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House Republicans pass border crisis legislation

House finally focuses in on border crisis

John Boehner | CREDIT: Wiki Commons

John Boehner | CREDIT: Wiki Commons

At nine o’clock in the evening on Friday, Speaker Boehner and the House GOP passed their long awaited immigration reform bill. However, this bill does not appear to have a future as the Senate is on recess and the House soon to follow. GOP leaders hurriedly resolved an internal battle that scuttled the vote a day earlier. The president now is vowing to act unilaterally to address the illegal immigration issue.

The legislation was passed on a 223-189 vote. The new version of the bill adds additional funding for the National Guard and includes policy changes meant to speed deportations of illegal immigrant children surging across the southern border. A separate Senate bill died on a procedural vote Thursday evening and no votes are scheduled until sometime in September. Even if the Senate approved the House bill, Obama promised to veto it.

Obama spoke to reporters discussing the current crisis saying, “I’m going to have to make some tough choices to meet the challenge, with or without Congress,” Obama said Friday, speaking to reporters in the White House briefing room. He continued by saying, “I’m going to have to act alone, because we don’t have enough resources.”

The new measure’s price tag is now roughly $700 million, up from $659 million — but still one-fifth of the $3.7 billion Obama requested, and a far cry from what the Senate considered. According to Fox News, the new bill includes 70 million in National Guard money for both the states and federal government. It includes more than $400 million for the Department of Homeland Security to boost border security, and nearly $200 million for housing and “humanitarian assistance.” The bill would also tighten language strengthening a 2008 immigration law, with intention of speeding deportations of illegal immigrant children back to Central American countries. It would bar housing the children on military bases if doing so displaces service members or interferes with military activities.

Speaker Boehner’s spokesperson complained Obama has gone AWOL on the issue of the humanitarian crisis. The disarray arose over what most view as an urgent humanitarian issue, the stream of tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors crossing illegally into South Texas. Most are from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, where towns are beset by gang violence. They are seeking to reunite with family members and drawn by rumors that once here they would be allowed to stay.

The rush took place as Boehner inaugurated a new leadership team on the very day that outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, unexpectedly defeated in his primary race by a conservative upstart, was stepping down from his post. Cantor was replaced by Representative Kevin McCarthy from California.

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