Border Security Bill Goes Back To House

Border Security Bill Heads Back To House

CQ Politics (Washington, D.C.), August 6, 2010

With just hours left before beginning its August recess, the Senate unexpectedly passed a $600 million emergency spending bill to beef up border security a last-minute Democratic measure that picked up GOP support on the floor.

The Senate amended the measure with substitute legislation by Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., before passing it Thursday. It was unclear whether the House might take up the revised legislation next week when lawmakers are back for one day to take up a fiscal aid package or whether it will wait until September.

Schumers measure calls for sending 1,500 new agents, two additional unmanned aerial drones and millions of dollars in communications equipment to the border to stop the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs. Democrats say the cost is fully offset with increased fees on work visas.

The House bill would provide an additional $100 million to bolster border security, but the measure is only partially paid for.

President Obama had urged Congress to come up with money to bolster border security, and the recent enactment in Arizona of a controversial law to stop immigration focused national attention on the issue, even as it spurred intense partisanship in the runup to midterm elections.

Schumer saw the passage of this bill as a step towards cooperation on broader measures.

This bipartisan effort shows we are serious about making the border more secure than ever, he said, adding that he did not think that tightening the border alone could solve the nations immigration problems. Now our attention must turn to comprehensive reform, which is the only way to fully address the problem of illegal immigration.

Republicans John McCain and Jon Kyl of Arizona had introduced a $701 million border security measure last week. On Thursday, McCain described Schumers language as a first step.

Although there is a great deal more to be done, I believe today Democrats finally put good policy over politics and agreed we must secure our border first, he said.