November 29, 2014

Competing Proposals for Additional Border Spending

  • Discretionary spending is the portion of the federal budget determined through the Congressional appropriations process. Approximately one-third of...

The House and Senate are considering different proposals for immediate funding to boost border security and help federal agencies deal with a surge of migrants from Central America.

Republicans indicated today that the House would vote later this week on a $659 million package focused largely on border security measures. About a third of the money, however, would reportedly go towards humanitarian relief through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said the costs would be fully offset with cuts elsewhere. 

Senate Democrats had previously proposed $2.7 billion in spending for the current year under an "emergency" designation. The departments of State, Justice and Homeland Security would receive $1.5 billion to provide food and temporary housing for migrants, hire more judges and discourage further migration. HHS would use the rest of the money for additional assistance for young migrants.

Earlier this month the President requested $3.7 billion in emergency spending on the border problems.

Emergency designations are traditionally understood to be for projects that are sudden, urgent, necessary, unexpected or temporary. Lawmakers must quickly address humanitarian concerns but should use traditional appropriations for non-emergency items such as construction projects and public awareness campaigns.