A handful of the Senate's more moderate Republicans thought they would be at the center of legislative negotiations with President Joe Biden, but instead find themselves on the sidelines as Democrats push ahead with a sweeping agenda.
Members of the so-called G-10 say they're eager to negotiate deals with the White House, after steering COVID-19 relief under former president Donald Trump, but they're instead largely irrelevant and unable to shake the GOP reputation as obstructionists, reported Politico.
"It's a f*cking nightmare," complained one G-10 staffer. "Biden is a horrible villain for us. There are deeply entrenched narratives that have some truth but are no longer totally true. Reporters believe them despite all evidence to the contrary."
Staffers complain that the White House is "constantly rubbing dirt in the face of Republicans" by inviting them to White House meetings as Senate Democrats push through legislation with their narrow majority through reconciliation.
"If you get an invitation to the White House, you go to the White House," said another G-10 staffer. "But regardless, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. When you go to the White House meeting you risk being used in a feigned attempt at bipartisanship. If you don't go then it's, 'Oh, Republicans won't even meet with me.' It all pivots on whether it's a genuine offer from the White House or just part of their messaging strategy."
The senators -- including Susan Collins (R-ME), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) -- may not like the situation, but they grudgingly concede that Biden's White House has firmly grabbed control of the narrative.
"Everything they support is defined as either COVID relief or infrastructure, and everything they oppose is like … Jim Crow voter suppression and evil," said a G-10 aide, "and you constantly just feel like you're in this gaslighting chamber of insanity. But it's working."