Senate Passes Bipartisan Border Funding Bill

June 26, 2019 Updated: June 27, 2019

The Senate approved a $4.6 billion border funding bill on June 26, setting up a confrontation with House Democrats who passed their own version of the bill the day before.

The Senators voted 84-8 in a rare display of bipartisanship to fund President Donald Trump’s humanitarian aid request for the southern border. In contrast, Democrats in the House voted along party lines the day before to pass a competing bill, despite a veto threat from Trump. The Senate voted down the House bill.

Lawmakers raced to get a bill for Trump to sign before heading to a weeklong Independence Day recess, but with Nancy Pelosi’s insistence for a compromise solution, no bill will likely be agreed on until after the break.

The House bill included funding shortfalls for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), restrictions on how the money can be used, and a rollback of Trump’s order to cut aid to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

According to The Hill, Senate Republicans signaled on June 26 that they intend to force Democrats into accepting the Senate bill.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters that a conference between both chambers to come up with a compromise was not a “viable” option.

“The House knows that they can’t get a signature on their bill, and most of what they want is in our bill and ours is a bipartisan bill,” Thune said, according to The Hill.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the House bill is “inadequate.”

“If people are sincere … then I don’t know why they would want to delay this,” Cornyn said, according to The Hill.

The House bill failed to address a $61 million pay shortfall and $3.7 million in overtime pay for ICE. The bill also lacks funding for the Defense Department.

Democrats lumped in a series of last-minute changes to appease the far-left wing of the party into voting for the measure. The additions include a requirement for Customs and Border Protection to enact health standards for detainees. The Senate killed the bill in a 37-55 vote.

Pelosi said on June 26 that she would not bring the Senate bill for a vote in the House.

“They passed their bill, we respect that. We passed our bill, we hope they will respect that. And if there’s some improvements that we think can be reconciled,” Pelosi said, according to The Hill.

Top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), said he backs the House voting on the Senate bill, which passed in Leahy’s committee by a 30-1 vote.

“I like the House bill but it’s not a bill we could have gotten through our appropriations committee,” Leahy said, according to The Hill. “If they accept the Senate bill which will pass I’m sure, I’d be happy with that.”

The impasse leaves House Democrats on the hook as they head to recess amid an unprecedented border crisis. An estimated 1 million illegal aliens will enter the United States this year, with the number of illegal crossings unseen since 2006. Unlike the records set in 2006, the population currently pouring across the border is made up mostly of family units and unaccompanied minors.

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