House Appropriations chair: Obama border security request too high
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[July 12, 2014]
By David Lawder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama
administration's $3.7 billion request for emergency funds to bolster
U.S. border security and deal with a massive influx of migrant children
from Central America is too high and will be reduced, an influential
Republican lawmaker said on Friday.
House of Representatives Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold
Rogers said the amount was "too much money" and a large portion of
the funds needed to deal with the problems could be handled through
the normal spending bills for the 2015 fiscal year starting on Oct.
He declined to say what he believed was a more appropriate amount
and said the committee will produce an estimate soon.
"We're crunching the numbers carefully, I'll hopefully be able to
give you a better answer next week," Rogers said.
The $3.7 billion in emergency funds would help pay for temporary
detention centers, increased border security and additional
immigration court judges to process asylum cases more quickly. Obama
administration officials warned lawmakers on Thursday that border
security agencies would run out of money this summer if the request
was not approved.
Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner has said he will wait for
recommendations from Rogers before making any decisions about the
If these costs are handled through the appropriations bill that
funds the Department of Homeland Security, they would be subject to
an overall $1.014 trillion cap on discretionary spending, meaning
that there would have to be cuts elsewhere.
Emergency appropriations measures, typically for wars or natural
disaster relief, do not require offsets and simply add to federal
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The Obama administration also wants to change a 2008
anti-trafficking law requiring deportation proceedings for children
that arrive from countries that do not share a border with the
United States. This would allow authorities to quickly deport newly
arrived children from Central American countries, as they currently
are able to do with children arriving from Mexico or Canada.
Rogers said such a change could be handled directly in legislation
that contains the approval of emergency funds, adding that the
legislation would be approved before a five-week congressional
recess that starts on Aug. 1.
"There are immediate needs and emergencies, and that's what we're
trying to put together right now. And a lot of what could be spent
is contingent on whether we change the '08 law," Rogers said.
He added that the House's emergency spending legislation will
contain "substantial border security measures, monies that I think
should be accepted well in our House and I would hope, the White
(Editing by Doina Chiacu)
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