Pelosi Faces Pressure to Approve Border Funding Bill, as Senate Rejects House Changes

June 27, 2019 Updated: June 27, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is facing pressure to approve a $4.6 billion emergency border aid package after Congress reached a stalemate on the bill designed to address the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

On June 27, Pelosi called on the Trump administration and the Senate to meet with House Democrats to sort out their differences on the bill before the weeklong Independence Day recess in a letter circulated to Democrats.

“We are calling upon the Trump Administration and the Senate to engage in an immediate conference to do the best we can for the children before we leave for the 4th of July,” Pelosi said in the letter.

The border funding package to fund President Donald Trump’s humanitarian aid request for the southern border returned to the House after passing the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, 84-8, on June 26. The House amended the Senate bill on the morning of June 27 to include more measures for migrant children.

Democrats want to add more protections for migrant children, including medical and hygiene standards at facilities, and a requirement that any death of a minor is reported within 24 hours.

Pelosi is considering a fresh vote on June 27 for the amended measures and pressed for the House Democrats’ demands during a press conference on the same day.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, while speaking on the Senate floor, has rejected the new changes proposed by House Democrats. He called on Pelosi and the House to accept the Senate’s version of the bill “without any more unnecessary delays” and give final congressional approval to the 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 for the Defense Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is opposed by House Democrats.

Moreover, the bills include provisions that stop funding from being shifted to Trump’s border wall and denies additional funding for ICE detention beds.

“If House Democrats send the Senate some partisan effort to disrupt our bipartisan progress, we will simply move to table it,” McConnell said. “The United States Senate is not going to pass a border funding bill that cuts the money for ICE and the Department of Defense. It’s not going to happen.”

“We already have a compromise,” he added while citing the Senate bill. “It’s time to quit playing games, time to make a law.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) joined at left by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) right, speaks to reporters following the Republican Conference luncheon, at the Capitol in Washington on June 25, 2019. The GOP leader said his two priorities this week are to pass the National Defense Authorization Act and the border security bill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Office of Press Secretary issued a statement on June 27 on the bill’s standstill, calling on the House Democrats to pass the Senate bill and stop delaying the funding.

“The only ones delaying help for the children are the Democrats,” the statement said. “They falsely claimed all year that the situation at the border was a ‘manufactured crisis’ and denied desperately needed humanitarian funding for months. They have refused to work with Republicans to end incentives for the human trafficking that takes advantage of women and children, or to end the surge of cartels bringing in illegal drugs.”

“The Administration sent its request for emergency funding 8 weeks ago, but there was no action. We have already negotiated a broadly supported bipartisan funding bill. It is time for House Democrats to pass the Senate bill and stop delaying funding to deal with this very real humanitarian crisis,” the statement added.

The White House previously warned (pdf) that it would veto the House bill, saying the House Democrats “put forward a partisan bill that underfunds necessary accounts and seeks to take advantage of the current crisis by inserting policy provisions that would make our country less safe.”

The border package has garnered considerable attention as Congress heads to recess amid an unprecedented border crisis.

CBP has repeatedly warned that the influx of family units from Central America in recent months has overwhelmed border patrol facilities and resources and created a humanitarian crisis. In May, border patrol agents detained more than 132,000 people crossing from Mexico—the highest level over more than a decade. Moreover, during the first seven months of the 2019 fiscal year, 531,711 illegal immigrants crossed the border into the United States, according to CBP data.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan
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