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Down to the Wire on Emergency Border Funds

Yuval Rosenberg
The Democratic party broke into what Politico described as “open warfare” late this week, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “reluctantly” agreed to allow a vote on a Senate-passed emergency border aid package.While centrists had pushed for passage of the $4.6 billion funding bill, arguing that lawmakers needed to get resources to the border as quickly as possible, progressives were outraged by what they saw as a capitulation to a Trump administration they argued can’t be trusted to properly use the money meant for humanitarian aid. The Senate legislation did not include the protections and requirements progressives had gotten added to a House version of the bill.Vice President Mike Pence reportedly promised Pelosi that the administration would make administrative changes at the border, including a 90-day time limit on children spending time in an influx facility and a pledge that lawmakers would be notified within 24 hours after the death of a child in custody. In the end, the Senate version passed the House Thursday in a 305-102 vote, with 95 Democrats voting against the measure. The 305 votes in favor included 176 Republicans and 129 Democrats.Why it matters: In addition to its impact at the border, the internal Democratic clash could be a sign of things to come in other fights. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, reportedly warned that the turn of events on the border bill could drive his 90 members to dig in on other key bills. “The battle,” Politico said, “further illustrates the hurdles Pelosi faces in the fall as she tries to keep her caucus united while negotiating with Republicans to avoid a fiscal cliff and debt default.”Like what you're reading? Sign up for our free newsletter.

The Senate passed a $4.6 billion emergency border-funding bill Wednesday, setting up a clash with House Democrats, who passed their own version of the legislation on Tuesday.

What’s next: House and Senate leaders must now decide how to proceed with limited time remaining before lawmakers are due to depart for a 10-day-long July 4th recess.

“Lawmakers had hoped to get a bill to Trump’s desk before they leave,” The Hill’s Jordain Carney reported, “but without an 11th hour agreement, prospects for resolving differences between the Senate and House bills are likely stalled until after the break.”

The Senate on Wednesday rejected the House-passed spending bill, which includes greater restrictions on the Trump administration, by a 37-55 margin before overwhelmingly approving its own version in a 84-8 vote. The White House has also threatened to veto the House measure.

Senate Republicans reportedly were urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to take up their spending bill rather than enter into potentially protracted negotiations to try to reconcile the two versions. As CNN explains, they are “essentially daring the House to take or leave the Senate bill, which has bipartisan backing and the expected support of President Donald Trump.” But Pelosi rejected that idea and reportedly urged President Trump in a phone conversation to support a negotiation.

“They pass their bill. We respect that. We passed our bill, we hope they would respect that,” she told reporters, according to The Washington Post. “And there’s some improvements that we think can be reconciled.”

The bottom line: Unless House Democrats make an abrupt turn, it’s not clear how the two sides can move forward, despite a bipartisan desire to provide funding to address the humanitarian crisis at the southern border — and a sense of urgency that was only heightened by the moving photo of a drowned migrant father and daughter, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and 23-month-old Valeria, that circulated widely on Wednesday. “[L]awmakers of both parties insisted they could not leave Washington without acting,” the Post reported. Time is running short. Stay tuned.

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