Congress′ top Democrats ditch Trump meet after tweet | News | DW | 28.11.2017
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Congress' top Democrats ditch Trump meet after tweet

Top Congress Democrats have pulled out of a meeting with President Donald Trump after he attacked them on Twitter. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi called off the meeting after Trump told followers he didn't "see a deal."

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (pictured) on Tuesday canceled a scheduled afternoon White House meeting with Trump and called for immediate talks with top Republican leaders in Congress to avert a government shutdown.

"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," Pelosi tweeted later, referring to Speaker Paul Ryan Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell. Trump later said that Schumer and Pelosi had been "all talk" and "no action."

This followed a Trump tweet in which he said he would be meeting with "Chuck and Nancy” about keeping the government open and functioning, but simultaneously claimed that they "want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on Crime and want to substantially RAISE Taxes." 

"I don’t see a deal!" he concluded.  

Shutdown looming in background

Congress must approve a new spending measure to keep the government running after a short-term spending bill agreed between Trump and the Democrats in September expires on December 8.

The move is also likely to be stalled by several pressing policy issues, including Trump's tax cut proposal, ongoing efforts to end Obamacare and immigration reform.

The Senate Budget Committee passed Trump's tax reform bill later on Tuesday in a session that had been seen as a formality, but became fraught after Trump's tweets.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that Trump was applauding the committee for "taking an important step toward passing historic tax relief and reform and clearing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act this afternoon."

The president "looks forward to providing tax cuts for hardworking Americans by the end of the year."

The committee voted 12-11 to advance the bill. GOP leaders hope to have the full Senate take it up later this week.

Two committee Republicans had said they were considering voting against the measure, but were reportedly persuaded after meeting Trump, who is said to want the bill on his desk before year's end.

Trump is still looking for a big legislative victory in Congress and has pinned much on the tax bill being ready before a hoped-for vote later this week.

Pelosi and Schumer are resisting the tax cuts and will look to work with several Republican lawmakers who have been critical of Trump and tax reform plans that they argue do little for small business, an issue that is seen as critical to the GOP's prospects at 2018 mid-term elections. 

Party leaders aiming to get majority support for tax cuts must contend, for example, with Montana Senator Steve Daines, who has raised concerns about how it would affect "Main Street."

Watch video 02:15

Small firms left out in Trump tax reform

Other Republican holdouts include Trump critics Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee.

Republicans leaders may need to rely on some Democratic votes to get a funding resolution passed.

Trump said he "would absolutely blame the Democrats" if there is a government shutdown next week.

"If it happens, it's going to be over illegals pouring into the country, crime pouring into the country, no border wall, which everyone wants," he said.

Trump alienates himself

But Democrats' support for any modifications to the legislation would be conditioned on legislative protections for immigrants known as "Dreamers"(those who were brought to the US illegally when still children and who have stayed since) while some conservative Republicans have objections.

Democrats also want money for a children's health program that serves over 8 million low-income children. The program expired on October 1 and states are continuing to use unspent funds.

Congress is allowed under current budget spending rules to spend no more than $549 billion (€490 billion) on defense programs and $516 billion on non-defense programs in 2018. The Trump administration and defense hawks in the Pentagon want to raise defense spending to over $600 billion.

Watch video 01:40

Trump theatens US government shutdown

jbh/msh (AP, AFP, dpa)

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