The Democrat-controlled United States House of Representatives passed a $4.5 billion emergency funding bill to address the detained migrant care crisis.
Known as the “Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act” or H.R. 3401, the bill passed in a largely party-line vote of 230-195 on Tuesday.
The White House threatened on Monday to veto the bill, citing restrictions placed on how the money could be spent.
H.R. 3401’s passage has set up what the Associated Press labeled a “showdown” with the Republican-controlled Senate, which has a similar piece of proposed legislation.
“The Senate has a good bill,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, as reported by the AP. “Our bill is much better.”
“We are ensuring that children have food, clothing, sanitary items, shelter and medical care. We are providing access to legal assistance. And we are protecting families because families belong together,” she stated in her floor speech.
The House bill includes over $1 billion for sheltering and feeding migrants detained by United States border patrols and about $3 billion for funding the needs of unaccompanied migrant children who have been turned over the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Republican Representative Phil Roe of Tennessee, who voted against H.R. 3401, argued in a statement released Tuesday that the bill does not adequately address the border crisis.
“House Democrats have refused for weeks to provide the necessary funding and instead introduced a partisan bill that does not nearly go far enough to address this crisis,” stated Rep. Roe.
“This bill restricts the Department of Homeland Security’s authority to detail employees to help address the surge of immigrants and imposes politically-motivated restrictions on the Department of Health and Human Service’s and the Administration’s ability to respond to this crisis.”
Recently, The New York Times published a story documenting the poor living conditions facing hundreds of migrant children inside of federal detention facilities on the U.S. southern border.
The Times reported on a group of lawyers who visited an overcrowded immigration detention facility in Texas which had children detained without access to soap, toothbrushes, and other hygiene products.
“The overwhelming majority of children have not bathed since they crossed the border,” explained lawyer Elora Mukherjee to the Times.
“The children are locked in their cells and cages nearly all day long … A few of the kids said they had some opportunities to go outside and play, but they said they can’t bring themselves to play because they are trying to stay alive in there.”
Robert P. George, a Princeton University law professor and prominent conservative Catholic scholar, was among the many who expressed outrage over the conditions for detainees.
“The mistreatment of migrant children in government custody is wrong — and shameful — whether it is under Democrats or Republicans, Obama or Trump. Enough with the partisan finger-pointing. Reform the system and fund it. We're talking about innocent children,” George posted on Twitter.
“No matter the reason (and no matter where) children are in government custody, soap, toothbrushes, blankets, & a decent place to sleep are minimal conditions of human decency. This should not need to be litigated and it's disgraceful for govt. agencies to defend the indefensible.”