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Trump Casts Doubt on Stimulus Deal as Republicans Resist a Possible Compromise

WASHINGTON — President Trump cast doubt on Wednesday on the prospects of a bipartisan, multitrillion-dollar stimulus deal before Election Day, as Senate Republicans continued to balk at an emerging compromise they called too costly and politically fraught.

Even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and top White House officials said that they were continuing to narrow their differences on a plan to help Americans and businesses struggling amid the pandemic, Mr. Trump appeared to be reverting to a familiar pattern, preparing to blame Democrats for the demise of a compromise.

“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,” the president wrote on Twitter. “Their primary focus is BAILING OUT poorly run (and high crime) Democrat cities and states.”

He appeared to be referring to a sticking point in the talks over aid to state and local governments. Democrats are insisting on providing $500 billion, while the White House has offered half of that amount.

Yet Republicans presented an additional obstacle to the enactment of a relief measure. Mr. Trump’s tweet came not long after Mark Meadows, his chief of staff, returned to the White House after a lunch meeting with Republican senators, who continued to balk at the administration’s willingness to offer to costly concessions to Ms. Pelosi in the interest of securing an economic recovery deal before Nov. 3.

Mr. Meadows said that the Republicans 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.”

Later, 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, and Mr. Meadows had said earlier in the day that he was “still very hopeful and very optimistic that we’re making progress.”

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But with less than two weeks until the general election, Trump administration and congressional officials acknowledged that there were still stark policy divisions that might not be resolved beforehand.

“Let’s keep working so that we can do it after the election,” Ms. Pelosi declared Wednesday on MSNBC, before her phone call with Mr. Mnuchin, as she insisted she was optimistic a deal could be reached. “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?”

In the absence of a compromise, the two parties traded blame for the lack of a relief package that economists have called crucial to fueling an economic recovery.

Senate Democrats blocked a Republican plan that would provide $500 billion in aid, reviving lapsed federal unemployment benefits and a popular federal loan program for small businesses, as well as additional money for testing. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said the package, which did not include another round of stimulus checks or money for state and local governments, “leaves so many Americans behind.”

In a party-line vote of 51 to 44, it failed to clear the necessary 60-vote threshold to advance, with all Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed.

Senate Republicans accused Democrats of depriving tens of millions of American families and businesses of critical federal relief by holding out for their own priorities in negotiations.

“Why not get the country in a better place while Washington continues to argue over the rest?” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader. “If this relief does not pass, it will be because Senate Democrats chose to do Speaker Pelosi’s political dirty work rather than stand up for struggling people.”

Even as Ms. Pelosi publicly dispatched committees to help iron out remaining differences, lawmakers in both parties said it was difficult to predict the fate of a potential agreement without knowing the specifics of what Mr. Mnuchin and Ms. Pelosi had agreed to.

Republicans, cognizant of the demands of their fiscally conservative base, have long been divided over how much money to spend, and Mr. McConnell said on Tuesday that he privately warned the White House against accepting an agreement with Ms. Pelosi in part because a nearly $2 trillion package could bitterly divide the Republican conference right before the election.

“Part of the message from Senate Republicans is we need to have a discussion about the substance and whether — irrespective of the top line — whether the policy makes sense,” Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, told reporters after the lunch with Mr. Meadows.

“Anybody in Congress should want to know what are we voting on,” said Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Voting on an agreement before the general election, he said, was “possible, but not probable.”

Mr. Meadows gave senators few details about the continuing talks between Mr. Mnuchin and Ms. Pelosi, who are expected to speak again on Thursday, but he hinted that Mr. Trump was growing tired of yielding to the top Democrat’s demands.

“Most of the progress we’ve made have been concessions that the president has made to date,” he said. “The next two or three days will make the biggest difference.”

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