House Democratic leaders scrambled Monday night to support their border funding bill and liberal out of the Trump administration's treatment of migrant children – and questions about whether the Democrats' proposal would do enough to protect them.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi Nancy PelosiThis week: Congress set for clash on Trump's border request Judd Gregg: An Irish friend and wisdom Juan Williams: Warren on the rise MORE (D-Calif.) And Other top leaders huddled in Pelosi's Capitol office in the night with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and the senior appropriators who have championed the border bill.
Lawmakers leaving the meeting said they expected changes to the $ 4.5 billion package to ensure more stringent standards for the facilities housing migrant children, which have been overcrowded with reportedly unsanitary conditions. Democratic leaders are still aiming for a floor vote on Tuesday.
In short, the liberals simply don't trust the administration to treat the migrants humanely, even if Congress approves ample funding for their care. They want the bill to include ̵
Multiple lawmakers pointed to a bill authored by Rep. Raul Ruiz Raul RuizTrump administration defends controversial changes to family planning program on Capitol Hill Overnight Health Care – Presented by PCMA – Senators unveil sweeping bipartisan health care package | House lawmakers float Medicare pricing reforms | Dems offer bill to guarantee abortion Access Hispanic Caucus demands answers on death of migrant children MORE (D-Calif.) That would establish humanitarian and health standards for migrants in the custody of CBP – things like having guaranteed access to enough water , toilets, bathing facilities and toiletries.
"There is a difference between funding items they say they need versus changing behaviors at creating some humanitarian standards within CBP," Ruiz said leaving Pelosi's office. “We need to pass the humanitarian standards bill that we've introduced in order to change behaviors. Otherwise you're going to find a system that is treating women and children subhuman and inhumane, and that's not going to change simply because you have more supplies. ”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the first Democratic showdown Young activists press for change in 2020 Ocasio-Cortez calls out Steve King, Liz Cheney amid controversy about concentration camp remarks MORE (DN.Y.), an impassioned remarks, summarized the liberal opposition to the House legislation – unveiled just a day earlier by the House Democratic leaders – emphasizing she wants to ensure migrant children aren't detained in such conditions to begin with.
"I'm not interested in… making sure children are getting warmer burritos. I'm trying to make sure they're not getting in the first place, ”Ocasio-Cortez said.
After nearly three hours, Ocasio-Cortez emerged from Pelosi's office describing the discussions as "just a really delicate situation."
"This administration has produced a crisis in this specific vote and in this specific moment. It's a rock and a hard place, ”Ocasio-Cortez said.
Ocasio-Cortez entered the meeting saying that she was the border aid package that had been unveiled by the House Appropriations Committee on Friday. But after leaving the meeting with Democratic leaders, she said it was possible to vote on the changes.
Pelosi herself had endorsed the proposal on Sunday, saying that it "protects families" and "does not fund the administration's failed". mass detention policy. ”
Recent stories describing horrific treatment of migrant children to federally run detention centers along the border have sparked outrage among liberal democrats.
"We cannot continue to throw money at a dysfunctional system," said Rep. Ilhan Omar Ilhan OmarSanders to propose canceling .6 trillion in US student debt Omar: 'People are being put in camps' at southern border Don't let demagogy derail new black-Jewish congressional alliance MORE ( D-Minn.). “With this crisis they were not equipped. And we cannot help with the situation without having a full comprehensive plan to deal with the humanitarian crisis we are seeing. ”
Omar said she is not satisfied with minor tweaks, but wants a drastic reconfiguration to ensure the childrens' protections are ensured.
"We are just asking for simple changes to this bill, but to go to the drawing board and really address this from a humanitarian [angle]," she said.
Other Democrats have cautioned that the House bill, while not perfect, is the best chance they have to address the humanitarian crisis in a timely fashion.
"We all have ideas about how to make improvements," said Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar Veronica EscobarWho are the House Democrats backing Trump impeachment? Democrats fail to mollify the impeachment crowd Bannon, Kobach unveil half a mile of crowdfunded border wall MORE a freshman who represents a Texas border district. “The question is timing. We're running out of time. ”
Escobar said there were conference calls over the weekend with members of both the CHC and CPC. Monday's meeting in Pelosi's office was set to allow those members to hear directly from appropriators.
"We have the highest expectations that we will treat people in a humanitarian and dignified way," she said.
Some Democrats were optimistic that a deal would reach this week.
"It's going to be fine," said Rep. Henry Cuellar (Texas), another border Democrat.
House Democrats plan to move their own bill while the Senate is competing for this week to respond to the Trump administration's $ 4.5 billion request.
Lawmakers are trying to approve the border funding as soon as possible before the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is operated by the Department of Health and Human Services, does not run out of funding in the coming weeks.
But the two parties are in agreement in the House, making it hard to reach a bipartisan, bicameral deal in the next few days.
The White House issued a veto threat on Monday against the House version, calling it a "partisan bill that underfunds necessary accounts and seeks to take advantage of the current crisis by inserting policy provisions that would make our country less safe." 19659002] The Senate bill, meanwhile, is bipartisan, although the White House expressed displeasure that neither measure includes funding for more Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds. for migrants. But the House measure includes more restrictions on how funds can be used, including conditions for the treatment of migrant children.
And while the Senate bill would require members of Congress to give advance notification of two business days to visit facilities housing unaccompanied children, the house version would make lawmakers give notice ahead of time.