising primary. The fact that Romney and Republicans in Congress have different approaches on high-profile issues could hamper that effort.

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Romney and Republicans on Capitol Hill certainly do agree on big-picture items, including repealing President Obama’s healthcare law, lowering taxes and cutting spending.

But there are an array of other policy areas where Republicans and Romney are at odds and/or have dealt with the same issue differently. Perhaps not coincidentally, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) was tapped earlier this month to develop a joint agenda with congressional Republicans and the GOP presidential nominee.

In a front-page story Monday, The New York Times deemed the situation between Romney and GOP legislators a “delicate tango.”

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul told The Hill in an e-mail, "Mitt Romney is in this race to turn the economy around and get Americans back to work, and he will need the help of Congress to do that. Under President Obama, more people have lost their jobs than at any time since the Great Depression, and all the president does is blame others and avert responsibility. Gov. Romney will welcome the help of Congress to enact his agenda and get the country back on track."

The following are examples of policy differences between Romney and congressional Republicans:

Yucca Mountain

Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) and other GOP legislators have been outspoken in their support of storing the nation’s nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Obama, however, have thwarted the initiative.

Romney’s position is closer to Reid and Obama’s than congressional Republicans'. At an October debate in Nevada, Romney said, “If Nevada says, ‘Look, we don’t want it,' then let other states make bids and say, ‘Hey, look, we will take, here is a geological site that we have evaluated, here is the compensation we want for taking it.’ ”

China currency

Romney has accused China of currency manipulation, claiming he would be more aggressive on the issue than Obama.

The Senate has passed China currency legislation, which was strongly backed by 16 Republicans in the upper chamber. House Democrats have called for the bill to be brought up, but GOP leaders have not heeded that call. Boehner has dubbed the Senate measure “dangerous.”

Congressional term limits

In January, Romney endorsed term limits for members of Congress. He said at the time, “I would love to see term limits for congressmen and senators. We have one for the president. It’s a good idea.”

Romney has not detailed the lengths of the term limits he supports.

The 1994 GOP "Contract With America" included terms limits, but the House Republicans’ 2010 “Pledge to America” does not.

Immigration

Romney strongly supports E-verify legislation, which would mandate that employers check their employees’ legal work status. But the bill has attracted criticism from Democrats and some Republicans. Not one senior House Republican leader has co-sponsored the measure, and the measure is not expected to hit the lower chamber floor before the election.

Dodd-Frank

Romney and his GOP rivals for the White House have regularly called for the repeal of Dodd-Frank. But it is not a talking point for House and Senate Republican leaders.

Bills on the issue have stalled in the Republican-led House. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is a formal co-sponsor of repealing the Wall Street reform bill, but he has not made repeal of the legislation a top priority.

Meanwhile, the new House Republican budget crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) does not call for the eradication of Dodd-Frank.

Taxes

Romney proposes eliminating the capital gains tax for only those with less than $200,000 in taxable income. That has been criticized in GOP circles as timid. Other Republican White House hopefuls, meanwhile, called for striking the entire tax. The Ryan budget does not include Romney’s $200,000 provision.

Afghanistan

Republican lawmakers, including Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), last year criticized Romney’s troop withdrawal plans for Afghanistan, which have been vague. He has said his plans on the war will be based on conditions on the ground, but also indicated he might want to remove combat troops before 2014.

Other issues

Romney has embraced a permanent ban on earmarks, which is backed by Boehner and McConnell. However, 13 Senate Republicans voted against such a measure earlier this year.

Romney has also previously embraced raising the minimum wage, suggesting it should be indexed to inflation. His campaign in March walked back those comments, saying Romney does not currently support an increase to the minimum wage.


This article was updated at 11:43 a.m.