Whip Hoyer predicts few Dems will back GOP $659M border bill

An insignificant number of Democrats will side with Republicans in favor of their proposal addressing the southern border crisis, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) predicted Wednesday.

Democratic leaders are already whipping against the $659 million package, largely because of a provision making it easier for authorities to deport the thousands of Central American migrants who have crossed the border in recent months. 

That change has been endorsed by at least three House Democrats — Reps. Henry Cuellar (Texas), Ron Barber (Ariz.) and Collin Peterson (Minn.) — but Hoyer is anticipating that few others in his caucus will back the proposal.

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"There may be some; we don't think it'll be a large number," Hoyer said Wednesday morning.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) predicted Tuesday that GOP leaders will have the Republican votes needed to send the measure to the Senate, though he conceded they're still whipping support themselves. 

“We've got a little more work to do," he said.

A handful of conservatives have come out against the proposal, with some opposed to the cost and others lamenting the absence of a provision ending President Obama's 2012 deferred action program, which provides two-year work visas to some immigrants in the country illegally.

Still, many other Tea Party Republicans have endorsed the package, citing the need for Congress to do something about the crisis before lawmakers leave town for the long August break.

Hoyer said it's too early to know if the Republicans will need Democratic support to pass the bill, but he suggested GOP leaders will secure the votes on their own.

"They've worked it pretty hard," he said.

Passage of the bill in the House would set up a showdown with the Senate, where Democrats are pushing their own $2.7 billion border package that excludes the language making it easier to deport the migrant children.

In light of those policy differences, Democrats are wary that the GOP's strategy is to pass their version of the border bill and leave town knowing the Senate will never take it up. The Democrats are already defending against the potential GOP argument that Senate Democrats denied emergency funds for the border. 

"You are kidding yourself that voting for this bill is somehow being able to thrust out your chest and say we did something," Hoyer told reporters Tuesday. "They [House Republicans] know that the Senate will not take their legislative language. They won't get 60 votes to do that."

The House is scheduled to vote on the border package Thursday, the same day they're scheduled to leave town for the five-week August vacation.