Updated at 11:35 a.m. | Democratic leaders slammed President Donald Trump on Monday for a “parade of broken promises to working people” during his first 100 days, and said his demands for border wall funding in a must-pass spending bill have stalled talks to avert a government shutdown.
Congressional Democrats are planning a week-long barrage to counter a White House public relations campaign to paint Trump’s first three-plus months as successful. They offered a preview of their messages on a conference call with reporters, with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York dubbing many of Trump’s campaign promises “broken” or “unfulfilled.”
Schumer, who has known his fellow New Yorker president for years, contends that Democrats on the Hill “stood ready to work with” Trump on issues where common ground appeared to exist — things like trade deals that would be more advantageous to working Americans. That has not happened, Schumer said, because “the president has governed from far right,” pushing policies that benefit only “the special interests.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California went even further, arguing Democrats’ “hopes of finding common ground” with the populist GOP president were greatly lessened during his first 100 days.
Her comment could spell doom for Trump agenda items like annual spending bills, the president’s envisioned $1 trillion infrastructure package, a tax reform measure that could require 60 votes, and other legislative items.
Schumer charged Trump with breaking his promise to be the president of — as he described them as a candidate — the forgotten men and women of America. He said Democrats will use the rest of the week to hammer Trump on four areas: jobs and the economy; health care; Trump’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp,” which is what he calls official Washington; and his fiscal 2018 budget blueprint, which calls for big defense spending hikes at the expense of federal programs like Meals on Wheels.
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Schumer and Pelosi called Trump too soft on China despite his campaign promises to take a hard line against Beijing, and too unwilling to back Democratic-crafted legislation that supports his pledges to revive the U.S. steel industry.
And on a matter that will dominate both the House and Senate docket this week, Pelosi told reporters that Republican and Democratic lawmakers were on a path to easily passing a government shutdown-averting spending measure before federal funds expire at 11:59 p.m. on Friday. She blames Trump for what now appears to be a standoff over his demands that the bill include funding for his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I am an appropriator and I know that our appropriators try very hard to work in a bipartisan way,” Pelosi said, adding that leaders of the spending committees were on just that “path … before the president intervened.”
Appropriators and leaders from both parties were “negotiating well” until the White House “threw a monkey wrench into this” last week by insisting the spending measure include some dollars for the border barrier, Schumer said.
He urged Trump to exit the shutdown-avoidance talks completely, allow lawmakers to finish the deal that was emerging, and allow them to debate his full wall-funding plan “down the road.” Schumer hit the White House for asking for the money before laying out how the administration would go about the wall project: “They don’t have a plan,” he said.
Trump and several top aides insist they want to keep the government open, but they continue to say publicly they would prefer the wall funding be included in whatever the House and Senate pass this week. Because Democrats are so opposed, Washington finds itself poised for a potential federal shutdown showdown.
One veteran House GOP lawmaker who has been a part of many spending crises said Monday that he remains confident the federal lights will remain on Friday night.
“I don’t think we’ll have a shutdown. There is certainly a chance we could have a short-term continuing resolution,” said Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a deputy GOP whip, referring to a temporary spending measure to give lawmakers a few more days to hash out a long-term bill. “We are within striking distance of getting this done. I hope we do get it done and if you leave it to the appropriators, we will get it done.”
To that end, Pelosi said a short-term CR would only be required if a deal has been struck but more time is needed to move the compromise measure spanning the rest of fiscal 2017 — through September — to the House and Senate floors.
“My view is that if the president stepped out of it, we could get a budget done by Friday,” Schumer said bluntly. Pelosi then chimed in: “I totally agree.”
But whether or when the president might drop his demand in order to avoid a government shutdown on the eve of his 100th day in the White House is murky. On Monday morning, for instance, in a tweet at 8:48 a.m., he advocated again for the wall monies — and initially left a cryptic “if” on the end of a tweet without firing off a follow-on post finishing that thought.
The Wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others)! If— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 24, 2017
Nearly three hours later, at 11:31 a.m., Trump completed his thought, writing that without the wall’s construction, “the drug situation will NEVER be fixed the way it should be!”
….the wall is not built, which it will be, the drug situation will NEVER be fixed the way it should be!#BuildTheWall— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 24, 2017
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.