What Are the Key Differences Between the House & Senate Emergency Border Funding Bills?
Should the House & Senate compromise on emergency border funding before recess?
The House and Senate are each expected to vote this week on bills providing roughly $4.5 billion in funding to address the humanitarian and security crisis at the Southern border, but key differences between the bills mean that unless a compromise is reached soon the funding may be delayed until after the Independence Day recess.
- Immigration Courts: The Senate bill includes $65 million to facilitate 30 new immigration judges team and provide legal education to detainees. The House bill provides only $15 million for immigration judges and legal education for detainees.
- Influx Shelter Standards: The House bill requires Health & Human Services (HHS) influx detention facilities to meet Flores Settlement Agreement standards within 12 months, while the Senate bill allows 14 months and HHS can deem some Flores standards as non-applicable to influx facilities.
- Committee Consideration: The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the bill on a bipartisan 30-1 vote after a concerted effort by Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to ward off “poison pill amendments”. The House Appropriations Committee is sending the bill directly to the floor without a vote.
- Defense Funding: The Senate bill includes $145 million to fund and reimburse defense activities at the border, including aviation support, medical assistance, strategic lift, mobile surveillance, and maintenance activities. The House bill includes no defense funding.
- Background Checks & Inspections: The Senate bill includes $21.2 million for counter-human trafficking investigations at the border, which has been left out of the House bill. The House bill contains $5.2 million more than the Senate bill (a total of $10.2 million) for Office of Professional Responsibility background investigations of personnel and facility inspections.
- Back Pay & Overtime for Immigration Agents: The Senate bill includes $61 million to address a pay shortfall at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is omitted from the House bill. The House bill also contains $14 million less to cover temporary duty & overtime costs for Homeland Security personnel supporting Customs & Border Protection (CBP).
- Congressional Visits: The House bill requires facilities to allow oversight visits by members of Congress without advance notice, while the Senate bill requires advance notice of two business days.
Despite those differences, the two bills’ funding levels for the provision of medical care and essential consumable goods to detained migrants are largely similar, and neither contains funding for construction of border barriers. That means there is still a chance lawmakers can strike a compromise before recess.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Customs & Border Protection via Wikimedia / Public Domain)
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