Schumer and Pelosi ditch Trump meeting after president’s tweet
Democratic leaders announced Tuesday that they would not attend a previously scheduled meeting with President Donald Trump after the President tweeted Tuesday morning that the meeting likely wouldn’t result in a deal about funding the government.
“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!” Trump tweeted.
The tweet appeared to irritate Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who announced in a statement that they’d bail on the meeting, which was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, given Trump’s belief that they can’t find a compromise.
“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,” Pelosi and Schumer said in their joint statement. “Rather than going to the White House for a show meeting that won’t result in an agreement, we’ve asked (Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell and (House Speaker Paul) Ryan to meet this afternoon.”
Trump, attempting to turn the tables on the Democratic leaders, left two seats next to him open during the event. Name cards for Schumer and Pelosi sat on the table as the President slammed the Democratic leaders for skipping the meeting.
“They have been all talk and no action,” Trump said. “Now it’s even worse. It’s not even talk.”
Pelosi followed up the President’s statement by tweeting: “@realDonaldTrump now knows that his verbal abuse will no longer be tolerated. 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!”
McConnell and Ryan attended the meeting anyway.
Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, said it was “regrettable” that Schumer and Pelosi didn’t show up, and McConnell suggested that the two need a civics lesson.
“The Democratic leader in the House and Senate need to understand the way the government works,” McConnell said, suggesting that nothing can get done if people aren’t talking with the President.
The Kentucky Republican also said he “can’t recall ever turning down an opportunity to ever come down to the White House,” a statement that appears false given reports of McConnell skipping at least one meeting with former President Barack Obama, including a dinner in November 2010.
“This is not true,” Dan Pfeiffer, a former top adviser to Obama, tweeted about McConnell’s claim.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said it was “disappointing that Sen. Schumer and Leader Pelosi are refusing to come to the table and discuss urgent issues” and urged them to “put aside their pettiness, stop the political grandstanding, show up and get to work.”
“The President’s invitation to the Democrat leaders still stands,” Sanders added. “The meeting will proceed as scheduled with Speaker Ryan, Leader McConnell and administration officials who are committed to getting things done. If the Democrats believe the American people deserve action on these critical year-end issues as we do, they should attend.”
A Pelosi aide told CNN that the White House was informed about the cancellation before Pelosi and Schumer released their statement.
Speaking on the Senate floor, Schumer called the possible meeting with Trump a “show meeting that won’t result in an agreement” and said they would look to meet with their Republican counterparts afterward.
The government runs out of funding December 8, giving Congress little time to negotiate a deal to keep the lights on and handle other top priorities.
“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,” Pelosi and Schumer said.
In response to Schumer and Pelosi, Ryan and McConnell had accused the Democratic leaders of finding “new excuses not to meet with the administration to discuss these issues.”
“Democrats are putting government operations, particularly resources for our men and women on the battlefield, at great risk by pulling these antics,” the two Republican leaders said. “There is a meeting at the White House this afternoon, and if Democrats want to reach an agreement, they will be there.”