Homeland spending bill advances with child migrant fund praised

The 2015 spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security cleared a House Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday evening amid bipartisan praise for the bill’s attempt to address a surge in child migrants from Mexico.

The $39.2 billion bill provides nearly $900 million more for the DHS than the Obama administration sought and focuses budget increases on border security. 

The bill includes $76.9 million for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency so it can safely transport child migrants to health services facilities where they can be cared for.

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“It’s an ongoing crisis,” Homeland Security subcommittee Chairman John CarterJohn Rice CarterGeorge Floyd and the upcoming Texas Democratic Senate runoff Texas Senate candidate swipes at Cruz feud with Ron Perlman: 'I handle my own fights' Lawmakers call on VA to remove swastikas from headstones in veterans cemeteries MORE (R-Texas) said.

His bill’s attempt to address the issue won praise from Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).

Full Committee Chairman Hal RogersHarold (Hal) Dallas RogersDemocrats take aim at Trump's policies on 2021 funding markups Bottom line Appropriators face crucial weekend to reach deal MORE (R-Ky.) said the number of unaccompanied minors illegally crossing the border has jumped 10-fold from 6,600 at the turn of the century to 60,000 today.

“Sadly, there is no leadership in the administration,” Rogers said.

Democrats said they were largely on board with the DHS bill. Ranking member David Price (D-N.C.) voted for it but said too much would be spent on ICE detention beds.

Price noted that, although he feels the DHS bill got enough money, that adequate allocation means other domestic agencies will come up short, including housing and health programs.

Full Committee ranking member Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyNew Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Overnight Defense: House Dems offer M for Army to rename bases | Bill takes aim at money for Trump's border wall | Suspect in custody after shooting at Marine training facility  Defense spending bill would make Pentagon return unspent money taken for border wall MORE (D-N.Y.) said she was concerned the bill would attract unwelcome amendments.

Last year, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) successfully amended the DHS spending bill to boost deportations of so-called Dreamer immigrants — adults who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children. Advocates argue that many of them have turned out to be law abiding and productive members of society later and should be given a path to citizenship. 

“This is a reasonable bill that I hope will remain free of poison-pill riders,” Lowey said. 

The DHS spending bill now heads for a full committee markup slated for June.