Following on what he called a “love fest” with Senate Republicans at a lunchtime Capitol meeting, President Donald Trump on Tuesday claimed momentum on a GOP-led overhaul of the tax code and swiped at Democrats whom he will need to get any sort of resolution to a rapidly approaching standoff over government spending.
After leaving the Capitol and setting up camp at the White House for a meeting initially scheduled among him and the Hill’s top leaders, the president said he was not surprised House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., ended up skipping the meeting at the executive mansion after he tweeted he didn’t see any kind of deal possible.
That prompted Schumer and Pelosi to bow out of the meeting, saying if that was the president’s position, there was no point in attending.
“The president said I don’t see a deal three hours before a meeting, before we had anything to say,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.
They added that they would seek to negotiate solely with congressional Republicans, whom they said at least work in good faith.
Trump Criticizes Schumer and Pelosi For Skipping Meeting
At the reduced attendance White House meeting, Trump sat at a rectangular table in the Roosevelt Room beside empty chairs on either side with placards in front of them featuring the names of the absent Democratic leaders.
Trump said Democrats were “weak” on issues like border security and crime, and claimed the minority congressional party is “all talk, and no action.”
Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., called it “unfortunate” that the Democratic leaders bowed out of the meeting, citing Trump’s comments.
Despite the GOP controlling all levels of government in Washington, Trump said he would blame Democrats if no deal can be struck next month forcing a government shutdown.
“We have to negotiate these bills,” the speaker said, later adding those talks must include the president and his team.
“I just hope our friends in leadership on the other side of the aisle will join us,” Ryan said. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters that Pelosi and Schumer “need to understand how the government works,” adding “the person who signs the bill” has to be “in the room.”
But Republicans need Democratic votes to lift the caps on sequestration that hamper both parties’ funding priorities, and the GOP controls the floor and agenda in each chamber.
“We are very far apart,” Trump said of Republicans and Democrats, citing a list of issues that could play into the spending bill negotiations. “We are way, way, far away.”
Meanwhile, after North Korea’s government defied him by launching another missile that landed in Japanese waters, the president offered a more measured response than he often does in relation to Kim Jong Un’s provocations.
Watch: Schumer Talks About Skipping White House Meeting
Defense Secretary James Mattis said the North Korean missile flew higher than its previous combat projectiles, adding Pyongyang’s missile program is a threat to U.S. national and global security.
“We will take care of that situation,” Trump said of the North’s nuclear and missile programs.
The president predicted that the North Korean missile launch likely would change the Democratic leaders’ behavior on the year-end spending bill — but he did not explain why he thinks that.
To that end both Trump and Ryan cast the year-end spending bill as crucial to helping the military, with the commander in chief mentioning that aspect in the context of dealing with North Korea.
“We want our military funded and we want it funded now,” Trump said. “They want high taxes, we want low taxes. … But right now, things have changed over the last two hours … because a missile was launched. I think that will have a huge affect on Schumer and Pelosi. I think. … They should be calling immediately and saying, ‘We want to see you.’ But probably they won’t because nothing to them is important other than raising taxes.”