WASHINGTON -- Swift passage of billions of dollars in emergency aid to help care for tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants, many of them children, was in doubt Monday night as House Democrats were facing a possible revolt and a lone Republican senator was holding up action across the Capitol.
Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus made their concerns known to Speaker Nancy Pelosi about their chamber's $4.5 billion package that leaders wanted to put on the floor Tuesday.
Progressive and Hispanic caucus members were meeting with leadership in Pelosi's office late Monday on the bill. Leaving the meeting, New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Lujan said the plan was to bring the measure up for a vote Tuesday. But that timetable didn't seem set in stone, and additional changes were being sought to appease wavering Democrats.
Party unity on the supplemental is especially important because the White House issued a veto threat on the House Democrats' bill Monday evening, and Republicans aren't expected to support it.
Part of the problem, said Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Mark Pocan, was President Donald Trump's announcement that he planned to begin Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids. Though Trump later pulled back and said he'd delay the raids for two weeks, House Democrats are uncertain what he might do next.
"The president's actions last week obviously have many people nervous and agitated," Pocan said. "We've given some suggestions for changes we'd like to see." The Wisconsin Democrat described them as "reasonable measures, given what the president's done."
Pocan said his caucus is working with the Hispanic Caucus on language its members want added to the bill and is hopeful leadership will give it serious consideration.
"That really is key," he said. "It's going to be key to, honestly, potentially whether or not the bill passes."
Democratic Reps. Raul Ruiz of California and Adriano Espaillat of New York said they were seeking to add provisions from Ruiz's bill that would place much more restrictive standards on Customs and Border Protection for ensuring the safety of children while they are in its custody.
"We have to continue with the urgency and not kid ourselves that the humanitarian needs will be fulfilled. The items that they will need will be supplied. But the standards that will dictate how to use them in a humane way is yet to come," Ruiz said.