GOP noncommittal about vote on potential Trump-Pelosi coronavirus deal

GOP noncommittal about vote on potential Trump-Pelosi coronavirus deal
© Greg Nash

Top Senate Republicans are noncommittal about taking up a big coronavirus deal between congressional Democrats and the administration.

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinBiden brings back bipartisan meetings at the White House On The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears Mnuchin expected to launch investment fund seeking backing from Persian Gulf region: report MORE and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden coronavirus relief bill tests narrow Democratic majority Some Republicans say proxy voting gives advantage to Democrats Gun violence prevention groups optimistic background check legislation can pass this Congress MORE (D-Calif.) are negotiating a deal between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion.

But GOP senators are giving the price tag a cool reception, underscoring the headache the administration will face if they need to win Republican support before the November election. 


Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate GOP whip: Murkowski's vote on Tanden is 'fluid' at the moment GOP says Ron Klain pulling Biden strings Rick Scott acknowledges Biden 'absolutely' won fair election MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, predicted that it would be “hard” to get enough GOP support to pass a bill that would be $1.8 trillion or higher.

“My guess is the leader is going to want to see some evidence that whatever is agreed upon has Republican support to try to convince Republicans over here to be for it,” he said. 

“Their natural instinct depending on how big it is and what's in it is probably going to be to be against it,” Thune added. 

Asked if he would advocate for a preelection vote, Sen. John CornynJohn CornynBottom line This week: Senate takes up coronavirus relief after minimum wage setback Senate mulls changes to .9 trillion coronavirus bill MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief Boehner book jacket teases slams against Cruz, Trump Gun violence prevention groups optimistic background check legislation can pass this Congress MORE (R-Ky.), hedged, saying Republicans would need to talk about what’s in the bill.

“Depending on what’s in it, I don’t know what sort of support it would get,” Cornyn said.

The hesitancy comes as McConnell hasn’t committed to bringing any deal reached between Pelosi and Mnuchin up for a vote. 


McConnell last week appeared to pour cold water on a deal the size of what’s currently being discussed between Pelosi and Mnuchin. 

“I don’t think so. That’s where the administration is willing to go. My members think half a trillion dollars, highly targeted, is the best way to go," McConnell said, asked in Kentucky about the prospect of a deal between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion. 

He added on Saturday that he would “consider” a bipartisan deal without directly addressing if it would get a vote.

Asked about the prospect on Monday, McConnell demurred.

“I think I addressed that a couple days ago,” McConnell said. 

The GOP's hands-off stance comes as leadership faces significant pushback on how much to spend on coronavirus relief. Republicans initially introduced a $1.1 trillion package and McConnell warned that it could lose up to 20 GOP senators. It never came up for a vote. 

Fifty-two GOP senators then supported a $500 billion deal. Senate Republicans are set to vote on a bill of a similar size again this week. 

Asked if a price tag between $1.8 trillion to $2.2 trillion would be too much, Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyOn The Money: Tanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief | Relief bill tests narrow Democratic majority | Senate confirms Biden's picks for Commerce, top WH economist Romney released from hospital after fall over the weekend Kinzinger: Trump just wants to 'stand in front of a crowd and be adored' MORE (R-Utah), while saying that he would want to know what’s in it, said “the answer is yes, that’s too high.”

Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyFBI director faces lawmaker frustration over Capitol breach Padilla has 'big Chuck Taylors to fill' in replacing Harris Judiciary Committee greenlights Garland's AG nomination MORE (R-Iowa), asked if he would support giving a larger deal a vote, argued the focus should be on the bill being worked on by Senate Republicans.

“You gotta get this process going. You just can’t have the president talking to Pelosi,” Grassley said. “There’s a hundred other people involved.”