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Trump meets congressional leaders amid fight over debt limit, immigration
September 6, 2017 / 3:19 PM / 17 days ago

Trump meets congressional leaders amid fight over debt limit, immigration

WASHINGTON, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Republican and Democratic congressional leaders on Wednesday clashed over raising the nation’s debt limit and the fate of 800,000 young adults brought into the United States illegally as children, ahead of a meeting at the White House with President Donald Trump.

Trump on Tuesday gave Congress six months to pass legislation to decide the fate of the 800,000 so-called Dreamers after rescinding a five-year-old program that had protected them from deportation.

Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said any legislation to address the Dreamers would also need to address border security, a position sure to antagonize Democrats.

“It’s only reasonable and fitting that we also address the root cause of the problem, which is borders that are not sufficiently controlled, while we address this very real and very human problem that’s right in front of us,” Ryan told reporters.

Ryan also said any immigration legislation the House would consider would have to have the support of Trump.

Trump will meet at the White House on Wednesday with congressional leaders from both parties, with lawmakers facing several pressing legislative priorities.

Those include disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey, raising the U.S. debt ceiling by early October to prevent an unprecedented default on U.S. government debt, and passing legislation for federal spending in the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1 to avoid a government shutdown.

Trump last month had threatened to shut down the government if Congress does not provide funding for his planned wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.

The House is expected to pass legislation on Wednesday providing the first installment of disaster aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The measure includes $7.4 billion in added funds for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help storm victims and $450 million for the Small Business Administration to help firms hurt by the hurricane.

The Senate is expected also to pass the measure this week, but could attach an unrelated measure raising U.S. borrowing authority, which would require House approval later in the week.

Trump also wants Congress to make good on his campaign promise for sweeping tax cuts and a major infrastructure spending bill.

On Tuesday, Trump wrote on Twitter that he wanted to work with both Democrats and Republicans on an immigration package.

The problems ahead were illustrated by the sniping from congressional leaders of the two parties before the meeting. Ryan called a Democratic plan for just a three-month increase in the nation’s debt limit “ridiculous” and “disgraceful.”

And Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called Trump’s decision on Tuesday to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created in 2012 by Democratic former President Barack Obama “heartless and brainless.”

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was critical for Congress to pass disaster relief legislation, prevent a U.S. debt default and keep the federal government open so that help could get to the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which was headed toward Florida.

“These are the president’s immediate priorities. These are my immediate priorities and they are critically important to establishing credibility and stability as our country continues to recover from one record-setting storm and prepared for yet another,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

Even though Republicans control the White House and both chambers of Congress, they have been unable to pass any major legislation since Trump took office in January, most notably failing to approve a promised dismantling of the Obamacare healthcare law. (Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Richard Cowan; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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