Republicans were able to get enough votes in the House Friday night to approve their emergency funding bill that seeks to address the unprecedented number of unaccompanied minors coming to the United States, a day after failing to pass a similar bill.
The $694 million bill was approved with a 223–189 vote. The bill includes an additional $35 million to fund the deployment of National Guard troops to the southern border. It also amends a 2008 anti-trafficking law to treat all children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras the same as those from Mexico and Canada for the purposes of removal, essentially placing them in expedited removal proceedings.
“This bill provides funding to meet the immediate, border security and humanitarian needs in response to the recent surge of illegal immigrants crossing our southern border,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) said on the House floor.
The vote came a day after House Republican leaders canceled a vote on a similar bill after realizing that they did not have the 218 yes votes needed to pass the bill. They regrouped Friday morning and revised the bill to attract more votes from conservative House members.
The House was also expected to make a separate vote Friday night on a bill to prohibit the Obama administration from renewing or expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which grants deportation reprieve and work permits to undocumented youth with strong ties to the United States. That means that the estimated 553,200 current beneficiaries would not be able to renew their status in the program.
Both votes—on the emergency funding bill and the bill dealing with DACA—are considered symbolic because the Democratic-controlled Senate will not take up the measures. In fact, Senate members already left for the five-week August recess. In addition, President Barack Obama said on Friday that he would veto the measures.
Speaking on the House floor, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said she opposed the ”outrageous” emergency funding bill proposed by House Republicans and criticized “the ridiculous process that produced it.”
“Just yesterday, this House attempted to consider a bill that went too far on policy and not far enough on funding levels,” Lowey said. “But apparently, even that wasn’t bad enough for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. Yesterday’s bill banished into thin air and in it’s place we now have this half-hazard mess.”
Prior to the vote, both Rogers and Lowey moderated an hour-long debate on the House floor over the emergency funding bill. On the Republican side, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said that Obama was to blame for the crisis on the southern border because of his immigration policies, such as the implementation of the DACA program.
“The Obama administration’s lax immigration enforcement policies have given confidence to parents who are in the U.S. illegally that they can stay and now they’re finding ways to bring their children who are still in Central America and beyond to the United States unlawfully,” Goodlatte said on the House floor.
On the Democrat side, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said he opposed House Republicans’ emergency funding bill and the bill to prevent the renewal of DACA because both bills “do not reflect America’s values and our highest ideals.”
“Tonight will be a loss for rational, humanitarian action and a victory for partisan, negative policy,” Steny said. “How sad, how wrong, how disappointing to the American people.”