An analysis of President Barack Obama's huge budget request for the border shows that it would only spend $25 million for the rest of the current fiscal year, which Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said means Congress should be in no rush to pass it.
The Congressional Budget Office released its assessment of Obama's request late last week, and Sessions noted its results on the Senate floor Monday.
President Barack Obama has asked for $3.7 billion in emergency spending, but a CBO analysis says just $25 million would be spent by this summer. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
"CBO analysis suggests that only $25 million out of the $4.3 billion request will be spent this year. What does that mean?" Sessions asked. "It means we ought to slow down, and there is no basis to demand a $4.3 billion increase in spending, emergency spending."
Obama has requested $3.7 billion for the border, and another $600 million to fight wildfires. But according to CBO, just $25 million would be spent during the rest of FY 2014, which ends in September. Most of the rest of it would be spent in 2015, and spending would continue through 2020.
In addition, all of the spending in 2014 would take place in the Department of Health and Human Services. Obama's plan would give the Department of Homeland Security $1.1 billion, but none of that money would be used until FY 2015.
Most Republicans are already opposed to Obama's proposal, and House Republicans are considering a much smaller bill that looks to speed up the deportation of immigrant children. House GOP leaders are also expected to try to pay for new spending with offsetting reductions elsewhere in the government, something Obama did not propose.
But Sessions's comments are likely another reason Republicans will balk at Obama's plan, since it would do nothing to beef up border activities until October, except for efforts by HHS to care for the roughly 60,000 children that have crossed so far. That's likely to raise the question of why a border bill can't be handled less quickly, as part of the regular appropriations process for FY 2015.
The CBO score also conflicts with the argument of Democrats and Obama administration officials, who have said money is urgently needed for border activities and may run out in August.
Earlier Monday morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said if Congress doesn't act, "they're going to run out of money."
Republicans have argued that the flood of illegal immigrants has increased because Obama has said he would take executive branch actions later this year to somehow allow more illegal residents to stay. Sessions said on the Senate floor that any border bill that passes Congress should ensure that Obama cannot take this unilateral step.
Sessions said some reports say Obama could create work permits for up to six million illegal residents, and said Congress should take a stand and refuse to allow any funding for this activity.
"I believe any border legislation that is sent to us to the Senate by the House of Representatives, it should include specific language denying the president any funds to execute his planned work permit," Sessions said.
He also asked all senators to support legislation from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would prohibit funding for new border activities until Obama's deferred deportation action is reversed.
Senate GOP staffers have noted in recent weeks that while the flood of just 60,000 children has led to billions in possible additional costs, the Senate-passed immigration bill would create millions of new green card opportunities for non-U.S. citizens — about 30 million over the next decade. Sessions noted that the Senate bill could allow almost every Central American family to enter the U.S. legally.
"President Obama's illegal work permits add to the already-huge flow of lawful work permits issued by the federal government," Sessions said.
"Between 2000 and 2013, we lawfully issued almost 30 million work and immigrant visas. To put that number in perspective, 30 million is about the population of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala combined."
Read CBO's initial score of Obama's plan here: