iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Democratic Leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi pulled out of a planned meeting with President Trump at the White House Tuesday afternoon after the president tweeted that he doesn’t “see a deal” to be reached with the Democratic leaders on government funding — raising the specter for a potential government shutdown in December.
“Given that the President doesn’t see a deal between Democrats and the White House, we believe the best path forward is to continue negotiating with our Republican counterparts in Congress instead,” Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement. “Rather than going to the White House for a show meeting that won’t result in an agreement, we’ve asked Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan to meet this afternoon. We don’t have any time to waste in addressing the issues that confront us, so we’re going to continue to negotiate with Republican leaders who may be interested in reaching a bipartisan agreement.”
The president is hedging on what is expected to be major sticking point on any government spending deal: The future of DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Some Democrats have sought to tie a solution for the more than 800,000 so-called Dreamers to a deal to keep the government open.
The White House did not have an immediate comment to the news that Schumer and Pelosi were cancelling their meeting with the president, which Republican leaders Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Paul Ryan were also expected to attend. It was not immediately clear whether McConnell and Ryan would still meet with the president Tuesday.
President Trump is still scheduled to head to Capitol Hill today to rally Senate Republicans on his tax plan ahead of a likely vote to decide the fate of the measure in the Senate later this week.
The president has said he wants to sign a tax bill by Christmas, and continued to express optimism that it will get done even though the Senate version may not have enough votes to pass.
“I think the tax bill is going very well,” Trump said Monday. “We had a meeting on it today. It’s going to be a tremendous tax cut — the biggest in the history of our country.”
Earlier this month the president sat down with GOP members of the House before a tax bill was approved. But the final outcome of the Senate’s tax plan is less certain.
With a slim two-vote majority, Senate Republicans can only afford two defections without sinking the tax reform legislation. And even if the bill passes the Senate, it’s by no means a done deal. The Senate version would then have to be reconciled with the House version through a conference committee before final legislation could head to the president’s desk to be signed.
The president has repeatedly said he wants a tax bill on his desk before Christmas so that he can deliver a “great, big, beautiful Christmas present” to the American people. But with the prospect of a government shutdown on top of the tax agenda and other legislative issues, Congress may need a Christmas miracle to deliver on all the pressing year-end legislative ticket items.
After Republicans of the Senate Finance Committee emerged from a lunch with Trump on Monday, Sen. Orrin Hatch was asked whether he believed Congress would be able to put a bill on Trump’s desk before Christmas. “I hope so,” he replied as he walked away.
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