President Trump cast doubt Wednesday on the prospects of a bipartisan, multi-trillion-dollar stimulus deal before Election Day, as Senate Republicans continued to resist a compromise they called too costly and politically fraught.
Mr. Trump blamed Democrats, citing their push to give billions of dollars in aid to state and local governments as a reason an agreement is unlikely before Nov. 3.
“Just don’t see any way Nancy Pelosi and Cryin’ Chuck Schumer will be willing to do what is right for our great American workers, or our wonderful USA itself, on Stimulus,” Mr. Trump posted to Twitter.
The president’s tweet came just hours after Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, said that they were continuing to narrow their differences on a plan. Ms. Pelosi had also conceded that a deal might not be possible before the election.
A nearly one-hour conversation between Ms. Pelosi and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, brought the pair “closer to being able to put pen to paper to write legislation,” a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi said Wednesday afternoon. Separately, Mr. Meadows said that he was “still very hopeful and very optimistic that we’re making progress.”
But with time waning to cement an agreement, both sides also were wary.
Mr. Meadows, who met with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, told reporters that lawmakers in his party had grown suspicious of Ms. Pelosi’s tactics and were “starting to get to a point where they believe that she is not negotiating in a fair and equitable manner.”
Ms. Pelosi said she remained upbeat about the prospects for a compromise but allowed for the possibility that it would wait until after the election.
“I’m optimistic that there will be a bill,” she said in an interview on MSNBC. “It’s a question of, is it in time to pay the November rent, which is my goal, or is it going to be shortly thereafter and retroactive.”
On the other side of the Capitol, Senate Democrats blocked a move by Republicans to advance a $500 billion plan that would have revived lapsed federal unemployment benefits and a popular federal loan program for small businesses, as well as provide additional money for testing.
Democrats, who have argued the package falls far short of the level of aid needed, unanimously opposed it, and it fell short on a party-line vote of 51-44, failing to clear the 60-vote threshold required to move forward.
Mr. Meadows said earlier Wednesday that the toughest obstacles to a bipartisan stimulus deal were a push by Democrats for hundreds of billions of dollars more in federal aid for states and cities and their resistance to a liability shield for businesses. The White House has proposed providing $250 billion to states and municipalities, Mr. Meadows said, while House Democrats have called for double that.
“The biggest issue remains state and local assistance,” Mr. Meadows said on the Fox Business Network. “That remains a stumbling block.”
Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Mnuchin are expected to speak again on Thursday.