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House Democrats block consideration of bipartisan immigration bill

Andrew Trunsky, DCNF

House Democrats Tuesday blocked consideration of a bipartisan bill seeking to help the government better combat the growing number of migrants at the southern border.

The bill, titled the Border Surge Response and Resilience Act, sought to enhance security along the southern border, create a strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in migrant shelters, crack down on the smuggling and human trafficking across the border and more. It was led by New York Republican Rep. John Katko, and co-sponsored by Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar.

The bill’s consideration failed 206-216.

“The Border Surge Response and Resilience Act is a commonsense approach to preparing for future migrant surges and is a direct response to a recommendation of the bipartisan and effective Homeland Security Advisory Council,” Katko said Tuesday on the House floor.

“I often hear my friends on the other side of the aisle accuse Republicans of complaining about problems rather than offering solutions,” Katko said. “Well, today we are providing the opportunity to vote on a commonsense, bipartisan, and thoughtful solution.”

The bill also authorized a $1 billion fund for the Department of Homeland Security to use once the response plan outlined went into effect. The fund, which DHS could pull from as needed, meant that the agency would not have had to reallocate its own budget to pay for food, transportation, first-aid or other essential goods and services for the increasing number of migrants.

While migrant surges have occurred in the past, DHS projections show that the current increase could last through September, with as many as 26,000 unaccompanied children reaching the border by then alone. The increase means the government would need an extra 34,000 beds by September to meet the surge in unaccompanied minors.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in March that crossings were on pace to hit a 20-year high, even as the U.S. expelled the majority of single adults and families.

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