WASHINGTON –– President’s Donald Trump’s recent comment calling Haiti and African countries “shithole” nations was racist, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said at a Tuesday press briefing, although he stopped short of calling the president a racist.

The President’s comments did not focus on a person’s character but rather color of skin and country of origin, and words or actions that are based on race qualify a person as a racist, he said.

“If you use racist rhetoric, if you pursue policies based upon a racial premise, I consider that to be a definition of a racist,” Hoyer said.

Trump’s alleged comments disrupted a White House meeting intended to reach a bipartisan agreement on extending protections to “dreamers,” undocumented immigratns brought to the U.S. as children. President Barack Obama had issued an executive order, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, that granted temporary visas and work permits to about 700,000 “dramers,” but Trump rescinded the order, now set to expire in March.

Hoyer expressed hope that a bipartisan compromised can be reached before Jan. 19 , when the government runs out of funding and must shut down unless Congress continues the funding. Republicans may try to avoid a government shutdown by passing a short-term spending bill, but Democrats will not vote for it if it does not include protection for “dreamers,” Hoyer said.

“If we protect the dreamers in the [continuing resolution], and we memorialize the agreement on caps … I think Democrats will surely vote for the [continuing resolution],” he said.

Even then, Democrats believe short-term spending bills rather than annual appropriations are “bad and should not be done” because issues they have tried to address over the past three continuing resolutions –– such as dreamers and Medicaid –– have yet to be resolved, he said.

If the shutdown were to happen, Democrats will be able to persuade voters that they are not at fault because it is the responsibility of the majority party to keep the government running, he said.

“We are not going to be held hostage to bad policies or inaction because Republicans want to govern by [continuing resolution],” he said.