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McConnell Plans Vote on $4.5 Billion Bill to Address Humanitarian Crisis at Border

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) speaks to the media after a Senate Republican Caucus lunch on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., February 5, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Senator Mitch McConnell said Monday that he plans to hold a vote on a bill that would allocate $4.5 billion toward mitigating the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.–Mexico border.

“I’m going to bring it up freestanding next week and see if they really aren’t interested in dealing with this mass of humanity that we have to take care of at the border,” the majority leader said in an interview with Fox News, referencing Democrats’ opposition to funding for President Trump’s border wall. “What’s the objection? This is not about the wall but about the humanitarian crisis.”

The bill includes $3.3 billion to care for unaccompanied minors, improve shelters, and process new arrivals. Another $1.1 billion would go toward increasing the number of detention beds and funding more investigative work, both of which goals have sparked controversy among Democrats.

“I think it’s safe to say the president is getting more cooperation out of Mexico than he is out of congressional Democrats,” McConnell said, adding that his colleagues across the aisle “reflexively” oppose any policy Trump supports.

He also promised that Republicans are not abandoning their intention to build Trump’s long-promised wall.

“We want to build a wall. We think the president has made a good case for that,” he said. “That’s not what this is about. This is just the humanitarian part of the problem on our side of the border.”

“This crisis is threatening lives on both sides of the border and is unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” the White House warned in a letter to Congress last month. “If Congress fails to provide HHS this additional funding, the expected continuation of current trends may require HHS to divert significant resources from other programs that serve vulnerable populations – such as refugees and victims of trafficking and torture.”

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