Prospects for border legislation in doubt
July 22nd, 2014
07:41 PM ET
5 months ago

Prospects for border legislation in doubt

Washington (CNN) - Prospects for passage of a plan to address the southern border crisis before Congress leaves for its summer recess were in doubt Tuesday as Republican congressional leaders blasted President Barack Obama for not engaging them and the top Senate Democrat dismissed GOP proposals as “crazy.”

Against that contentious backdrop, Senate Democrats unveiled a slimmed down $2.7 billion emergency spending bill that lacks key changes to border policies that Republicans have demanded as a condition for approving new funds.

Separately, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said she is working on those policy issues – to figure out whether and how to deport the tens of thousands of Central American children who have come to the border - but her bill might not be ready until after the August break.

“Unfortunately, it looks like we’re on track to do absolutely nothing,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican. “Which to me, is the definition of political malpractice.”

There are political problems in both chambers that complicate passage before the recess begins at the end of next week.

In the GOP-controlled House, many conservatives oppose Obama’s original $3.7 billion funding request as too big. They are likely to be joined by large numbers of Democrats who support the money but are against changes to border policies that Republicans plan to add to the legislation.

Those changes would end mandatory immigration hearings to determine if the children crossing the border illegally can seek asylum in the United States.

House Republicans have a key meeting on their legislation Wednesday. Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers told reporters the GOP proposal would include less money than Senate Democrats want, but he wouldn’t provide a specific dollar amount.

Rogers also said Republicans would demand the border spending be offset with budget cuts elsewhere, something Democrats will likely oppose.

In the Senate, Republicans are also against the immigration hearings, as current law mandates, and Democrats who control the chamber are divided on that point.

Those splits could make it difficult for a bill to get the 60 votes it would need to pass.

“The lack of leadership from this White House, and President Obama’s refusal to stand up to critics in his own political party, are jeopardizing our ability to find common ground and help the kids who are caught in the middle of this crisis,” said Speaker John Boehner.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell blamed Obama for having a “stunning lack of communications” with lawmakers on the problem.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid criticized GOP proposals such as one by Sen. Ted. Cruz of Texas, which would prohibit the President from using his executive authority to offer what Cruz calls “amnesty” to the children now at the border.

“Democrats aren’t going to support some of their crazy ideas, and the Republicans can’t agree which crazy idea they want to put forward,” Reid said.

In presenting a spending bill that is a full $1 billion smaller than the President’s request, Senate Democrats are trying to meet fiscally-conscious conservatives in the middle in hopes of getting support for the bill.

The $2.7 billion bill would cover needs between now and the end December 2014 and allow the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Health and Human Services to hire people and obtain facilities to care for the children.

Democrats hope Republicans will accept it without the border policy changes.

Democrats strongly believe Obama already has the power to make changes to border policies without congressional consent and several senior Democrats have expressed frustration the president hasn’t acted on his own.

Feinstein said the administration sent her a legislative proposal Friday that would give the DHS secretary the leeway he needs to deal with the influx of young migrants.

The Senate Democrats’ funding bill also includes $615 million to fight wildfires and $225 million for Israel’s Iron Dome program.


Filed under: Congress • Immigration • Senate
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. smith1

    congress will do nothing as usual.

    July 22, 2014 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  2. DRAKE MALLARD

    Ted Cruz and Mario Diaz-Balart,leana Ros-Lehtinen. marco rubio/other cubans have credibility on immigration issues when they advocates that immigrants from other countries are treated the same as those from their homeland – Cuba. So either grant automatic legal status as soon as they set foot on American soil, or make Cubans go through the same process as any other immigrant. Until then, just another hypocrite.

    July 22, 2014 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  3. Vence

    Boehner best argument: NO, NO, NO and NO!

    July 22, 2014 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  4. Smitty

    Blame who you want but Obammy is in charge and not getting the job down period.

    July 22, 2014 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  5. Thomas

    Why is Governor Rick Perry planing to attack Mexico ?

    He thinks he's Sam Houston .

    July 22, 2014 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  6. Smitty

    Like most every thing else, if Obammy would of paid attention, instead of playing Madonna, when he was told of the problem this would be over. However its more important for the BIGGEST LIAR of the year to give speeches and party than run the country. You really cant make this stuff up. At this point how can Obammy look in a mirror ????

    July 22, 2014 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  7. rs

    In doubt? With the do nothing welfare queen House GOPpers? The ones who show up less than 120 days a year, earn a 6-figure salary and don't do any work at all? Those people make an immigration bill appear in doubt?

    Say it ain't so......

    July 22, 2014 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  8. Megan

    If the GOP signs even the smaller bill they can start looking for employment. Love how the senile Harry Reid calls other people crazy for wanting to amend the current legislation. They might as well do nothing. Unfortunately this is going to hurt the working poor the most as these people will be taking their jobs soon.

    July 23, 2014 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  9. Mike SniffinObutte

    The Obama Administration clearly does not want border security because it would disrupt their Amnesty agenda. With their $4 billion proposal, very little of it goes to actual border security.

    Help Detroit get out off bankruptcy vs. providing tax-paid aid and legal services to illegal immigeants Obama will go with the illegals

    Help the thousands of US vets who need healthcare vs. providing tax-paid assistance to people that violated US immigration law: Ibama goes with the illegals

    Obama: willing to destroy the future for US Citizens

    July 23, 2014 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  10. Michael MN

    Hard to get anything to pass when one side ( guess who ) has a policy of what ever the President needs we will oppose

    July 23, 2014 05:58 am at 5:58 am |
  11. Name JK. SFL. THE GOP HOWDEE GOWDEE SHOW with special guest ISSA the CLOWN

    The GOP OBSTRUCTIONEST showing their play book of ACCOMPLISHMENTS , 0

    July 23, 2014 06:03 am at 6:03 am |