Updated Jun 26, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Senate passes $4.6 billion emergency border bill after rejecting House version

Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

The Senate on Wednesday voted 84-8 to pass a $4.6 billion bill that would appropriate funding for humanitarian aid for migrants and additional security measures at the southern border, after rejecting a House version of the bill that would impose greater restrictions on migrant detention centers.

The big picture: Democrats and Republicans have backed two separate plans to deal with reports of dangerous and unsanitary living conditions at migrant facilities on the southern border. The House and Senate must now reconcile the two bills or find an alternative solution before Congress leaves for its July 4 recess, with the Department of Health and Human Services warning that it could run out of funding to house migrant children by the end of the month.

The Senate version of the bill allocates $2.88 billion for the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the agency responsible for taking care of migrant children. It also provides funding to the Defense Department and agencies within the Department of Homeland Security, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to carry out President Trump's immigration policies, per the New York Times.

  • Trump supports the Senate bill and has threatened to veto the House package.

The House version of the bill, following last-minute pressure from progressive members of the Democratic caucus, includes policy strings that would improve detention center conditions and strengthen regulations for migrants in government custody, per the Times.

  • It allows lawmakers to visit migrant facilities with no advance notice and gives the government 24 hours to report the death of an unaccompanied migrant child. It does not include funding for the Pentagon or ICE.

What to watch: Pelosi has said she will not take up the Senate bill, but the overwhelming vote tally could force her hand if Senate Majority Mitch McConnell opts not to reconcile the two measures.

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