House Democrats on Friday unveiled emergency funding legislation that would provide $4.5 billion to address the growing humanitarian crisis at the southern border.
The measure is expected to get a floor vote next week as lawmakers scramble to meet the needs of migrants seeking to enter the United States and those of the cash-strapped agencies responsible for their care and shelter. Lawmakers have little time left before they leave for a 10-day July Fourth recess.
“We’re going to run out of money in July because the numbers are just so high,” Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar said Friday, according to the Associated Press. “This is not about politics. This is not about immigration policy. This is a humanitarian relief package. And it has got to pass. It’s got to pass immediately. We are out of money and we are out of capacity.”
The 27-page House bill is similar to compromise legislation approved overwhelmingly this week in a bipartisan vote by Senate appropriators. Like the $4.6 billion Senate bill, the House version provides hundreds of millions of dollars for processing facilities, food, water and medical services. But it also contains some key differences sought by liberals, including extra oversight requirements for the administration, restrictions on how the money can and cannot be spent and significantly less funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“There are serious humanitarian needs at the border, and we all recognize the clear need to act,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY). “This legislation would address the humanitarian crisis in a way that balances the needs at the border with the imperative to hold the administration accountable.”
The bottom line: “The bill sets up a clash with the Senate, which had painstakingly worked out its own bipartisan compromise bill with the expectation that it would pass quickly through both chambers,” The Hill’s Niv Ellis writes. But Andrew Taylor of the Associated Press says that many lawmakers expect the Senate’s compromise version “will generally prevail.”