Vulnerable Senate Republicans sound the alarm over coronavirus standoff

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“I don’t think we should suspend without a coronavirus package,” said Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), who faces off against Sara Gideon, speaker of the Maine State Democratic House. “We’re not that far from each other.

Going into the election empty-handed would certainly be a drag for vulnerable senators and MPs from both parties. The US economy is mired in a recession, the coronavirus continues to spread across the country with no signs of slowing down, and massive layoffs are reported daily. Congress is in line to bear much of the blame for not offering crisis relief since the spring.

The Senate appears to be staying at least another week, if not longer, to advance Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The Judicial Committee’s confirmation hearings on Barrett are scheduled to begin Oct.12. And the House can still meet to deal with a bill if there is agreement. But it may take a push for those most at risk of losing their jobs in a month’s time to strike a deal on the finish line.

The effort to bring Pelosi and Mnuchin back to the table has started among moderate House Democrats. And it’s clear that Senate Republicans in tough races are also getting anxious, even as they criticize Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) for refusing to accept a more stimulus bill. thin in September.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), facing his challenger MJ Hegar this fall, said what worried him most was that a vaccine “will be delayed due to lack of funds due to lack of agreement. “.

“It should have been done three weeks ago,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), Who narrowly leads Democrat Jon Ossoff. “Yeah, I’m very frustrated with that. Mnuchin and [Pelosi] have spoken this week of some kind of compromise. … I have good hope. We’re coming back next week, and frankly I don’t think we should leave until we have.

Vulnerable Republicans in the Senate, however, don’t blame McConnell for his failure to come to an agreement. McConnell offered a roughly $ 500 billion package several weeks ago, only to see Schumer dismiss it as woefully inadequate for the country’s needs. Democrats ultimately blocked the measure from progressing.

McConnell and his leadership team were determined to have their conference so divided on how much to spend that they need to keep spending levels as low as possible to generate maximum GOP support. But South Carolina’s Sen. Lindsey Graham, another Republican facing a surprisingly difficult challenge this year, said his party was warming to the administration’s $ 1.6 trillion figure.

“We need a package. But it must be something reasonable. It doesn’t help me throw money at the problem, it helps me put money where it counts, “said Graham, who narrowly leads Democrat Jaime Harrison. “Half of us would vote for a package. Maybe not now, if that’s reasonable.

Senate GOP leaders, however, insist that failure to enact another stimulus package will not hurt their incumbents in the swaying states, despite Democrats ruling in multiple states and threatening incumbents in many states. other.

“Each member speaks for himself or herself, but those I speak to would like to give this targeted help,” said Republican Senate Conference Speaker John Barrasso of Wyoming. “But they’re not going to add billions of dollars to our national debt for things unrelated to the coronavirus. This is what we see coming out of the Pelosi plan. “

“We have great candidates who understand their home country much better than Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco understands the states our candidates are running in,” added Barrasso.

McConnell is kept abreast of the talks between Pelosi and the administration, and he has changed his message from a gloomy one to a more promising one. After declaring the Democrats’ current $ 2.2 trillion proposal on Wednesday as “extravagant” and the two parties “very distant” on Wednesday, he told Pelosi and the Treasury Secretary on Thursday: “I wish them luck.”

“I would like to see another rescue program. We’ve been trying for months, ”he said Thursday.

But since McConnell is not in the room, it leaves his position on the ongoing talks somewhat a mystery. Republicans who have watched the talks have described them as theaters that appear doomed, leaving McConnell little role for the time being.

A close ally of McConnell, Cornyn, said the majority leader “understands that the deal needs to be made between the White House and President Pelosi.” Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Who faces an extremely difficult re-election campaign, said, “There is a lot of talk going on behind the scenes.

But without McConnell playing a central role, Democrats have launched a courier campaign describing him as eager to fill a Supreme Court seat and reluctant to spend more money on the worst pandemic in a century.

“It seems like everyone is really interested except Senator McConnell,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) Said. “It will take a call from the President to tell Senator McConnell, ‘We have a national emergency.'”

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