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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has urged White House negotiators not to cut a deal with Democrats on new coronavirus stimulus before the election.

Driving the news: McConnell informed Senate Republicans of the move at a closed-door lunch on Tuesday, two people familiar with his remarks tell Axios. McConnell's remarks were first reported by the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Any agreement between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the White House's top stimulus negotiator, would likely be shot down by Senate Republicans — which could put GOP incumbents in tight races in an even more precarious spot just days away from Nov. 3.

What we're hearing: McConnell told his conference that he signaled to the White House that Pelosi isn't willing to give enough and isn't negotiating in good faith, the two sources said.

  • He also voiced concerns about any distraction to the Senate's plans to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, which he plans to hold a vote on next Monday.

Yes, but: Hours after the Senate GOP lunch, Pelosi and Mnuchin — who dialed in from Israel — spoke again and are moving "closer to an agreement," Pelosi's deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill said.

  • "[B]oth sides are serious about finding a compromise," Hammill added. "The two principals will continue their discussions tomorrow afternoon upon the Secretary's return."

Between the lines: President Trump wants "a big deal" before Nov. 3, and he's indicated his willingness to spend several trillion dollars as he seeks re-election.

  • But that idea faces strong opposition from Republicans wary of another massive pandemic relief package.
  • Mnuchin is widely seen by many GOP lawmakers as someone who is too willing to compromise with Democrats and give in to Pelosi's demands.

What's next: GOP senators want to save face by voting on a smaller, more targeted $500 billion relief bill this week. But the move is largely about optics, and Democrats have said it's too small to garner their support.

Go deeper: McConnell says stimulus "unlikely" before election despite Trump's desperation

Go deeper

Bipartisan group of lawmakers unveils $908 billion COVID stimulus proposal

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in the Capitol in 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday proposed a $908 billion coronavirus stimulus package, in one of the few concrete steps toward COVID relief made by Congress in several months.

Why it matters: Recent data shows that the economic recovery is floundering as coronavirus cases surge and hospitals threaten to be overwhelmed heading into what is likely to be a grim winter.

20 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Petition backed by Howard Schultz urges Congress to pass small business aid

The Small Business Recovery Initiative, a group backed by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, released a video on Tuesday featuring struggling small business owners urging viewers to sign a petition that calls on Congress to pass COVID relief.

Why it matters: Recent data increasingly shows the economic recovery is floundering, as coronavirus cases surge and states tighten up restrictions ahead of what is likely to be a grim winter for many families and small businesses. Many of the economic safety nets that vulnerable Americans rely on are set to expire in December.

Nov 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan group of senators seeks coronavirus stimulus deal

Sens. Joe Manchin and Susan Collins. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

At least nine Republican and Democratic senators have formed an informal working group aimed at securing new coronavirus spending during the lame-duck session, a move favored by President-elect Biden, two sources familiar with the group tell Axios.

Why it matters: It may be the most significant bipartisan step toward COVID relief in months.

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