WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Donald Trump bitterly attacked top Democrat Nancy Pelosi on Sunday (Jan 20) after she rejected a deal on immigration and the Mexico border wall that would end a 30-day-old government shutdown.
Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, on Saturday called Trump's offer of temporary protections for about a million immigrants in return for US$5.7 billion to fund the wall a "non-starter."
"Nancy Pelosi has behaved so irrationally & has gone so far to the left that she has now officially become a Radical Democrat," Trump tweeted.
"She is so petrified of the 'lefties' in her party that she has lost control."
"...And by the way, clean up the streets in San Francisco, they are disgusting!" he added, in a seemingly gratuitous aside. Pelosi is from San Francisco.
"No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer. It is a 3 year extension of DACA," Trump said in another tweet, referring to former president Barack Obama's programme to shield undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children.
Trump appeared to be responding to conservative critics who accused him of proposing amnesty and reneging on a campaign promise, which could alienate his right-wing base.
The offer also was assailed by prominent anti-immigrant voices, which denounced it as tantamount to amnesty.
But Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell welcomed the plan as a “bold solution,” while a spokesman said McConnell would seek Senate passage of the proposal this week.
The legislation will include Bills to fund government departments that have been closed during the shutdown, as well as some disaster aid and the president’s immigration proposal, a McConnell aide said.
Trump’s amnesty tweet, however, caught some Republicans off guard.
“I don’t know what the president’s calling amnesty,” Senator James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, told ABC’s “This Week” programme. “That’s a longer debate and obviously not something we can solve quickly.”
About one-quarter of the U.S. government shut down on Dec 22 over Trump’s demand for US$5.7 billion (S$7.7 billion) to fund a wall along the border with Mexico, which Democrats have refused to consider. Some 800,000 federal workers have been ordered to stay home or work without pay during the shutdown.
The promise of a border wall was a mainstay of Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign. As a candidate, he said Mexico would pay for the barrier, but the Mexican government has refused.
Besides the 700,000 immigrants already enrolled in the so-called DACA or "Dreamers" programme, Trump's proposal would also extend to another 300,000 people who had been protected from deportation under another programme.
He said that there would be "no big push" to remove the 11 million people in the country illegally. But he also issued a cryptic warning: 'Be careful, Nancy!"
The shutdown has caused widespread disruptions.
The Transportation Security Administration on Sunday reported an 8 per cent national rate of unscheduled absences on Saturday, compared with 3 per cent a year ago. More than 50,000 TSA officers are working without pay.
Some airports experienced longer wait times at security checkpoints, and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport closed one of its checkpoints because of excessive absences.