Trump and Democrats trade insults to start tense month of negotiations on year-end priorities

President Trump and top lawmakers Tuesday failed to craft the outlines of a spending agreement as Democrats backed out of a planned meeting at the White House amid growing acrimony over a slate of year-end legislative priorities, with a potential government shutdown looming over the negotiations.

The impasse all but ensures another holiday-season standoff over legislation designed to keep the government open and that also is expected to settle complex issues regarding immigration and health care.

Failure to act in the coming days could bring a partial shutdown of government operations, jeopardize health-care services for 9 million children and 370,000 pregnant women nationwide, and further complicate the fate of hundreds of thousands of children of illegal immigrants, known as dreamers, who could start facing deportation in early March.

“We have a lot differences,” Trump said in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, flanked by two empty chairs meant for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), calling Democrats weak on crime, immigration and the military.

Asked about the possibility of a government shutdown this month, the president said: “If that happens, I would absolutely blame the Democrats.”