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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

SENATE Approves $4.6 Billion for BORDER With Fewer Restrictions

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California rejected the Senate̢۪s bill even before the vote was taken.
CreditCreditTom Brenner for The New York Times




Emily Cochrane


WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday approved $4.6 billion in emergency humanitarian aid for the southwestern border, rejecting House legislation approved Tuesday that sought to rein in President Trump’s immigration crackdown by setting significant rules on how the money could be spent at squalid detention facilities.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California rejected the Senate’s bill even before the vote was taken, setting up a clash over immigration policy just days before Congress leaves Washington for a weeklong July 4 recess. Ms. Pelosi called President Trump to discuss how to reconcile the dueling measures in a 15-minute phone call early Wednesday afternoon.

“They pass their bill, we respect that,” she said. “We passed our bill, we hope they would respect that. And there are some improvements that we think can be reconciled.”

The margin of the Senate vote, 84-8, underscored Senate Republican contentions that only their bill stands a chance of obtaining the president’s signature.

“The House has not made much progress toward actually making a law, just more resistance theater,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said on the Senate floor Wednesday morning. “The Senate has a better and more bipartisan way forward.”

“It’s a productive compromise that would go a long way to begin to address the border crisis,” Mr. McConnell added. “no poison pills, just a clean bill.”


Tents outside the border station in Clint, Texas. More than 100 children were returned to the facility, officials said yesterday.


CreditIvan Pierre Aguirre for The New York Times


Mr. Trump on Wednesday morning voiced his displeasure with the House bill, saying on Fox Business Network that he was “not happy with it because there is no money for protection.”

To make their point, Republican Senate leaders put the House’s $4.5 billion bill to a test vote; it failed, 37-55, with three Democrats voting against the measure. Seven Democrats, all presidential candidates, were not present ahead of the first Democratic debate in Miami Wednesday night.

But Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate Democratic leader, suggested a few changes to the Senate bill could win support among House Democratic leaders in time for quick final passage.

The Senate legislation would allocate about $1.3 billion to improve facilities at the border and $2.9 billion for the care of migrant children. The measure prohibits the Department of Homeland Security from adding more beds at detention centers or migrant processing facilities, ostensibly to slow the immigration crackdown. The Senate would require the department to allow congressional visits to facilities housing unaccompanied children with two days’ notice.

But House Democrats say that the bill does too little to ensure that conditions improve at detention facilities or at centers caring for children that are run by government contractors. The House bill would allow for congressional visits to facilities without any advance notice. It includes language that would require Customs and Border Protection to establish plans and protocols to deliver medical care, improve nutrition and hygiene, and train personnel to ensure the health and safety of children and adults in custody.

Another provision would ask the secretary of health and human services to specify which requirements are being temporarily waived to deal with a sudden influx of migrants. That amendment would limit the detention-center stay of any unaccompanied child to 90 days unless written notification is submitted to Congress attesting that no other facilities are available.

Democrats also attached requirements for translators at Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Senator Mitch McConnell at the Capitol today. The bipartisan margin of the Senate vote underscored Senate Republican contentions that only their bill stands a chance of obtaining the president̢۪s signature.

CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times

[Here are the differences between the House and Senate bills.]

Administration officials have warned Congress that they will run out of funds to house and care for migrants at the end of the month. Accounts of horrific conditions facing unaccompanied migrant children, as well as a wrenching photo of a drowned father and daughter trying to seek asylum, have inflamed the urgency surrounding passage of the emergency aid but also the resolve of Democrats pushing for tougher oversight on the administration and its facilities.

“While I pray that the funding Congress has approved makes it to its intended purpose, the best predictor of the future is the past,” Representative Ayanna S. Pressley, Democrat of Massachusetts and one of four Democrats to vote against the House measure, wrote in a Medium post explaining her vote. The administration’s immigration enforcement agencies, she wrote, “have a track record of promoting a deep culture of corruption and abuse.”

Republican senators remain adamant that the emergency aid, widely seen as a temporary response to a more complex immigration crisis, needs to be stripped of immigration policymaking.

“Our goal is to get a good bill, keep it clean as we can and try to have the president on board,” said Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee. “If it’s loaded up with a bunch of House amendments, he will not sign it.”

Even as they promoted their bill, Ms. Pelosi and Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, acknowledged publicly and privately that the Senate bill was not necessarily an untenable vote in their chamber.

“The Senate has a good bill,” Ms. Pelosi told her caucus during a closed-door meeting on Wednesday, according to a senior Democratic aide unauthorized to discuss the private meeting. “Our bill is much better.”

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate minority leader, noted in floor remarks that while the House version “is a much better bill than the Senate version,” the broad bipartisan support in a Senate committee vote last week indicates that “there is room for compromise to get something done here.”

The House measure includes additional oversight provisions that outline a time frame for the release of children from the facilities, as well as health and safety standards and requirements for children and adults held by the government.

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