House Republicans resurrected their bill to address the crisis at the U.S-Mexico border late on Thursday, and they are delaying a planned five-week recess in an attempt to pass the revived bill before Congress leaves town for its August recess.
The Democratic-led Senate, meanwhile, also failed to pass a $US2.7 billion bill aimed at providing emergency funding for the border crisis. It also contained additional funding to aid western states dealing with wildfires, and for the Iron Dome in Israel. The Senate bill died, 50-44, on a procedural vote, amid mostly Republican opposition. It needed 60 votes to advance.
House GOP leaders led a conference meeting Thursday afternoon in which the decision was made to stay at least one extra day in Washington. House Republicans are planning to meet at a 9 a.m. ET conference on Friday. However, plans could change at any minute. The latest move followed a chaotic day on Capitol Hill where House leaders abruptly postponed a scheduled vote on the bill and then pulled it from the day’s schedule.
In the end — if Republicans do secure the necessary support for passage — the result could be the House passing a bill that has no chance of moving forward in the Senate, and after the Senate has left town. The White House has also threatened a veto of the House border bill.
According to House Republican sources, House leadership heard from a number of dissatisfied members who said it was imperative to pass something before recess, causing the abrupt turnaround in plans.
House conservatives had revolted this week against the Republican-led border plan, which provides about $US659 million in emergency spending for the border crisis through the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. The Republican dissent was led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has said any border legislation should include a provision to stop the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — the unilateral action from President Barack Obama that shields hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Many of the immigrants who have been part of the recent influx coming over the border have been unaccompanied minors. They are not eligible for the DACA program, but some Republicans have argued Obama’s policy has contributed to a perception among the border crossers that they will not be sent back. 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.
The conservative opposition to DACA led Republicans to change course at the last minute Thursday night and schedule two votes — one on the border bill and another on legislation that would bar the expansion of the program. However, Thursday’s initial shelving of the vote suggested the conservative wing was not satisfied with the legislation to speed the deportation of young immigrants being voted on separately, since it was guaranteed to die upon arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
In a statement announcing the cancellation of the border bill vote, House GOP leaders pinned the blame on Obama for not taking more action to stem the border crisis.
“There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries,” the GOP leaders — House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers — said in a joint statement.
“Through an inclusive process, a border bill was built by listening to members and the American people that has the support not just of a majority of the majority in the House, but most of the House Republican Conference. We will continue to work on solutions to the border crisis and other challenges facing our country.”
This post has been updated at 7:58 p.m. ET to reflect new developments.
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