Congress’ attempts to find a comprehensive solution to the crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border hit a significant snag on Tuesday, and the day ended with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) trading barbs with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada).
House Republicans officially unveiled their solution to the crisis on Tuesday. Their bill, on which a vote is expected Thursday, provides over $US3 billion less in funding than President Barack Obama sought — partly because it only includes money for departments through the end of the fiscal year in September.
Congressional Democrats immediately denounced the bill. Nita Lowey (D-New York), the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said it would “guarantee another emergency” in September and “raise the prospect of a government shutdown.”
Meanwhile, Reid floated a suggestion that could make it harder for House Republicans to pass their bill. He said it was possible Senate Democrats could use the House GOP’s border bill as a method to enact comprehensive immigration reform, which has been held up due to opposition from House Republicans. Reid told reporters it might be possible to form a conference committee to vote on the immigration reform bill that passed the Senate last year along with the House’s border bill.
“We’ve been looking for something to do conference on. Maybe we could do it with that,” Reid said, according to a transcript.
Reid’s move drew an irate response from Boehner, who called it a “deceitful and cynical attempt to derail” the House Republican bill.
“Senator Reid, embarrassed that he cannot strong-arm the Senate into passing the blank check President Obama demanded, is making a deceitful and cynical attempt to derail the House’s common-sense solution,” Boehner said.
Boehner went on to vow House Republicans would not pass the Senate’s immigration reform legislation.
“So let me be as clear as I can be with Senator Reid: the House of Representatives will not take up the Senate immigration reform bill or accept it back from the Senate in any fashion. Nor will we accept any attempt to add any other comprehensive immigration reform bill or anything like it, including the DREAM Act, to the House’s targeted legislation, which is meant to fix the actual problems causing the border crisis,” said Boehner. “Such measures have no place in the effort to solve this crisis, and any attempt to exploit this crisis by adding such measures will run into a brick wall in the People’s House.”
Though the House will look to pass its solution to the border crisis later this week, it’s likely nothing will reach Obama’s desk until after Congress’ upcoming five-week recess, which begins Friday. One of the main sticking points remains the two parties’ differing positions on a 2008 law to speed up deportations of children from Central American countries. This year alone, tens of thousands of migrants from Central America — many of them unaccompanied children — have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border from Central American countries.
Democrats in recent weeks have moved to oppose changes to the law, arguing it would be inhumane to send back children to potentially dangerous situations in their home countries. Obama has waffled on his position over changes to the law, initially supporting them, but then distancing himself.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Boehner expressed confidence the border crisis bill could pass the House.
“I believe there is sufficient support in the House to move this bill,” he said, but added there’s still “work to do.”
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