WASHINGTON -- An emerging multibillion-dollar disaster aid package will likely include humanitarian assistance to address the surge of migrants across the southern border, an element that could garner the Trump administration's support.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that lawmakers are planning to add funding to the unreleased package that would help stem the "humanitarian crisis."
"What is happening at the border is tragic and we hope to address some of that in the supplemental that is coming -- the disaster supplemental," she said during a news conference.
Pelosi criticized the Trump administration for making matters worse through various immigration policies, but said Congress would not deny funds that are needed to ensure human dignity.
The announcement could help end months of debate about how to craft a bipartisan disaster aid package to help people recover from severe weather during 2018 and the first part of 2019.
Lawmakers had been stuck on how much aid to include for Puerto Rico and how to speed up delivery of billions of dollars from previous aid packages. But more recently negotiators hit a logjam over the insistence from the White House that the package include provisions from its $4.5 billion supplemental spending request.
That proposal, sent to Congress earlier this month, includes $3.3 billion for humanitarian assistance, with $2.9 billion of that for the Department of Health and Human Services to provide housing and medical care for unaccompanied minors crossing the border. The White House said that money is needed by next month or the agency's Office of Refugee Resettlement would be forced to siphon funds from anti-human trafficking programs and other priorities.
Another $391 million in the White House request would go towards Department of Homeland Security border processing facilities where migrant families would be provided with temporary shelter, food and medical attention.
Other parts of the request, such as money to expand Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention capacity and help the Pentagon provide logistical support to the Border Patrol, have run into more concerns among Democrats.
Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Chairwoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said Thursday that she hopes additional funds to expand ICE's detention beds are included in the supplemental. But she said if that would hinder the package's ability to pass she's not opposed to leaving out that component.