Trump's 'shithole' comments throw a wrench into already volatile government shutdown battle



donald trump
President Donald
Trump

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  • President Donald Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador,
    and African nations as “shithole countries” in an immigration
    meeting Thursday, lawmakers have said.
  • The remarks sparked an international backlash.
  • They also may cause trouble at home, as difficult
    negotiations to avoid a government shutdown could become even
    trickier.

President Donald Trump’s remark to a bipartisan meeting of
senators that some nations are “shithole countries” drew
condemnation around the world. Domestically, they may have also
made negotiations even tougher to avert a looming government
shutdown.

When talking about immigration in a White House meeting with
lawmakers on Thursday, Trump asked why
the US was accepting immigrants from “shithole
countries”
 — discussing Haiti, El Salvador, and Africa —
according to multiple senators in the meeting.

The comment drew rapid
backlash from US politicians
and foreign governments. It also
risks endangering bipartisan discussions about avoiding a
government shutdown at the end of next week.

The scatological slur certainly does not help avoid a
shutdown or drive to a middle ground consensus,” Chris Krueger, a
political strategist at Cowen Washington Research Group, told
Business Insider.

The comments came during a meeting over immigration reform,
a topic that Democrats are trying to tie to the shutdown fight.
Democrats
want to add to the government funding bill a codification
of
the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields
from deportation hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants
who entered the US as minors.

The GOP has balked at a DACA fix being added to the
spending bill, which is required to avoid a shutdown. Republican
leaders have said an immigration bill must include other
Republican goals, like funding for increased border
security.

If no spending bill is passed by January 19, the federal
government will enter into a partial shutdown.

Greg Valliere, chief strategist at Horizon Investments,
said the comments were detrimental given the already fractured
discussions, since Democrats can block any spending agreement and
Trump’s comments solidify their stance on immigration.

“Trump’s comments make things much more difficult, largely
because Democrats like Chuck Schumer have to take a hard line
against Republicans,” Valliere told Business Insider, referring
to the Senate minority leader.

There is some hope that lawmakers can agree to a short-term
extension of the shutdown deadline with an agreement on budget
caps for the next year, a key step in determining federal funding
for 2018. But Krueger said that just delays the
inevitable.

“We believe a government shutdown remains
a question of when, not if,” he said.

Given the delicate nature of these talks, the Trump
comments threw another wrench in an already tense
back-and-forth.

“Chances of a government shutdown have risen significantly
in the past 24 hours,” Valliere said.

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