CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday the Republican-approved tax overhaul has cast a "dark cloud" over Washington, threatening future budget negotiations and efforts to prevent another government shutdown.
Pelosi spoke before a friendly audience at an event in Cambridge organized by Tax March, a group that is holding similar sessions around the country to criticize the new tax law as a giveaway to wealthy people and corporations.
The California Democrat and former House speaker predicted the tax cuts could add nearly $2 trillion to the federal deficit — other estimates hover around $1.5 trillion — and prompt Republican leaders to seek cuts in domestic programs, such as Medicare and Social Security.
"This dark cloud hangs over our negotiations on keeping government open," Pelosi said.
The federal government partially shut down for three days last month before Congress approved a stopgap budget that expires Feb. 8. A major sticking point in the negotiations is the status of young immigrants who were brought as children to the U.S. illegally by their parents and now face possible deportation if the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is not extended.
But Pelosi said it would be unfair to blame any previous or future shutdown on DACA because even without that issue, Democrats and Republicans would remain far apart on underlying tax and spending issues.
"If there was never one Dreamer on the face of the Earth, we would still not have an agreement on this budget today," she said, using a term often ascribed to DACA recipients.
Pelosi later said she remains hopeful that another government shutdown can be averted.
Following Thursday's event, Republican state Rep. Geoff Diehl, co-chair of President Donald Trump's Massachusetts campaign, defended the tax law against criticism from Pelosi and other Democrats.
"Eighty percent of Massachusetts residents are going to see a reduction in their federal tax," said Diehl, who is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen Elizabeth Warren in November. "You see companies that are now reinvesting with bonuses for their employees, giving them pay raises."
Trump, a Republican, lauded the tax overhaul during his State of the Union address Tuesday night, saying it would deliver "tremendous relief" to middle class families and small businesses.