As Congress and the White House intensify negotiations on the emergency pandemic aid, a group of senators is trying to include a proposal to fix diminishing funds for Medicare, Social Security, and infrastructure projects.
This week, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and 14 co-sponsors came up with the TRUST Act to be included in the forthcoming pandemic stimulus legislation, updating a bill that Romney introduced in 2019.
“Among its many devastating effects, COVID-19 has threatened the fiscal health of essential programs like Medicare and Social Security,” Romney said in a statement of the measure. “If Congress does not respond quickly, the day of insolvency for these programs will now come years sooner than expected.”
It would require the Department of Treasury to come up with a report on solvency by January 2021. The proposal would also come up with plans to fix various trust funds that support the programs.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said that decades of mismanagement left “Medicare, Social Security, highways, and pensions on the brink of insolvency,” underscoring the need for the measure.
“Until we fix this broken funding process and save Social Security and Medicare, we’re not going to make any real headway on the debt,” Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) said. “We need to get serious about this problem, before it becomes too late for us to do the right thing. The TRUST Act is a bipartisan effort that puts us on the right track to find solutions to protect these critical programs while we continue focusing on the long-term goal of solving our debt crisis.”
The bill has bipartisan support, but some organizations have said that the program could be left gutted.
“It’s an attempt to go behind closed doors to divert political accountability for taking a vote the American people don’t want,” said Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works, an advocacy organization.
She added: “The TRUST Act creates a closed-door process to fast track cuts to Social Security. It is a way to undermine the economic security of Americans without political accountability.”
Other than Perdue, Romney, and Manchin, Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.); Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.); Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.); Doug Jones (D-Ala.); Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.); Angus King (I-Maine); Rob Portman (R-Ohio); Mark Warner (D-Va.); John Cornyn (R-Texas); Martha McSally (R-Ariz.); Mike Rounds (R-S.D.); and Dan Sullivan (R-Ark.) also support the bill.
A similar bill has been proposed in the House by Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.); Ed Case (D-Hawaii); William Timmons (R-S.C.); Ben McAdams (D-Utah); and Scott Peters (D-Calif.).
A bipartisan group of 60 Congressional representatives also sent a letter (pdf) requesting that the legislation be included in the next round of legislation.