Senate GOP aims to jam House Democrats on border fight

Senate GOP aims to jam House Democrats on border fight
© Stefani Reynolds

Senate Republicans are pushing House Democrats to take up their bill to provide billions in new border funding.

Top Senate Republicans said on Wednesday that Congress should skip a conference committee, where both chambers would hash out their differences, arguing that the House bill can’t be signed into law.

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Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSchumer blasts 'red flag' gun legislation as 'ineffective cop out' Lawmakers jump-start talks on privacy bill Trump border fight throws curveball into shutdown prospects MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, was asked about trying to negotiate a compromise, telling reporters that if House Democrats want to form a conference committee after the July 4 recess that that wasn’t a “viable position.”

"The House knows that they can't get a signature on their bill, and most of what they want is in our bill and ours is a bipartisan bill,” Thune said. 

Asked about trying to form a conference committee, where the House and Senate would iron out their differences, Thune argued the panel just “delays it and they need the money now.”

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy O'Rourke says he will not 'in any scenario' run for Senate MORE (Texas), a member of GOP leadership, noted that the Senate would vote on the House bill and it would fail, adding “that doesn’t leave a lot of options.”

“The House bill is completely inadequate,” Cornyn added. “If people are sincere ... then I don’t know why they would want to delay this.”

If Republicans refuse to go to conference on the border bill that would force House Democrats to decide to either accept the Senate bill or could result in Congress failing to pass a border supplemental. 

Administration officials have warned that a Health and Human Services program for unaccompanied children could run out of money by early next month. 

The House passed its own border bill on Tuesday, after days of fierce debate among the House Democratic Caucus. The Senate is expected to vote on their bill Wednesday at 2 p.m.

Though the bills largely align on a top line figure of $4.5 billion they have several significant policy differences, including the level of funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The House bill does not include any Defense Department funding. It also doesn’t include $61 million to address a pay shortfall or $3.7 million in overtime costs for ICE.

It also includes myriad restrictions on how funds can and cannot be used and reinstates hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras after the administration slashed funding last week.