Schumer: Trump should want COVID-19 deal to help GOP election chances

Schumer: Trump should want COVID-19 deal to help GOP election chances
© Bonnie Cash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session Senate holds sleepy Saturday session as negotiators finalize infrastructure deal An August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done MORE (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement MORE should try to cut a deal on more coronavirus relief to help Republicans' electoral prospects in November. 

"The person who should really want something to happen actually is Trump because if the economy goes to hell in a handbasket, which it will do if we don't pass anything, he's finished. He may be finished anyway, but he's certainly finished if that happened," Schumer said during an interview with MSNBC's Chris Hayes.

When Hayes said he thought the GOP strategy, with several Republicans blasting their own party's proposal, was "bizarro," Schumer added: "It is." 

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"They are so enthralled by the right-wing ideologies, who say don't spend any government money, that they're not even doing what would be ... in their own self-interest. So you're right. It is bizarre. It is totally bizarre. But they are totally at war with themselves," Schumer said. 

Schumer's comments come as the $1 trillion Republican coronavirus package, which was negotiated by a core group of GOP senators and the administration, has sparked high-profile divisions within the caucus. The proposal is the GOP's opening offer in negotiations with Democrats on the final bill. 

Democrats believe they have leverage in the negotiations as coronavirus cases climb across the country and Trump, and GOP senators in tough reelection bids, face a slew of troubling polls. 

“I think Republicans are reading the polls. The president is slumping, their Republican Senate candidates are slumping in the polls. They have to show something," said Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinCongress should butt out of Supreme Court's business Inmates grapple with uncertainty over Biden prison plan Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire MORE (D-Ill.), Schumer's No. 2.

Schumer added during the MSNBC interview that Democrats have "a lot of leverage and we ain't afraid to use it."

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"We don't have a majority in the Senate and we can't pass it alone, but we have a lot of leverage and we're going to use it," he said. 

But the bipartisan negotiations are off to a slow start, so far, with the administration saying Democrats are drawing a red line on continuing the $600-per-week unemployment increase and Democrats saying Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden sets new vaccine mandate as COVID-19 cases surge Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire MORE's (R-Ky.) demand that liability protections be included in the bill suggests the GOP leader doesn't want an agreement.

McConnell, leaving the Capitol for the day, doubled down on including liability protections from coronavirus-related lawsuits in the final agreement.

"That will be in any bill that passes the Senate," he told reporters.