As the crisis at the southern border drags on, congressional Republicans in both chambers are putting pressure on their Democratic colleagues to give President Donald Trump the emergency funding he’s requested to deal with it.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Monday morning on Fox News that he would bring up the administration’s $4.5 billion emergency border funding for a vote, putting Senate Democrats on record.
“I’m going to bring it up free-standing next week and see if they really aren’t interested in dealing with this mass of humanity that we have to take care of at the border,” McConnell said on “Fox & Friends.” “What’s the objection? This is not about the wall but about the humanitarian crisis.”
The emergency border funding request contains no money for the wall or for border security, but merely requests resources for overburdened federal immigration officials and departments to better deal with “the immediate humanitarian crisis,” as one administration official put it, precipitated by the surge of people claiming asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The measure includes $3.3 billion for humanitarian resources like diapers, clothing, food, and bed space for unaccompanied migrant children; $1.1 billion for operations and support to address the crisis: detention beds, personnel costs, and human smuggling investigations; and $178 million for things like technology upgrades.
However, that request went out weeks ago, and Congress hasn’t yet acted on it despite the fact that federal facilities are unquestionably overwhelmed, the executive branch said.
“It has been six weeks since the Administration requested emergency supplemental funding and Congress has yet to act. Since May 1, the day the Administration submitted this request, over 144,000 migrants have crossed our southern border illegally,” a statement from Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan last week said. “While the Department is doing everything we can to maximize our resources and personnel in a Department-wide emergency response, the surge of families and unaccompanied children migration has created an unsustainable strain on DHS personnel working to protect our borders.”
Meanwhile, conservative members of the House of Representatives have been working to put pressure on their Democratic colleagues to bring the supplemental request up for a House vote. Last week, a group of Republicans led by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) used procedural tactics to substantially slow down the House’s work on an important spending bill.
This week, Roy and others have also scheduled a news conference at the Capitol Building on Tuesday calling on House leaders to allow a vote on the emergency package.
“Migrants and Americans are suffering while [the House] refuses to address the humanitarian crisis on our southern border,” Roy’s office said. “How can we look the American people in the eye and tell them that what we have done (nothing) is enough? We can’t.”