Lawmakers clash with federal officials during a heated hearing

Lawmakers questioned HHS about the welfare of illegal unaccompanied immigrant children.
1:40 | 08/16/18

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Transcript for Lawmakers clash with federal officials during a heated hearing
I'm John Parkinson on Capitol Hill and this is ABC news live. Lawmakers clashed with federal officials today during a heated hearing examining which federal agencies maintain responsibility. For the welfare of unaccompanied immigrant children. After there placed into the homes of sponsors and await legal proceedings. After the senate permanent subcommittee on investigations released its 52 page report on Wednesday. Senator Rob Portman the chairman of the panel pressed federal officials on their efforts to protect unaccompanied immigrant children. From human trafficking and other forms of abuse. Commander Jonathan white a senior official at HHS. Insisted under sworn testimony that the responsibility to enforce the law is not health and human services. Flabbergasted in several senators. HHS does not presently have the authority. To exercise supervision or oversight of children who are not in the physical care and custody of or are. You're catching these children. And many are releasing them and everyone goes like it's not my problem. I can tell you along with the rest of America. This seconds me. It sickens me that these children have been put in this I mean in this position and in harm's way. More than 200000 unaccompanied immigrant children of cross the border illegally in the past six years. And lawmakers say that HHS has failed to establish procedures to protect them. Now senators say that they're exploring legislative options to help clarify the law. I'm John Parkinson on Capitol Hill and you're watching ABC news lives.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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