Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' GOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema MORE (R-Utah) is getting a high-profile perch as he joins the Senate during his latest clash with President TrumpDonald TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event MORE.
Romney was named on Thursday to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, giving him an opening to wade into several looming foreign policy battles between Congress and the White House.
Romney had reportedly expressed an interest in gaining a seat on the committee, where two Republican members retired at the end of the last Congress, opening up space on the panel.
He was also named to the Help, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committees. The committee assignments will need be ratified by the full Senate next week.
The Foreign Relations Committee spot could provide Romney with a pathway to highlight his differences with Trump on foreign policy, an issue where the president’s views diverge from most of the Senate GOP caucus.
Romney, in a Washington Post op-ed critical of Trump this week, stressed the importance of maintaining international alliances.
“America is strongest when our arms are linked with other nations. We want a unified and strong Europe, not a disintegrating union. We want stable relationships with the nations of Asia that strengthen our mutual security and prosperity,” Romney wrote.
Trump, by comparison, has shaken up many of the country’s traditional alliances, and hasn’t backed away from criticizing other world leaders. The shift started early on when Trump had a heated phone call in 2017 with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. He’s also criticized British Prime Minister Theresa May and sparred with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Trump has jettisoned members of his foreign policy and defense team that aligned more closely with Senate Republicans, most recently Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. He’s also rankled Senate Republicans with his warmer rhetoric toward Russia, his handling of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi’s slaying and his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.
Romney, in his Washington Post op-ed, argued that “the Trump presidency made a deep descent in December.”
“The departures of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, the appointment of senior persons of lesser experience, the abandonment of allies who fight beside us, and the president’s thoughtless claim that America has long been a ‘sucker’ in world affairs all defined his presidency down,” Romney wrote.
But the Foreign Relations spot will give him the chance to weigh in on Heather Nauert’s U.N. ambassador nomination as well as lingering foreign policy fights.
Romney told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Wednesday that the United States was in Syria “to help our allies there” and “to provide some stability to that region.”
“So, pulling out on a precipitous basis, without interacting with them and coordinating this with them and getting the input, for instance, from Secretary Mattis is something which I think is very troubling to me and to a number of others,” Romney added.