WASHINGTON — The Senate and House are poised to act on separate emergency border security plans, likely setting up a protracted debate in Washington as the Obama administration warns it is running out of money to address the child migrant crisis at the southern border.
"Unfortunately, it looks like we're on track to do absolutely nothing," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters Tuesday, sounding pessimistic about whether the differences in the plans can be bridged.
Senate Democrats said Tuesday they will move forward next week on a spending bill to provide $2.7 billion in emergency funds to deal with the influx of minors from Central America illegally flooding into the country — about $1 billion less than President Obama has requested.
Meanwhile, House GOP leaders are working on a proposal to set the funding at less than $2 billion, according to aides familiar with the talks. They are set to unveil a set of policy principles today that would also mandate that the administration send National Guard troops to the border, a move the White House has called unnecessary.
The competing border plans are expected to ignite a fierce fight on Capitol Hill that is unlikely to be resolved before Congress adjourns for a five-week summer break at the end of next week, lawmakers said.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, said House Republicans want to act quickly but it could take weeks before a bill is ready to pass both chambers. "We're probably going to come back in September and do it," she said.
A major potential stumbling block is whether Congress would support changing a 2008 antitrafficking law to make it easier to deport minors from Central America. The Democratic proposal will not include amendments to that law, but Republicans have signaled they would like to roll back some of the legal protections in it.
The White House has said it would support changes that give Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson greater authority to send the children home more quickly.