Trump turns again to Democrats on debt ceiling, immigration

WASHINGTON, Sept 7 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump embraced the idea on Thursday of ending the need for periodic raises of the ceiling on U.S. debt by Congress, again siding with Democrats a day after stunning fellow Republicans by striking a deal with the opposition party on the debt limit and federal spending.

Trump also turned to Democratic congressional leaders on Thursday in an effort to resolve another pressing matter, the fate of the 800,000 so-called Dreamers, young adults brought illegally into the United States as children.

The Senate approved $15.25 billion in aid for areas affected by Hurricane Harvey and other natural disasters, along with measures in the deal Trump reached with Democrats that would fund the federal government and raise its borrowing limit through Dec. 8.

RELATED: Harvey victims return home

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Harvey victims return home
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Harvey victims return home
Erlind Trigo and her niece Miriam weep as they look at family photographs which they salvaged from their home in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 2, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
A man disposes of drywall while salvaging through belongings from his family home in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 2, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
George Diaz disposes of furniture while salvaging through belongings from his family home in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 2, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Mariah Castillo watches her mother Roxanne Castillo kiss her mother Dolores Hedger, 68, while salvaging through their family home in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 2, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Chairs are seen drying outside of a pentecostal church where local residents prepare for Sunday service after tropical storm Harvey in east Houston, Texas, U.S., September 2, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Bible and hymn books that were damaged by tropical storm Harvey are seen outside a Baptist church in Dickinson, Texas, U.S., September 2, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A volunteer helps clean up the damage from a Lutheran church in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Harvey in Dickinson, Texas, U.S., September 2, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A volunteer helps clean up the damage from a Lutheran church in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Harvey in Dickinson, Texas, U.S., September 2, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A home insurance inspector conducts an assessment of damages on the roof of a house after tropical storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S., September 2, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Melissa Ramirez (C) struggles against the current flowing down a flooded street helped by Edward Ramirez (L) and Cody Collinsworth as she tried to return to her home for the first time since Harvey floodwaters arrived in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Nancy McBride collects items from her flooded kitchen as she returned to her home for the first time since Harvey floodwaters arrived in Houston, Texas September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Nancy McBride's half eaten supper still sits on the table since she evacuated in haste before Harvey floodwaters arrived in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Nancy McBride's cat looks out from an air hole punched in a tub after the cat was found in her garage when McBride came home for the first time since Harvey floodwaters arrived in Houston, Texas September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Patrice Laporte measures how much of the Harvey floodwaters have gone down at his house in Houston, Texas September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
The high water mark is visible on a house surrounded Harvey floodwaters in Houston, Texas September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A girl carries toys she collected from a trash pile of Hurricane Harvey flood damage in southwestern Houston, Texas, U.S. September 2, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
People sort through belongings found in Hurricane Harvey flood damage in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 2, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A volunteer from Texas A&M University helps to clean up flood damage in the house of an alumnus in southwestern Houston, Texas September 2, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Shirts are see drying outside of a trailer house damaged by tropical storm Harvey in East Houston, Texas, U.S. September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
People sort through belongings found in Hurricane Harvey flood damage in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 2, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Rogelio Salina takes as break as he helps a neighbor to clean a house damaged by Tropical Storm Harvey in East Houston, Texas, U.S. September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A man tears out Hurricane Harvey flood damage from a home in southwestern Houston, Texas, U.S. September 2, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Vince Ware moves his sofas onto the sidewalk from his house which was left flooded from Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 3, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Daniel Vasquez removes a damaged carpet after Tropical Storm Harvey flooded his home in east Houston, Texas, U.S. September 3, 2017. Vasquez and his family, originally from El Salvador, spent six days at the shelter after being airlifted by rescue helicopter. Vasquez, a truck driver who supports a family of five, did not hold flood insurance. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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The bill now goes go to the House of Representatives for final congressional approval. But the measure faced stiff opposition from House conservatives who traditionally favor strict curbs on federal spending.

The leadership of the largest group of House Republican conservatives came out against the deal on Thursday, saying it meant more federal spending without fiscal reforms.

