Senate GOP to vote on Trump's $4.5 billion border request next week

Senate GOP to vote on Trump's $4.5 billion border request next week
© Greg Nash

The Senate Appropriations Committee will vote next week on President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future MORE's request for $4.5 billion in emergency spending tied to the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a GOP member of the panel.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWhite House won't move forward with billions in foreign aid cuts GOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads Cindy McCain says no one in Republican Party carries 'voice of reason' after husband's death MORE (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said on Tuesday that Republican senators were told by Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' Pelosi asks Democrats for 'leverage' on impeachment Democrats press FBI, DHS on response to white supremacist violence MORE (R-Ky.) that the Senate Appropriations Committee will mark up Trump's request next week.  


"I think the game plan is that we're going to take the $4.5 billion that was in the disaster package that was unfortunately taken out and mark it up next week as a stand-alone proposition," Graham said during the start of Judiciary Committee meeting about the border. 

Graham said that McConnell and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyIs this any way for NASA to build a lunar lander? In-space refueling vs heavy lift? NASA and SpaceX choose both Budget deal sparks scramble to prevent shutdown MORE (R-Ala.) met with Republican members of the Appropriations Committee on Monday night to discuss the game plan and that "it's my understanding that we'll be marking this up in the Appropriations Committee next week."  

Shelby confirmed to reporters that he would bring up the administration's border request in his committee next week and stressed that he wanted it to be "clean" humanitarian aid.

"Everybody seems to be for that, and we hope to do it in a clean way and move it," Shelby said. "Around here you never know, but if we want to move it, we need to keep it clean. …If you put a lot of riders on it, it will never pass."

The decision to move Trump's border request comes as Republicans, including McConnell, have been sending up red flags about the need to pass new money for the border, including humanitarian aid and funding for a Health and Human Services (HHS) office tasked with housing unaccompanied minor children detained along the border.

The administration wants roughly $4.5 billion in supplemental funding, including $3.3 billion for humanitarian aid. The administration says the aid would be used to increase shelters and care for unaccompanied minors, in addition to processing arrivals. They've also asked for roughly $1.1 billion for other border operations like expanding the number of detention beds and providing more investigation resources.

McConnell has highlighted the need for the Senate to pass new funding several times over the past two weeks, including on the Senate floor on Tuesday morning and during an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt. 

"There is only one way to fix this. Bipartisan legislation with supplemental border funding is what we need to do. So for everyone's sake, I think the entire country is hoping that Democrats remember their job is governing, not resisting," McConnell said during a floor speech on Tuesday. 

Both sides say they support passing new humanitarian aid for the border, but the path to passing a bill is full of potential partisan and political landmines.

The money was close to being included in a disaster aid package that passed the Senate last month but was stripped out amid a last-minute fight over immigration provisions. 

A source familiar with the negotiations said one issue that has bubbled up is when HHS can share information with the Department of Homeland Security about the potential sponsors for unaccompanied children.

The GOP-controlled Appropriations Committee could pass a bill through the panel without support from Democrats, but they'll need at least seven Democrats in order to defeat a filibuster on the Senate floor. 

Moving Trump’s request for humanitarian aid could also cause headaches for Democratic leadership, with progressives wary of supporting anything that could, directly or indirectly, help enforce Trump’s immigration and border policies.

A House Democratic aide told The Hill late last week that the caucus wants to pass humanitarian assistance and was having discussions about when and how to move a bill. “We understand the needs, but we don’t want to give this administration a blank check,” the aide said. 

“Most of our conversations are focused on provisions in the package that will protect the rights and dignity of migrants. If Republicans will accept those provisions, we can quickly get this done.”

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility House panel investigating decision to resume federal executions To combat domestic terrorism, Congress must equip law enforcement to fight rise in white supremacist attacks MORE (Ill.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and of Democratic leadership, said there are “a lot of things” that the caucus could support as part of a border supplemental.

“There are some things we obviously don’t agree with, but the overwhelming majority of the funds requested we supported,” Durbin said.

--Updated at 1:38 p.m.