House Republicans proposed a $659 million aid package Tuesday to address the surge of unaccompanied child immigrants streaming across the U.S-Mexico border from Central American countries.
The spending measure is notably leaner than the $3.6 billion proposal from Senate Democrats, which the White House backed Monday, and much less than the $1.5 billion the House GOP initially proposed last week.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said approximately two-thirds of the funding would be used for border security and the other third would go to humanitarian aid at the border. The funding would cover efforts through Sept. 30.
The House bill also differs from the Senate’s in that it would change a 2008 trafficking law that prevents immigration authorities from turning away any children arriving from noncontiguous countries, according to Roll Call.
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters that he hopes to move the bill on Thursday before Congress breaks for summer recess, but emphasized that he still has work to do to shore up the number of votes needed for the measure to pass.
Meanwhile, the Senate is slated to hold a procedural vote Wednesday that would allow senators to take up their version of the emergency spending bill, but it’s unclear whether the leadership secured enough support for even the procedural vote.
The Senate package includes $2.7 billion for border security, as well as $615 million for wildfires and $225 million for Israel’s Iron Dome system.
Lawmakers are famous for playing hardball politics on spending measures and time-sensitive pieces of emergency legislation, and the supplemental aid package is no different. In fact, Politico is already reporting that if Republicans move forward with their skimpy-by-comparison border package, Senate Democrats may try to attach their comprehensive immigration reform bill to the proposal. That bill passed the Senate last year with the support of more than a dozen Republicans, but conservatives in the House have been reluctant to touch it.
Congress has just three days left before it shuts down until September for its annual summer recess, but a lot can happen between now and then, so stay tuned.