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Congress denies Obama's latest request for border funds, for now

FILE - This June 24, 2014, file photo shows Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson listens while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington before the House Homeland Security Committee hearing about the growing problem of unaccompanied children crossing the border into the US. On NBC's "Meet the Press", Sunday, July 6, 2014, Johnson said that all persons regardless of age face “a deportation proceeding” if they enter the country illegally. The Obama administration, he said, is “looking at ways to create additional options for dealing with the children in particular, consistent with our laws and our values.” (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File) AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File\n

Congress is ignoring the Obama administration's latest request for hundreds of millions of dollars to process thousands of illegal immigrants at the border, and isn't likely to consider it at all until later this year.

Earlier this week, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said his department needs $1.2 billion in additional funding in 2015 to deal with the border crisis, and to pay for recent decisions to shift funding around to deal with the flood of illegal immigrants.

FILE - This June 24, 2014, file photo shows Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson listens while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington before the House Homeland Security Committee hearing about the growing problem of unaccompanied children crossing the border into the US. On NBC's "Meet the Press", Sunday, July 6, 2014, Johnson said that all persons regardless of age face “a deportation proceeding” if they enter the country illegally. The Obama administration, he said, is “looking at ways to create additional options for dealing with the children in particular, consistent with our laws and our values.” (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File) AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says he needs $1.2 billion to fund border operations, but Congress has signaled it's not ready to hand over the money. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

But late Tuesday, House Republicans introduced a bill to fund the government through mid-December that contains no additional border funds. House Republican leaders are planning to pass that short-term bill on Thursday, which will give the Senate just enough time to approve it before Congress abandons Washington and heads home for the mid-term elections.

This means that at least through mid-December, DHS is unlikely to get any of the money it's seeking.

While the House Republican funding bill doesn't offer any new money for DHS, that doesn't mean Republicans are opposed to boosting border funding. Before leaving for the August break, the House approved nearly $700 million in additional funds, but the Senate has apparently decided not to consider that bill.

Instead, the Senate is debating legislation to amend the Constitution to give Congress the authority to regulate corporate spending on political campaigns, a proposal Republicans reject as one that would alter the First Amendment.

Before the August break, the Obama administration asked Congress to pass a $3.7 billion border bill. When nothing materialized, DHS decided to shift millions of dollars around in order to fund necessary border efforts.

That included taking money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Transportation Security Administration.

According to a House aide, the short-term spending bill will continue to allow DHS to shift money around to meet its needs on border enforcement, as it has been doing. Specifically, it says DHS will be allowed to "sustain the staffing levels of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents."

One reason why Congress may not be feeling the pressure to give out more money is the latest DHS report on the apprehension of illegal immigrants in August. The latest data shows far fewer immigrants tried to enter the country over the summer break, and even Obama administration officials have said the problem, at least for now, has subsided.

One last thing…
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