House Speaker Nancy Pelosi bucked progressive protests and allowed her chamber to pass a $4.6 billion emergency measure Thursday that quickly sends humanitarian aid to the U.S. southern border but doesn’t beef up protections for migrants.
The chamber passed the aid package in a 305-102 vote that pitted moderate Democrats against their liberal colleagues. Ninety-five Democrats, including most in the New York City delegation, voted no.
The bill, which is favored by President Trump and passed the GOP-controlled Senate a day earlier, was blasted by progressives for not including stricter health standards for detention facilities housing migrants.
Left-leaning lawmakers were also outraged that the Senate version did not include a provision allowing lawmakers to inspect detention facilities, requirements for detained kids to be free from temporary shelters within three months or a prohibition on Trump using the humanitarian cash for anything else.
Pelosi (D-CA) countered in a reluctant capitulation letter that “the children come first.”
“At the end of the day, we have to make sure that the resources needed to protect the children are available,” Pelosi said in the letter, which was addressed to her Democratic colleagues. “In order to get resources to the children fastest, we will reluctantly pass the Senate bill.”
The bill now goes to Trump, who’s expected to sign it.
“A great job done by all!” the president tweeted from Japan after the measure passed the House. “Now we must work to get rid of the Loopholes and fix Asylum. Thank you also to Mexico for the work being done on helping with Illegal Immigration — a very big difference!”
The border aid is badly needed for federal agencies to deal with an increasingly worsening humanitarian crisis unfolding on the southern border amid a mass influx of migrants seeking asylum.
Horrific conditions have been reported at some detention centers, including one in Clint, Texas, where some 300 kids were kept without proper access to food, water and bathrooms.
Pelosi was swayed to put the bill up in the House without any amendments by members of the moderate Blue Dog Democrats and the Problem Solvers Caucus, who felt the wise choice was to accept the Senate measure, rather than reject it just before the July 4 recess.
Progressives were furious, including freshman New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who responded angrily on Twitter.
“Under no circumstances should the House vote for a McConnell-only bill w/ no negotiation with Democrats. Hell no,” she tweeted before the bill passed, referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). “That’s an abdication of power we should refuse to accept. They will keep hurting kids if we do.”
“We have time. We can stay in town. We can at LEAST add some amendments to this Senate bill. But to pass it completely unamended with no House input? That seems a bridge too far,” she added.
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.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 27, 2019
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) June 27, 2019
Rep. Marc Pocan (D-Wis.), a co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, was even blunter.
“Since when did the Problem Solvers Caucus become the Child Abuse Caucus?” Pocan tweeted. “Wouldn’t they want to at least fight against contractors who run deplorable facilities? Kids are the only ones who could lose today.”
The House passed its own border aid package earlier this week that included most of the protections that progressives had asked for.
But Pelosi pulled that measure from consideration early Thursday afternoon, then sent the letter to her colleagues, explaining they would still fight to protect asylum seekers and children.
“The current situation on the border is shameful and does not reflect our values,” Pelosi informed them. “But we want to find a path to improve the conditions under which we are addressing and ministering to the needs of children and families there.
“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 added.
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