Prospects that the government will shut down in early December are rising after President Donald Trump tweeted that he didn't see a way to cut a deal with leading Democrats.
"Meeting with "Chuck and Nancy" today about keeping government open and working," Trump tweeted. "Problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on Crime and want to substantially RAISE Taxes. I don't see a deal!"
After the Democrats, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, said they didn't see the point of meeting with Trump over the issue, the White House accused them of pulling a political stunt.
"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."
The trouble is that the Republican-controlled Congress probably can't pass a bill to keep the government funded without gaining support from at least some Democrats. That's because numerous House Republican members of the Freedom Caucus oppose government spending bills on principle, and because passing a bill would require 60 votes in the Senate, where the Republicans control just 52 seats.
Pelosi and Schumer said they would seek a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to address the funding issue. McConnell and Ryan declined, instead appearing with the President for a photo shoot featuring two empty seats, said to have been intended for Pelosi and Schumer.
Current funding for the government ends on December 8. Analysts say Congress is likely to pass a short-term funding bill to keep the lights on until just after Christmas, but that if Republicans fail to pass a tax bill, chances of a shutdown will grow.
"If it passes by end of December the chance of a shutdown is zero," budget expert Stan Collender told The Washington Post in an email. Republicans won't want to take away from that accomplishment by shutting down the government on their watch. "If it doesn't, the chance is over 75 percent."
Collender said Trump is anxious for a legislative win, and could hold up the spending bill to force Republicans to pass at least one piece of major legislation his first year. "This will be a signature political moment for Trump if he gets to shut down the government because he didn't get a tax bill by his deadline," Collender told the Post.