There is a difference of nearly $2 billion in spending between House and Senate bills aimed at addressing the surge of thousands of child migrants at the border and only three days left to strike a deal.
The divergent plans suggest it will be difficult, if not impossible, for Congress to pass border spending legislation before adjourning this week for the remainder of the summer.
The GOP-led House plans Thursday to vote on $659 million plan to help the federal government stop new migrants from coming into the country and to deal humanely with the more than 61,000 unaccompanied children and thousands more families who have entered the United States via the Texas border in the past 10 months.
Then House lawmakers plan to adjourn until September, leaving the Senate to take it or leave it.
The Senate, however, has authored a $2.7 billion proposal that would spend much more money than the House bill helping the federal government provide care and housing for children as well as legal counsel and judges to help determine whether they deserve refugee status or to be deported back to their home countries.
The two bills provide far less than President Obama’s initial $3.7 billion request and with just three days left until the House adjourns for the summer, it remains doubtful that the Senate and House will come to an agreement on a deal that can reach the president’s desk.
House passage appears possible, with many Republicans indicating they are willing to back it, even though it does not compel Obama to put a stop to presidential executive order signed in 2012 that delays deportations of some young people, which the GOP believes prompted the migrant surge.
“We expect on Thursday to attempt to move this bill,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Tuesday. “I think there is sufficient support in the House to move this bill. I got a little more work to do, though.”
Boehner said the legislation provides Obama with enough money to deal with the influx of immigrants until the end of September.
But the plan is likely to run afoul with the Senate, run by Democrats who want much more money to take care of the migrant children beyond the summer.
For instance, the House bill provides $197 million to the Department of Health and Human Services for housing and services for the migrant children and adults who are part of the recent surge. In the Senate bill, $1.2 billion is allocated to HHS.
The House bill would make a change to a 2008 deportation law in order to allow the federal government to quickly return migrant children from Central America back to their home countries. Democrats have sounded opposition to changing the law, under pressure from immigration groups who say fast deportations put children at risk.
The House bill also calls for sending the National Guard to the border to help the United States Border Patrol, which Democrats did not include in their legislation.