The partisan showdown over a $4.5 billion border aid package rumbled on Thursday morning, as Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPhotos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles Hospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan GOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level MORE (D-Calif.) and House Democrats planned a vote on an amended proposal providing explicit protections to migrant children in the face of opposition from the White House and Senate Republicans.
Negotiators are facing a tight deadline to break the impasse, as Congress is poised to leave Washington at week’s end for a July 4 recess. President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — State Dept. employees targets of spyware Ohio Republican Party meeting ends abruptly over anti-DeWine protesters Jan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth MORE and Senate Republicans are urging immediate enactment of the upper chamber’s bill — passed Wednesday with overwhelming bipartisan support — while House liberals are demanding additional language ensuring the administration uses the allotted money to safeguard the children and families crossing the border.
The debate is squeezing Democratic leaders between progressives demanding stricter standards at migrant holding facilities and a time crunch to reach a deal before funding runs out in early July.
“It’s not about more money,” Pelosi said during a press briefing in the Capitol. “It’s about more accountability and standards.”
House Democrats unveiled a set of changes that would amend the Senate’s $4.5 billion package that would provide resources for agencies handling the influx of migrants at the southern border.
Those changes include requiring Customs and Border Protection to establish health standards at holding facilities for migrant children and adults, reporting within 24 hours if a migrant child dies in custody and allowing lawmakers to visit facilities to conduct oversight without required advance notice.
The Senate passed a bipartisan border aid package by a vote of 84-8 on Wednesday, which came a day after House Democrats passed their own bill that includes more restrictions for treatment of migrants at shelters, following reports of overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. But the original House-passed bill failed in the Senate, 37-55.
A floor vote is expected Thursday afternoon on House Democrats’ amendment to the Senate bill.
Multiple Democratic leaders repeatedly called the Senate version a “good bill,” but have argued that the House proposal is “better.”
“The Senate bill is a good bill. But this is a better bill,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyTwo women could lead a powerful Senate spending panel for first time in history Lobbying world Progressives fight for leverage amid ever-slimming majority MORE (D-N.Y.) said.
Even as Pelosi spoke from the lectern, the White House issued a statement knocking House Democrats for "delaying help" to the border children and urging them to take up the Senate-passed bill immediately.
"We have already negotiated a broadly supported bipartisan funding bill," the White House said in the statement. "It is time for House Democrats to pass the Senate bill and stop delaying funding to deal with this very real humanitarian crisis."
If the Senate bill does come to the House floor, Democratic leaders will need GOP votes to pass it, the aide said.
Some Democrats expressed frustration that Senate Democrats didn’t hold the line on the changes they are pursuing and instead essentially sided with McConnell.
“No disrespect to our Senate colleagues, but yes, I wish that they had talked to us and made sure that they had some of the protections in there that we really would have,” said Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalDemocratic caucus chairs call for Boebert committee assignment removal Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season 91 House Dems call on Senate to expand immigration protections in Biden spending bill MORE (D-Wash.), a co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
But with the clock ticking, some centrists like Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who represents a district along the southern border, said they would support the Senate bill and resolve the impasse.
“This is part of the legislative process. We’ll get it done,” Cuellar said.
Updated at 11:58 a.m.