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Top Democrats Pull Out Of Planned Meeting With Trump

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., at an Oval Office meeting with President Trump in September. The top Democrats have pulled out of a similar meeting planned for Tuesday afternoon.

Updated at 3:15 p.m. ET

That meeting between President Trump and the bipartisan leaders of Congress will not be bipartisan after all, since Democratic leaders suddenly pulled out of the planned Tuesday afternoon get-together at the White House.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, leader of the House Democrats, announced they would no longer take part after Trump tweeted he doesn't "see a deal" between Democrats and the White House over funding the government past Dec. 8, when current funding is set to expire.

The Democrats responded in a joint statement that rather than going to the White House for a "show meeting," they will continue to negotiate with Republican congressional leaders to avert a government shutdown.

The statement from Schumer and Pelosi continued:

"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."

Later in a brief news conference, Schumer called on the President to "stop tweeting and start leading."

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the Democrats' decision "disappointing." In a statement, she continued, "The President's invitation to the Democrat leaders still stands and he encourages them to put aside their pettiness, stop the political grandstanding, show up and get to work. These issues are too important."

Republican congressional leaders say they plan to meet with Trump, with or without the Democrats. In their own joint statement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said:

"We have important work to do, and Democratic leaders have continually found 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. There is a meeting at the White House this afternoon, and if Democrats want to reach an agreement, they will be there."

McConnell told reporters that the Democrats' refusal to take part in the White House meeting "strikes me as a lack of seriousness." McConnell also said that he had never turned down an invitation from President Obama to meet, although he did just that, giving a speech to the Federalist Society instead of attending a bipartisan dinner with Obama in 2010.

Congress has a host of issues to deal with before the end of the year, including a spending bill to keep the government operating past Dec. 8. Democrats and some Republicans also want to include legislation that would enable the so-called DREAMers, people in the country illegally who were brought in as children, to remain in the country.

Congress also needs to agree on reauthorizing the Children's Health Insurance Program, which some states say is already running low on cash. And Republicans and Democrats are at odds over defense spending levels.

All of those issues are complicating negotiations to keep the government open past next week. It's likely that a short-term extension could push negotiations closer to Christmas.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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