The Washington Post

House Republicans unveil plan to deal with border crisis

A member of the U.S. Border Patrol watched the border line between El Paso, Tex., and Ciudad Juarez in Mexico on Tuesday. (Jesus Alcazar/AFP/Getty Images)

Updated 11:03 a.m.

House Republicans began coalescing Wednesday around a new set of proposals to address the influx of illegal immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border that mandate deploying National Guard troops and requiring the Obama administration to more quickly process and deport young children and families who have entered the country in recent months.

But it was still unclear how quickly the House will take up the issue and whether House Republicans will be able to reach agreement with Senate Democrats on a final plan before Congress adjourns Aug. 1 for a five-week recess.

"I'd like to act. We've got a humanitarian crisis on the border that has to be dealt with," House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters Wednesday. "The president clearly isn't going to deal with it on his own, even though he has the authority to deal with it on his own. But I do believe that Congress should act, and I hope that we will."

Rep. Kay Granger (R-Tex.), who led the House GOP "working group" tasked with tackling the issue, shared her team's recommendations during the closed-door weekly House Republican meeting. On her way in to the meeting, carrying a binder of papers and pamphlets, Granger said a vote on her proposals "should happen right now."

"Every day that we delay, thousands more come across the border," she said.

But the House and Senate remain at odds over whether Congress will vote to change a 2008 anti-trafficking law to make it easier to deport minors from Central America. Senate Democrats plan to move forward on a spending bill to provide $2.7 billion in emergency funds to deal with the influx of minors -- about $1 billion less than President Obama's request for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to address the crisis. But the Democratic plan will not include amendments to that law.

Boehner said Wednesday that House Republicans would seek to authorize $1.5 billion to pay for more border security and Guard deployments, dramatically lower than Obama's request.

In a brief interview with The Washington Post, Granger said that her proposals would tweak current immigration laws. The goal is to "change the law - not to repeal the law, not to completely change the law but change a portion that will let us send the children back in a very speedy way," she said.

"We've been to Guatemala and Honduras and twice to the border to see what is really happening. The consensus, absolutely, is that we send the children back as quick as we can. We also want to make sure the countries receiving them have the capacity," she added.

"The president's supplemental [spending request] asks for a lot of money, but it's money to spend here to keep the kids, and we disagree with that," Granger said. "The Border Patrol is doing a great job, but there just aren't enough of them. National Guard, I think, is absolute."

In order to pay for the changes, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said the $1.5 billion would provide more money for the National Guard and U.S. Border Patrol, plus funding to accelerate the adjudication and deportation of eligible illegal immigrants and humanitarian aid. Aides to Rogers didn't immediately respond to request for more details on the spending plan.

When asked whether Congress should be able to complete its work on the issue before leaving next week, Rogers said "yes." So did incoming House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who told reporters that he believes that the House should vote on the border proposal "before August."

Robert Costa is a national political reporter at The Washington Post.
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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