Jun 25, 2019 - Politics & Policy

House passes emergency funding bill for border aid

This image shows a child walking out of a detention center.

There are almost 19,000 asylum seekers in Mexican border cities waiting for a US court hearing, according to research based on US and Mexican official figures. Photo: PAUL RATJE / Contributor/Getty Images

The House voted 230-195 on Tuesday evening to approve a $4.5 billion emergency funding bill for humanitarian assistance for migrants and additional security measures at the U.S. southern border.

Catch up quick: The bill aims to appropriate $934.5 million for "processing facilities, food, water, sanitary items, blankets, medical services, and safe transportation," ABC reports. The White House threatened to veto the House measure on Monday, citing "partisan provisions designed to hamstring the Administration’s border enforcement efforts."

What's new: Democrats made several last-minute changes on Tuesday to the House bill, which now requires Customs and Border Protection "to establish new health and safety standards for migrants in its custody" within 30 days and create "protocols for dealing with migrant surges," the Washington Post reports.

  • The bill limits children's stays at Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) “influx shelters” at 90 days, per the Post.
  • "HHS shelter contractors who do not provide adequate accommodations, food and personal items, such as toothbrushes, as well as routine medical care, schooling, leisure activities, and other basic services" will be barred, the Post reports.

The big picture: Democrats and Republicans have backed 2 separate plans to deal with reports of dangerous and unsanitary living conditions in immigration detention centers — one in the House, and one in the Senate. The GOP-backed Senate bill aims to give $145 million to the Defense Department, per the New York Times, whereas the House legislation doesn't allocate any funds to the DoD — and the House bill mandates stricter oversight on migrant care.

The bottom line, per the Post: The Department of Health and Human Services "has warned Congress that it will exhaust its funding for housing migrant children at the end of the month — a scenario that would impede efforts to move them out of Border Patrol facilities."

Go deeper: Migrant children moved from border facility after reports of unsafe conditions

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