WASHINGTON — Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen confirmed that President Trump used “tough language” in an Oval Office meeting last week over immigration policy, but she said she did not hear him describe some African countries and Haiti as “shithole countries,” as has been reported.

Nielsen confirmed Trump’s tone while testifying under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday morning. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., asked Nielsen whether Trump had used the vulgarity to describe the countries “or a substantially similar word.”

“I did not hear that word used,” Nielsen told members of the committee.

When Leahy asked again, Nielsen said, “The conversation was very impassioned. I don’t dispute that the president was using tough language. Others in the room were also using tough language.”

“The president used tough language in general, as did other congressmen in the room, yes sir,” she said later, when Leahy pressed her again.

Nielsen sat before the Senate panel for a long-scheduled oversight hearing on Homeland Security Department matters.

Hopes of a deal to keep the government open beyond a Friday deadline have been complicated by lingering mistrust following the Oval Office meeting, during which, according to several people familiar with the gathering, Trump used vulgar terms to describe poor countries sending immigrants to the United States.

The meeting was convened to consider a bipartisan immigration deal to protect the “dreamers” – young immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children, including the 690,000 currently enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that Trump has canceled. Democratic leaders are demanding that protections for the dreamers be part of any spending deal. They have the leverage to do so because Senate Republicans would need at least nine Democratic votes to support any funding measure. Democrats also want Republicans to match military spending that Trump and many Republican lawmakers are seeking with an equal increase in nondefense funding.

In an interview with “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday morning, Nielsen reiterated that she didn’t recall Trump using vulgarity to describe African nations and Haiti.

“I just don’t – I don’t – that’s – I don’t – that’s not a word that I remember being used. It was very impassioned,” Nielsen said. “People on all sides feel very strongly about this issue, frankly, as well as they should. There were a lot of conversations happening at the same time. It’s not a particular phrase that I heard.”

If Congress fails to reach an agreement on the status of dreamers by the end of DACA in early March, Nielsen told CBS that people protected by the program will not be a priority for federal immigration agents for removal.

“If you are a DACA that’s compliant with your registration, meaning you haven’t committed a crime and you in fact are registered, you’re not priority of enforcement for ICE should the program end,” she said.

Nielsen’s testimony comes as Republicans have concluded that they are unlikely to reach a long-term spending accord by the Friday deadline. Republican leaders are now turning to a short-term funding measure in hopes of keeping agencies open while talks continue, but Democratic leaders say they are unlikely to support any deal that does not protect young illegal immigrants.

Aides to key negotiators from both parties planned to meet Tuesday in an effort to rekindle budget talks, setting up a Wednesday meeting of the leaders themselves. If they cannot agree, the government would shut down at midnight Friday for the first time since 2013.

House Republican leaders are scheduled to discuss their plans for a stopgap spending measure with rank-and-file lawmakers Tuesday evening.

There is also no guarantee that House Republican leaders will be able to rally a majority of their members to support a short-term spending measure, which multiple congressional aides and a senior Trump administration official said would probably last through mid-February.

Defense hawks, in particular, are livid at further delaying a planned boost in military funding. That could mean House Republicans would also need Democratic votes to pass a short-term deal – something the minority party may not be inclined to provide this time around.

One option Republicans are strongly considering to win over Democrats, according to two aides familiar with the Republicans’ planning, is attaching a long-term renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program to the stopgap. Republicans believe that many Democrats – especially senators seeking re-election this year – will have a tough time voting against the program, which they have called a top priority.

On Capitol Hill, however, there are hopes that tensions will ease as the shutdown deadline approaches. The government last shut down in October 2013, when Republicans opposed to President Obama’s health-care overhaul demanded its defunding. Government offices closed, and hundreds of thousands of federal employees were furloughed for two weeks before the Republican Party relented.

The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis and Sean Sullivan contributed to this report.