The House and Senate Have Separate Plans for Border Aid. Here’s What’s Different.

Agencies and federal officials at the southwestern border need emergency humanitarian aid to help manage the flow of Central American immigrants. That is one of the few things Congress can agree on.

But both the Senate and the House have put forward their own versions of legislation that would allocate $4.5 billion to the border, fulfilling the Trump administration’s request for funds.

Both chambers are expected to vote this week on their measures — the House as early as Tuesday — and it remains unclear how those bills will be reconciled. While the Senate’s legislation passed its Appropriations Committee on an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, the House measure could face a tougher sell. Some Democrats in that chamber have pushed for more oversight provisions, fearing that the money could be used to carry out President Trump’s immigration policies.

The text of the House legislation appeared to be still under review late Monday night, with lawmakers and staff members huddling over possible last-minute amendments. Even if the measure in its current form makes it through the House, the partisan divide between the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democrat-controlled House could lead to a further delay in sending the money to the border.

Here are the current differences in how both chambers have proposed allocating money to the southwestern border, based on summaries provided by the Senate and House Appropriations Committees.

Senate lawmakers designated $145 million for the operation and maintenance accounts of the Army, the Marine Corps, the Army National Guard and the Air Force.

The House legislation does not allocate any money to the Defense Department.

House lawmakers included far more restrictions in their legislation because of a possible revolt in the caucus, as some threatened to withhold support for the measure if it did not include numerous oversight provisions.

The bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services to report to Congress within 24 hours if an unaccompanied migrant child dies in government custody. The House bill also limits the department’s ability to modify the operational orders for a housing facility; however, the Senate bill offers department leadership some flexibility.

The Senate bill requires the department to allow congressional visits to facilities housing unaccompanied children with two days’ notice. The House bill allows for visits without any advance notice.

The House bill includes language that allows officials from the Department of Health and Human Services to provide direct representation for unaccompanied children at the border, expanding upon the full extent of legal services available for them.

Senate lawmakers included in their measure sending additional money for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers. Those funds — which include $61 million in back pay and $3.7 million in temporary duty and overtime pay — were not in the House measure.

The House measure allocated $200 million to set up a facility, based on a proposal from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, that would allow for the processing and care of migrant families and children, including offering food and shelter and the granting of asylum claims.

House lawmakers declined to allow staff members and equipment from the Department of Homeland Security to be sent to the border without reimbursement from Customs and Border Protection or ICE. Instead, they included a provision requiring the establishment of guidance for the Migrant Protection Protocols program.

The House also included $5.2 million more than the Senate for the personnel office within ICE to conduct background investigations and inspect facilities under its jurisdiction, raising the office’s allocation to $10.2 million. And the House doubled the $30 million the Senate allocated for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to offer assistance to local nonprofits and jurisdictions.

The House legislation protects funding already set aside in previous spending bills to address the root causes of migration in Central America from being reprogrammed elsewhere, an omission that Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the committee’s top Democrat, noted as an example of things left out as part of compromising on the overall legislation.

The House measure also ensures that some developmental aid Mr. Trump threatened to revoke from the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador remains with those countries.

The Senate does not allocate any funds to the State Department or related agencies.

Source

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