Today, the House passed a Senate version of a bill that will provide emergency funding to address the crisis on the border, according to CNN. The vote came after disagreements about whether House Democrats should hold out to amend the bill.
The bill will provide $4.6 billion to the Trump administration to address the crisis. House progressives had argued that the bill should contain more protections for migrants, but they were shot down.
The amendment suggested by the House included health standards for migrant detention centers and a three-month limit for children held in intake centers. It also would have reduced funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ended up backing the Senate bill, despite the protests of her progressive colleagues. She argued that it was more responsible to provide funding quickly rather than wait and push for changes.
“The children come first. At the end of the day, we have to make sure that the resources needed to protect the children are available,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to her caucus on Thursday. “Therefore, we will not engage in the same disrespectful behavior that the Senate did in ignoring our priorities. In order to get resources to the children fastest, we will reluctantly pass the Senate bill.”
This is somewhat strange reasoning. Just yesterday, Pelosi was still saying that Democrats would not support the Senate version of the bill. Now, she’s arguing that Democrats need to do their duty by helping the Republicans pass a bill that will allow them to continue detaining children and families at the border, without any language that would change conditions for migrants.
After Pelosi’s announcement that she would support the bill, some progressives in Congress expressed strong disagreements. Rep. Veronica Escobar gave an emotional speech about the photo of a dead migrant father and daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande that was published by the Associated Press earlier this week.
“The photograph that all of us saw this week should tear all of us up,” said the congresswoman form Texas’ 16th Congressional District, which includes El Paso.
“For those of us who are parents, to see a toddler with her little arms wrapped around the neck of her father,” Escobar said.
She added, “In their name, let us never forget their sacrifice and the sacrifice that so many parents make for the most vulnerable among us.”
The House then held a moment of silence for migrants who have died at the border.
Behind the scenes, moderates worked to undermine progressive efforts to pass an amended version of the bill.
The House unveiled an amendment to the $4.6 billion Senate bill late Wednesday, but Democratic moderates threatened to revolt and kill the latest border spending bill pushed by the House, according to two Democratic sources involved in the effort.
Behind the scenes, moderates were encouraging members of the Blue Dog and Problem Solvers caucuses to vote against a procedural vote that governed floor debate and force Pelosi to pass the bipartisan Senate bill, as the White House and Hill Republicans have been demanding.
The bill ended up passing 305-102, with 95 Democrats voting against it.
Vice President Mike Pence did apparently agree to some pretty weak compromises, according to Reuters.
In an apparent deal to help Pelosi win over support from Democrats insisting on such measures, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence agreed in a telephone conversation with Pelosi that lawmakers would be notified within 24 hours after the death of a child held in U.S. custody at the border, a source familiar with the conversation said.
Pence also agreed to a 90-day limit on how long children would be permitted to spend in a border intake facility.
No word on how those promises would be enforced.
Moderates argued that the bill’s passage will help fund humanitarian aid on the border, while progressives strongly disagreed.
“We cannot lead with a game of chicken,” Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas told CNN.
“Listen, I don’t go visit the border. I live at the border. Those men and women who sometimes get demonized. That is wrong. Those are my neighbors and I have their backs,” he added
“I do not believe we should be throwing more money to ICE,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told CNN. “My district is 50% immigrant. I have an obligation and responsibility to protect them. I believe what we should ideally be doing is passing a pure humanitarian bill to get money straight to the kids.”
Other progressives agreed with Ocasio-Cortez.
“Nobody in that room trusts this President. Nobody. So, we have to make sure this money is being used for the children,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal told CNN.