WASHINGTON — Top Congressional leaders met with President Donald Trump at the White House Thursday, coming together just one week after Democrats opted out of a previously scheduled meeting because Trump tweeted that he didn't think it could produce results.
Now, both sides have struck a more conciliatory tone.
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Trump described the group, which included Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, as a "well-knit together group of people."
"We are all here as a very friendly, well-unified group," Trump told reporters, a marked shift in tone from his tough talk a day ago — when he said Democrats wanted to "have illegal immigrants pouring into the country, bringing with them crime" — and his roasting last week, when he ripped Schumer and Pelosi as "weak."
The president urged each lawmaker to go around the room and speak for the cameras, prompting them by their first names.
"We're in the spirit of, 'Let's get it done,'" Schumer said, of keeping the government open and funded. Pelosi spoke about the points of commonality Democrats shared with the president, including the desire to make progress combating the opioid crisis and helping veterans. Ryan was brief, saying he was “glad we’re here to resume conversations.”
After Schumer and Pelosi stood him up last week, Trump said Democrats didn't prioritize funding for America's military, saying it's an issue that was "always second" to them. On Wednesday, Trump raised the specter of a government shutdown, saying it "could happen." He blamed Democrats for the looming threat, claiming “they want to have illegal immigrants pouring into the country, bringing with them crime."
During the meeting, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the group moved from the Oval Office to the Situation Room for "an update on our military by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis." Trump has cited the current national security climate, including recent missile tests by North Korea, as a key reason for Democrats and Republicans to work together on negotiations.
Shortly after the "big four" leaders met at the White House, the House voted on a continuing resolution (CR) that would fund the government for more two weeks — until December 22 — averting a government shutdown this week and punting the major fight to later in the month.