Murkowski after Trump halts talks: Congress must move on virus package
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Tuesday that she thought talks on another coronavirus relief package should continue, even after President Trump pulled the plug until after the election.
“Now is not the time for Congress to stop doing its work. I strongly believe negotiations should continue, particularly among those of us in Congress. … We all need to keep working until we reach a bipartisan agreement that can pass both chambers and be signed by the president,” Murkowski said in a statement.
Murkowski is the second GOP senator to push back against the abrupt end to the negotiations, which Trump announced via a series of tweets earlier Tuesday.
Trump’s decision comes as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have talked daily, and met in person last week, as part of an effort to try to revive the long-stalled negotiations and reach an agreement.
The president, however, said in a string of tweets that he had told his negotiating team — Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — to walk away.
“I have 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 tweeted.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered support for Trump’s decision on Tuesday, saying the president’s view “was that they were not going to produce a result.”
McConnell has been publicly noncommittal about moving any deal reached by Pelosi and Mnuchin in the Senate. And top members of his leadership team have cast doubt that a bill starting at $1.5 trillion or $1.6 trillion, the White House’s latest offer, could get enough GOP support to pass the Senate.
But Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), an endangered incumbent who like Murkowski is part of a dwindling group of moderates, called the decision to end talks 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.
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