President Trump pulled the plug on negotiations for another coronavirus relief bill on Tuesday, then he tried to plug it back in, one pin at a time, after vulnerable Republicans decried his actions as self-sabotage that could take them down with him.
Mr. Trump, embracing a long pattern of following an impulsive gesture with a quick walk back, took to Twitter later in the day and again on Wednesday morning to declare that he was open to measures that would send a $1,200 check to taxpayers — and pump $25 billion into the airlines and other industries with big work forces in battleground states.
“I Am Waiting To Sign!” he wrote in a message directed at Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday morning. In the tweet, he included a plea for a measure on stimulus checks that he had sent late Tuesday night.
But Democrats and Republicans have expressed reluctance about one-off measures, even though there were signs of renewed movement on some aspects of the package early Wednesday.
“If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people IMMEDIATELY. I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?” Mr. Trump had tweeted on Tuesday, referring to Ms. Pelosi, whom he insulted with a degrading nickname a few tweets earlier.
Asked if she would head to the White House in an effort to break a stalemate on the negotiations, Ms. Pelosi, speaking on ABC’s “The View,” said: “I don’t want to go anywhere near the White House. It’s one of the most dangerous places in the country, both in terms of the assault that it makes on truth as well as health.”
The president, who takes scant interest in the details of policymaking, has not been a key player in the talks up to this point. Congressional aides said early Wednesday that conversations between Ms. Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were likely to quietly resume regardless of what the president says in public.
And Mr. Trump is not the only roadblock. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, is sour on a comprehensive deal, in part because his conservative members have bailout fatigue, according to several congressional aides familiar with the situation.
But endangered Republicans, led by Senator Susan Collins of Maine — who is facing the toughest re-election challenge of her career — are pressuring him to do something quickly.
“Waiting until after the election to reach an agreement on the next Covid-19 relief package is a huge mistake,” Ms. Collins told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.