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Top US Democrats said they have struck a deal with Donald Trump to protect 800,000 young immigrants from deportation and boost US border security in another massive snub by the president to his own Republican Party leadership.
The surprise alliance with Democrat opponents Mr Trump had previously derided as clowns and losers marked a huge move to the centre and left Republicans stunned and horrified on Capitol Hill.
The bipartisan agreement was hammered out over Chinese food served at a White House dinner meeting hosted by the president for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, the top two Republicans in Congress, were not invited. Mr Trump has made no secret of his anger over the failure of Republican in Congress to get laws passed. In particular, he was frustrated by failed attempts to pass a replacement bill for the Obama-era health reforms.
The Democrat-backed package will safeguard the future in the US of immigrants who were brought illegally into America as children.
Known as ‘Dreamers’, their lives were turned upside down last week when Mr Trump announced he was jettisoning the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme, known as DACA, which provided temporary work permits and shielded them from deportation.
Speaking after the dinner, Mrs Pelosi and Mr Schumer said they would work on a border security package excluding the president’s proposed wall along America’s border with Mexico.
‘We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides,’ Mrs Pelosi and Mr Schumer said in a joint statement.
However, Mr Trump’s Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took issue with the Democrats suggestion that the border wall was being abandoned.
‘While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to,’ she tweeted.
It was the second time in two weeks that Mr Trump has cut out Republicans to reach a deal with the Democrat leaders.
‘This is a positive step toward the President’s strong commitment to bipartisan solutions for the issues most important to all Americans,’ said the White House.
The deal was struck just a week after the President shunned his party leaders – and his own West Wing staff – to reach an agreement with Democrats on the debt ceiling and government spending legislation.
‘More and more we’re trying to work things out together,’ Mr Trump told reporters yesterday.
While the old party foes were all smiles yesterday, Mr Trump has in the past labelled Mr Schumer a ‘clown’ and criticised Mrs Pelosi as a ‘loser.’
But clearly Mr Trump was not feeling the same warmth towards his presidential election rival Hillary Clinton, who has been taking shots at the President in her newly-published memoir, ‘What Happened.’
‘Crooked Hillary Clinton blames everybody (and everything) but herself for her election loss. She lost the debates and lost her direction!’ Mr Trump wrote in a tweet published early today.
If House Speaker Mr Ryan felt any antagonism at being ignored, he was hiding it well yesterday. He said that deporting the ‘Dreamers’ was ‘not in our nation’s interest,’ and said the president had ‘made the right call.’
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