McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a vote in Senate
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that if the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reach a deal on coronavirus relief he would bring the agreement up for a vote on the Senate floor.
McConnell had previously stopped short of explicitly saying an agreement would get a vote amid widespread opposition from Senate Republicans to a package with a large price tag.
“If a presidentially supported bill clears the House at some point we’ll bring it to the floor,” McConnell told reporters during a weekly press conference.
However, McConnell did not commit to a vote before the Nov. 3 election, which is roughly two weeks away.
The Senate is set to vote on another GOP coronavirus bill on Wednesday and then turn to Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination.
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are currently negotiating a coronavirus package between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion, though Trump has signaled he was willing to go higher.
It is unclear if Senate Republicans would support a bill that size.
Asked if his members would support it, McConnell said: “We’d have to see what it was first.”
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told reporters on Monday evening that it would be “hard” to get 13 Republicans to support a $1.8 trillion coronavirus deal. If every Democrat voted for a bipartisan deal, 13 GOP senators would be needed to help get it over procedural hurdles.
“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.
But Trump and other administration officials have signaled that they believe that enough Senate Republicans will go along with a bipartisan deal, even as GOP senators lashed out in a call with Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows earlier this month.
“Whether there is enough votes to get to the 60 vote threshold, that’s up to Leader McConnell. He — he has agreed that he’s willing to go ahead and put forth the bill. If we have a bipartisan agreement on the bill, he’ll bring it to the floor and actually have vote. And — and yet, it’s too early to tell,” Meadows told reporters at the White House on Monday.
But GOP senators have been cool to supporting a deal on a bill larger than $1 trillion. The Senate will vote on Wednesday on a $500 billion GOP bill, less than a third of the $1.8 trillion offered by the White House.
“I think it’s very unlikely that a number of that level would make it through the Senate, and I don’t support something of that level,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told reporters Tuesday.
Asked if he could support a $1.8 trillion deal, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said he would want to see the details but “I don’t think it’s needed at this point.”