Pelosi sidesteps using Trump’s name in discussing funding talks

At weekly presser, speaker refers to ‘the administration,’ not president or White House

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, pictured talking to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer during the Democrats news conference on Tuesday, indicated Thursday that she doesn’t want President Donald Trump to be involved in appropriations negotiations. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday went out of her way to avoid acknowledging President Donald Trump and the White House when asked about appropriations negotiations, as a Nov. 21 deadline to continue funding the government approaches. 

At her weekly press conference, a reporter asked Pelosi about her working relationship with the White House, noting that Congress will need to pass a continuing resolution the same week the House is conducting hearings to determine whether Trump should be impeached.

The implication of the question seemed to be whether Pelosi thought Trump would sign a CR since he’s demonstrated his frustration about the impeachment effort. 

Pelosi focused her answer on the appropriators. 

“Left to their own devices, the appropriators know how to get their job done,” the California Democrat said. “So without going into any detail, we’re moving in a direction because we do not want a shutdown of government. We prefer not to have a continuing resolution, so we have to make some decisions as we go forward.”

Congress is aiming to pass another continuing resolution next week that extends funding to Dec. 20, and will look to wrap a final fiscal year agreement in the interim. 

 The reporter then interjected that the White House would need to sign off on any deal lawmakers reach. 

“When you say the White House, you mean the administration,” Pelosi said. 

”The president … ” the reporter tried to elaborate. 

Pelosi cut him off, not letting the reporter remind her that Trump has to sign any measure Congress passes. 

“Well the administration, let’s just say the administration and whoever they may designate at the table,” she said. 

The exchange was a bit confusing but the context is that there is wide agreement among Democrats, and even some Republicans, that when Trump and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney get involved in fiscal talks they make it difficult for lawmakers to reach a deal. 

Pelosi’s insistence on referring to the administration could be a suggestion she’d like to deal with a representative for Trump who works outside of the White House. Perhaps she’s hoping the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who cut a deal with lawmakers in July on topline spending numbers and the debt ceiling, will lead negotiations for the administration again. 

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