Democratic-led House passes GOP bill to deal with humanitarian crisis at Texas-Mexico border


Correction: This story previously omitted a critical word. The word added is in bold.

House Democrats conceded to Republicans on Thursday and passed a Senate bill that aims to alleviate the humanitarian crisis at the border – on the GOP’s terms.

The bill will provide $4.6 billion in emergency aid and enhanced security for agencies handling the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and especially Texas, where four migrants have died in recent days attempting to enter the U.S. through the Rio Grande Valley.

The bill does not include guaranteed health and safety standards for detention camps, which Democrats lobbied to include after a detention facility in Clint, Texas was revealed to have appalling conditions for migrant children, like lack of access to soap or toothpaste.

The House voted to pass the bill 305-102 on Thursday evening. It will now head to the White House for Donald Trump’s signature.

In a statement made before the vote announcing the intent of Democrats to pass the Republican bill, House leader Nancy Pelosi said, “The children come first. At the end of the day, we have to make sure that the resources needed to protect the children are available.”

“Therefore, we will not engage in the same disrespectful behavior that the Senate did in ignoring our priorities,” Pelosi said. “In order to get resources to the children fastest, we will reluctantly pass the Senate bill.”

The decision by Democrats to acquiesce to Republicans comes after days of congressional gridlock, which saw bills bounced back and forth between the House and the Senate with no agreement.

But with July Fourth recess approaching, and harrowing reports of conditions in migrant camps and deaths along the border, Democratic leaders felt they had no option but to vote for Republican bill.

Hours before Pelosi’s decision, Houston area Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee presided over the House shut down Republican attempt after attempt to include amendments in the House’s version of the bill.

Among the Democrats who voted no on the Senate bill was Austin-San Antonio area Rep. Lloyd Doggett, who warned Trump would ultimately decide where the bill’s funds are appropriated. 

“Not another dime for Trump’s wretched immigration policy,” Doggett said in a statement. “Funds intended for toothbrushes and toddlers could be diverted to detention and deportation.”

The decision to vote on the bill has also drawn the ire of progressive leaders in the House.

Another Texas lawmaker, Rep. Veronica Escobar of El Paso, was brought to tears before a vote on the bill and has spoken about the plight of migrants coming to America for a better life.

“In their name, let us never forget their sacrifice and the sacrifice that so many parents make for the most vulnerable among us,” Escobar said.

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