“At a time when small businesses are increasingly pessimistic about their ability to survive without additional support, we are now faced with the very real prospect — in fact, the likelihood — of no further relief from Congress until after the election,” said John Lettieri, the president of the Economic Innovation Group, a think tank that has led a collection of advocacy groups in pushing for long-term, low-interest loans to keep small companies afloat. “That is malpractice, plain and simple.”
Top lawmakers insisted that a bipartisan agreement remained possible, although recent phone calls between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Mr. Mnuchin have failed to yield a breakthrough. And after Democrats unanimously blocked the Republican measure from advancing, their leaders counseled rank-and-file lawmakers to remain united behind demands for a much larger package.
“We don’t want to go home without a bill, but don’t be a cheap date,” Ms. Pelosi told House Democrats on a private call after the vote, according to two people who described the remarks on condition of anonymity. She added, “When you are in a negotiation, the last place to get weak knees is at the end.”
Mr. Trump, leaving Washington for Michigan on Thursday, told reporters, “Nancy Pelosi and Schumer don’t want to pass a stimulus bill because they think that helps me in the election.”
The president has attempted to act unilaterally to assist the recovery — and has recently held out the prospect of more executive actions, including perhaps redirecting federal funds to send direct payments to individual Americans. But economists and Mr. Trump’s own recent history suggest that any significant aid to the economy before the election would need to be provided by Congress, which controls federal spending.
On Thursday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said that supplemental relief checks for unemployed workers, instituted by Mr. Trump in an executive memorandum last month, would soon end. The payments of $300 or $400 per worker per week, depending on a state contribution level, will have lasted only six weeks for participating states. Only 18 states have begun making the payments, according to Michele Evermore, senior researcher and policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project.
After swiftly approving several rounds of aid totaling nearly $3 trillion last spring, lawmakers and administration officials have failed to bridge deep divisions over another relief package.