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Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Several Republican senators told Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during their weekly policy lunch they disagree with the debt-limit deal he cut with Democrats, saying it puts them in a tough spot no matter how they vote, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Some who've been refusing to help Democrats' raise the limit are against the one-time, fast-track procedural bill allowing the Senate to raise the limit with just 51 votes. That said, they support the broader package that includes delaying Medicare sequestration cuts.

  • At the meeting on Tuesday, they expressed frustration McConnell intentionally tied the two together to pressure more Republicans to support it, according to one senator who attended and spoke to Axios on condition of anonymity.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told McConnell either they vote yes and get hit for supporting a debt limit hike, or vote no and get hit for opposing delays to Medicare sequester cuts, the source said.
  • Three sources familiar with the behind-the-scenes conversations confirmed the details.

The big picture: McConnell is expected to get the 10 votes needed to support the one-time process bill.

  • It's unlikely he'll get much more.

What we're hearing: There was a lot of blame-shifting going on during the heated lunch hosted at the National Republican Senatorial Committee's headquarters.

  • McConnell told the room that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer didn’t have the votes to raise the debt limit through the budget reconciliation process, so they had to find a different path.
  • He emphasized that in October, the last time they were forced to address the fiscal cliff, he and the other senators who backed the bill had to essentially "take one for the team."
  • He said they had to swallow that vote thanks to some members objecting to give Democrats unanimous consent to suspend the debt ceiling through a simple majority vote.
  • McConnell insisted that under this week's deal, Republicans will be able to more successfully message against Democrats.

Go deeper

Dem Senate candidates rally against “sellout” Sinema

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema enters the Democratic caucus meeting on Thursday with President Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate are now explicitly campaigning against one of their potential colleagues, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — branded by one as a "sellout" for opposing filibuster changes to enact party priorities.

Why it matters: It's an evolution of an increasingly popular strategy among Democrats: turning legislative inaction to their advantage by casting themselves as the "50th vote" for programs or the filibuster changes needed to pass President Biden's agenda.

Sinema cites "disease of division," says she won't support changing filibuster rules

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) reiterated her long-standing support for the 60-vote Senate filibuster during a floor speech Thursday, dampening Democrats' hopes of reforming filibuster rules in order to pass voting rights legislation.

The backdrop: President Biden earlier this week threw his support behind changing filibuster rules in order pass voting rights legislation, and will attend the Senate Democratic caucus lunch later Thursday to make his case.

House passes voting rights bill

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed voting rights legislation, approving a measure that combines the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Amendment Act.

Driving the news: The package will be sent to the Senate, where it faces an uphill battle because of Republican opposition. Democrats are considering changing the Senate's filibuster rules to pass the bill.