Senate panel approves $4.5B for Trump’s border request

Greg Nash

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation on Wednesday that would give President Trump more than $4.5 billion in additional spending tied to the U.S.-Mexico border.

The GOP-controlled panel voted 30-1 to approve the legislation, paving the way for a Senate vote before lawmakers leave for the July 4th recess.

{mosads}The panel provides a total of $4.59 billion to Trump in response to the administration’s request for emergency spending along the border. More than half—$2.88 billion—would go to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for unaccompanied children.

Senators and administration officials argued new funding was needed by early next month to shore up the HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, or it would run out money and require employees and grantees to operate on “I.O.U.s.”

The bill also includes new money for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Sens. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Tuesday reached a deal on the package after negotiating through the weekend, including on a plane ride back from Paris.

Leahy, during the committee’s hearing, called their bill a “good faith compromise.”

“The package that we are considering today is primary a humanitarian assistance package,” Leahy said.

Shelby also asked members of the committee to hold off from offering “poison pills” or other immigration language, which could complicate the bill’s chances.

“This package does not include everything that I would have wanted, it does not include everything that Senator Leahy would want but most importantly it does not include poison pills from either parties,” Shelby added.

The bill still needs to pass the Senate, where it will require 60 votes, and win over the Democratic-controlled House. The legislation could face a steeper challenge in the House, where Democrats have been wary of directly or indirectly bolstering Trump’s border policies.

A House aide told The Hill on Tuesday night that Democrats were not yet signed onto the Senate bill and hadn’t yet seen the details. If the House passes its own bill, they would need to go to conference to reconcile the proposal with the Senate.

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 included $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.

Tags Donald Trump Patrick Leahy Richard Shelby

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