House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Democrats will approve money to help alleviate the border crisis and said a bill can get done by the end of this month, before the Health Department runs out of money to care for illegal immigrant kids.
“We’ll have to have a supplemental because the needs are so great,” Mrs. Pelosi told reporters.
She did not say how much money House Democrats will offer, but did say they’re wary of Republican “poison pill” offers that she said could sour the conversations.
President Trump has asked for $4.5 billion, with most of that aimed at caring for illegal immigrant children in the custody of the federal Health Department. Other money would go to improve the bed space for families and children while they’re still in border custody.
And a final chunk of cash would help U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold adult illegal immigrants snared at the border or caught in the interior — 90 percent of whom have criminal records.
Democrats, reluctant to be seen voting to boost ICE, have said that money is a non-starter.
Mr. Trump requested the cash weeks ago, but Democrats balked at including it in the disaster spending bill that cleared Congress last week.
In a letter Wednesday, the heads of the Health and Homeland Security departments said they need the money now.
As of Monday, the Health Department had just 700 free beds, while Homeland Security reported 1,900 children ready to be Transferred.
Health officials say they’re shipping children out of their care to sponsors at a record pace, but it’s still not enough to accommodate the overwhelming numbers coming across each day.
Already the dorms that contract with the Health Department to house the kids have been told to cut back on nonessentials, as the government tries to stretch its funds. That move drew complaints from Democrats, but Health Secretary Alex M. Azar II and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said their budgets are at the breaking point and there aren’t any other options.
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