Van Hollen Votes Against Senate Border Aid Bill
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved its own $4.6 billion humanitarian aid package for the southern U.S. border, setting up a clash with U.S. House lawmakers who passed a dramatically different version the night before.
The Senate version passed on a vote of 84-8 with broad bipartisan support after the chamber voted to reject the House version.
The aid package has become the latest battleground over President Trump’s immigration policies. Government officials say the cash influx is urgently needed as agencies run low on funding needed to care for migrants, but Democrats and Republicans are divided over how much leeway to give the administration in using the funds to pursue its policy agenda.
Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen was one of six Democrats who voted against the aid package Wednesday, joining Sens. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii; Ed Markey of Massachusetts; Robert Menendez of New Jersey; Jeff Merkley of Oregon; and Ron Wyden of Oregon.
In a statement, Van Hollen said the House bill that passed Tuesday night “should be the baseline for negotiations” on how to provide humanitarian aid to the border.
“I share the horror of my constituents in Maryland about the squalid and inhumane conditions in which children are being held at the border,” Van Hollen said. “We have an obligation to provide the resources to ensure the safety of these children. But this Administration has demonstrated only callousness towards migrants seeking asylum at our border, and we have an obligation as a coequal branch of government with the power of the purse to ensure the resources we provide are spent responsibly and deliver real care.”
Two Republicans voted against the bill: Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Another eight senators didn’t vote, including seven Democratic presidential candidates who are in Miami for debates Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
The House version passed Tuesday night, largely along party lines. That $4.5 billion aid bill includes more health and safety protections for migrants and more congressional oversight requirements.
Trump has pledged to veto the House version, and administration officials have said it would hamper their enforcement activities at the border.
The Senate rejected the House version earlier on Wednesday by a vote of 37-55.
Congressional leaders said they wanted to finalize the aid bill before lawmakers head home for the Fourth of July recess, but it’s unclear whether the chambers will be able to reconcile their differences in time.