House Republican leaders are hoping to vote next week, before the August recess, on a package to address the humanitarian crisis on the southern border.
The conference met on Friday morning to discuss a path forward and, according to a GOP leadership aide, is closing in on a proposal to provide less than $1 billion in funding and amend a 2008 anti-trafficking law that prohibits U.S. officials from swiftly sending back minors at the border who are coming from countries other than Mexico and Canada.
There’s no bill yet, and a vote isn’t certain. Even if the House passes such a proposal, Democratic leaders object to amending the 2008 law, so the measure could go nowhere in the Senate.
But Republicans don’t want to return home for a five-week break and face constituents without acting to address the problem of over 57,000 undocumented minors — mostly from Central America — being apprehended in recent months. The Friday meeting was called to see if they can get behind a solution.
“[T]he conference meeting went well,” said the Republican leadership aide.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) urged Republicans on Friday to bring up a package that “gives our country the resources to meet the crisis” on the border. “It is our responsibility,” he said in a floor colloquy with Majority Leader-elect Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
The $1 billion in funding is far below President Barack Obama’s request of $3.7 billion to buy new housing facilities for the migrant children and bring in new judges to speedily determine whether they qualify for asylum or must return home. Senate Democrats may advance their $2.7 billion package next week, which doesn’t contain any changes to current law.
One challenge for House Republicans is that some conservatives, namely Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and the activist group Heritage Action, are demanding they include language calling for an end to Obama’s executive action in 2012 to delay the deportation of qualified young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. House GOP leaders are not planning on forcing that issue in this package.
On Friday, Sessions upped the ante, insisting that prohibiting the president from expanding that executive action on deportations is “an essential precondition” in any border crisis package. No member — House or Senate, Democrat or Republican — should support any bill with respect to the border crisis that does not include language explicitly prohibiting the Administration from taking such action,” he said in a statement.