Washington – Rep. Rosa DeLauro split with all other members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation Thursday in voting against a $4.6 billion bill that would replenish the budgets of federal agencies that have been overwhelmed by the influx of Central American migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Today’s bill did not go far enough in protecting children,” DeLauro said. “Given the Trump administration’s history of abuses, I could not in good conscience vote to give the Trump administration this funding because I do not trust them to properly care for the children.”
The House approved the bill on a 305-102 vote, with 95 Democrats and seven Republicans voting against it.
President Donald Trump is expected to sign the legislation, which will fund Department of Homeland Security agencies involved with the migrants at the border, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, which will receive $100 million to pay overtime to the agency’s officers. But most of the money would go to the Health and Human Services Department, which is tasked with caring for immigrant children detained at the border.
The U.S. House, controlled by Democrats, passed a border funding bill earlier this week that included restrictions on how some of the money could be used and required federal agencies to notify lawmakers within 24 hours of migrant child in federal custody.
But the Senate, which has a Republican majority, rejected the House bill and approved one of their own.
On Friday, after trying to secure a compromise with Senate Republicans, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she had no choice but to have the House pass the Senate bill.
“In order to get resources to the children fastest, we will reluctantly pass the Senate bill,” Pelosi said in a letter to House Democrats. “As we pass the Senate bill, we will do so with a battle cry as to how we go forward to protect children in a way that truly honors their dignity and worth.”
DeLauro said she “fought hard for several critical protections that were included in the House-passed bill but not the Senate’s” including setting a 90 day limit on how long children can stay in an HHS facility and requiring the agency to allow members of Congress to conduct oversight visits without advance notice.
“The mission of HHS is to care for kids and place them with sponsors safely and expeditiously, not to act as the president’s immigration enforcement agency,” DeLauro said. “ Shame on us for not doing more to hold this administration accountable. The Senate decided further protections for children were unimportant.”
The decision to pass the Senate bill provoked outrage from other House progressives.
Besides DeLauro, House Democrats who rejected the bill included Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who said on CNN that she opposes giving more money to agencies who are enforcing Trump’s immigration policies.
“I do not believe we should be throwing more money to ICE,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “My district is 50 percent immigrant. I have an obligation and responsibility to protect them. I believe what we should ideally be doing is passing a pure humanitarian bill to get money straight to the kids.”
But, besides DeLauro, all members of the Connecticut congressional delegation voted for the border funding bill.
“The humanitarian crisis at the border is in desperate need of resources, and that’s what this bill authorizes,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. “It is by no means a blank check – my colleagues and I will be keeping a close eye on this administration’s abuses. But refusing to authorize additional funding would only punish immigrants who have come here seeking safety and have only found neglect and abuse instead.”