Pelosi, Schumer urge Trump to butt out of budget negotiations

In this March 13, 2017 file photo, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., accompanied by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of N.Y., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Democrats are responding to President Donald Trump’s threats to deny payments to health insurers under the Affordable Care Act with a demand that it be addressed in talks on a government-wide spending bill that is due at the end on the month. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., accompanied by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of N.Y., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in March. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., delivered a message to President Trump on Monday morning about Congress’ sensitive negotiations over a spending bill that must pass by Friday.

That message: Butt out.

“It’s my view that if the president stepped out of it, we could get a budget done by Friday,” Schumer said on a conference call with reporters.

“Totally agree,” Pelosi said. “We were on the path to get it done until he did intervene.”

The government will run out of funding Friday night unless Congress comes to an agreement on a series of spending bills. The major sticking points are the billions of dollars the president has demanded to begin building a wall on the southern border, as well as Democrats’ demands for at least some of the billions of dollars Congress owes insurance companies under Obamacare. Republican leaders suggested last month they wanted to sidestep the wall debate and deal with it later, but the White House doubled down on its demand for it last week.

Trump has tweeted about the wall and spending negotiations several times since Sunday.

Pelosi signaled that Democrats may be flexible when it comes to providing money for “technology” to monitor the border in the spending bill instead of a wall, saying it’s Congress’ responsibility to protect the border.

But Pelosi objected to the argument that Trump’s wall was a central campaign promise, saying that the president also promised Mexico would pay for it.

“No, he did not promise that he would take food out of the mouths of babies and seniors, [and take] education, clean air, clean water, scientific research off the table in a significant way in order for him to pay for his immoral, ineffective, unwise proposal of a wall,” she said.

Schumer called the wall a “monkey wrench” the president threw into the process, bungling an agreement between the parties.

Pelosi shot down the idea that lawmakers could pass a temporary extension of previous funding called a continuing resolution (CR) to continue working out their problems. “From the standpoint of procedure, the only justification for a CR is the prospect that we would have the substance of the bill done and we’d just need a few more days in the House and Senate to pass it,” she said. But to just “kick the can down the road” is not acceptable, she said.

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