White House calls on House to pass Senate's border funding bill

White House calls on House to pass Senate's border funding bill
© Greg Nash

The White House on Thursday called on House Democrats to pass the bipartisan Senate version of a bill providing billions of dollars in border funding and humanitarian aid.

Press secretary Sarah HuckabeeSarah Elizabeth SandersBiden pledges return to daily press briefings as president Sarah Sanders: I will walk out of the White House 'with my head held high' Trump directs Pentagon to develop policy allowing service academy athletes to go pro right away MORE Sanders blasted House Democrats for their handling of the issue amid a push from Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi, Mnuchin reach 'near-final agreement' on budget, debt ceiling Wendy Davis launches bid for Congress in Texas Steyer calls on Pelosi to cancel 'six-week vacation' for Congress MORE (D-Calif.) for changes to the Senate bill to include stricter "guardrails" to ensure adequate treatment of migrants at holding facilities.

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"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," Sanders said in a statement.

The outgoing press secretary chastised Democrats for claiming the situation at the southern border was a "manufactured crisis," a refrain used by some party members after President TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE declared a national emergency to secure funding for his border wall. 

"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," Sanders said.

The Senate on Wednesday voted 84-8 to pass its $4.5 billion border bill, which includes nearly $3 billion in humanitarian aid. The vote set up a clash with House Democrats, who earlier this week passed their own version of the border bill, which puts more restraints on how the administration can spend the money.

Pelosi released a statement Wednesday night signaling she would push for an amendment to the Senate version that ensures health standards for facilities holding migrants at the border and limits the number of days children can spend in influx facilities.

Democrats are also demanding that any deaths of migrant children be reported within 24 hours and that lawmakers don't need advance notice to visit a facility.

The issue gained renewed urgency after a photo surfaced of a migrant man and his young daughter who drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande River.

Pelosi was asked at about the same time the White House statement was issued whether she would rule out bringing the Senate bill to the floor in the House. She did not directly respond, saying lawmakers would take it one step at a time.

A day before, Pelosi had rejected simply taking up the Senate legislation. 

“They passed their bill, we respect that. We passed our bill, we hope they will respect that,” she said.

President Trump spoke with Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Election security to take back seat at Mueller hearing McConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday before leaving for Japan. The president did not take a position on one chamber's bill versus the other's, but said he hoped the two sides will eventually “be able to do something very good.” 

“A lot of people are starting to realize that I was right when I said we have a crisis at the border,” the president said. “It wasn’t manufactured at all.”