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Susan Collins: Punting coronavirus relief until after election a 'huge mistake'

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSusan Collins says systemic racism isn't 'a problem' in Maine Biden, Cunningham hold narrow leads in North Carolina: poll GOP sees path to hold Senate majority MORE (R-Maine) broke with President TrumpDonald John TrumpStephen Miller: Trump to further crackdown on illegal immigration if he wins US records 97,000 new COVID-19 cases, shattering daily record Biden leads Trump by 8 points nationally: poll MORE on Tuesday over his decision to pull the plug on coronavirus relief negotiations until after the election, calling it a "huge mistake." 

"Waiting until after the election to reach an agreement on the next Covid-19 relief package is a huge mistake. I have already been in touch with the Secretary of the Treasury, one of the chief negotiators, and with several of my Senate colleagues," Collins said in a statement, referring to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinDemocrats call Trump's COVID-19 response 'among the worst failures of leadership in American history' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump, Biden set for weekend swing state sprint Mnuchin says he learned of Pelosi's letter to him about stimulus talks 'in the press' MORE

Collins, who is facing a tough reelection fight in Maine, pointed to bipartisan cooperation early this year when Congress passed a nearly $3 trillion bill in March, arguing that was the "same approach" negotiators "should take now." 

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Collins's statement comes after Trump abruptly ended negotiations between Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 | Lawmakers see better prospects for COVID deal after election Overnight Health Care: House Dem report blasts Trump coronavirus response | Regeneron halts trial of antibody drug in sickest hospitalized patients | McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 MORE (D-Calif.), who have been talking daily and met in person last week as part of a revived effort to try to get an agreement on a fifth coronavirus package. 

Top lawmakers and the White House have struggled for months to get a deal, and both sides were still far apart on the topline, as well as specifics like state and local money, unemployment and protection against coronavirus lawsuits. 

Democrats had come down to $2.2 trillion, a decrease compared to the $3.4 trillion bill the House passed along party lines in May. 

Mnuchin made an offer to Democrats last week of $1.6 trillion, a number viewed as too low by Democrats and too high for many Senate Republicans. The Senate GOP caucus unveiled a $1.1 trillion bill in late July that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTop Senate GOP super PAC makes final .6M investment in Michigan Senate race On The Money: McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 | Lawmakers see better prospects for COVID deal after election Overnight Health Care: House Dem report blasts Trump coronavirus response | Regeneron halts trial of antibody drug in sickest hospitalized patients | McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 MORE (R-Ky.) warned could lose the support of up to 20 GOP senators. 

They then unveiled a significantly scaled-back bill of $500 billion in September that got support of 52 of the 53 GOP senators. 

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Trump, in his tweet thread, claimed the mantle for calling off the talks, saying he "instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business." 

Trump's claim that a stimulus deal could be reached in the lame-duck session was met with near immediate skepticism. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters on Tuesday that he supported Trump's decision to end the negotiations. 

"Well I think his view was that they were not going to produce a result, and we needed to concentrate on what's achievable," he said.