House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had little choice. In a standoff with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the White House over a bill to provide billions in emergency funding to address the humanitarian crisis at the southern border, Pelosi and Democratic leaders yielded on Thursday and allowed the House to vote on a Senate-passed version of the legislation.
The $4.6 billion measure passed Thursday afternoon, and will now head to President Trump’s desk for his signature.
Pelosi’s decision followed what The Washington Post described as “hours of frantic maneuvering” during which the speaker tried to round up support for a revised version of the bill that added protections for unaccompanied minors and restrictions on how the administration could use the money.
“Pelosi had hoped to amend the Senate bill with changes that included a 90-day limit for how long children can spend in holding facilities; less funding for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency; and a provision to ensure lawmakers could visit facilities that hold children without prior notice,” the Post reported.
But moderate House Democrats joined with House Republicans to push Pelosi to take up the bipartisan Senate bill, which includes fewer restrictions than a version passed this week by the House. Nearly two dozen moderates threatened to vote against Pelosi’s changes, Bloomberg reported. The White House also opposed the changes and McConnell said he would not consider them.
“The children come first,” Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues. “In order to get resources to the children fastest, we will reluctantly pass the Senate bill.”
With time running short before lawmakers leave Washington for their July 4 recess — and with bipartisan pressure to take up the Senate bill — Pelosi had little leverage to get changes sought by her progressive members enacted.
Pelosi spoke with Vice President Mike Pence Thursday afternoon, and he agreed to make administrative improvements to the migrant shelters, according to reports. But that did little to mollify progressives.
“I will NOT be voting for a bill that gives unrestricted money to a rogue and cruel agency and doesn’t guarantee that the funds will go towards helping these children,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Progressive Caucus, tweeted Thursday afternoon.