U.S. President Donald Trump is meeting Thursday with congressional leaders about key spending issues as the government faces a Friday midnight deadline to approve at least short-term funding legislation to prevent a government shutdown.
The top Democratic lawmakers, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, boycotted White House spending talks a week ago after Trump, a Republican, said he did not see a deal in the offing. But Schumer and Pelosi said earlier this week they would attend the new talks alongside their Republican counterparts.
Trump, in a Twitter remark, contended a week ago that Schumer and Pelosi “want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on Crime and want to substantially RAISE Taxes.” But in setting up Thursday’s meeting, he praised them for choosing to “put their responsibility to the American people above partisanship.”
The House of Representatives is set to vote Thursday to extend government funding through December 22, and the Senate seemed ready to approve the deal, too. That would give Trump and the congressional leaders more time to set spending levels for the remainder of the current fiscal year that extends through next September.
Republicans and Democrats remain divided, however, on spending priorities in politically fractious Washington. Republicans generally favor more money for defense programs, while Democrats often demand equal increases for domestic social programs.
The year-end budget talks have been complicated by demands from conservative Republican lawmakers to sharply cut overall spending totals, even as Republicans try to complete an overhaul of U.S. tax policies, and cut corporate and individual taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade.
At the same time, Democratic lawmakers want to attach a provision to any spending legislation to keep about 690,000 undocumented young immigrants, who were brought illegally to the United States years ago, from being deported to their homelands.
Trump has given Congress until March to resolve the issue, with Democrats wanting to vote now, and Republicans mostly hoping to put off any immigration vote until next year after approving the tax and budget legislation.