House passes $4.5B border funding bill

The House passed a $4.5 billion border funding bill in a 230-195 vote on Tuesday after last-minute changes were made to the legislation to sway progressive and Latino lawmakers who previously weren’t on board. 

The Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act, which aims to provide humanitarian aid and address the flow of migrants, faces a veto threat from the White House and an uphill battle in the upper chamber, which is slated to bring up its own border bill as soon as Tuesday.

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An amendment to the just-passed bill, unveiled by the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday morning, added provisions that would require Customs and Border Protection to enact health standards for individuals in custody, including implementing standards for both adults and children for “medical emergencies; nutrition, hygiene, and facilities; and personnel training.”

Language was also added requiring the Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary to submit a plan to ensure translation services are accessible to immigrants, alert Congress when there is insufficient space at state-licensed facilities and place a time limit on the amount of time unaccompanied minors can spend at an influx shelter. 

And an update to the manager's amendment was made Tuesday afternoon that would amend the bill to bar the HHS secretary from waiving requirements for contractors running influx shelters. It also added $2 million "to the Executive Office for Immigration Review for continued operation of the Immigration Court Helpdesk Program, which provides services to address the needs of immigrants in removal proceedings."

The changes come in the wake of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats sharpen their message on impeachment Congress hunts for path out of spending stalemate Siren song of impeachment lures Democrats toward election doom MORE (D-Calif.) meeting late Monday evening with members who were hesitant about the initial bill. Concerns over reports of unsanitary conditions and a lack of resources, including water, diapers, toothbrushes, food and soap, have amplified in recent weeks, with members from both sides of the aisle calling for action.

“Today we have the opportunity to help the children at the border. This is a very important vote. It is not an immigration bill, so we cannot make any immigration promises in the bill. It is an appropriations bill, saying to the world, these children — they don’t have hygiene, they are not, in many cases, in their parents’ arms. We can make a big difference for them,” Pelosi said during a Democratic Caucus meeting on Tuesday, according to a senior Democratic aide. 

“The Senate has a good bill. Our bill is much better. But if we are going to prevail, we have to have a good, strong vote. You can find fault with any bill that comes down the pike, but we must respect the bill for what is does rather criticize it for what it does not,” she added.

Republicans in the House blasted Democratic leadership, accusing them of politicizing an issue in a time of crisis by bringing a bill to the floor that the president won’t sign.

“You've got Border Patrol agents right now that are spending their money out of their own pockets to buy diapers for these young kids because the agency's out of money, and Speaker Pelosi won't bring a bill to the floor to address this crisis. Stop playing games. Stop playing games with the young kids,” House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseBottom Line Trump allies assail impeachment on process while House Democrats promise open hearings soon Sunday shows - Next impeachment phase dominates MORE (R-La.) told reporters Tuesday. 

“Sure, you might have disagreements with the president. We're not even talking about the broader issue of solving this problem and ending the magnet that's bringing these kids here illegally,” he added.

Top GOP lawmakers argued Democrats should take up legislation that overwhelmingly passed out of committee in the Senate, noting that while they believe the upper chamber’s bill is imperfect, it would temporarily address pressing needs. 

“The Senate has shown what adult supervision can do, with bipartisanship to get it done. In the house, if she puts the Senate bill on the floor, which is not the total solution to the problem, she will get a bipartisan vote,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyCongress hunts for path out of spending stalemate This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Nunes pressed on Fox News about comparing impeachment inquiry to a 'coup' MORE (R-Calif.) said at a press conference. 

Republicans also expressed concerns over language in the House bill related to restrictions on detention facilities, with others arguing they don’t feel it allocates enough funds to address needs at the border or underlying problems. 

“Frankly, I don't think the Senate bill does the job that needs to be done. At this point, if you're just throwing money at the problem, which we do need to provide resources for the kids and make sure they're fully safe,” Rep. Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyLawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings Trump congratulates China on anniversary as GOP lawmakers decry communist rule Texas Republicans sound alarm about rapidly evolving state MORE (R-Texas), a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, told The Hill.  

“We're going to end up putting gasoline on the fire because you're going to just continue to encourage cartels to bring more people process them quickly, catch and release more, and just make the problem continue to grow,” he added.