By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic leaders in Congress on Monday accepted an invitation to meet U.S. President Donald Trump and 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 issued a disparaging note about them on Twitter, said 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.
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.
Schumer said Monday that everyone should be working to avoid a shutdown, and he did not believe Republican congressional leaders wanted one.
“The only one at the moment who’s flirted with a shutdown is President Trump, who tweeted earlier this year that ‘we could use a good shutdown to fix the mess,'” Schumer said.
The Republican bill will provide some short-term help for states that are running out of money to finance a health insurance program for lower-income children, Republican aides said.
Schumer and Pelosi on Monday listed that program among their priorities, which also included the opioid crisis, pension plans, rural infrastructure and protection for young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children, known as “Dreamers.”
The undocumented young immigrants must be taken care of now, Senate Democratic whip Dick Durbin declared on the Senate floor. He said Democrats had offered in return to toughen border security, a Republican priority.
“How can we in good conscience pass a spending bill giving authority and resources to this administration to go…