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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 MnuchinDemocrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says MORE and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSchumer vows to advance two-pronged infrastructure plan next month Senators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' Tim Cook called Pelosi to say tech antitrust bills were rushed 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. 

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Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP torpedoes election bill; infrastructure talks hit snag White House digs in as infrastructure talks stall On The Money: Democrats make full-court press on expanded child tax credit | White House confident Congress will raise debt ceiling 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 CornynSenators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' Cornyn calls on Biden and Harris to visit southern border: 'Y'all come visit' Progressive groups launch .5M ad buy to pressure Sinema on filibuster MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCan Manchin answer his predecessor's call on voting rights? Biden at Sen. John Warner's funeral: He 'gave me confidence' Democrats' narrow chance to retain control after 2022 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.

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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 RomneySenators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' Trump clash ahead: Ron DeSantis positions himself as GOP's future in a direct-mail piece Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs warn against sweeping reform to military justice system | Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal | National Guard may have 'training issues' if not reimbursed 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 GrassleyBiden's program for migrant children doesn't go far enough The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden support, gas tax questions remain on infrastructure 64 percent of Iowans say 'time for someone else' to hold Grassley's Senate seat: poll 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.”