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Progressives Slam Pelosi For Vote On McConnell Border Bill With No Child Protections

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaking with attendees at a Trump Tax Town Hall hosted by Tax March at Events on Jackson in Phoenix, Arizona.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaking with attendees at a Trump Tax Town Hall hosted by Tax March at Events on Jackson in Phoenix, Arizona. February 2018. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

“Since when did the Problem Solvers Caucus become the Child Abuse Caucus?”

Progressives slammed House Speaker Pelosi on Thursday for abandoning child protection requirements on border funding and caving to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s bill without putting up a fight.

“The problem right now and the question at hand is Mitch McConnell sent us a bill & we’re putting a big checkmark on it instead of even trying to negotiate…what Mitch McConnell is doing is relying on the time pressure of recess,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “We are a House majority and we need to act like it.”

After a brief showdown on Thursday between progressives who wanted to include amendments to McConnell’s bill and centrists who wanted to get resources out quickly, Speaker Pelosi “reluctantly” acquiesced and held a vote on the senate bill without negotiation. The House, under pressure from rapidly depleting funds and upcoming July 4th recess, passed the Senate’s bill on Thursday 305-102.

Furious progressives argued the bill provides the Trump administration funds without oversight and claim they could have stayed longer into the weekend to negotiate.

Rep. Katie Hill rejected the bill and said it was a “rush job that reflects the worse of Washington” and that she would have “rather have worked a long weekend and drafted a bill that actually keeps kids safe:”

“There is simply not enough accountability inside of this bill to ensure your taxpayer dollars are spent in a way that actually keeps kids safe and our borders secure. Law enforcement agencies need to be able to do the jobs they were established to do, detention centers need to be held to humane standards, and children should not be kept in horrible conditions.

“This bill does not accomplish that. That’s why I voted for a bill two days ago that included these important priorities. I’m not writing an unconditional blank check and I don’t think anyone in our community would expect me to,” Rep. Hill said in a statement.

The House passed a bill Tuesday that included amendments such as requiring children be provided basic sanitation and medical standards, a 90-day limit on the time unaccompanied minors can be kept in temporary border shelters, and a requirement for the death of a child in detention to be reported in 24 hours.

The McConnell-led senate bill included none of those oversight requirements, but added funding for the Pentagon and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Critics, such as Rep. Ro Khanna, argue the Trump administration’s demonstrable record of providing inhumane conditions to detained migrants proves more oversight is needed to justify additional funding.

“I voted no on the Senate bill. Standing up for human rights requires more than providing money. We gave the Administration $40 million more than they asked in 2019 for supplies. But they still deprived children of diapers & soap. We need a law that clearly outlaws the abuses,” tweeted Khanna.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, argued Democrats betray the American people by condemning Trump with words but enabling him with inaction.

“She is a very experienced legislator, but I think this is a very rough patch. We can’t say that we have a lawless administration or a president who should be in prison, or whatever people want to say about him, but then cave,” she added. “You have to fight for what you believe.”

Politico notes that Pelosi’s surrender to McConnell’s bill ruptured not only the traditional progressive-centrist divide in the Democratic party, but also saw the House Speaker’s “entire team of negotiators on the border aid bill, including House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey of New York and Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard of California and Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut also vote no.”

Rep. Mark Pocan incited the anger of the bill’s Democratic supporters, specifically the bipartisan Problems Solvers Caucus, when he claimed their complicity made them the “Child Abuse Caucus.”

“Since when did the Problem Solvers Caucus become the Child Abuse Caucus?” Pocan wrote on Twitter.

Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, was enraged by Pocan’s remarks and confronted him on the House Floor.

“Mark’s tweet just speaks to why everyone hates this place. He’s just trying to get retweets. That’s all he cares about,” Rose told Politico.

Their fight continued on Twitter, with Pocan responding: “Maybe the REAL problem is someone who thinks this is about retweets and not about bad contractors, awful conditions and kids.”

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) placed the blame on Senate Democrats for their overwhelming support of McConnell’s bill, which she argues weakened the House’s negotiating hand.

“Let’s focus on the fact that Senate Democrats joined the leadership behind McConnell in support of something that had no safeguards, no basic human rights for these children,” she said. “What are you doing? You’re just throwing money and saying, ‘Continue what you’re doing President Trump, you’re doing a fine job.’”

 

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a freelance writer with a Master’s degree in International Conflict Resolution. He has traveled throughout the Middle East and Latin America to gain firsthand insight in some of the world’s most troubled areas, and he plans on publishing his first book in 2019.

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