House Dems rallying behind border deal with 55 miles of barriers

House Democrats are rallying behind a package to fund border security and prevent a government shutdown, with the Democratic Caucus chairman predicting "overwhelming" support when the legislation hits the floor later this week. 

The package includes almost $1.4 billion in funding to construct new border barriers — an issue causing contention with some of the more liberal members of the caucus — but party leaders appear to have assuaged much of the concern and are expecting widespread support for the package when it reaches the floor Thursday

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"It appears to me, based on the conversation that we had today, that the overwhelming majority of the House Democratic Caucus will support this legislation," Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesDemocratic lawmakers introduce legislation to ensure US can mass-produce COVID-19 vaccine Calls for police reform sparks divisions in Congress Democrats call for Congress to take action following death of George Floyd MORE (D-N.Y.), the caucus chairman, said Wednesday morning following a closed-door meeting of the Democrats in the basement of the Capitol. 

Rep. Tony CardenasAntonio (Tony) CardenasMORE (D-Calif.), who heads the campaign arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, framed the package as a victory for Democrats and said he's ready to back it.

"It's not where we want to be long-term, but I think it's progress," he said. 

"We feel good. I feel good about it."

But not everyone is on board with the border barrier funding.

Rep. Juan VargasJuan C. VargasActivists, analysts demand Congress consider immigrants in coronavirus package Biden rolls out over a dozen congressional endorsements after latest primary wins The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pence taps health official to aid coronavirus response MORE (D), who represents a Southern California border district, said that, for the communities most directly affected by border barriers, there is little practical distinction between a wall and a fence.

"It's a waste of money and we shouldn't give him one penny," Vargas said.

Other border Democrats remain undecided.

"The barriers are going to be an issue," said freshman Rep. Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarThe DACA recipients protecting all Americans The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pence visits Orlando as all 50 states reopen The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin, Powell: Economy may need more boost; Trump defends malaria drug MORE (D-Texas). "I want to know where and what they look like."

Jeffries sought to downplay any divisions within the caucus, emphasizing that the 55 miles of new barriers denied President TrumpDonald John TrumpTwitter CEO: 'Not true' that removing Trump campaign video was illegal, as president has claimed Biden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination Barr says he didn't give 'tactical' command to clear Lafayette protesters MORE his promised concrete wall

"We made clear from the beginning that we would not support funding for a medieval border wall that would be built from sea to shining sea. We also indicate that we were prepared to support evidence-based barriers where necessary," he said.

"The conference committee has come together and concluded that it is reasonable to support 55 miles of additional barrier in a  manner that is consistent with our evidence-based approach to find common ground and improve the security along our border."

Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkHouse pushes back schedule to pass spending bills Gun control group rolls out House endorsements Pelosi scrambles to secure quick passage of coronavirus aid MORE (D-Mass.), vice chairwoman of the Democratic Caucus, said the 55 miles of new barriers would be broken down into 45 miles of new fencing and 10 miles of levee walls, which can also act as flood control measures.  

The package will also include $500 million for low-income housing, and an additional $1 billion for conducting the census, Jeffries said.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerPelosi: Democrats to unveil sweeping criminal justice proposal Monday Calls for police reform sparks divisions in Congress Hoyer wins Maryland House primary MORE (D-Md.) said the legislative language could be released as early as 4 p.m. Wednesday.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - DC preps for massive Saturday protest; Murkowski breaks with Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Floyd eulogies begin; Trump-Esper conflict emerges The Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen MORE (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseClyburn: Cowed GOP ascribes 'mystical powers' to Trump Top GOP lawmakers invite Blue Dogs to meet with China Task Force Top GOP lawmakers invite Blue Dogs to meet with China Task Force over coronavirus probe MORE (R-La.) would not commit to voting for the package.

Scott Wong contributed.