Senate Republicans cringe at Trump’s stimulus negotiations

The coronavirus stimulus talks between Nancy Pelosi and Steven Mnuchin have been excruciating. But they’ll fuel an even more painful firefight within the GOP if the speaker and Treasury secretary can somehow get a deal.

The bulk of the Senate GOP is resistant to the spending numbers being tossed around by Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Mnuchin, meaning a majority of Republicans in the GOP-controlled Senate would likely vote against a deal in the ballpark of $2 trillion. And that’s if the legislation even comes up at all.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said only the Senate would “consider” any such agreement, with no promise of a floor vote or whether it would have his support. He offered no more specificity to reporters on Monday.

It is quite unusual for the Trump administration to negotiate legislation that turns off most members of Congress in President Donald Trump’s own party. If all Senate Democrats supported the legislation, it would still need more than a dozen Republicans to clear the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a filibuster.

And GOP leaders are looking dimly at the prospect of waltzing a bill with mostly Democratic support through the Senate, even if it does have the president’s backing.

Republicans’ “natural instinct, depending on how big it is, and what’s in it, is probably going to be to be against it,” said Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.). “I think we’re going to have a hard time finding 13 votes for anything.”

Senate Republicans have been on the attack now for weeks, hoping to send a signal to the Trump administration that they far prefer touting the impending Supreme Court confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett over a debilitating intra-party fight over a relief bill right before the election. McConnell has privately expressed concern about a coronavirus deal delaying Barrett’s confirmation, according to someone who has spoken to him.

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