Pelosi Caves, Will Hold Vote on Senate-Passed Border-Funding Bill

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addresses guests in Washington, D.C., March 8, 2019. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Update 5:48p.m.: The House passed a clean emergency spending bill on Thursday, just one day after it cleared the Senate. The bill, which passed 305-102, allocates $4.5 billion to alleviate the ongoing border crisis.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi has agreed to hold a vote on the border-funding bill passed Wednesday by the Senate, marking a defeat for the progressive members of her caucus who demanded that the bill allocate more funds toward improving conditions for detained migrants and less toward enforcement mechanisms.

Pelosi, in explaining her decision to support the Senate-passed bill, cited the hardships born by migrant children who have overwhelmed the Department of Health and Human Services’s ability to house and care for them.

“In order to get resources to the children fastest, we will reluctantly pass the Senate bill. 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,” she said in a Thursday afternoon statement.

The decision to move forward with a vote on the Senate bill was predictably met with hostility from the progressives in the House Democratic caucus, who advocated giving lawmakers the right to make unannounced check-in visits at detention facilities, further shortening the amount of time children can be detained, and providing certain hygiene products to detained migrants.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lashed out at Democratic leadership on Twitter minutes after the announcement, accusing the party of abdicating its responsibility to protect children.

The $4.6 billion emergency-spending bill, which passed the Senate 848 on Wednesday, provides $1.3 billion to improve Border Patrol and HHS detention facilities, as well as $2.9 billion to improve the medical care and supervision of migrant children, many of whom, according to multiple recent reports, have been deprived of basic hygiene products and proper beds due to lack of resources.

Pelosi’s Thursday concession represents a sharp departure from comments she made Wednesday, in which she suggested the two chambers would reach a compromise after engaging in a reconciliation process.

“They pass their bill, we respect that,” Pelosi said Wednesday. “We passed our bill, we hope they would respect that. And there are some improvements that we think can be reconciled.”

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