WASHINGTON ― With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) once again extending a self-imposed deadline for a stimulus bill on Tuesday, an already doubtful deal is now running into a new roadblock: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
McConnell has always been an obstacle to an agreement between Pelosi and the White House, with the Kentucky Republican mostly staying on the sidelines as the speaker and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have tried ― and failed ― for months to find a compromise on another coronavirus relief bill.
But with Pelosi and the Trump administration finally making strides just two weeks before Election Day, McConnell has finally started lobbying against a deal.
A senior GOP aide told HuffPost on Tuesday that McConnell had informed Senate Republicans that he advised the White House not to finalize an agreement before the Nov. 3rd election, warning President Donald Trump that adding a major measure to the legislative calendar now could derail the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Such a warning is, of course, outlandish. Barrett’s confirmation hasn’t been in doubt since even before she was nominated, and it’s looking like the Senate will confirm her next Monday. But keeping senators in town past Oct. 26 will eat into valuable campaigning time for many vulnerable Republicans seeking reelection. And passing $2 trillion in new spending is anathema to McConnell and many Republicans.
“It’s clear Senate Republicans are uncomfortable spending $2 trillion right before an election,” a senior GOP aide told HuffPost on Tuesday.
Many GOP senators have privately said they’d like to avoid voting on new spending, with conservatives rediscovering their debt clocks and penny-pinching ways as the prospects of a Joe Biden presidency grow by the day. If a deal had Trump’s backing, however, it’d be difficult for many Republicans to vote against it, particularly just days before the election.