President Trump asked a group of moderate House Democrats to meet with him on Tuesday, looking to drive a wedge between them and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). No dice, said the Democrats.
White House officials scrambled to find moderate House Democrats willing to meet with Trump Tuesday morning after the President demanded the meeting from aides.
But Democrat after Democrat turned them down, uninterested in giving Trump a chance to berate them, try to embarrass them or try to get them to split with House Democratic leadership and entertain offers to reopen the government while funding a border wall that are anathema to most of the party.
“Today, the President offered both Democrats and Republicans the chance to meet for lunch at the White House. Unfortunately, no Democrats will attend. The President looks forward to having a working lunch with House Republicans to solve the border crisis and reopen the government,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement late Tuesday morning.
Invitees who turned down Trump include Reps. Lou Correa (D-CA) and Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), the co-chairs of the moderate Blue Dog Democratic coalition. Murphy had an important Ways & Means Committee meeting she couldn’t skip — but both made it clear they’re not
“I have attended meetings with the President at the White House before, but a scheduling conflict prevented me from accepting this invitation. However, I continue to believe the Senate should pass and the President should sign the bills reopening government that the House already passed. As a former national security specialist at the Pentagon, I look forward to having a meaningful, bipartisan discussion about the best way to secure our country,” Murphy said in a statement to TPM.
Correa’s response was even more direct.
“Congressman Correa welcomes the opportunity to talk with the President about border security, as soon as the government is reopened,” a Correa spokesman told Roll Call.
The Democrats’ move is a show of party unity in the face of Trump’s ongoing demands that the Democrats cave and give him money for his long-sought border wall in order to reopen the government. The ongoing partial shutdown is the longest in U.S. history, and with Trump and Democrats refusing to budge, there are no signs that the shutdown will end anytime soon.
The White House announced nine House Republicans will join Trump for the meeting. Most are fairly conservative, in spite of Trump’s promise to invite moderates. The only members on the list of particular note are Reps. John Katko (R-NY) and Rodney Davis (R-IL), who are among the handful of Republicans who have been voting with Democrats on bills to reopen the government without funding the wall.