- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 2, 2021

House Republicans’ lead investigator demanded Wednesday that Democrats convene a hearing to look at the “skyrocketing” cost to deal with hundreds of children surging illegally across the border each day and said the Biden administration uses semantics to downplay the crisis.

Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, led colleagues in a letter demanding that the panel get off the sidelines and hold hearings on the situation.

It was the third request in less than three months. The past two were met with silence from committee Chair Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, even though Democrats were active in holding hearings when the Trump administration oversaw a smaller surge of migrant children.

“Our committee should not stand on the sidelines simply because a Democrat occupies the White House,” Mr. Comer and fellow Republicans wrote.

The Washington Times has reached out to Ms. Maloney’s office for comment.

The number of unaccompanied juveniles from beyond Mexico coming across the border each day has slipped from the peak of the surge in March but still totaled 446 on Monday.

During the peak, more than 5,000 were crammed into Border Patrol facilities. Now, fewer than 600 are in Border Patrol facilities, but more than 17,000 are in facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Republicans pointed out in their letter that the agency with custody was sometimes little more than a semantics game. In one location, the children were taken from a Border Patrol tent and moved next door to an HHS tent.

“It’s not even across the street,” one Homeland Security official told The Washington Times.

In the Republicans’ letter, they pointed to one facility where children were reportedly forced to use plastic bags for toilet purposes.

“Meanwhile, costs are skyrocketing,” the Republicans said.

They pointed to reports that the administration will end up $4 billion short by the end of the fiscal year, even after tapping other funds, such as money intended to rebuild the Strategic National Stockpile, the government’s cache of equipment such as ventilators that proved crucial in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The oversight committee has held one hearing on the border this year, but that was to look back at Mr. Trump’s zero-tolerance policy and the family separations that ensued.

Other committee hearings have covered artificial intelligence, the status of the District of Columbia, the “black maternal health crisis” and pipeline safety.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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