House Republicans are on track to approve emergency funds to address the immigration crisis at the southern border, but the legislation is unlikely to look anything like the $3.7 billion package being requested by President Obama.
Obama's emergency request is intended to deal with the thousands of unaccompanied minors who have crossed the border illegally in the hopes of being granted the right to remain in the U.S. indefinitely.
Republican Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky, the Appropriations Committee chairman, told reporters Friday that Obama's request is too expensive -- that much of what the president is asking for could be funded through the normal appropriations process or covered under agencies' current budgets
Additionally, Rogers confirmed, the package will focus substantially on beefing up border security and include measures that House Republicans believe should be prioritized beyond those elements requested by Obama.
Rogers also said the package could be married with a proposal to alter a law that was intended to protect children from sex-trafficking but that has been blamed for encouraging the illegal immigration of unaccompanied minors from Central America.
“No, that’s too much,” Rogers said, when asked if House Republicans would support Obama’s $3.7 billion request. “We’re crunching the numbers carefully … A lot of what is being requested could be handled in the regular process — the regular bill, which we’re now in the middle of considering anyway … There are pieces of it that needs to be dealt with immediately and that’s what we’re working on.”
The House package, Rogers added, will include “substantial border security measures, monies, that I think should be accepted well [by] our House, and I would hope, the White House.”
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio has appointed a working group of Republicans to study the border crisis and report back to him with recommendations on legislative remedies. The package Rogers assembles in the Appropriations Committee is likely to reflect the working group's recommended approach to addressing the problem.