Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, other progressive Democrats oppose border security funding deal

The lawmakers don't want to approve any increase in funding for DHS.

February 14, 2019, 2:34 PM

A number of prominent progressive House Democrats said Thursday they will oppose the bipartisan government funding and border security deal over concerns about funding the Department of Homeland Security.

The House was set to vote on the bill Thursday evening after a Senate vote in the afternoon. If President Donald Trump signs it before the Friday midnight deadline, the measure would avert another partial government shutdown.

Rep. Ilhan Omar listens during a news conference on prescription drugs, Jan. 10, 2019, at the Capitol in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images, FILE

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., said in a joint statement that DHS "does not deserve an increase in funding."

"The efficacy of a government agency must be determined by assessing ‘outcomes.’ By any reasonable measure, Donald Trump’s weaponization of ICE and CBP has been a failure," they wrote.

“We want to be abundantly clear: this is not a rebuke of federal workers or those who depend on the services they provide, but a rejection of the hateful policies, priorities, and rhetoric of the Trump Administration.”

The proposal, a compromise negotiated by senior senators and House members from both parties, includes roughly $1.3 billion in funding for new fencing on the U.S.-Mexico border, short of the $5.7 billion President Trump sought for a border wall.

That topline figure has led some prominent conservative figures and lawmakers to pan the deal. President Trump has said that he was still reviewing the bill, which is more than 1,000 pages of legislative text and would fund the government through September.

The progressive Democrats' statement complains: “The funding bill on the floor today does not address any of our concerns and instead, gives more money to these abusive agencies."

It notes the proposal provides roughly $49.4 billion in funding for the Department of Homeland Security, $2 billion above President Trump's request to Congress.

The measure also includes $14.9 billion for Customs and Border Protection -- $734 million more than requested by the administration -- and $7.6 billion to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, $500 million more than the previous fiscal year for the agency within DHS that progressive Democrats want to abolish.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that she expects the House will pass the measure, and other top progressives signaled support for the agreement, even as Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and other prominent freshmen were poised to vote against the measure when the House is set to take up the measure Thursday evening.

"I think some people don’t want anything, but when it comes for funding for the wall, for me it’s pretty equivocal. There’s no funding for a wall," Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisc., a leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told ABC News.

"We've got to judge the good over the bad side of it. We would have liked to have seen more done on detention beds, we would’ve like to see a couple of other things that were important to us. But there’s an awful lot of things that were important to our caucus in the other spending bills that are included in here," he said.

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