Congress Sees Border Aid Bill Standoff 06/27 06:15
Congress is at a standoff over a $4.6 billion aid package for the southern
border as House Democrats say a Senate-passed measure doesn't go far enough to
care for thousands of migrant families and children.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congress is at a standoff over a $4.6 billion aid package
for the southern border as House Democrats say a Senate-passed measure doesn't
go far enough to care for thousands of migrant families and children.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is considering a fresh vote Thursday. Democrats want to
add more protections for the children --- including medical and hygiene
standards at facilities, and a requirement that any death of a minor be
reported within 24 hours. Democratic leaders will convene early Thursday and
Pelosi's spokesman says they plan to push the amended measure through the House
"The humanitarian emergency at our southern border challenges the conscience
of America, and we must act," Pelosi said in a statement after meeting with key
lawmakers late Wednesday. "For the children, we must do the best we can."
It's a risky stalemate over a border crisis that has captured global
attention amid unsettling reports of gruesome conditions at federal facilities
and the deaths of migrants and children. The funding is urgently needed to
prevent the humanitarian emergency on the U.S.-Mexico border from worsening.
Money runs out in a matter of days.
The GOP-led Senate on Wednesday passed a bipartisan $4.6 billion measure on
a sweeping 84-8 vote. Approval came less than 24 hours after the
Democratic-controlled House approved a similar measure backed by liberals. The
House bill, which contained tougher requirements for how detained children must
be treated, faced a White House veto threat and was easily rejected by the
Pelosi called President Donald Trump before he departed for the G-20 Summit
in Osaka, Japan, with an appeal to make changes. Trump seemed open, but it's
unclear if the Senate will accept any amendments without assurances from the
White House that Trump will sign the measure into law. Both chambers are racing
the clock to come to an agreement before leaving town for a weeklong recess.
Trump said passing the legislation was urgent. "We are moving along very
well with a bipartisan bill in the Senate," he said. "It's very far along and I
believe the House is also going to also be getting together with the Senate to
get something done. It's humanitarian aid. It's very important."
Republicans and the White House far prefer the Senate measure, but Pelosi is
pressing for quick resolution --- promising that Democrats won't knuckle under.
Asked ahead of voting if the House would pass the Senate bill and send it to
Trump, Pelosi said, "No."
Failure to act before the recess could bring a swift political rebuke and
accusations of ignoring the plight of innocent immigrant children who are
living in overcrowded, often inadequate federal facilities.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blasted the House bill on
"It's a go-nowhere proposal filled with poison-pill riders which the
president has indicated he would veto," McConnell said. The Senate rejected the
House bill by a 55-37 vote.
Asked if he's open to adding some language sought by the House, McConnell
said, "We're working on finishing up this week and getting it to the president."
Pelosi faces resistance to passing the Senate bill and may be short of
votes. She quelled a mini-revolt by progressives and Hispanic lawmakers who won
relatively modest changes to the House legislation.
Both House and Senate measures contain more than $1 billion to shelter and
feed migrants detained by the border patrol and almost $3 billion to care for
unaccompanied migrant children who are turned over the Department of Health and
Human Services. The Senate measure is not as strict in setting conditions on
the delivery of funding to care for unaccompanied children and contains funding
opposed by House Democrats for the Pentagon and to ease a payroll pinch at
Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Both House and Senate bills ensure funding could not be shifted to Trump's
border wall and would block information on sponsors of immigrant children from
being used to deport them. Trump would be denied additional funding for
Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds.
The White House has threatened to veto the House bill, saying it would
hamstring the administration's border security efforts, and is only reluctantly
backing the Senate measure --- it received only a single "nay" vote during a
committee vote last week.
Lawmakers' sense of urgency to provide humanitarian aid was amplified by
recent reports of conditions in a windowless Border Patrol station in Clint,
Texas, where more than 300 infants and children were being housed. Many were
kept there for weeks and were caring for each other in conditions that included
inadequate food, water and sanitation.
The Border Patrol reported apprehending nearly 133,000 people last month ---
including many Central American families --- as monthly totals have begun
topping 100,000 for the first time since 2007. Federal agencies involved in
immigration have reported being overwhelmed, depleting their budgets and
housing large numbers of detainees in structures meant for handfuls of people.