House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) indicated Thursday that he’s not entirely convinced Congress will be able to pass a bill to deal with the crisis at the southern U.S. border before Congress goes on summer break at the end of July.
When asked if any legislation could be passed in the next few weeks, Boehner said, “I would certainly hope so, but I don’t have as much optimism as I’d like to have.”
A group of House members led by Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) is working on a legislative response to President Barack Obama’s request for $3.7 billion in new funds to address the tens of thousands of children that have entered the U.S. so far this year.
Republicans have balked at that request, and say it would only help process the children while doing nothing to stop more from coming. Several Republicans have said a 2008 law needs to be changed to allow for the faster deportation of immigrant children, and Boehner indicated today that this would be part of the House bill.
“I don’t know how you can address the problem down there without looking at the ’08 law,” he said.
Obama’s request was for new emergency funding that is not offset by spending cuts, and that would be spent this year and next. But Republicans were expected as early as Thursday to describe a basic outline of the pending bill, which is expected to include spending offsets, and far less money than the $3.7 billion Obama is seeking.
Boehner indicated that the working group is talking about its proposals with the House Appropriations Committee on the question of new funding.
Many Republicans have said the cause of the immigration surge is Obama’s deferred action program for younger illegal immigrants. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) argued this week that he wouldn’t support any new funding until that deferred action program is eliminated.
When asked whether that demand would make it harder for Republicans to pass legislation, Boehner stressed that the bill doesn’t even exist yet.
“We don’t have a bill yet,” he said. “We’re having a lot of discussion, and we’re going to continue those discussions.”