- 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.