Above all, Republicans fretted that a vote on such a package could interfere with their 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 that a deal before then could inject unwanted unpredictability into the schedule, according to the four Republicans.
Their reservations suggested that even as a long-awaited stimulus deal between Democrats and the White House could be coming together, the aid still might have to wait until after Nov. 3.
“The mechanics of getting the deal done would be challenging, to say the least,” Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Senate Republican, told reporters. He suggested that the “fog of the election” was warping the talks and would ultimately prevent any action before Nov. 3, adding that “people have gone to their battle stations.”
Ms. Pelosi appeared pleased with the direction of the talks, hailing what she described in a letter to Democrats on Tuesday evening as a productive dynamic in which “both sides are serious about finding a compromise.”
“We’re not just down to a difference of language or a few dollars,” Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, warned in an interview on CNBC, declaring that Ms. Pelosi herself remained the biggest obstacle to a deal. “We still have a ways to go, but I would say that the conversations today were productive enough to continue to have discussions tomorrow.”
The latest White House offer would cost nearly $1.9 trillion, White House officials said, nearly four times the size of the $500 billion package that Senate Republicans hoped to advance on Wednesday in a bid to show voters that they were willing to provide some aid — just not what Democrats and Mr. Trump have been discussing. (Democrats were likely to object to the package as inadequate and prevent it from clearing the 60-vote threshold it would need to advance.)
Mr. McConnell’s remarks about a larger deal were described by four Republicans familiar with the discussion, who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose details of a private closed lunch. He 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.