House Approves Senate Version of Border Aid Bill Amid Infighting

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during her weekly media availability on Thursday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (CN) – After a staredown with the Republican-controlled Senate, the House of Representatives backed down Thursday and passed a $4.6 billion spending package that will give more resources to federal agencies that care for immigrants at the southern border.

The Senate passed the bipartisan bill on Wednesday, after the House cleared a different version on Tuesday evening. The version the House passed Tuesday required federal agencies to put forward certain standards for the conditions at border facilities that hold children and families who crossed the southern border illegally and restricted how the Trump administration could spend the money.

The White House had threatened to veto the House bill and the Senate soundly defeated the measure before passing its own version Wednesday.

After the Senate sent over its version of the bill, House Democrats unveiled changes they planned to make to the legislation before voting on it again. Those changes included decreased funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other provisions from the original House legislation.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., made clear any changes the House made would not get a vote in the Senate. With both chambers of Congress out of town on a planned 4th of July recess next week, leadership had set an end-of-week deadline to pass the emergency spending legislation.

In addition to McConnell’s threat, a group of Democratic moderates reportedly lined up against the House plan on Thursday as well, threatening to sink it from within.

After hours of uncertainty, House leadership agreed to pull their plan and pass the Senate bill with no changes. While Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., criticized the Senate for not passing the House version, she said the bill was necessary to help improve conditions at the border facilities.

“In order to get resources to the children fastest, we will reluctantly pass the Senate bill,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to House Democrats on Thursday.

The House passed the package 305-102 on Thursday afternoon. More Republicans than Democrats voted in favor of the measure.

The administration requested the funding package to help better care for an influx of people crossing the southern border, particularly large groups of unaccompanied children and families. Federal authorities apprehended 132,000 people at the southern border in May, up from 99,000 the month before, according to Customs and Border Protection statistics.

The influx has led to overcrowding in the facilities that hold people who cross the border illegally, leading to reports of squalid conditions and shortages of food and water.

An Associated Press report on one facility in Clint, Texas, detailed food shortages and instances of children being forced to care for one another. Similarly poor conditions have been reported at other facilities, leading to widespread outcry from the public and lawmakers, particularly over those facilities that hold children.

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