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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 MnuchinTreasury imposes additional sanctions on Cuba over allegations of 'serious human rights abuse' Treasury Department sanctions inner circle of Russian agent Derkach for election interference Sanders defends push to impeach Trump: Insurrection won't be tolerated MORE and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCowboys for Trump founder arrested following Capitol riot Retired Army general: 'We can't have demonstrators showing up at a state Capitol with damn long guns' Graham calls on Schumer to hold vote to dismiss article of impeachment against Trump 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 ThuneImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP For platform regulation Congress should use a European cheat sheet Streamlining the process of prior authorization for medical and surgical procedures 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 CornynHarris to resign from Senate seat on Monday Cruz, Cornyn to attend Biden inauguration McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham calls on Schumer to hold vote to dismiss article of impeachment against Trump Rove: Chances of conviction rise if Giuliani represents Trump in Senate impeachment trial Boebert communications director resigns amid Capitol riot: report 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. 

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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 RomneyImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate The Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history 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 GrassleyImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Overnight Health Care: Biden unveils COVID-19 relief plan | Post-holiday surge hits new deadly records | Senate report faults 'broken' system for insulin price hikes 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.”