Schumer, Trump meeting at White House as shutdown nears
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is meeting with President Trump at the White House as the government barrels toward a shutdown.
A source familiar confirmed the meeting, which was first reported by The New York Times, saying Trump “reached out” and invited the Senate Democratic leader.
The meeting is between just Trump and Schumer, a fact sure to produce anxiety among Republicans worried the president might offer Schumer too much to ward off a shutdown.
Trump surprised Republicans last fall by reaching a deal on government funding with Democrats as GOP leaders sat in the same room.
The president has sent contrasting signals in these talks, at times sounding open to a deal and at other times taking a hard-line position.
He blew up talks last week after reportedly saying the United States should not take immigrants from “shithole countries,” a remark that offended some members of both parties.
The remark occurred during a meeting that included Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who were surprised when immigration hard-liners also showed up to attend the meeting.
Trump had been expected to head to Mar-a-Lago on Friday afternoon, but the White House announced he would stay in town if the government shuts down.
The Schumer-Trump powwow comes as both sides have dug in over a government funding bill. The government will shut down after midnight without legislation to keep it open.
The focal point of the talks has been immigration, and specifically what to do with young immigrants known as “Dreamers” who entered the country illegally as children.
An Obama-era program known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protected these immigrants from deportation, but Trump is winding it down. Lawmakers have been unable to agree to a deal on legislation to replace the program, which would be tied to border security measures including funding for a wall on the Mexican border and changes to other immigration programs.
Both sides have been playing the blame game ahead of the shutdown, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blasting Democrats from the Senate floor earlier Friday, saying they are holding the country “hostage.”
The House on largely party lines approved a bill on Thursday that would keep the government open for the next month.
“I wish for all our sakes that the Democratic leader would figure out what he actually wants. I feel bad for his own members. He’s painted them into a corner,” McConnell said during his opening remarks from the Senate floor.
Yet Republicans and Trump also face risks.
Saturday marks the anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, and a shutdown on that day would come 10 days before his first State of the Union address. A Washington Post poll on Friday found more people blaming Republicans and Trump than Democrats for a shutdown by a 20-point margin.
Talks were separately expected by House and Senate leaders in both parties on immigration.
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