House Democratic leaders work to secure votes for border bill

House Democratic leaders work to secure votes for border bill
© Getty Images
House Democratic leaders are working to secure the votes for a $4.5 billion package that would provide resources for agencies to handle the flow of migrants at the southern border.
 
A vote has yet to be scheduled as leaders lock down enough support to pass the legislation and finish incorporating further changes into the legislative text, but aides and lawmakers said they still expected a vote Tuesday evening.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
By midafternoon, progressive and Hispanic lawmakers who expressed reservations about supporting the legislation appeared inclined to hold their noses and vote for the measure following changes to accommodate their concerns about the conditions at migrant detention facilities.
 
And there appeared to be a breakthrough with progressives who had been withholding their support.

One of the leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalLawmakers urge DNC to name Asian American debate moderator Medicare for all: fears and facts House Democrats urge Trump to end deportations of Iraqis after diabetic man's death MORE (D-Wash.), said she had secured an agreement from Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi asks Democrats for 'leverage' on impeachment Is there internet life after thirty? Pelosi says Dems 'have to be ready to throw a punch — for the children' in 2020 MORE (D-Calif.) to ensure that shelters run by contractors meet established health conditions within six months or their contracts will end instead of receiving waivers.

Jayapal described the change as the "last piece that we have been negotiating for."
 
Jayapal said she expected that "most" members of the Progressive Caucus would support the bill with the provision's inclusion. Even so, like other progressives, Jayapal said it's still not an easy vote.
 
"I have tremendous apprehensions about doing so. I am not doing so with a free heart," Jayapal told reporters. "I am doing so because I am willing in the name of these children to see if we can do something to improve those conditions at the border."
 
ADVERTISEMENT
By late afternoon, the House Appropriations Committee unveiled two more changes that included the one sought by Jayapal as well as $2 million for a program providing assistance to migrants in removal proceedings.
 
The additional wrangling for progressives support came after Pelosi held an hours-long meeting in her office Monday night with progressive and Hispanic lawmakers.
 
Without much, if any, expected support from Republicans, Democrats are trying to secure enough votes on their own. But it's proving to be a difficult task for Democratic leaders trying to accommodate progressives who want to stop the Trump administration's immigration policies.
 
Earlier Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee unveiled a set of changes to the $4.5 billion package, including requiring Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to establish health standards for children and adults in custody.
 
The changes would require the Department of Homeland Security to submit a plan to ensure that all migrants have access to translation services.
 
Rep. Raul RuizRaul RuizHouse leaves for six-week August recess House Republicans score fourth major procedural win with motion to recommit House passes bill requiring CBP to enact safety, hygiene standards MORE (D-Calif.), a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said he would likely vote for the legislation even though he doesn't think the set of changes unveiled by Democratic leaders earlier Tuesday went far enough. 

Ruiz pushed for his own bill at the Monday night meeting with Pelosi. His measure would require CBP to conduct initial health screenings on detainees and directly order the agency to ensure migrants have access to water, toilets and personal hygiene products rather than asking the agency to come up with standards.

"They're going to say, 'We already have standards,'" Ruiz said of CBP. 

At the same time, Ruiz acknowledged that "the well has run dry."
 
"So at some level, you gotta put water in the well," he said. "But it's not going to change behavior. So it's a desperate bill for a desperate situation."
 
Progressive Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) also said he intends to vote for the package, if only to ensure that there are enough resources for migrants.
 
"I'm voting yes because of the humanitarian relief, period," said Grijalva, who represents a district along the southern border.
 
Lawmakers are trying to move the legislation as swiftly as possible to ensure that the Office of Refugee Resettlement doesn't run out of funding in the coming weeks.
 
But it's unlikely that a bipartisan, bicameral deal can be reached this week before lawmakers leave for the July Fourth holiday recess. 
 
The Senate is on track to consider its own $4.5 billion package to provide resources for agencies at the border — the key difference being that it is bipartisan. 
 
House Democrats are pushing ahead with their own version because they don't think the Senate bill goes far enough to establish standards for migrants held in detention.
 
Liberals who are livid over the documented conditions of overcrowding and poor hygiene at migrant detention facilities are demanding more stringent restrictions in an effort to bolster their negotiations with the Senate. 
 
"I want to emphasize that we think our bill is better but not that the Senate bill is bad. And I think if we put the two together, we'll have a really good bill," House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOmar says US should reconsider aid to Israel Liberal Democrat eyes aid cuts to Israel after Omar, Tlaib denied entry Lawmakers blast Trump as Israel bars door to Tlaib and Omar MORE (D-Md.) said.
 
House Republicans are largely expected to side with the White House, which has threatened a veto of House Democrats' bill due to a lack of funding for more Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention beds and restrictions on the migrant facilities.

Among other provisions, the Senate bill includes funding for overtime and back pay for ICE officers, while the House version does not.

The House measure also would require the Department of Health and Human Services to report to Congress within 24 hours if an unaccompanied migrant child dies while in the government's custody.
 
And while the Senate bill would require lawmakers to give two days' advance notice to visit facilities holding unaccompanied migrant children, the House bill would let lawmakers come without a heads-up to conduct oversight.