McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The stalled debt-ceiling talks in Washington, D.C., are affecting future funding for the Department of Homeland Security, and Republicans are drawing border security issues into the debate, a South Texas congressman told Border Report.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat who is the ranking member of the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, says that two House Appropriation hearings scheduled for Wednesday morning, including one involving a massive future border funding bill, were canceled.
This included a meeting of the Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee that was set for 10 a.m. ET, followed by a meeting of the full Appropriations Committee. Both were to discuss the Fiscal Year 2024 Homeland Security House funding bill. This $91 billion funding bill sets aside money for every agency within DHS, including Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to run the agency starting Oct. 1, through Sept. 30, 2024.
Two other Appropriations hearings scheduled for Tuesday also were postponed. This included debate on Fiscal Year 2024 funding for military construction and veterans’ affairs, and the legislative branch. A Wednesday hearing on Fiscal Year 2024 funding for agriculture, rural development and the Food and Drug Administration also was canceled.
“We had four appropriation bills. I can’t remember this happening (before), but all four got canceled, including Homeland Appropriations,” Cuellar said.
House Appropriations Chairwoman Kay Granger said the committee was postponing all hearings this week to allow leaders to focus on the debt-ceiling talks.
“Given recent developments in the negotiations between Speaker (Kevin) McCarthy and the president, and in order to give the speaker maximum flexibility as talks continue, the committee will postpone this week’s markups,” Granger, a Republican from Texas, announced Tuesday.
Congress and the White House face a June 1 deadline to come up with a debt ceiling solution or the federal government faces possible default on the nation’s credit.
At issue is to whether lift the debt ceiling to fund future federal spending, or institute spending cuts.
And pivotal to these talks are issues regarding border security spending, and continued building of the border wall along the Southwest border, Cuellar told Border Report.
“Well, they want the wall. That’s the No. 1. They’re asking for about $2.1 billion. So they want the wall again,” Cuellar said. “I keep telling them, it’s a 14th Century solution to a 21st Century problem.”
The Hill reports that negotiators say the biggest issue in debt ceiling talks is topline discretionary spending levels, which they said the White House needs to recognize as a spending problem before closing the gap. On Wednesday afternoon The Hill reported that House Republicans were heading to the White House to try to work out a deal.
Cuellar blames “This debt ceiling issue and other factors within the Republican caucus,” for delaying these crucial funding bills that pay the salaries of over 80,000 in DHS.
With Republicans in control of the House, their wants for the Fiscal 2024 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill are:
- $3.5 billion to house and detain 41,000 asylum seekers — the most ever.
- $2.1 billion to build a Southwest border wall.
- $655 million to transport and remove migrants.
- $496 million for 22,000 Border Patrol agents — the most ever funded.
- $276 million for border security technology.
- Not fund a requested $165 million third Joint Processing Center for migrants.
- Cut $800 million from the Emergency Food and Shelter program for migrants, which helps to reimburse nonprofits and migrant advocacy organizations on the border that help asylum seekers.
- Reduce by $20 million the Case Management Pilot Program, which offers Alternatives to Detention options for asylum-seekers. This DHS program provides voluntary counseling to non-citizens who are in immigration removal proceedings and is managed by a National Board chaired by the DHS Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
Congress is slated to recess for Memorial Day and all of next week, but staffers have been told they could be called back in depending on the debt ceiling negotiations, which must be worked out by next Thursday or the nation’s credit score could suffer. The United States has never before defaulted on its debt.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com