WORLD US Senate passes own border funding bill, setting up fight with House Democrats


US Senate passes own border funding bill, setting up fight with House Democrats


10:47, June 27, 2019

WASHINGTON, June 26 (Xinhua) -- The US Senate on Wednesday passed a 4.6-billion-US dollar emergency funding bill to tackle the continuous migrant surge along the US-Mexico border, one day after the House of Representatives approved a markedly different version.


(Photo: VCG)

Senators voted 84 to 8 on the bill, while the House of Representatives approved its own version on Tuesday night by a vote of 230 to 195, largely along their party lines.

It remains unclear whether the two chambers of Congress can reconcile their conflicting proposals before the lawmakers leave for the July 4 recess, though Senate Republicans are looking to jam the House bill, arguing the Senate's version is the only thing that can win President Donald Trump's signature.

The 4.5 billion-dollar House bill contains more than 1 billion dollars for sheltering and feeding migrants detained by the border patrol and almost 3 billion dollars for caring for the unaccompanied migrant children. It also seeks to set up protocols for the care of children, improve standards of care centers and provide translation services -- provisions not in the Senate version.

The Senate's version includes nearly 3 billion dollars in humanitarian aid and calls for earmarking 145 million dollars for the Pentagon to aid border control, a point that House Democrats are not likely to support.

"They had to drag their bill way to the left to earn the support of most Democrats. As a result, the House has not made much progress toward actually making a law. Just more 'resistance theater,'" Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday. "The Senate has a better and more bipartisan way forward."

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, who voted for the Senate legislation, on Wednesday called on both chambers to immediately negotiate about the differences between the two bills.

Congress leadership and the White House should hold an "informal conference" to seek a deal before lawmakers leave town, Schumer suggested.

However, John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican, responded that both chambers going to a conference to hash out their differences was not a "viable" option.

"The House knows that they can't get a signature on their bill, and most of what they want is in our bill and ours is a bipartisan bill," Thune told reporters, adding that he expects the House to take up the Senate bill before leaving for recess.

On the Senate floor on Wednesday, Schumer displayed a shocking photo of a deceased Salvadoran father and daughter who drowned while trying to cross the Rio Grande River near Brownsville, Texas, escalating the debate over the treatment of children at the US-Mexico border and the pressure for the two parties to reach an agreement.

Speaking on the South Lawn, Trump told reporters that he had a "good conversation" with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about the border bill earlier on Wednesday.

"It's very far along and I believe the House is going to also be getting together with the Senate," Trump said. "Hopefully they can get something done."

However, when Trump asked if House Democrats will take up the Senate bill, Pelosi answered: "No."

"They passed their bill, we respect that. We passed our bill, we hope they will respect that," said Pelosi.

Local media said if the House votes on the Senate's border bill, it will likely face resistance from some progressive Democrats in the House.

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