Obama’s border request ‘too much,’ House appropriations chair says


House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.). (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

The top House Republican in charge of government spending said Friday that President Obama's $3.7 billion request in emergency funding to deal with an influx of Central American minors along the southern border is "too much money" -- but added that he's not ready to name a potential price tag.

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, made his comments to reporters Friday, according to multiple reports. He said that some, but not all, of the funding Obama is asking for would qualify as emergency spending and couldn’t say how quickly the request might be considered by Congress, according to the reports.

Rogers made his comments as a group of his GOP colleagues continue reviewing the situation at the border ahead of making formal policy recommendations to Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). The group is led by Rep. Kay Granger (R-Tex.), a border-state lawmaker and a senior appropriator.

"What we're doing is assembling the facts, doing...site visits, so that as we make recommendations, we can explain as we make those recommendations," she told reporters this week.

Rogers's comments are notable and not entirely unexpected, given that Boehner said this week that Congress wouldn't be giving Obama "a blank check" to deal with the border crisis. But a formal response from House Republicans to the spending request isn't expected until Granger's group submits potential policy proposals and Rogers and his colleagues can review them to determine potential costs.

Most House and Senate Republicans said this week that they are unlikely to approve new funding without tweaking a 2008 law that provides broader legal protections to child migrants from countries that do not border the continental United States.

Leading Democrats and immigrant activists are fiercely opposed to changing that law, arguing that the children would have little chance of avoiding being sent back to dangerous conditions in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, where most of the more than 52,000 children apprehended at the border this year are coming from.

On Friday, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said they would oppose approving Obama's emergency spending request if it is tied to making changes in the 2008 law.

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.

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