By Adam Shaw | Fox News
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi abruptly backed down Thursday from her push to include restrictions on immigration enforcement in a must-pass border funding bill, moving instead to bring a bipartisan Senate version for a vote following intense pressure from Republicans and moderates in her own party.
At stake is a critical $4.5 billion bill to combat the humanitarian crisis at the southern border, which lawmakers want to pass before Congress leaves for the July 4 recess. The Senate already approved its bill 84-8 on Wednesday, after rejecting an earlier House version.
SENATE OKS BIPARTISAN BORDER BILL AFTER REJECTING ‘POISON PILL’ HOUSE VERSION, AS CLOCK TICKS
But until Thursday afternoon, the left-wing faction of the Democratic caucus was still driving an effort to insert restrictions on enforcement back into the Senate bill before they would consider it. With the clock ticking, Pelosi reversed course.
“In order to get resources to the children fastest, we will reluctantly pass the Senate bill. As we pass the Senate bill, we will do so with a Battle Cry as to how we go forward to protect children in a way that truly honors their dignity and worth,” she wrote in a letter to colleagues.
Liberal members fumed over the decision, which will likely lead to a coalition of Democratic moderates and Republicans voting in favor of the bill.
“Under no circumstances should the House vote for a McConnell-only bill w/ no negotiation with Democrats. Hell no,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., tweeted. “That’s an abdication of power we should refuse to accept. They will keep hurting kids if we do.”
Under no circumstances should the House vote for a McConnell-only bill w/ no negotiation with Democrats. Hell no.
That’s an abdication of power we should refuse to accept. They will keep hurting kids if we do.
The House vote, likely later on Thursday, would ease a cash crunch at federal agencies that care for migrants that have flocked over the border in huge numbers seeking asylum. Vivid and painful accounts of harsh, even dangerous conditions at badly overcrowded federal facilities that house and care for thousands of migrants added to the pressure to act.
Measures sought by liberal members included those to ensure the health and safety of those in custody, limit the amount of time unaccompanied minors can spend at an influx shelter to 90 days, and reduce funding for ICE by $81 million.Video
Republicans appeared in no mood to play ball, and called on House Democrats to pass it in its “clean” form — meaning, pass the Senate bill — noting that the White House has said it would sign the Senate bill in its current form. The White House had threatened to veto the House version.
“The Shelby-Leahy legislation has unified the Appropriations Committee. It has unified the Senate. The administration would sign it into law,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement. “So all our House colleagues need to do to help the men, women, and children on the border this week is pass this unifying bipartisan bill and send it on to the president.”
The White House said in a statement that “the only ones delaying help for the children are the Democrats” and accused Democrats of having refused to work with Republicans.
“We have already negotiated a broadly supported bipartisan funding bill. It is time for House Democrats to pass the Senate bill and stop delaying funding to deal with this very real humanitarian crisis,” the statement said.
In an astonishing spectacle, dozens of Republicans lined up in the aisles earlier Thursday to submit unanimous consent requests to take up the bill — with each one being shut down each time by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas
“This bipartisan bill passed the Senate with 84 votes and it could be sent to the president’s desk for his signature today,” each lawmaker said in turn.
“As the chair has previously advised the unanimous consent request cannot be entertained,” Jackson Lee said after each request.
Heated words were exchanged, with Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Mich., accusing Democrats of having handed control to a small group of far-left lawmakers, and urging them to pass the Senate bill: “Unless you decide you’re going to turn over the gavel to a fragment of your conference to make decisions for you.”
Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., shot back by accusing Republicans of engaging in “antics.”
“These kids that we are here to try and protect deserve more than grandstanding — they deserve medicine, soap and clothing,” he said.
Pressure was increasing on lawmakers amid continued reports of poor and unsanitary conditions at detention centers. The publication of an image of a migrant and his daughter found drowned in the Rio Grande has only fueled the debate nationally.
Republicans, meanwhile, have continued to focus on closing loopholes that encourage migrants to make the perilous journey with children through Central America in order to be released into the U.S. It is those loopholes, they say, that have led to hundreds of thousands of migrants arriving at the border in recent months — many of them family units.
The Republican Senate just passed bipartisan humanitarian assistance for our Southern Border, 84-8! In addition to aid, Congress must close the catastrophic loopholes that are driving the Crisis. We must end incentives for Smuggling Children, Trafficking Women, and Selling Drugs. 58.9K5:47 PM – Jun 26, 2019
“In addition to aid, Congress must close the catastrophic loopholes that are driving the Crisis,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “We must end incentives for Smuggling Children, Trafficking Women, and Selling Drugs.”
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and Mike Emanuel contributed to this report. Adam Shaw is a reporter covering U.S. and European politics for Fox News.
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