Senate overwhelmingly agrees to send emergency humanitarian relief to southern border

PHOTO: Central American migrants cast their shadows against a wall while inside an enclosure where they are being held by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), after crossing the border in El Paso, Texas, March 28, 2019.PlayJose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters
WATCH News headlines today: July 23, 2019

The Senate overwhelmingly cleared a measure Wednesday that would send emergency humanitarian relief to the southern border but is markedly different from a bill passed by the House -- leaving lawmakers little time to reconcile their bills before they leave town on Thursday for the July Fourth recess.

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The final vote in the Senate was 84-8.

Late Tuesday night, the House voted mostly along party lines to approve a $4.5 billion measure that addresses conditions of detention centers where migrant children are being held. The White House has vowed to veto this version.

“They had to drag their bill way to the left to earn the support of most Democrats. As a result the House has not made much progress toward actually making a law. Just more ‘Resistance theater.’ The Senate has a better and more bipartisan way forward," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday morning.

The Senate’s version doesn’t go as far in laying out clear standards on detention centers and how children must be treated. It also calls for $145 million to go to the Pentagon to aid with border control, which House Democrats are not likely to support.

“This is a solid bill. It provides the resources needed to address the crisis we face. It contains no poison pills, and it is poised to pass the Senate with strong bipartisan support, unlike the version that came out of the House last night,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said in a statement.

Identical legislation must pass both chambers before the president can sign a bill into law.

PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delivers remarks during the Weekly Senate Policy Luncheon Press Conference on June 25, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Tom Brenner/Getty Images
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delivers remarks during the Weekly Senate Policy Luncheon Press Conference on June 25, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

But on Wednesday, there was a glimmer of hope. The president, speaking on the South Lawn, told reporters that he spoke with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about the border bill and acknowledged that “we are moving along very well with a bipartisan bill in the Senate.”

“It's very far along and I believe the House is going to also be getting together with the Senate,” Trump said. “Hopefully they can get something done.”

He added: “I think that a lot of people are starting to realize that I was right when I said we have a crisis of the border.”

PHOTO: President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs for travel to the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan outside the White House, June 26, 2019. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs for travel to the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan outside the White House, June 26, 2019.

Several lawmakers on Wednesday expressed their frustrations regarding the treatment of children at the southern border after a photo of a deceased father and daughter drowned while crossing the Rio Grande River near Brownsville, Texas, was published. Authorities said they drowned on Monday trying to cross from Mexico to the U.S.

PHOTO: Immigrants held in a temporary facility set up to hold them at the El Paso Border Patrol Station, June 21, 2019. Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images, FILE
Immigrants held in a temporary facility set up to hold them at the El Paso Border Patrol Station, June 21, 2019.

“It's terrible. We need to stop people from taking this journey and try to make life better in their home countries. We need to turn off the flow and turn on the aid to Central America,” GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told reporters on Wednesday.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York called out Trump for failing to address the crisis at the border.

“The president's actions at the border are a whirlwind of incompetence leading to pictures like this,” he said.

“So President Trump, if you want to know the real reason there's chaos at the border, look in the mirror,” Schumer said. “The president continues to blame Democrats, but the real problem is the president.”