House Republicans, seeking votes to pass their plan to address the influx of thousands of children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, are boosting its cost to $694 million.
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers of Kentucky confirmed the number. The additional $35 million would be used to reimburse Texas for National Guard troops deployed by Governor Rick Perry, said Representative Steve King of Iowa. Several lawmakers said a vote is likely today.
“I expect it to pass later on today,” King, who opposed yesterday’s measure, told reporters.
Yesterday, Republican leaders called off a vote on their proposal because of a lack of support. Lawmakers are trying to leave Washington for a five-week break.
Republicans held an hour-long meeting today to gather support for the new plan. It includes changes sought by some holdouts who met with Tea Party-backed Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas two days ago to discuss opposition to the earlier proposal.
King and Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota stood up during today’s meeting to say they had opposed the plan yesterday and would vote for it today, said a leadership aide who sought anonymity to describe the private conference.
“We were able to come to 218 votes on what arguably is the most monumental vote we will take in this entire term,” Bachmann told reporters afterward.
Leaders plan to swap out language aimed at expediting deportations of Central American children by adopting an approach authored by Representatives John Carter of Texas, Jack Kingston of Georgia and Robert Aderholt of Alabama, according to Carter and Kingston.
The new version would require authorities to check the immigration status of people taking custody of the child migrants, King said. It would forbid the government from paying for legal representation for child migrants.
The changes also remove a provision that Carter said could have given Mexican children an increased chance of remaining in the U.S.
Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said the House also will vote on her separate proposal to block President Barack Obama from expanding a 2012 policy to protect from deportation certain undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children before 2007. It would prevent funds from being used to process new applications under the 2012 executive order or to issue new work permits.
Unable to gather support for a response to Obama’s July 8 request for $3.7 billion to handle the influx, House Speaker John Boehner and his new leadership team -- Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise -- yesterday called off a vote on the leaders’ proposal.
Today, a number of Democrats lined up on the House floor to demand that the House instead take up comprehensive immigration legislation, H.R. 15. Their requests were rejected.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said the Republican shift on the bill will cost what little Democratic support the measure had. Her members “didn’t like it yesterday, now it’s gone further to the right,” she said in an interview today.
About 57,000 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the border from Oct. 1, 2013, through June 15, double the total from the same time a year earlier. Most of them are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Even if the House passes a plan, there’s no chance of it becoming law any time soon: The Senate didn’t advance its border plan on a 50-44 vote yesterday, with 60 needed, and will be leaving Washington until Sept. 8. The Senate bill doesn’t include language making it easier to deport Central American children.
The Obama administration yesterday seized on House leadership’s failure to get a vote and used it to justify the president’s plan to use executive actions on the border issue. Obama is considering using his authority before the November midterm elections to let millions of undocumented immigrants obtain work permits and stay in the U.S. legally.
Some Republicans yesterday accused Cruz of meddling in House business. Cruz, a Tea Party-backed lawmaker and potential presidential candidate in 2016, urged House Republicans to oppose leaders’ $659 million border plan. Enough balked to force cancellation of yesterday’s scheduled vote.
Former Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who lost his Virginia primary election in June, said in an opinion article in a Virginia newspaper that he’ll resign his seat Aug. 18.