The White House, seeking to revive stimulus talks that President Trump called off just days ago, planned on Friday to put forward its largest offer for economic relief yet, as some Republicans worried about being blamed by voters for failing to deliver needed aid ahead of the election.
The new proposal, for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to present to congressional Democrats, would increase the White House’s plan for coronavirus stimulus to $1.8 trillion.
The president “would like to do a deal,” Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said on the Fox Business Network on Friday, in the latest head-snapping turn in the on-again-off-again negotiations. The overall price tag of the offer was confirmed by two people familiar with the discussions, who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose details of the talks.
Fanning the sense of optimism, Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter: “Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big!”
The prospects of a compromise remained remote, however, given the opposition of many Republicans to another large infusion of federal virus aid. Speaking to reporters in Kentucky, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, cast doubt on the chances of a deal, saying political divisions remained too deep less than a month before Election Day.
“The situation is kind of murky and I think the murkiness is a result of the proximity to the election and everybody kind of trying to elbow for political advantage,” Mr. McConnell said. “I’d like to see us rise above that like we did back in March and April, but I think that’s unlikely in the next three weeks.”
Yet the White House was working to resuscitate negotiations that Mr. Trump himself cut off in a series of indignant tweets on Tuesday, amid deep concern among some vulnerable Republicans that his abrupt abandonment of the talks would hurt them politically.
Mr. Kudlow said that the president met with Mr. Mnuchin and Mark Meadows, White House chief of staff, on Friday and that the Treasury secretary would speak with Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California later Friday afternoon.
Without an agreement, the collateral damage across the country has continued to mount in the absence of federal funding, with more than 800,000 Americans filing new applications for state benefits, before adjusting for seasonal variations.
Even if Ms. Pelosi were to accept the administration’s latest proposal, which is lower than the $2.2 trillion package she pushed through the House this month, Senate Republicans remain divided over the scope of another coronavirus relief package.
Most of them opposed the original $1 trillion offer Mr. McConnell presented in July, after days of haggling with the White House, in part because they were concerned about adding to the national debt. Mr. McConnell has since scaled back the offer considerably, proposing a $350 billion “skinny” plan that Democrats blocked, calling it inadequate.