House Republicans indicated Tuesday that they would take their time to consider the Obama administration's request for another $3.7 billion to deal with the flood of illegal immigrants over the southern U.S. border.
The White House indicated Tuesday that it would seek $1.8 billion in funding for the Department of Health and Human Services, which is housing more than 52,000 unaccompanied children while they await deportation proceedings.
The White House also wants another $1.9 billion to boost border enforcement efforts, which includes more money for Justice Department officials to help speed up the deportation process. The $3.7 billion total is nearly twice as much as the $2 billion the White House was expected to request.
In addition, the White House is seeking an additional $600 billion to fight wildfires in western states. That puts the total request at $4.3 billion, although the wildfire funding may help build support among Republicans from these western states.
Several Republican offices said they were still digesting the details of the proposal. But a few indicated that it could take several weeks before the package can be passed by the House.
"The Appropriations Committee and other members, including the working group on the border crisis led by Rep. Kay Granger, will review the White House proposal," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). "The Speaker still supports deploying the National Guard to provide humanitarian support in the affected areas — which this proposal does not address."
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said the House would take the time needed to assess the proposal, and also indicated it may take weeks.
"In the next few days and weeks, my committee will take a close and a thorough look at this funding request, and as per the normal congressional process, will make our own determination on how to appropriately and wisely use taxpayer resources," he said.
Rogers added that the U.S. has "both a security and moral obligation to help solve the crisis at hand." And while he said more funding will be needed, Rogers did not indicate whether Republicans would try to offset the increases with spending cuts elsewhere in the government.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has said Congress should not hand over any money to the Obama administration until it's clear that steps are being take to avoid future immigration floods.
Other Republicans indicated they may be looking to insert their own policy prescriptions as a condition for passing the bill. Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas) complained about the White House proposal in a tweet, saying it not would be used to deport children, but "to pay for lawyers to help illegal immigrants stay in the U.S. illegally."
Here's a breakdown of how the administration proposes to spend the money:
– $1.1 billion to the Department of Homeland Security, most of which would be used for the detention and removal of apprehended illegal immigrant adults.
– $433 million to Customs and Border Protection, mostly to cover the cost of increased apprehension.
– $1.8 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services to care for the unaccompanied children.
– $300 million for the State Department. This would primarily be used to "repatriate and reintegrate migrants to Central America, to help the governments in the region better control their borders, and to address the underlying root causes driving migration, i.e. creating the economic, social, governance, and citizen security conditions to address factors that are contributing to significant increases in migration to the United States."
– $64 million to the Justice Department, the bulk of which would be used to hire 40 new immigration judge and staff, some on a temporary basis to deal with the crisis.
Fred Lucas contributed to this story