Senate appropriators released a plan Wednesday to provide Obama with $1 billion less than requested to deal with the surge of immigrants on the U.S. southern border and will instead spent additional money on Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system and to combat a spate of U.S. wildfires.
The details were released as House appropriators worked on their own legislation, said to provide the president an even smaller supplemental worth only $1.5 billion.
Senate Appropriations Chair Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said she will introduce a $3.57 billion bill Thursday, of which $2.73 billion will be dedicated to the border crisis.
Obama had requested about $3.7 billion to help secure the border and to house and care for the nearly 60 thousand migrants, mostly children and families, who have flooded the Texas border in recent months.
“The total amount of the President’s request will be needed,” Mikulski said in a statement Wednesday. “However, based on a review of what is needed in calendar year 2014 to meet needs at the border, the bill reduces the President’s request by $1 billion.”
The plan makes no reference to changing the 2008 law governing deportation of minors to non-contiguous states. Republicans and some Democrats, including Obama, had at first said they wanted the law altered in order to allow for fast deportations, which are prohibited for minors under a law meant to prevent sex trafficking.
But Democrats have backed down from supporting such a change, under pressure from immigration-rights advocates.
In the GOP-led House, it’s largely expected the border spending bill will include language to alter the 2008 law. A GOP working group on Wednesday unveiled recommendations calling for such a provision.
By leaving the language out of the Senate bill, Mikulski has sidestepped a divisive issue for Democrats, but the move makes it far less likely Republicans will back the bill.
Mikulski, however, added a major sweetener for the GOP in the Senate bill.
Her plan would spend $225 million to help Israel maintain and produce missiles for its Iron Dome system, which has been largely successful in destroying the nearly 2,000 missiles fired from Gaza in recent fighting.
“Israel is an essential American ally and needs these assets to defend itself,” Mikulski said.
The spending bill also calls for allocating $615 million to help states combat wildfires, which the president had asked Congress to include in the border spending bill. Mikulski cited 30,000 wildfires this year, including Washington state’s Carlton Complex fire, which has so far burned about 250,000 acres.