House Republicans plan to vote next week on a bill providing less than $1 billion of the $3.7 billion President Barack Obama requested to address an influx of children at the U.S.-Mexico border, three lawmakers said.
Republicans held a private meeting today to gauge support for a broader plan offered earlier by leaders, amid opposition from some members to spending new money.
The final bill will be less than $1 billion, said House Republicans Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Raul Labrador of Idaho and Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina. The money will be fully offset by other reductions elsewhere, several lawmakers said. The amount is less than the $1.5 billion maximum Republican leaders suggested earlier this week.
“The House Republican conference is going to lead, we’re going to put a solution on the table,” incoming majority whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana told reporters.
Lawmakers are trying to come up with a plan before leaving for their August break late next week.
Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas said the House will vote on a measure that will include a change sought by Republicans in a 2008 child deportation law.
Republicans’ proposal to pair new funds with a provision making it easier to deport Central American children has been a significant roadblock to agreement on a measure. Democrats oppose revising the deportation law as part of a spending plan, and the Democratic-led Senate has proposed a $2.7 billion measure that wouldn’t address the deportation matter.
The 57,000 unaccompanied minors apprehended at the U.S.- Mexico border from Oct. 1 through June 15 are double the total in a similar period a year earlier, according to Customs and Border Protection. Most of the children came from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
“There’s a growing consensus to act,” said Texas Republican Kevin Brady. It’s “hard to know” how many definite “no” votes exist but that number is “getting smaller,” he said.
Republicans hold 234 seats in the House and need 217 to pass a bill, assuming no Democrats join them.
Republicans have insisted that any new money for the border crisis must come with policy changes, including revision of a 2008 anti-sex-trafficking law that treats children from other Central American countries differently than those from Mexico. Children from Mexico are immediately turned back.
Republicans want children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador who arrive unaccompanied at the border to immediately be voluntarily returned to their home country. Those who don’t leave voluntarily would be given a hearing within a week.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office said in a statement today that the Republican plan “imposes a sham legal process for unaccompanied children” and raises the likelihood that “children who may be entitled to legal protections are wrongly repatriated to face violence, persecution torture and murder.”
Republicans have said much of the blame for the border crisis can be hung on Obama’s decision to defer deportations of undocumented immigrants who arrived as children.
Though several Republicans pushed to include a repeal of that decision in the coming measure, “I don’t think that was offered as part of the plan,” South Carolina Republican Mick Mulvaney said. A House leadership aide said the bill won’t include that provision.
Even if the House and Senate pass separate legislation next week, they may not reach a final deal before their five-week recess.
Senior presidential adviser Dan Pfeiffer said at a breakfast today sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor that a lack of action on spending would give Obama “broad permission to take what executive action we can” on the issue. He declined to give details.
Republican lawmakers say it’s important for the House to act.
“I don’t want to face town-hall constituents without a Republican answer to some of the questions that reference this border issue,” said Texas Republican Mike Conaway in an interview yesterday.
Texas Republican John Carter, a member of the House Republican border working group, said the House is “going to bring it up next week” and “we are not counting on Democrat votes,” though said he expects some.
“We’ll pass it with Republican votes,” he said.
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