WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved its own $4.6 billion humanitarian aid package for the southern border, setting up a clash with House lawmakers who passed a dramatically different version the night before.
The Senate version passed on a vote of 84-8 with broad bipartisan support after the chamber voted to reject the House version. Virginia’s two Democratic senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, voted for the bill.
Lawmakers have been spurred to action by reports of a lack of basic necessities at detention centers on the border and a photo of a father and a child from El Salvador floating dead in the Rio Grande.
Warner called the treatment of children at detention centers along the border “child abuse, plain and simple.”
Kaine said “the lack of compassion from our White House is enormously frightening.”
No one deserves to be treated this way, especially not children who came to this country seeking asylum. This is child abuse, plain and simple. https://t.co/TNqjk4O4Ld
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) June 24, 2019
The lack of compassion from our White House is enormously frightening. We absolutely must have Congressional hearings on this Administration’s family separation policy and its treatment of detained children and families. https://t.co/AI9VcnRzYw
— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) June 24, 2019
The aid package has become the latest battleground over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Government officials say the cash influx is urgently needed as agencies run low on funding needed to care for migrants, but Democrats and Republicans are divided over how much leeway to give the administration in using the funds to pursue its policy agenda.
Six Senate Democrats voted against the aid package that ultimately passed the chamber: Mazie Hirono of Hawaii; Ed Markey of Massachusetts; Robert Menendez of New Jersey; Jeff Merkley of Oregon; Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Ron Wyden of Oregon.
“We are not going to stop the Trump administration’s inhumane and hateful assault on immigrants by giving more money to ICE and CBP,” Markey wrote on Twitter. “We must take a stand and say no more. That’s why today I voted NO on the border funding packages.”
Two Republicans voted against the bill: Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Another eight senators didn’t vote, including seven Democratic presidential candidates. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) also did not vote.
The House version passed Tuesday night, largely along party lines. That $4.5 billion aid bill includes more health and safety protections for migrants and more congressional oversight requirements.
Trump has pledged to veto the House version, and administration officials have said it would hamper their enforcement activities at the border.
The Senate rejected the House version earlier on Wednesday by a vote of 37-55.
Congressional leaders said they wanted to finalize the aid bill before lawmakers head home for the Fourth of July recess, but it’s unclear whether the chambers will be able to reconcile their differences in time.
Editor Robert Zullo contributed.