House passes bill to revamp medical screenings for migrants at border

The House passed a measure Thursday that would revamp medical screenings for migrants in the custody of Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The Democrat-backed bill, which passed in a 230-184 vote, would establish timelines for medical screenings and improve overall health standards. Reps. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickKaren Bass's star rises after leading police reform push The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - States are pausing reopening Democrats release bilingual ads on police reform bill MORE (Pa.) and Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonKaren Bass's star rises after leading police reform push The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - States are pausing reopening Democrats release bilingual ads on police reform bill MORE (Mich.) were the only Republicans to vote in favor of the legislation.

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The U.S. Border Patrol Medical Screening and Standards Act — introduced by freshman Rep. Lauren UnderwoodLauren UnderwoodThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Reid Wilson says political winners are governors who listened to scientists and public health experts; 12 states record new highs for seven-day case averages The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Rodney Davis says most important thing White House can do on COVID-19 is give consistent messaging; US new cases surpass 50k for first time The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump takes victory lap after strong jobs report MORE (D-Ill.) — includes language that would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish an electronic health record system for those apprehended at the border within 30 days of implementation and submit a report to Congress on recommendations for improving screenings.

“When I was at the border I saw busy, overworked Border Patrol officials having to keep health records on paper. I also saw how these records don't follow migrants between facilities and transfers of custody,” Underwood said on the House floor ahead of the vote.

“As DHS works to improve its medical screening of children and migrants at the border to ensure there is a minimum standard of care, the need for proper record keeping on those screenings will only increase,” she added.

Critics of the legislation say the focus should be on preventing border crossings and moving detainees out of Border Patrol custody and into Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.

“I oppose this bill because it is poorly conceived, erroneously drafted and extremely risky. This bill would require the Border Patrol to divert resources from its core missions and create a new medical screening for those who illegally cross and enter the country between ports of entry,” Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) said during floor debate.

“I believe every part of that is wrongheaded. However, even if you agree with the policy, this is not the way to do it. Handing DHS And CBP a 30-day mandate to put an electronic records system in place has no basis in reality.”

The legislation faces long odds of advancing in the Republican-controlled Senate.