Bipartisan border bill glides toward passage amid migrant surge
Senate Republicans and Democrats linked arms and voted to push the first overwhelmingly bipartisan border bill in years through committee Wednesday, giving President Trump more money than he asked for to deal with the migrant surge — but changing how he wanted it spent.
The $4.6 billion measure pumps cash into the Department of Health and Human Services so it can continue to care for children who arrive at the border without parents and who have come in such large numbers that they have drained the government dry.
The bill gives Mr. Trump more than he asked for Customs and Border Protection, plumping up funds to process immigrants at the border and to relieve overcrowding in facilities designed to hold a few dozen people but now regularly hold hundreds.
But under Democrats’ prodding, Republican lawmakers deleted money Mr. Trump had requested to increase detention capacity in the interior of the country, leaving the Department of Homeland Security with a tricky decision later this year about letting illegal immigrants be released into the community.
The goal, all sides said, was to get a bill passed quickly, and that meant compromising.
“The situation is past the breaking point. We must act,” said Sen. Richard C. Shelby, Alabama Republican and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The measure cleared his panel on a 30-1 vote — Sen. Jeff Merkley, Oregon Democrat, was the lone “no” vote — and now heads to the full Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said he plans a vote next week before Congress’ Independence Day recess.
If the bill clears the Senate, which appears likely given Wednesday’s committee vote, then the House must act. The No. 2 Democrat in the lower chamber signaled that the hefty bipartisan support for the Senate’s bill could clear hurdles on his end.
“We don’t want to leave here without humanitarian resources to handle what is a humanitarian crisis at the border,” said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland.
Immigrant rights groups blessed the compromise as a good step, which could help cut down on objections by Democrats who are sensitive to the complaints of the immigrant and Hispanic communities.