Congress delays fight over border funding; Senate blocks passage of immigration bill

The House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution on Thursday that delays a fight over Pres. Trump’s continued requests for funding of additional border fencing. Federal spending was set to run out on September 30, but the CR passed by the House extends existing funding levels until Nov. 21.

The Senate is expected to pass the House-passed CR next week.

Both good and bad news comes with yesterday’s vote. The good news is that the CR does not restrict Pres. Trump’s ability to use unused funding from other agencies to pay for additional border security. The bad news is that the enforcement restrictions included in the FY2019 omnibus spending bill — cuts to detention beds and restrictions placed on interior enforcement — remain in place for a few more months.

Republicans and Democrats have not been able to agree on how to fund the fund the government for the next fiscal year. Democrats obviously want to block any funding for new border security, but they also want to place restrictions on interior enforcement, block recent actions taken by the Trump administration to address the border crisis, and prevent the administration’s ability to shift money around to pay for additional border security.

Republicans want to provide Pres. Trump with border security funding, especially since this will likely be the last spending fight before the 2020 presidential elections.

By delaying the vote until Nov. 21, Congressional leaders are hoping they can use the Thanksgiving recess as leverage to get lawmakers to agree to provisions they wouldn’t otherwise agree to, so our Capitol Hill team will be following developments closely. It’s also likely that Congress passes another CR in November to delay the funding fight until December or January.

Yesterday, Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) objected to Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-Utah) unanimous consent request to pass a bill that would lift per-country caps for some green card categories. The bill would allow for immigrants, mostly from India, to receive most of the employment-based green cards over the next three years.

Sen. Lee, along with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), introduced the legislation (S. 386), but a request for unanimous consent was blocked earlier this year by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

Instead of bringing S. 386 back to the floor, Sen. Lee’s request yesterday was to amend a similar bill already passed by the House (H.R. 1044). Sen. Perdue objected to the unanimous consent request, listing concerns similar to Sen. Paul’s.

Reports indicate that Sen. Lee is working with Sen. Perdue and may request unanimous consent again next week, however, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has also indicated that he doesn’t like the bill and may block it.

Chris Chmielenski, NumbersUSA Deputy Director
September 20, 2019
Numbers USA

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