After blindsiding Republican leaders with that agreement, Trump called top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer on Thursday morning, along with the Republican congressional leaders with whom he has had a tense relationship.

Trump embraced the idea of eliminating the statutory cap on the U.S. Treasury Department's authority to borrow to keep funding federal deficits and meet debt obligations. Over the years, some conservative Republicans have opposed increasing the debt ceiling without significant cuts in federal spending. That resistance has caused jitters in financial markets over the prospect of an unprecedented U.S. government default on debt.

"For many years, people have been talking about getting rid of debt ceiling altogether, and there are a lot of good reasons to do that," Trump told reporters. "It complicates things, it's really not necessary."

RELATED: Before-and-after photos show extent of Harvey damage

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Before-and-after images show extent of Hurricane Harvey damage
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Before-and-after images show extent of Hurricane Harvey damage
Downtown Houston skyline at sunset / dusk with a blue and orange sky, orange reflection on buildings from the sunset, and a freeway / highway with light trails.
Interstate highway 45 is submerged from the effects of Hurricane Harvey seen during widespread flooding in Houston, Texas, U.S. August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson
View of the downtown area of Houston from a Buffalo Bayou park.
The downtown skyline is reflected in the flood water at Buffalo Bayou Park after Hurricane Harvey inundated the Texas Gulf coast with rain causing widespread flooding, in Houston, Texas, U.S. August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Nick Oxford
This is insane. #houstonflood https://t.co/oddenJiGnE
Top overall view of the huge and busy traffic junction of the Katy and Gulf Highway in Houston, Texas.
A charred, abandoned car is seen on Interstate 610 North August 27, 2017 in Houston as the city battles with tropical storm Harvey and resulting floods. / AFP PHOTO / Thomas B. Shea (Photo credit should read THOMAS B. SHEA/AFP/Getty Images)
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"So certainly that's something that will be discussed," Trump added, noting that it was talked about during his White House meeting on Wednesday with Pelosi, Schumer, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

According to one congressional aide, Trump and Democratic leaders did not get into details over whether they would seek legislation repealing the Treasury's borrowing limit or revert to a past practice of automatic debt limit increases when annual budget blueprints are approved by Congress.

Ryan said on Thursday he opposes any effort to do away with the role Congress has in approving debt limit increases, citing the powers given to Congress under the U.S. Constitution.

"The president encouraged congressional leaders to find a more permanent solution to the debt ceiling so the vote is not so frequently politicized," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

DREAMERS AND DEMOCRATS

On the issue of the so-called Dreamers, Pelosi said Trump made clear he wants Congress to act.

On Tuesday, the president rescinded a program created by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, that protected them from deportation and provided them work permits. Trump gave Congress six months to work on an alternative by delaying implementation until March.

Democrats want Congress to pass legislation addressing the Dreamers without other issues attached, but Pelosi did not rule out including border security measures that Trump and Ryan want included.

"I am praying that the president really cares about the Dreamers, or knows that he should care about the Dreamers, and that we're going to pass this bill. And we want to do it as soon as possible to strike while the iron is hot, because public opinion is so much in favor," Pelosi told reporters.

Pelosi added that Trump "probably wants some border enforcement and we have a responsibility to secure our borders," but said that does not include his planned wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which is opposed by many Democrats.

Pelosi said she told Trump the Dreamers needed his assurance his action did not set up a six-month period of roundup for deportation. Trump subsequently wrote on Twitter, "For all of those (DACA) that are concerned about your status during the 6 month period, you have nothing to worry about - No action!"

The House approved a $7.8 billion disaster relief measure on Wednesday to help rebuild Texas and Louisiana from the destruction of Hurricane Harvey.

Senate negotiators, eyeing urgent requests from Florida officials who are expecting heavy damage from Hurricane Irma, nearly doubled that sum, cobbling together a $15.2 billion emergency spending bill.

As well as addressing the debt limit, the Senate bill would continue current government funding, which otherwise would expire on Sept. 30 at the end of the fiscal year, until Dec. 8. This move would avoid a possible government shutdown as the next fiscal year starts on Oct. 1.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Amanda Becker; Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell and Doina Chiacu; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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