White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders assured reporters that “the President is a Republican” on Wednesday after confirming that he would meet with top congressional Democrats Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) later in the evening.
The meeting follows a similar one last week — though that also included Senate and House Majority Leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Paul Ryan (R-WI) — in which Democrats scored a major victory by convincing Trump to agree to a short-term debt ceiling increase, giving them more legislative leverage in the future.
“Does he view Schumer and Pelosi as equal allies on the Hill for getting things done, on par with Mcconnell and Ryan?” a reporter asked Sanders near the top of the briefing.
“Look, the President is a Republican, and certainly I think ideologically that’s a much cleaner match-up,” she said. “But again, if these people and these individuals, whether they’re Democrats or Republics, want to come together to push the President’s agenda and the agenda that clearly the American people want to see or they wouldn’t have elected Donald Trump, then we’re certainly happy to have that conversation and move that ball forward.”
Asked why McConnell and Ryan weren’t invited, Sanders said “you’ve got the leader of the Republican Party sitting at the table.”
“This is the President’s opportunity to have a very open and honest conversation with members of the Senate, and I think anybody that tries to distort it into something other than that is just misunderstanding what the purpose is,” she added.
She said separately that the President would welcome a conversation “on both tax cuts and tax reform, responsible immigration reform.” Later, asked if immigration would be addressed in the meeting, Sanders said “I wouldn’t be surprised if it came up tonight, but I’m not going to get ahead of the conversations that are going to take place later this evening.”
On Sept. 5, Trump ended the DACA program, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which shields young undocumented people from deportation. The first permits from the program will begin expiring after a six-month delay, in which time the President has said he hopes Congress will “legalize DACA.”