President Donald Trump will veto a spending bill providing the humanitarian aid he has been seeking for America’s beleaguered southern border if it includes Democratic proposals “that would make our country less safe,” according to a White House statement released Monday.
Trump has been seeking $4.5 billion in humanitarian aid to address conditions on the border, where the sheer magnitude of the flood of illegal immigrants has overwhelmed detention facilities, including those the Department of Health and Human Services operates to serve children.
Although the Senate has been addressing Trump’s request in a bipartisan fashion, the Democrat-controlled House has erupted in protest against the bill.
The New York Times said that more than 30 members of the Progressive Caucus and more than 15 members of the Hispanic Caucus held conference calls Sunday night, with most attacking the bill as supporting an immigration system they oppose.
To address those concerns, the Democratic majority is seeking to adapt the spending bill to address progressive priorities.
The White House has said those changes, which would de-fund detention centers in some cases, are unacceptable.
“After ignoring the Administration’s request for desperately needed funding to address the humanitarian crisis at the border for over a month, and despite the efforts of the House minority, the House majority has put forward a partisan bill that underfunds necessary accounts and seeks to take advantage of the current crisis by inserting policy provisions that would make our country less safe,” the statement read, according to Fox News.
The depth of the need was illustrated last week by Customs and Border Protection Chief Operating Officer John Sanders, who said Border Patrol stations are holding 15,000 people. Their capacity is 4,000 people, he said.
House Democrats are divided about the bill, The Washington Post reported.
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is among those opposed to the funding.
“I will not fund another dime to allow ICE to continue its manipulative tactics,” she said Monday, referring to U.S. Immigrant and Customs Enforcement.
Ocasio-Cortez said the issues at the border are “not due to a lack of resources; that’s due to a desire — an active desire by this administration to hurt kids. We need to stop funding the detention of children under any and all circumstances.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota said she will not be rushed into passing the humanitarian aid Trump wants.
“We cannot continue to throw money at a dysfunctional system. We are not just asking for simple changes to be made into this bill, but to go back to the drawing board and really address this from a humanitarian issue,” she said.
However, other Democrats said House members should not take out their anger at Trump on the children detained at the border.
“We cannot allow our anger at this president to blind us to the horrific conditions at facilities along the border as the agencies run out of money,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey of New York said in a statement.
Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas said the border crisis was “truly an emergency” and that lawmakers need to act.
“Are there things I would like to change? Absolutely,” said Escobar. “But we have a real crisis, and the reason why kids in custody are dealing with such terrible conditions is because they’re running out of money. And we need to get that money.”
Rep. Tony Cárdenas of California said he wants to support humanitarian aid, but that he also wants to send a political message.
“I hate that saying, but in this particular situation, I pray that the perfect is not the enemy of the good,” he said. “We’ve got lives at stake; we’ve got the United States of America that has been looked at by the rest of the world as the gold standard … for how to treat human beings, especially when they’re fleeing violence and death. And I don’t think we should compromise that at all,” he said.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) June 21, 2019
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California said Monday that his colleagues will not support the current House bill but would back the bipartisan one the Senate is developing.
Congress is scheduled to leave Washington, D.C., at the end of the week for its July Fourth recess.
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