Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has advised the White House not to strike a deal with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on a new stimulus bill before Election Day, he told Republican senators privately on Tuesday, cautioning against reaching an agreement that most in the party cannot accept.
Mr. McConnell’s counsel, confirmed by three Republicans familiar with his remarks, threw cold water on Mr. Trump’s increasingly urgent push to enact a fresh round of pandemic aid before he faces voters on Nov. 3. It underscored the divisions within the party that have long hampered a compromise.
Ms. Pelosi had said earlier on Tuesday that she was “optimistic” a deal could be reached with the Trump administration in the coming days. But Republicans are growing increasingly anxious that Mr. Trump and his team are too eager to reach a multitrillion-dollar agreement and are conceding far too much to the Democrats. Republicans fear that scenario would force their colleagues up for re-election into a difficult choice of defying the president or alienating their fiscally conservative base by embracing the big-spending bill he has demanded.
Republicans in the Senate were also concerned that any vote on such a package could interfere with the Senate’s hasty timetable for confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court by early next week. Mr. McConnell said he told the White House he was particularly concerned a deal before then could inject unwanted unpredictability into the schedule, according to the Republicans, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss a closed party luncheon.
Mr. McConnell made it clear that he knew his counsel was likely to leak out, making reference to the possibility that his remarks could appear in the news media, two of the Republicans said.
A short time later, outside the hearing room where Republicans met privately, Mr. McConnell told reporters the Senate would consider a broad bipartisan stimulus deal if the White House and Democrats struck one. But he would not say if it would hold a vote before Election Day, and members of his leadership team have warned that Republican votes could be hard to come by in the chamber.
“If a presidentially supported bill clears the House, at some point we’ll bring it to the floor,” he said, without elaborating on the timetable.
Ms. Pelosi and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, were scheduled to discuss the matter at 3 p.m. Tuesday. “Hopefully, by the end of the day today, we’ll know where we all are,” the speaker said in an interview on Bloomberg TV.
On Sunday, Ms. Pelosi said that to pass a bill before the election, a deal would have to be reached within 48 hours. But in the interview on Tuesday, she softened that time limit, saying instead that legislation would have to be finished by the end of next week for aid to begin flowing by Nov. 3.
“It isn’t that this day was the day that we have a deal,” Ms. Pelosi said. “It was a day that we would have our terms on the table to be able to go to the next step.”
Mr. McConnell planned a test vote later Tuesday on a narrow measure that would revive the Paycheck Protection Program, a popular small-business loan program. While Democrats support the program, they are expected to oppose the narrow bill, contending that a far broader package is needed.
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