Leaders plan budget summit

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and congressional leaders have scheduled a summit to begin sorting out their budget differences, top lawmakers and the White House said Monday, as a clash that could produce a partial government shutdown by the weekend hung in the balance.

The summit, set for Thursday at the White House, comes just a day before federal spending expires that’s needed to keep agencies functioning beyond midnight Friday night. Complicating the search for a pact are disputes over immigration, health and other issues folded into the year-end mix.

Republican leaders want to push a bill through Congress this week keeping government afloat through Dec. 22 as bargainers seek a longer-term spending pact. But the GOP will need Democratic votes to succeed, and potential opposition from Democrats and GOP conservatives has left the pathway unclear for averting a closure just weeks before the start of the 2018 election year.

Adding an obstacle, the roughly 30 members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus planned a Monday evening meeting to discuss the budget clash as their leader said he was against a short-term deal.

Hours before Trump and Capitol Hill leaders were to hold a budget meeting last Tuesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., abruptly called off the session. The cancellation came after Trump took to Twitter to vilify their stances on taxes, immigration and crime and say he saw no prospects for an agreement, and the standoff has exacerbated bitter feelings on both sides.

“We hope the president will go into this meeting with an open mind, rather than deciding that an agreement can’t be reached beforehand,” they said Monday in a written statement.

The two Democrats pointedly said they’d accepted Trump’s offer to meet with them. And they said they hoped he’d be amendable to an agreement “as negotiations with our Republi­can counterparts continue.”