Senate

Senators reach $4.5B deal on Trump's emergency border request

The top members of the Senate Appropriations Committee have struck a deal on President Trump's request for more funding tied to the U.S.-Mexico border after weeks of stalemate, two aides confirmed to The Hill.

The deal - worked out between Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the top Democrat on the panel - would provide Trump more than $4.5 billion for the border funding package.

The agreement will be marked up in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday and is expected to get a vote on the Senate floor before lawmakers leave for the Fourth of July recess next week. 

The breakthrough comes after Shelby and Leahy spoke several times over the weekend, including on a trip back from Paris, to try to work out a deal in principle between themselves. 

Leahy told reporters earlier that he was optimistic they would be able to get a deal before Wednesday's mark up. Without an agreement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had threatened to force a vote next week in an attempt to make Democrats go on the record blocking humanitarian aid. 

"Senator Shelby and I met yesterday, the day before, we spent several hours in the airplane today talking, so," Leahy said. 

The Senate's $4.5 billion package is expected to include billions in humanitarian aid for the border, including money to shore up the Department of Health and Human Services's (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement. Senators and administration officials had warned that without more money the office would run out of funding by early next month.

The deal comes after Trump's request, which appeared dead for weeks amid partisan divisions, had its first signs of life last week when Senate Republicans announced that they would take up a bill. 

The White House's request includes $3.3 billion for humanitarian aid, which the administration says 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.

 

Democrats said that they supported humanitarian aid and more money for the Office of Refugee Resettlement, but warned that additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement funding was a non-starter for the caucus. 

 

"President Trump's proposal had some things that are very needed, which we would support, had some things that are off the table, and some things that would be in a gray area. ... I'd like to see some kind of action that deals with the humanitarian crisis and can pass both the Senate and the House because we got to get it done. It's serious," Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters earlier Tuesday.

 

There are still hurdles to getting a bill to Trump's desk, including garnering support from House Democrats. 

 

The caucus has been wary of supporting anything that could, directly or indirectly, help enforce Trump's immigration and border policies. Border funding was pulled out of a disaster aid package amid a stalemate over immigration-related provisions, including when HHS could share information with the Department of Homeland Security about potential sponsors for unaccompanied minors.

A House Democratic aide said on Tuesday evening that they hadn't yet signed on to the deal between Leahy and Shelby, nor seen the details.

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