Trump, next to empty chairs, tears into Dems for skipping meeting
President Trump tore into Democratic leaders on Tuesday for skipping a legislative strategy session at the White House.
Trump said he is “not surprised” that Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) decided not to attend, accusing them of being “all talk” and “no action.”
“Now it’s even worse. Now it’s not even talk. Now they’re not even showing up to the meeting,” Trump said.
The president spoke at the White House, flanked by two empty chairs with placards for Schumer and Pelosi.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) sat at opposite ends of a long table inside the Roosevelt Room.
Ryan said it was “very regrettable” his Democratic counterparts decided not to attend the meeting.
McConnell said he could not recall turning down an opportunity to meet with a president at the White House, though he and other GOP leaders caught flak for declining such an invitation from former President Barack Obama in 2010.
Trump spoke after setting off a new round of partisan squabbling ahead of a planned meeting with congressional leaders to discuss a plan to avert a government shutdown.
The president tweeted Tuesday morning that he did not “see a deal” with Democrats on a spending bill. That caused Schumer and Pelosi to abruptly pull out of the meeting.
“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,” the two leaders in a joint statement.
The president said he would blame Schumer and Pelosi if the government shuts down.
“If that happens, I would absolutely blame the Democrats,” he said.
The saber rattling among Trump and congressional Democrats raised fears that a shutdown is becoming more likely.
The current funding bill expires on Dec. 8, leaving Congress less than two weeks to work out a deal or approve a stopgap bill to buy more time for talks.
Leaders have not even agreed to spending levels for an omnibus funding bill. Complicating matters, Democrats are demanding that a measure that would allow certain young undocumented immigrants to continue to live and work in the U.S. be included.
They want to provide a fix for people who benefitted from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era initiative that Trump cancelled earlier this year.
“If it happens, it’s going to be over illegals pouring into the country, crime pouring into the country, no border wall, which everybody wants,” Trump said of a possible shutdown.
The president has previously said he wants to help immigrants who benefit from the DACA program. “Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do),” he tweeted in September. “If they can’t, I will revisit this issue!”
At the same time, Trump voiced optimism that the Senate would pass its tax reform plan.
“I think we’re in a very good position in terms of meeting we just had with Republican senators. I think we have tremendous support — unanimous vote on the tax bill — I think we’re going to get it passed,” Trump said.
The president spoke after meeting with Senate Republicans at the Capitol. Later in the afternoon, the Senate Budget Committee passed the tax plan on a party line vote, paving the way for the bill to reach the floor.
Updated: 4:47 p.m.
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