Rank-and-file House Republicans warned Monday they won’t back emergency spending to address unaccompanied young immigrants flooding into the U.S. until President Obama secures the border, reviving the impasse that helped doom comprehensive immigration reform.
“There will be a significant number in the Republican conference who will not vote for any additional emergency spending,” said Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland Republican. “There are a number of Republicans who don’t want any emergency spending to go through until the president does in fact seal the border — and sealing the border is just not a possibility with this president.”
He was the latest conservative to highlight the security issue, as a House GOP working group on the border crisis prepares to present the conference Wednesday with alternative proposals to Mr. Obama’s request for $3.7 billion in emergency spending to deal with the deluge of minors who have been showing up at the border in recent months.
The Republican working group, led by Texas Rep. Kay Granger, has played its cards close to the vest in responding to Mr. Obama’s emergency request. But the proposal is expected to include lower spending levels, likely much of it paid through existing budget accounts for the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as changes to existing laws that would allow for the faster deportations of some of the children.
Pointing up the severity of the border crisis, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a frequent critic of Mr. Obama’s border policy, announced Monday that he is deploying up to 1,000 National Guard troops to his state’s border with Mexico to stop criminals sneaking in amid the surge of young border-jumpers.
Echoing the criticism from Republicans on Capitol Hill, Mr. Perry said that he was taking action because the Obama administration only pays “lip service” to the scourge along America’s southern border.
The deployment will cost Texas up to $12 million a month, including about $10 million for personnel and vehicles and $2.4 for helicopters.
“Gov. Perry has referred repeatedly to his desire to make a symbolic statement to the people of Central America that the border is closed,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “And he thinks that the best way to do that is to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the border. It seems to me that a much more powerful symbol would be the bipartisan passage of legislation that would actually make a historic investment in border security and send an additional 20,000 personnel to the border.”
Still, lawmakers have a long way to go to broker an agreement, with just two weeks before Congress adjourns for August recess.
House Republican leaders flatly rejected Mr. Obama’s $3.7 billion proposal earlier this month and House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, formed the working group to draw up an alternative.
Potential defections among conservative Republicans for the alternative plan takes on greater significance because House Democrats and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are threatening to boycott the bill if it changes the law to speed up deportations of the children, who mostly come from Central America and currently enjoy extra protections under a 2008 law that delays immigration hearings.
The working group proposals are expected to include changes to that law, which was intended to protect Central American children from human trafficking.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, has said Republicans will have to provide all the votes to pass the bill if it seeks to speed up deportations. She previously supported changing the 2008 law but reversed course after the Congressional Hispanic Caucus voiced its opposition.
Mr. Obama, struggling to deal with more than 57,000 illegal immigrant children who crossed the border this year, also supported changing the law until he encountering opposition from Hispanic leaders.
Border security has been the central issue for Republicans in the immigration debate. Republican lawmakers backed away from immigration reform deal this year saying they didn’t trust the president to enforce border security measures included in the bill if they agreed to a path for citizenship for America’s roughly 11 million illegal immigrants.