House Republicans are planning to roll out their own plan to address the border crisis by Tuesday—and members say it won't come anywhere near embracing President Obama's $3.7 billion request for more funding.
Exact details of what Republicans will offer as an alternative have not been finalized, including the price tag it will carry, along with any policy proposals.
But in a closed conference meeting Tuesday morning, Speaker John Boehner told his House Republican colleagues that they needed to move quickly, so that at least the GOP-led House passes a plan before its August break.
It will then be up to Democrats in the Senate to decide whether to join Republicans in working out a two-chamber solution, several Republicans said of the strategy.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul of Texas said Republicans are looking at a number of items as part of their plan. He said it will carry "a message of deterrence, look at more border-security measures, and more judges to process these cases more expeditiously."
"And the National Guard will certainly be in our proposal," he said. "We're looking at all of those components."
"No, it will not be the same as his," McCaul added of any additional spending, as opposed to Obama's $3.7 billion supplemental request to deal with the crisis. The amount of any new border funding is now being considered by the Appropriations Committee led by Harold Rogers of Kentucky.
But GOP conservatives such as Austin Scott of Georgia, said there is little appetite for the idea of "spending $4 billion when we've already appropriated money over and over on these issues and it hasn't resolved the problem."
During Tuesday's closed-door meeting, Republicans also heard from Rep. Kay Granger of Texas and other members of the speaker's special working group assigned to help come up with options for a House strategy to deal with the surge of unaccompanied minors to the U.S.-Mexico border.
The group had arrived back in Washington on Monday night after a weekend trip to Central America. Granger and others in the group did not yet provide specific recommendations, but follow-up meeting or "huddles" with lawmakers are expected through the week.
One of the group's members, Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico, whose district lies along the U.S. Mexico border, said that one thing emphasized to them in their meetings in Central American is that leaders of those countries "want their children back—because this is their next generation."
"We need to deal with this in humane way, we need to deal with it a compassionate way, but we also need to deal with it in a firm way,"Pearce said.
Several of the Republicans said they hope their plan, or parts of it, will ultimately receive support from the president and bipartisan support in Congress.
And there does seem already to be some bipartisan support for at least changing current law so that immigrant children at the border can be voluntarily and more swiftly returned to their home countries and families rather than held for deportation hearings, a process already allowed for undocumented young immigrants from Mexico and Canada.
"Some will join us," predicted Scott of potential Democratic support for what the House Republicans plan to be introduced by Tuesday.
"I think you will see others grandstanding," he said.
This article appears in the July 16, 2014 edition of NJ Daily.