Senators Vote $4.6 Billion More For Migrant Housing, Healthcare

Image: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0

June 19, 2019

| ABC News – All but one Senate appropriator on Wednesday voted to approve a $4.59 billion emergency funding measure designed to address the humanitarian situation at the U.S. southern border, a rare bipartisan move by a congressional panel on a topic that typically sparks partisan rancor.

But House Democrats expressed “concerns” — and it was also unclear whether President Donald Trump would accept the measure because of restrictions on how the money can be used.

POLL: Should President Trump use his executive powers to redirect these funds toward building a border wall? Comment below. 

The Senate move comes at a critical time amid a surge of undocumented migrants at the border, particularly unaccompanied children, putting a strain on resources.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement — in charge of housing those children — has warned it will run out of funding by month’s end.

The deal struck by senators gives $1.2 billion to Customs and Border Protection to relieve the overcrowding at detention facilities and for improving migrant care.

“This package does not include everything that I would have wanted … But most importantly, it doesn’t not include poison pills,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said.

Shelby said he believes the bill has the support of the president, but quickly added, “That could change. Things change around here, you know.”

One sticking point: House Democrats are not part of this deal, though Leahy said he and Shelby are scheduled to meet with their House counterparts Wednesday afternoon.

All of this comes as President Trump has revived a campaign promise to deport “millions of illegal aliens” from the U.S., something he said Tuesday would start “next week.”

But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a key Trump ally, issued a stark warning to his colleagues.

“If we don’t change our asylum laws, this never stops,” said Graham. “This is not a crisis. It is a disaster.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is expected to put the bill on the floor as early as next week where it is expected to pass. Read more.