Oklahoman: Oklahoma lawmakers split on border aid bill
Oklahoman - Chris Casteel
U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn supported an emergency spending bill for the southern border Tuesday night, while three Oklahoma Republicans in the House voted against the $4.5 billion measure.
The bill passed 230-195, mostly along party lines, with Democrats in support.
Horn, D-Oklahoma City, said, "Our immigration system is broken, and we need comprehensive reform that protects national security as well as human dignity.
"The way we treat children defines us. America is supposed to be a beacon of hope. This is not the message we want to send the world.
"The child refugee crisis on our border must be addressed immediately, and this bill does that as well as provides congressional oversight to make sure agencies are doing their job in a humane manner."
Most of the money would be directed to care for migrants and unaccompanied children who have crossed the southern border.
The Republican-led Senate has drafted its own bill, which has bipartisan support. The White House this week threatened to veto the House bill.
"Because this bill does not provide adequate funding to meet the current crisis, and because it contains partisan provisions designed to hamstring the Administration’s border enforcement efforts, the Administration opposes its passage," the White House told the House.
In a speech on the House floor, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the bill "is a vote against the cruel attitude towards children in this Administration. This bill does not fund the Administration’s failed mass-detention policy. Instead, it funds effective, humane alternatives to detention that have a proven record of success."
Reps. Tom Cole, R-Moore; Kevin Hern, R-Tulsa; and Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville, voted against the House bill. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, was absent.
Cole said, "More than 50 days ago, President Trump requested money simply to provide for the immediate needs, including resources to take care of thousands of vulnerable unaccompanied children arriving. Now that funding is just days away from running out, Democrats are finally acknowledging the crisis but with a partisan solution that will never become law in divided government.
“If the Democrats truly want to improve conditions and ensure migrant children and families are properly cared for, they should work with Republicans on a bipartisan bill rather than play politics with vulnerable lives."
The Senate on Wednesday amended the bill with its own bipartisan provisions and approved it overwhelmingly, sending the legislation back to the House.
U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, voted for the legislation and said, "Our bill is not trying to score political points; it’s trying to manage the humanitarian crisis. The Senate version that passed today fully funds Health and Human Services' request for migrant facilities, which ensures that the children in U.S. custody will receive all the care, hygiene products and services they need.
"The bill provides relief to the Department of Homeland Security so it can better address the needs of migrants at our southern border facilities. The House should immediately take up our bipartisan bill to ensure we immediately meet the basic needs of the thousands of migrants in U.S. custody."
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, also voted for the Senate version.
“All of our border officials agree -- we are at a breaking point, dealing with more migrants, including families and children, than we have in over than a decade," Inhofe said. "It’s time to act. The bill we passed today in the Senate will effectively address the crisis by supporting unaccompanied minors that will temporarily be housed at Fort Sill and increasing security at the border.
“I hope the House Democrats will abandon their partisan legislation and work with their colleagues in the Senate so we can send a bill to President Trump this week. I remain committed to working with the President to enforce our immigration laws and secure the border.”