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Posted at 10:36 a.m. on July 29, 2014
Updated 11:17 a.m. | Republicans hope to pass $659 million in supplemental spending for the border crisis before leaving for the August recess, Speaker John A. Boehner said after a GOP conference meeting Tuesday.
The Ohio Republican said the House will “attempt to move this bill” on Thursday and said he anticipated the measure would have “sufficient support,” but noted there is still “a little more work to do to” to shore up the votes.
Two-thirds of the funding will be for border security, with $40 million going to prevention and $197 million going to humanitarian assistance, according to a GOP aide. It will run through Sept. 30.
The bill is far smaller than the $3.7 billion President Barack Obama sought for border security alone.
The Senate plans to vote on a $3.6 billion supplemental package that would include $2.7 billion for border security, as well as $615 million for wildfires and $225 million for Israel’s Iron Dome system.
Speaking with reporters outside the conference meeting, House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said the chamber would consider Iron Dome funding separately, hopefully before leaving for August recess, but he said time is running short.
“It’ll probably come later,” he conceded, adding that while there is also a need to address the wildfire component, there isn’t an “urgency” to do so.
Optimism has grown that the House could pass a border funding bill since last week, when a GOP working group chaired by Texas Republican Kay Granger unveiled a set of policy recommendations and members initially bristled at the menu of options to stem the tide of the child migrant border surge. Any House bill that passed would be vulnerable to dilution in the Senate, critics argued, with many saying they would hold out from voting on any legislation at all tied to the immigration debate. Some added they only would vote “yes” if the bill contained language requiring the White House to end its 2012 program granting stays of deportations to young people brought to the country illegally by their parents.
That provision, deemed too much of a “poison pill,” will not be included, sources confirmed. The House bill, unlike the Senate’s version, will contain changes to a 2008 trafficking law that would make it easier for children to be returned back to their home countries rather than await deportation proceedings.
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., suggested he was unimpressed on his way out of the conference meeting Tuesday morning.
“It’s got some logistical nightmares,” said Gosar, adding that “close to 20″ of his colleagues stood up at the meeting to express “reservations” about the proposal.
With 234 Republicans, GOP leaders likely can’t afford to lose more than 20 members if they want the bill to pass. Some Democrats are expected to join Republicans, with Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, serving as an unofficial liaison between the GOP and his moderate colleagues who are willing to support legislation that contains the controversial changes to the 2008 law.
But Democratic leadership is likely to whip hard against the Republican bill that they say doesn’t include enough money or sufficient protections for unaccompanied immigrant minors apprehended at the border, and there is no way to predict how many Democrats can be relied on to assist in passage.
The White House also has yet to weigh in on whether President Barack Obama would sign the House bill.
Matt Fuller, Tamar Hallerman and Emily Ethridge contributed to this report.