Democrats skip Trump meeting, raising
risk of government shutdown
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[November 29, 2017]
By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic leaders
in Congress skipped a meeting with President Donald Trump on Tuesday
that was to have focused on the budget, raising the risk of a government
shutdown next month with both sides far apart on the terms of an
After Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi informed Trump they would not
attend the meeting at the White House, the president and Republican
congressional leaders went ahead with the talks without them.
Trump left empty seats on either side of him, with name cards for
Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, and Pelosi, the top Democrat in
the House of Representatives. He also criticized them as the cameras
rolled during a picture-taking session.
"We have a lot of differences," Trump said. "So they've decided not to
show up. They've been all talk and they've been no action and now it's
even worse. Now it's not even talk."
Schumer and Pelosi said they pulled out of the meeting because of a
tweet Trump sent earlier in the day attacking them as weak on illegal
immigration and bent on raising taxes.
"I don't see a deal!" the Republican president wrote on Twitter.
Pelosi tweeted after Trump's White House session that "his empty chair
photo opp showed he’s more interested in stunts than in addressing the
needs of the American people. Poor Ryan and McConnell relegated to
props. Sad!" she added, referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan,
Trump said he would "absolutely blame the Democrats" if a government
shutdown takes place.
[to top of second column]
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks during a rally against the
Republican tax bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November
15, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
A Dec. 8 deadline is looming for passing a spending measure needed
to fund a wide range of federal government programs.Although
Republicans control both chambers of the U.S. Congress, their
leaders will likely need to rely on at least some Democratic votes
to pass the measure.
Democrats have said they will demand help for the "Dreamers" -
young people brought to the United States illegally as children - as
part of their price for providing votes on the budget measure.
But Trump said in a tweet late on Tuesday: "I ran on stopping
illegal immigration and won big. They can't now threaten a shutdown
to get their demands."
Congress has three choices: approve a massive bill for more than $1
trillion to keep the government operating through Sept. 30, 2018;
pass a shorter extension of current funding to buy more time; or
fail to pass anything and risk a partial government shutdown.
On Capitol Hill, Schumer said he and Pelosi believed the best path
forward would be to negotiate with Republican leaders in Congress
instead of going to the White House for a "show meeting."
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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