Homeland spending bill advances with child migrant fund praised

The 2015 spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security cleared a House Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday evening amid bipartisan praise for the bill’s attempt to address a surge in child migrants from Mexico.

The $39.2 billion bill provides nearly $900 million more for the DHS than the Obama administration sought and focuses budget increases on border security. 

The bill includes $76.9 million for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency so it can safely transport child migrants to health services facilities where they can be cared for.

“It’s an ongoing crisis,” Homeland Security subcommittee Chairman John CarterJohn Rice CarterTexas lawmaker says GOP colleague should resign over lewd photo Reid’s promise to Ryan prompts skepticism from Republicans GOP vows immigration fight MORE (R-Texas) said.

His bill’s attempt to address the issue won praise from Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).

Full Committee Chairman Hal RogersHarold (Hal) Dallas RogersHouse GOP leaders ditch government funding plan amid infighting GOP could punt funding fight to January GOP chairman blasts White House over Zika spending MORE (R-Ky.) said the number of unaccompanied minors illegally crossing the border has jumped 10-fold from 6,600 at the turn of the century to 60,000 today.

“Sadly, there is no leadership in the administration,” Rogers said.

Democrats said they were largely on board with the DHS bill. Ranking member David Price (D-N.C.) voted for it but said too much would be spent on ICE detention beds.

Price noted that, although he feels the DHS bill got enough money, that adequate allocation means other domestic agencies will come up short, including housing and health programs.

Full Committee ranking member Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyBlue-state Republicans push tax law changes Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism NY lawmakers offer bill to restore state and local tax deduction MORE (D-N.Y.) said she was concerned the bill would attract unwelcome amendments.

Last year, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) successfully amended the DHS spending bill to boost deportations of so-called Dreamer immigrants — adults who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children. Advocates argue that many of them have turned out to be law abiding and productive members of society later and should be given a path to citizenship. 

“This is a reasonable bill that I hope will remain free of poison-pill riders,” Lowey said. 

The DHS spending bill now heads for a full committee markup slated for June.