Democrats are "entitled" to get some of their priorities funded in a government spending bill that must pass before the end of next week, President Trump's budget director said Thursday.
Speaking at a conference in Washington, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the administration has "opened the door" to hearing Democrats' demands for passing legislation necessary to keep the government open. Government funding runs out April 28.
Telling any Democrats who might be listening to call the White House, Mulvaney said that Democratic priorities should be considered for inclusion in government funding legislation.
"We understand they do have a certain amount of leverage in the Senate," Mulvaney acknowledged, referring to the fact that Republicans have only 52 votes in the upper chamber, short of the 60 required to overcome a filibuster.
Democrats' top reported demand is that the spending bill include cost-sharing payments for insurers so that they can reduce out-of-pocket expenses for poor people enrolled in Obamacare.
Mulvaney didn't address that negotiating point specifically but indicated his eagerness to engage in talks, which he said were ongoing.
Next week's negotiations, he said, will be the "first real test" of whether congressional Democrats are willing to work with Trump. Other legislative efforts, such as the failed attempt to replace Obamacare, were simply meant to be passed on a partisan basis, Mulvaney said, but avoiding a government shutdown should appeal to both sides.
A spokesman for Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer responded Thursday evening by blaming the administration for slowing down talks and for seeking funding for a wall along the Mexican border.
"Everything had been moving smoothly until the administration moved in with a heavy hand," Schumer communications director Matt House said in a statement. "Not only are Democrats opposed to the wall, there is significant Republican opposition as well."