Democrats pull out of meeting with Donald Trump after attack on Twitter

Democratic leaders in Congress have abruptly pulled out of a planned meeting with Donald Trump after he attacked them on Twitter.

The president tweeted early today "I don't see a deal!" with Senate minority leader Charles Schumer and top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi.

Mr Schumer and Ms Pelosi hit back with a statement asking for talks with senior Republican leaders in Congress.

They said: "Given that the president doesn't see a deal between Democrats and the White House, we believe the best path forward is to continue negotiating with our Republican counterparts in Congress instead."

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Congress faces a December 8 deadline to pass stop-gap legislation to keep the government running.

Mr Schumer and Ms Pelosi added: "We don't have any time to waste."

The Democrats hit back after Mr Trump accused them of being soft on crime, taxes and illegal immigration.

The pair said that, "rather than going to the White House for a show meeting that won't result in an agreement", they had asked Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and House speaker Paul Ryan for a meeting.

It had been hoped the White House meeting might lay a foundation to keep the government running and set a path for a year-end spending package to give the Pentagon and domestic agencies relief from a budget freeze.

Mr Trump is still seeking his first big legislative win in Congress, and his attack on Democrats came as his marquee tax bill faced turbulence as well.

The White House and senior Republican leaders have work to do to get their tax bill in shape before a hoped-for vote later this week. Party deficit hawks pressed for a "backstop" mechanism to limit the risk of a spiral in the deficit, even as defenders of small business pressed for more generous treatment.

On a separate track from taxes is a multi-layered negotiation over several issues. Hoped-for increases for the Pentagon and domestic agencies are at the centre, but a host of other issues are in the mix as well.

- AP

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