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BALTIMORE — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSanders: 'If you don't have the guts to face your constituents,' you shouldn't be in Congress McConnell: Trump's speech should be 'tweet free' Protesters crash McConnell's speech MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday told reporters he does not want to spend time voting on GOP presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpPence takes victory lap at CPAC: ‘This is our time’ President Trump, immigrants are not 'bad dudes' Zuckerberg group donated to Trump transition MORE’s controversial proposals, such as banning Muslims from entering the country.
Democrats have vowed to force Republicans to take tough political votes on Trump’s various policy prescriptions, which include building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and forcing Mexico to pay for it.
McConnell said the Senate’s time would be better spent on other things, such as his plan to pass all 12 annual appropriations bills under regular order.
“As a general rule, what I’ve asked the Senate to do is let the presidential candidates run their race and let’s try to do the people’s business,” he told reporters at a joint press conference with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
McConnell warned if Democrats insist on pushing Trump’s proposals on the floor, he will force them to vote on ideas touted by Democratic presidential candidates that might cause political pain for centrist Democratic senators.
The Wall Street Journal last year estimated that enacting Bernie Sanders’s agenda would require $18 trillion in new spending over the next decade.
“I’ve tried to avoid turning the Senate into a studio for the presidential campaign, but it’s worth noting that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. You could expect amendments that they might not like related to the Sanders or [Hillary] Clinton campaigns,” McConnell said, referring to the two leading Democratic candidates for president.
Republicans have generally tried to distance themselves from Trump during a multiday retreat at the Marriott Hotel on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
Democrats want to force their colleagues across the aisle to take a stand one way or the other on the provocative candidate.
"These votes will give all Senators a chance to take a stand on the policy issues dominating the public debate — and Republicans a chance to stand with the frontrunner for their nomination," Reid said in a statement Thursday.
Ryan told reporters that he and other leaders would back the eventual Republican nominee, even if Trump wins.
“We’re going to support whoever our nominee is. You know why? Because it’s the Republican primary voter who makes that decision and that’s who we respect,” he said.