Prospects for any bipartisan House agreement on a plan to address the border crisis hit a hurdle on Wednesday as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said they would not go along with a proposal to speed-up deportations of children from Central America.
"Leader Pelosi opposes this legislation as it is not in furtherance of due process for these children," Pelosi spokesman Drew Hamill said.
Earlier this week, the minority leader had not seemed so definite. But members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other Democrats have said they are opposed, and they have been lobbying Pelosi against it. On Wednesday afternoon, the Hispanic Caucus met with Obama about their opposition.
"I am energized and optimistic after meeting with the president," Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., said after the meeting. "We told the president the CHC will not support a supplemental budget request that undermines the legal protection for children and we will work with him to get the resources our government needs to respond to the humanitarian crisis we are seeing with child refugees from Central America."
"The Hispanic Caucus feels these kids still should have their day in court," said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas.
In a statement sent out afterward of the meeting with the CHC, White House officials did not directly address the issue of whether Obama made any commitment to not go along with an acceleration of the deportation process.
Instead, it again emphasized a need for urgency by Congress in approving his supplemental request for humanitarian reasons. It also called for comprehensive immigration reform, which the statement said has yet not happened because of "the lack of Republican action."
The development is a significant one.
The president has requested $3.7 billion in emergency funding to address the surge of children and adults from Central American countries. House Republicans haven't yet announced how much funding they could go along with, though leaders indicate it won't be as much money as Obama wants.
But among other things they want to tie-in to any legislation dealing with the crisis — along with more border security measures — is a change to a 2008 law that would allow immigrant children at the border to be voluntarily and more swiftly returned to their home countries rather than be held for deportation hearings.
That process is already allowed for undocumented young immigrants from Mexico and Canada.
But if that change happens, a rising number of House Democrats now warn, Speaker John Boehner and other GOP leaders will not be able to rely on any votes from Democrats to get the package through.
And that could be a big wrinkle, especially if Boehner cannot convince fiscal conservatives in his conference to go along with whatever new spending the Republican plan might include for the crisis.
Details of that plan, including its anticipated new border security proposals and other components, are expected to be released by Tuesday, or perhaps even later this week.
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., on Wednesday told reporters that his committee is about "ready on the money part; we have it crafted."
But he said they are still doing the policy inserts, and final cost calculations, and would not yet release a specific dollar figure.
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