Majority of Hispanic Caucus votes against spending bill with wall funds

Majority of Hispanic Caucus votes against spending bill with wall funds
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The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) on Tuesday came out against a bipartisan homeland security spending package, with a majority of its members voting against it over its immigration provisions.

In a major year-end spending deal, Democrats and Republicans agreed to provide $1.375 billion toward a physical barrier along the southern border and to maintain funding levels for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They also did not impose new restrictions on President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE’s ability to use emergency powers to redirect certain defense funds toward the wall, though courts have at least temporarily blocked such actions.

The CHC as a group formally came out against that bill ahead of the vote. It ultimately passed 280-138, with 75 Democrats voting against it. Twenty-two of the group's 38 members ended up voting against the package. The House also passed another broader spending package, with Trump expected to sign both of them by week's end.

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“Today’s Homeland Security minibus maintains high numbers of [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] detention beds and does not include restrictions to stop the Administration from robbing accounts across the government to fund its anti-immigrant agenda, which has denied the human dignity to thousands of families and resulted in rapes, kidnapping, mass suffering, and even death at our border,” the group wrote in a statement ahead of the vote.

“Moreover, it allows this Administration to continue ramping up confiscation of American private property in order to build President Trump’s border wall,” the group added.

The opposition was not a surprise to Democratic leadership. After a meeting with the CHC last week, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Roger Stone gets over three years in prison; Brutal night for Bloomberg Three members of Congress endorse Bloomberg after raucous debate Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' MORE (D-N.Y.) acknowledged that the final deal could lose some votes.

“When you’re putting together a 12-piece appropriations bill, everyone isn’t going to love every part of it,” she said.

“We just need enough votes to pass, and I’d like to get the majority of Democrats, at least,” she added.

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Trump has continued to push aggressively to build the wall.

Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan told reporters Tuesday he's confident the 2020 border wall package will get the agency close to its goal of finishing 450 miles of new border wall by the end of the fiscal year.

Morgan added that his office has engaged with members of Congress, staffers and constituents from border communities to educate them on the benefits of the wall.

Still, the CHC, a group whose members represent seven of the nine border districts, said they would oppose the spending bill over the high number of funded immigration detention beds and the lack of restrictions on moving funds from other agencies toward immigration as well as for allowing the administration "to continue ramping up confiscation of American private property in order to build President Trump's border wall."

Two of the most vocal CHC border members, Texas Democratic Reps. Filemon VelaFilemon Bartolome VelaFish and Wildlife Service working with Border Patrol to protect animal refuges amid border wall construction: report Majority of Hispanic Caucus votes against spending bill with wall funds A dozen House Democrats call on EU ambassador to resign amid Ukraine scandal MORE and Vicente Gonzalez, told The Hill ahead of the CHC's announcement that they would not vote for the spending bill over wall funding.

Morgan said he found their decision "disappointing."

"When I see the Congress not being able to get together on a bipartisan manner to be able to fund what I see is an essential tool for us to perform our duty to protect this country, damn right I’m disappointed," said Morgan

The spending bills have often been a tough vote for CHC members, who must choose between their stance on immigration issues and voting to avoid a potential shutdown.

In perhaps the most crucial spending vote for the CHC in late 2017, two of its members voted with Republicans to pass a spending bill that didn't include protections for "Dreamers," undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children.

Later that day, eight CHC members voted with the GOP on a supplemental disaster appropriations package.

The CHC was not alone in its opposition to the spending package on Tuesday. The Congressional Progressive Caucus also opposed the measure, citing similar concerns.

“The bill before us today will not stop the abuse and wrongful detention of people in custody, nor will it prevent the Trump Administration from misusing federal funds to advance their horrific mass detention and deportation agenda,” said the group’s co-chairmen, Mark PocanMark William PocanDemocrats call on Pompeo to restore funding to Gaza USDA takes heat as Democrats seek probe into trade aid 2020 Democratic hopefuls focus on Iowa while making final pitches MORE (D-Wis.) and Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalBand Portugal. The Man to join Sanders at campaign event in Tacoma Bloomberg builds momentum on Capitol Hill with new endorsements House Democrats' immigration bill would use tax dollars to import crime to America MORE (D-Wash.).

“We also find it offensive that at a time when millions of families can’t afford to put food on the table, this bill wastes $1.375 billion on the pointless, immoral border wall,” they added.

The progressive group also denounced the increased military spending in the bill.