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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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."