Senate advances border funds as Congress prepares to leave town

Senate advances emergency border funds as Congress prepares to leave town

With unexpected support from Republicans, the Senate advanced a $2.7-billion emergency package to handle the influx of minors at the Southwestern border with just days remaining before Congress leaves town.

A handful of Republicans joined most Democrats to breathe new life into the Senate proposal, which was scaled back from President Obama's $3.7-billion request. Border agencies have warned they will run out of money beginning next month.

The 63-33 vote, with opposition from some red-state Democrats who face difficult reelection bids in the fall, provides momentum to congressional action to address the border crisis. A rival House GOP proposal has faltered due to Republican infighting.

But finding consensus in Congress remains doubtful as lawmakers are set to leave town this week for the long August break.

Republicans are deeply split over the issue, but largely oppose spending more money on the border unless certain conditions are met. They want to change an existing anti-trafficking law to more swiftly deport the children, and some hard-liners in the GOP want to block Obama's threatened executive actions to give some immigrants legal standing.

House Republicans have drafted a smaller $659-million emergency aid package that changes the 2008 law, but it is unclear if Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) can pass the bill Thursday amid opposition from some in his party who want stronger restraints on Obama's immigration policies.

Tea party conservatives, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and radio talk show personalities have encouraged activists to flood congressional phone lines with opposition to more border spending.

The Senate package also would have provided emergency funding to fight wildfires and for an anti-missile defense system in Israel.

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