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Republicans frustrated by Trump's messages on COVID-19 aid

House Republicans are expressing frustration over President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE’s order on Tuesday that aides end negotiations with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Trump says stimulus deal will happen after election | Holiday spending estimates lowest in four years | Domestic workers saw jobs, hours plummet due to COVID Hoyer lays out ambitious Democratic agenda for 2021, with health care at top CNN won't run pro-Trump ad warning Biden will raise taxes on middle class MORE (D-Calif.) on a coronavirus stimulus package, a move that some worry will hurt them in the 2020 elections. 

The president's decision to pull out of negotiations, which was not broadly supported by House Republicans, flipped the narrative the GOP has been hitting Democrats with — that Pelosi was blocking the deal. Instead, multiple GOP lawmakers described the tweet as a “disaster” that served as a self-inflicted wound ahead of Election Day. 

“I disagree with the President,” Rep. John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoWarren, Porter to headline progressive fundraiser supporting seven swing state candidates Trump fuels and frustrates COVID-19 relief talks Trump says talks on COVID-19 aid are now 'working out' MORE (R-N.Y.) said in a statement. “With lives at stake, we cannot afford to stop negotiations on a relief package.”

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It seems possible that Trump is getting the message. In late-night tweets after he said the talks should end, the president appeared to reverse course, at least to a degree.

He called on Congress to pass relief for airlines, small businesses and stimulus checks in a piecemeal fashion. Those provisions had been part of the larger package being negotiated. Airlines were among the companies grumbling after the president called off talks. The stock market also tumbled.

Markets were rising on Wednesday morning as hopes rose that there could be targeted aid.

The abrupt about-face was another example of the president’s volatile way of doing business, one that is increasingly looking erratic as he trails badly in national polls to Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska Jeff Daniels narrates new Biden campaign ad for Michigan MORE.

One GOP lawmaker told The Hill that he believes the party would have been better served if Trump received more input from lawmakers and actually listened to them.

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“I believe that President Trump’s decisions would be improved, as would his political standing, if he actively sought and listened to members that represent communities in this country,” the lawmaker said.

A number of Republicans acknowledged Trump is right to feel frustrated over the negotiations with Democrats, but that Trump’s announcement compounded the image problem of a White House that Democrats say is not acting urgently enough to combat the virus that has infected more 7.5 million and killed more than 210,000 in the U.S. alone.  

Those image problems were compounded by Trump getting the coronavirus himself. Trump was hospitalized over the weekend and left the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday evening.

A slew of other positive COVID-19 cases has given ammunition to attacks by Biden that Trump has not taken the virus seriously. White House adviser Stephen MillerStephen MillerMcEnany appears on Fox in 'personal capacity' as Trump campaign adviser Documents show Trump campaign ignored coronavirus guidelines at Duluth rally: report House Democrats ask DHS to consider flu vaccinations for immigration detainees MORE is one of the latest officials to come down with the disease.

Trump has also been criticized since leaving the hospital for a series of comments in video messages and on Twitter that effectively dismissed COVID-19. This came after Trump received the best medical care from a team of doctors at Walter Reed, as well as experimental drug therapies, that would not have been available to most everyday Americans.

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“If COVID was so harmless, he wouldn't have been at Walter Reed Hospital,” said another GOP lawmaker, adding they believe the president should focus his messaging on ensuring every American has access to the quality of care he received. 

“I'm so glad the president is back at the residence, let me get that straight: I'm happy he's healthy. But you have to be sensitive to those who've lost people to COVID,” the source added, noting that it seems “fairly insensitive to say don't overreact to COVID.”

Democrats argue that the president’s latest move is a further reason to vote for Biden. 

“Today, once again, President Trump showed his true colors: putting himself first at the expense of the country, with the full complicity of the GOP Members of Congress,” Pelosi wrote to her caucus on Tuesday.

Prior to the pandemic outbreak, the president was running on the strong U.S. economy.

Now, the Federal Reserve, the Chamber of Commerce and other experts are warning that failure to strike a coronavirus deal will have profound impacts on the economy, particularly amid unemployment rates that are about to be compounded by the thousands of scheduled lay-offs expected in the airline industry in the coming weeks.

“Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said before the National Association for Business Economics. “Over time, household insolvencies and business bankruptcies would rise, harming the productive capacity of the economy and holding back wage growth.”

Powell indicated that additional funding will go a long way in preventing additional economic fallout from the virus in the future, a comment that appeared to be a nod at some Republicans who are reluctant to throw trillions of more dollars at the pandemic. 

“By contrast, the risks of overdoing it seem, for now, to be smaller. Even if policy actions ultimately prove to be greater than needed, they will not go to waste,” Powell added.