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(Chris Kleponis / Getty Images)

Republican senators, emerging from a meeting with President Trump on Thursday, said they opposed the idea of including legislation to provide legal status for "Dreamers" as part of a must-pass year-end spending deal.

That stand could lead to a standoff in Congress next month. Democratic leaders have pushed to include legislation on the Dreamers as part of the year-end measure that lawmakers have to pass to keep government agencies from shutting down.

Republicans have been unable to pass bills to fund the government without support from at least some Democrats, a fact that gives the Democratic minority considerable leverage in the year-end negotiations.

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Secretary of Energy Rick Perry stirred a controversy Thursday when he appeared to suggest a connection between burning fossil fuels and preventing sexual assault, a lesson he said he had learned on a recent trip to Africa.

"A young girl told me to my face, 'One of the reasons that electricity is so important to me is not only because I'm not going to have to try to read by the light of a fire and have those fumes literally killing people,' " the former Texas governor said, according to The Hill.

"But also from the standpoint of sexual assault. When the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts," he added.

When the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts.

(Chris Kleponis / Getty Images)

President Trump pushed again Thursday for canceling the green card lottery program under which the alleged New York City attacker entered the country in 2010, as well as for changing immigration rules that give priority to family members of those living in the United States.

Speaking in the White House after a meeting with Republican senators, Trump called the diversity visa lottery “a disaster for our country.”

“The people put in that lottery are not that country’s finest,” he said, adding that the program created “significant vulnerabilities” for national security.

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Sam Clovis speaks during a news conference as then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, watches before a campaign rally in Dubuque, Iowa, on Aug. 25, 2016.
Sam Clovis speaks during a news conference as then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, watches before a campaign rally in Dubuque, Iowa, on Aug. 25, 2016. (Scott Olson / Getty Images)

A former Trump campaign official who has been linked to the Russia investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller has withdrawn his nomination for a Department of Agriculture post. 

Sam Clovis said in a letter to President Trump dated Thursday that he does “not want to be a distraction or a negative influence.” He cites “relentless assaults on you and your team” that “seem to be a blood sport.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the administration respects his decision to withdraw. 

House Republicans are proposing to place new limits on the tax deduction for mortgage interest in their soon-to-be-released overhaul. 

A summary of the plan says it would reduce the cap on the popular deduction to interest on mortgages of $500,000 for newly purchased homes. The current mortgage cap is $1 million. 

The idea is sure to generate opposition from the real estate lobby, but it's being used to help pay for tax cuts elsewhere in the plan.