House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., joined at right by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., holds a news conference on Capitol Hill to respond to the Republican tax reform plan in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Congress’ top Democrats abruptly pulled out of a bipartisan meeting Tuesday with President Donald Trump, hours after he attacked them on Twitter.
The decision raised doubts about whether lawmakers would come to an agreement to avoid a possible government shut down at the end of next week.
In a joint statement, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said a tweet posted by the president Tuesday morning prompted their decision to cancel 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 statement said.
In a tweet Tuesday morning, the president said Schumer and Pelosi “want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on Crime and want to substantially RAISE Taxes. I don’t see a deal!”
Meeting with “Chuck and Nancy” today about keeping government open and working. Problem is 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!
“Rather than going to the White House for a show meeting that won’t result in an agreement,” Pelosi and Schumer said that they have asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, to meet later Tuesday.
“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 pair said in the statement. “If the President, who already said earlier this year that ‘our country needs a good shutdown,’ isn’t interested in addressing the difficult year end agenda, we’ll work with those Republicans who are, as we did in April.”
We look forward to continuing to work in good faith, as we have been for the last month, with our Republican colleagues in Congress to do just that.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the decision by Pelosi and Schumer “disappointing.”
“The president’s invitation to the Democrat leaders still stands and he encourage them to put aside their pettiness, stop the political grandstanding, show up and get to work,” she said. “These issues are too important.”
In a joint statement, Ryan and McConnell slammed Pelosi and Schumer, accusing the pair of “putting government operations, particularly resources for our men and women on the battlefield, at great risk by pulling these antics.”
“We have important work to do, and Democratic leaders have continually found new excuses not to meet with the administration to discuss these issues,” the statement said. “There is a meeting at the White House this afternoon, and if Democrats want to reach an agreement, they will be there.”
Congress faces a Dec. 8 deadline to pass stopgap legislation to keep the government open and a slew of other unfinished legislation.
It was hoped the White House meeting might lay a foundation to keep the government running and set a path for a year-end spending package to give both the Pentagon and domestic agencies relief from a budget freeze.