With House Democrats at odds over a spending bill to fund agencies dealing with the flood of illegal immigrant children who have crossed the southern border, and Republicans standing firm in support of a Senate bill that would end the fiscal crisis, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California is scrambling to work out a deal before Congress leaves for its scheduled Fourth of July recess.
“We are calling upon the Trump administration and the Senate to engage in an immediate conference to do the best we can for the children before we leave for the 4th of July,” Pelosi wrote to fellow Democrats on Thursday, the Washington Examiner reported.
Earlier this week, the House passed its version of a border spending bill that was laden with elements from the progressive wing of the party.
The measure bans money in the bill from being spent to block illegal immigration or deport illegal immigrants.
However, President Donald Trump vowed that if it ever reached his desk, he would veto it.
The Senate also gave the progressive package a cold shoulder.
As the House scrambled to find a new bill that might be adopted, there was a clear conflict between those focused on Trump and those focused on the border.
“Nobody in that room trusts this President. Nobody. So, we have to make sure this money is being used for the children,” Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington said Thursday, according to CNN.
But Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas thinks Congress has to act, and said he hopes the bill that has passed the Senate will adopted by the House.
“Listen, I don’t go visit the border. I live at the border. Those men and women who sometimes get demonized. That is wrong. Those are my neighbors and I have their backs,” he said. “We cannot go home without getting this job done.”
House Democrats found themselves in a corner after a $4.6 billion border funding bill, drafted with bipartisan input, passed the Senate 84-8.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Democrats can pass the bill as approved by the Senate or emerge empty-handed.
“We already have our compromise. The Shelby-Leahy Senate bill is the only game in town. Time to quit playing games. Time to make a law,” McConnell said, according to The Hill.
McConnell said the initial House bill was “way to the left of the mainstream” and that additional changes being sought by House Democrats who want to mingle progressive pieces with the Senate bill would “dig back into that abolish [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] playbook and throw a far-left partisan wrench into the whole thing.”
“Let me be perfectly clear, I’m glad the speaker and the administration are discussing some of these outstanding issues. But if House Democrats send the Senate back some partisan effort to disrupt our bipartisan progress, we will simply move to table it,” he said.
Pelosi also indicated that it might be time to bend
“The humanitarian emergency at our southern border challenges the conscience of America, and we must act. For the children, we must do the best we can,” she wrote in her note to fellow Democrats.
That contention was echoed by Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey.
“We’re at a point now where these kids really need help now, where the Senate has overwhelmingly voted for something, Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives,” he said. “So quite frankly, I don’t want to see the House of Representatives be contrarians and I don’t want to go home this weekend until this is done.”
Republicans in the House have said they are ready to give border agencies the funds they need once the chamber’s Democrat-majority decide what they want to do
Not taking action “would be awful,” Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma said Thursday, according to The Washington Post.
“Look, they’re going to run out of money at the end of this month. It’s bad now. They’re reducing services down to the bare minimum in some of these places,” Cole said. “So we know that we need to get this done, and I’m very hopeful we will.”
Stephanie Grisham, who’s set to take over as White House press secretary once Sarah Sanders steps down at the end of the month, said in a statement that “the only ones delaying help for the children are the Democrats.”
“We have already negotiated a broadly supported bipartisan funding bill,” she told The Post. “It is time for House Democrats to pass the Senate bill and stop delaying funding to deal with this very real humanitarian crisis.”
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