GOP Tax Victory Euphoria Short Lived as Massive Crisis Looms

Another shutdown showdown looms this month, and Congress isn’t even back yet. Happy New Year, Washington.

Congressional leaders from both parties will sit down with top White House officials on Wednesday to haggle over the basics of a budget deal they were supposed to settle last spring. And while aides say the talks will stick to spending, a fight over immigration looms, along with a host of other thorny policy disputes that will shape the 2018 legislative agenda.

Ahead of the meeting, there was little sign of conciliation on either side.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to her Democratic colleagues on Tuesday insisting that Democrats would demand higher domestic spending. President Donald Trump tweeted a broadside at Democrats, saying the party is “doing nothing for DACA — just interested in politics.” That missive came days after Trump egged on Democrats over his plan to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, tweeting that “there can be no DACA deal” without a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — which Democrats have ruled out.

Whether the parties can reach a deal on immigration is still unclear, but one certainty is that they need to come together by Jan. 19 to avoid a shutdown.

The key players meeting Wednesday afternoon at the Capitol are Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, White House legislative director Marc Short and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.

Republicans are eager to separate a debate on Dreamers from the latest budget fight, with White House officials saying Tuesday that the meeting’s focus will be on raising stiff budget caps for defense and domestic programs over the next two years — not on immigration.

“The president wants a two-year budget deal that provides realistic budget caps, and provides certainty for our national security,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Tuesday. “That’ll be the focus, front and center, for the conversations that are taking place this week.”

A senior congressional aide said the meeting was called by the speaker’s office, with the topic focused specifically on trying to reach a budget caps deal.

But Democratic votes will be needed for any spending measure, giving them leverage to force the issue.