Members of Congress and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas are in disagreement regarding how to improve border security, with Mayorkas advocating for a comprehensive overhaul of immigration policy. The disagreement comes as they consider a request from the White House for emergency spending. The Biden administration sent two emergency supplemental funding requests last month, one for national security that includes border security, and the other for domestic funding such as child care and home heating assistance for low-income families.
Border Security and Immigration Reform Tensions Emerge
On Wednesday, a rift emerged between members of Congress and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas regarding how to enhance border security. This came amid the struggle to address a White House request for emergency spending.
Mayorkas referred to a comprehensive proposal President Biden released early in his term during the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting. He emphasized the necessity for a complete overhaul of immigration policy rather than adopting smaller changes.
However, several senators urged for bipartisan changes that could quickly achieve consensus. They called on Mayorkas and the Biden administration to collaborate with both Democrats and Republicans.
Senators Jerry Moran, Kyrsten Sinema, and Lisa Murkowski, representing Kansas, Arizona, and Alaska respectively, expressed their views. Moran underlined the need for action instead of waiting for a comprehensive reform that doesn’t materialize. Sinema emphasized the obvious need for policy alterations to regain control over the border situation. Murkowski called for incremental gains and policy re-evaluation.
White House Funding Requests
Last month, the Biden administration requested two emergency funding supplements from Congress. The first targets national security, proposing aid to Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan, and for U.S. border security.
The second request is for domestic funding. This includes child care, home heating assistance for low-income families, and wildland firefighter pay. The $105 billion national security funding request calls for $13.6 billion for the Department of Homeland Security.
The domestic spending supplemental request of $56 billion asks Congress to allocate $22 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services, with the majority going to child care assistance and disaster response and recovery.
Child Care Funding Advocacy
Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra also testified, advocating for child care funding. He voiced his concern about the high cost of child care in the country, likening it to college tuition for most families.
Maine Sen. Susan Collins, the committee’s top Republican, expressed support for improving access to quality, affordable childcare, but suggested it should be through the Child Care Development Block Grant program instead of emergency funding.
Becerra agreed on a long-term solution but urged the senators to also approve the emergency funding.