Senate Dems Set to Slash Obama’s Border-Crisis Request

The Obama administration would get $1 billion less than it’s asking for if Senate Democrats get their way.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) arrives at a Senate Select Intelligence Committee closed briefing on Capitol Hill, September 5, 2013 in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Michael Catalini
July 22, 2014, 1:19 p.m.

Sen­ate Demo­crat­ic lead­ers are work­ing on a sup­ple­ment­al spend­ing bill that would grant the White House $1 bil­lion less than it sought to ad­dress the in­flux of minors from Cent­ral Amer­ica at the na­tion’s south­ern bor­der.

Ap­pro­pri­ations Com­mit­tee Chair­wo­man Bar­bara Mikul­ski of Mary­land is craft­ing the $2.7 bil­lion le­gis­la­tion along with lead­er­ship in the hopes of get­ting it to the floor be­fore the Sen­ate re­cesses for Au­gust, ac­cord­ing to a seni­or Demo­crat­ic aide.

“The United States has an ob­lig­a­tion to help re­solve these crises, but is run­ning out of money,” Mikul­ski said in a state­ment. “The costs are real and ur­gent. We don’t save money by re­fus­ing to act or through delay.”

Demo­crats are slash­ing nearly a bil­lion dol­lars from the pres­id­ent’s re­quest be­cause they’re angling to get Re­pub­lic­an sup­port, the aide said. Re­pub­lic­ans have signaled they op­posed the pres­id­ent’s re­quest, char­ac­ter­iz­ing it as a blank check, and it’s un­clear wheth­er they’ll back Mikul­ski’s downs­ized ver­sion of the le­gis­la­tion.

An aide to Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell said he had not seen the meas­ure yet, but raised a ques­tion about wheth­er re­forms to leg­al au­thor­it­ies would be in­cluded.

The Sen­ate bill would au­thor­ize the fund­ing through the end of the year, the Demo­crat­ic aide said. It would also in­clude $225 mil­lion for Is­rael’s Iron Dome mis­sile-de­fense sys­tem, which has gained no­tori­ety in re­cent days for its ef­fect­ive­ness in re­pelling rock­ets from Hamas.

The bill will carry $615 mil­lion to ad­dress wild­fires as well.

Left out of the bill are changes to the im­mig­ra­tion sys­tem, which some law­makers had sought.

Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id of Nevada said he’s hope­ful the Sen­ate could pass the meas­ure soon, but did not guar­an­tee it.

“We feel com­fort­able where we are and would hope that Re­pub­lic­ans would sup­port us,” he said.

The bill’s path to pas­sage is fraught. For one, the Sen­ate has struggled all year with ap­pro­pri­ations meas­ures on the floor, with Re­id and Mc­Con­nell dis­agree­ing over how to pro­ceed on amend­ments. So far, the Sen­ate has passed none of the 12 an­nu­al spend­ing bills.

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