Boehner: Administration 'ought to get its act together' on border crisis

CNN/ Newswire | 7/28/2014, 11:37 a.m. | Updated on 7/28/2014, 11:37 a.m.
But strong opposition from congressional Democrats to policy changes House and Senate GOP members want to attach to a bill ...
Speaker Boehner Press Conference

Rogers insisted the change to the 2008 law is a critical component of Congress' response, saying, "If we don't change the '08 law, the costs of dealing with the problem go up at least $1.3 billion that HHS [Department of Health and Human Services] would need to continue to house the people that continue to flood across."

Not much support from Democrats

Senate Democrats released their border funding proposal on Tuesday -- a $2.7 billion package that does not include any policy changes. But it's unclear that proposal can pass.

House GOP leaders planned to huddle after meeting with their rank and file members to discuss what details they would put in a final legislative package. They recognize that their pared-down package won't get many Democratic votes.

Besides Cuellar, only one House Democrat has signed onto the bill to change the 2008 law. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has said she opposes it and argued any significant changes to immigration laws need to be handled separately.

The No. 2 House Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, told reporters that GOP leaders shouldn't expect much support for their plan.

Hoyer said Cecilia Munoz, a top White House aide on domestic policy, told him the White House is pushing for a border bill without any policy provisions attached, but the administration is open to discussing changes to the 2008 law on a separate track.

For Boehner getting the 218 votes needed to pass a border bill mostly with House Republican votes is proving to be a big lift.

Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama told reporters he opposed giving more than $1 billion to the administration and instead suggested spending $20-30 million to pay for one-way plane tickets to send all of the children crossing the border back to their home countries.

Playing the blame game

Blasting Obama's handling of the crisis, an exasperated Brooks said the administration is giving families coming from Central America "free goodies, free food, free clothing, free health care, free transportation, free entertainment." He added, "Right now the president of the United States is the world's sugar daddy and that has to stop."

But North Carolina GOP Rep. Richard Hudson told reporters the growing problem means Congress should act, and he hoped something would pass before the recess.

Referring to the short amount of time left before Congress leaves for its August break, Hudson said, "I think we need to deal with this issue, we can't let it linger another five weeks."

Both parties acknowledge some federal agencies housing and providing medical care for the tens of thousands of children coming across the border are scheduled to run out of money next month.

Since Congress controls the purse strings, House Republicans realize that if they don't pass a bill they'll get blamed for the situation getting worse.

"I think if you don't do something the administration and the Democrats in the Senate are going to say -- well they're going to try to offload this problem onto Republicans and say it's due to our failure to act," Oklahoma GOP Rep. Tom Cole said Wednesday.

Boehner declined to commit to holding a House vote on a GOP bill before the end of the month, but said "I'd like to act, we've got a humanitarian crisis on the border that has to be dealt with."

Texas GOP Rep. John Carter, a member of the border working group, warned that if the House and Senate failed to reach a deal on a border bill, "another 50,000 unaccompanied minors will come across our border."

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