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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told a Kentucky event on Friday that a coronavirus stimulus deal is "unlikely in the next three weeks," per the Washington Post's Erica Werner.

Our thought bubble: Two sources close to Senate leadership said President Trump is desperate, has zero leverage to push them to support a bill crafted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and congressional Republicans aren’t inclined to wrap themselves any tighter to a sinking ship.

What they're saying: "You’re never going to get a deal out of Pelosi that Republicans can support. So do you really want to divide your party within days of an election?" said a source close to Senate leadership about McConnell's calculations.

  • "This entire exercise from Pelosi is basically trying to jam up the Senate in the midst of a Supreme Court confirmation. They know that from a procedural standpoint McConnell can drive this train to conclusion, so what they’re trying do is throw as many roadblocks in the way as possible — and the best way to do that is get the president focused on some extraneous issue."
  • "Pelosi’s out there doing 25th Amendment s--t today. Does this sound like a lady who wants a deal? There’s no way McConnell takes his eye off the ball. Republicans are intently focused on the Supreme Court."

The state of play: White House communications director Alyssa Farah said later on Friday that Trump was willing to come up on on the White House's previous offer of a $1.6 trillion stimulus package. She pointed to a $1.8 trillion offer that she said was being made by Mnuchin.

  • If offered, the $1.8 trillion figure would still be below the $2.2 trillion bill passed in the House last week. Farah added that the Trump administration wants to "stay below 2 trillion."
  • Senate Republicans, including McConnell, have largely been left out of the recent negotiating process between congressional Democrats and the White House.
  • Even if Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were to strike a deal — and that's a big if — there is little chance the Senate GOP would get on board with it.
  • Complicating matters, Senate Republicans remain far apart on what they want as a conference. They also view Trump and Mnuchin as far more willing to give more to Pelosi than what they're comfortable with — both numbers-wise and on policy.

The bottom line: McConnell doesn’t want to do anything to interrupt the only visible Republican win before the election in his chamber — the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”

Journalism enters dangerous new era

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Capitol attack on Jan. 6 resulted in at least nine physical assaults against journalists and at least five arrests, per the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker's top editor.

Why it matters: President Trump's harsh rhetoric towards the press has empowered leaders abroad and locally in the U.S. to continue to attack press that they don't like.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The beginning of the beginning for Biden's climate push

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Joe Biden's inauguration and the days right after will bring a rat-tat-tat burst of climate policy moves, but keep this in mind amid the splashy pledges: pushing through most of his agenda will be a long, uncertain slog.

Why it matters: Biden's climate plan is far more expansive than anything contemplated under President Obama. But for all the immediate pledges, it will take years to see how far Biden gets.