Fight over vulgar remark raises threat of federal shutdown

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An escalating feud over President Donald Trump's comments on African nations in the Oval Office last week is complicating efforts to reach a budget deal in time to avoid a government shutdown this weekend.

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - With an ugly fight over immigration still raging in the nation's capital, lawmakers on Tuesday scrambled to avert a government shutdown looming on Friday at midnight, when federal money runs out.

Complicating any deal, President Trump's alleged use of the word "s***hole" to describe several countries during bipartisan budget talks at the White House last week continue to hang over Washington.

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin says Trump disparaged Haiti and African countries during negotiations over protecting immigrants brought illegally to the US as children and said the US should take more people from Norway instead.

Trump and Republican lawmakers have denied he made those specific comments, as global condemnation of the remarks has spread.

On Capitol Hill, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen who was in last week's meeting defended Trump under sharp questioning from Democrats, including Durbin.

Democrats have renewed their demand that any budget agreement to avoid a shutdown include the so-called Dreamers, with many conservatives in Congress opposing that idea.

On Twitter, Trump has publicly accused Durbin of lying about his remarks and saying there can be no deal without trust.

Durbin and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who have sought a compromise told reporters Tuesday a deal could still be reached, but unless one side gives ground, the government could close its doors this weekend for the second time in the last five years.

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