Washington negotiations on a huge COVID-19 relief bill took a modest step forward on Tuesday, though time is running out and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, President Trump's most powerful Senate ally, is pressing the White House against going forward. The AP reports that McConnell on Tuesday told fellow Republicans that he has warned the White House not to divide Republicans by sealing a lopsided $2 trillion relief deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before the election—even as he publicly said he'd slate any such agreement for a vote. McConnell made his remarks during a private lunch with fellow Republicans on Tuesday, three people familiar with them said, requesting anonymity because the session was private.
Pelosi's office said talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday were productive, but other veteran lawmakers said there is still too much work to do and not enough time to do it to enact a relief bill by Election Day. McConnell appears worried that an agreement between Pelosi and Mnuchin would drive a wedge between Republicans, forcing them to choose whether to support a Pelosi-blessed deal with Trump that would violate conservative positions they've stuck with for months. Many Republicans say they can't vote for another huge Pelosi-brokered agreement. McConnell said if such a bill passed the Democratic-controlled House with Trump's blessing “we would put it on the floor of the Senate.” Those public remarks came after the private session with fellow Republicans.
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