Senate panel approves $4.59 billion to deal with immigration surge

After weeks of negotiations over a White House request for extra money to deal with a surge of illegal immigrants along the southern border with Mexico, Senators on a key spending panel voted 30-1 on Wednesday to approve a $4.59 billion spending package to insure that various federal agencies have enough money to address what President Donald Trump has said is a crisis at the border.

"This situation as most of us realize is past the breaking point," said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL). "I believe we must act."

"The fact is that we do have a humanitarian crisis on the border that does need to be addressed," said Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), who recounted crowded holding facilities for illegal immigrants.

"We've seen big numbers in the past, but we're going to exceed that this year," said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO).

"This bill is absolutely necessary," said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). "There are families and children who need our support."

The only 'no' vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee came from Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

The bill only deals with money to help address the humanitarian needs along the border - it does not address any changes in U.S. immigration laws desired by President Trump.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee had been scheduled to start work on a bill which would make some of those immigration reforms, but that work will be delayed into July in search of a bipartisan agreement.

“This is not a crisis - this is a disaster,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is leading President Trump's charge to change immigration laws.

"Our immigration laws are a disgrace and the Democrats can get together with the Republicans and solve the problem quickly," the President told his campaign kickoff rally on Tuesday night in Orlando, Florida.

It's expected the full Senate could vote on the package next week.

It is not clear if the House would follow suit before lawmakers leave town at the end of June for a break during the week of July Fourth.

The text of the Senate bill can be found here.

A section-by-summary of the legislation from committee Republicans is here.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

X