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Democrats to join Trump, Republicans in talks to avert govt shutdown

WASHINGTON: Democratic leaders in Congress on Monday accepted an invitation to meet US President Donald Trumpand Republicans for talks to avert a government shutdown this week, even as the Democrats pressed demands on funding priorities and protecting young immigrants.

House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who canceled a meeting with Trump last week after he posted a disparaging note about them on Twitter, said on Monday they hoped the president would remain open-minded about reaching a deal with Democrats.
"We need to reach a budget agreement that equally boosts funds for our military and key priorities here at home," Pelosi and Schumer said in a statement. "There is a bipartisan path forward on all of these items." The meeting was scheduled for Thursday, a day before funding for the federal government is due to run out.
House Republicans over the weekend introduced a stopgap measure that would fund the government at current levels until Dec. 22 to give lawmakers time to reach a deal on a longer-term bill. Congress is expected to vote on the measure this week.
Conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus asked House Republicanleaders to extend the duration of the stopgap measure through Dec. 30 in exchange for their votes for the House to go to conference with the Senate on tax legislation, which moved Congress closer to a final bill for a major tax overhaul.
"There is a better chance of going to the 30th than the 22nd, but no commitment," Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the Freedom Caucus, told reporters.
The House Republican leadership agreed to consider the Dec. 30 date and talk to the Senate leadership about it, a House Republican leadership aide said.
Trump is scheduled to have lunch with Republican members of the Senate at the White House on Tuesday.
Republicans have a majority in both the House and Senate. But they will need some Democratic support to get the spending bill past Senate procedural hurdles that require 60 votes, since there are only 52 Republicans in the 100-member chamber.

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