June 11, 2019
WASHINGTON – At the weekly Republican leadership press conference, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, called on Congress to provide emergency funding to address the humanitarian crisis at the southern border. As Blunt noted, the Department of Health and Human Services will soon run out of the resources needed to take care of unaccompanied children, as they are required to do under the law. The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to consider emergency funding legislation next week.
Following Are Blunt’s Remarks:
“On this topic, the border supplemental, even though a lot of our friends on the other side, when you say ‘border’ they hear ‘wall’, there is no wall funding included in this. It is all emergency funding, slightly more than half will be to take care of unaccompanied children.
“Not children who were separated from their families, children who came by themselves. Of that 130,000 people that came last year, that Senator Barrasso mentioned, about 11,500 of them were kids who came by themselves. About a third of those kids were under 12, about two thirds were between 12 and 17, and there is no option but for Homeland Security to turn those kids over to Health and Human Services and for us to take responsibility for them.
“This is not a group that under any circumstances you can say ‘okay, we’re going to have to let you go because we don’t have any place to keep you, show up in six months or so for your asylum hearing.’
“You can’t take 12 and 13 and 14 year old boys and girls and say ‘show up at some future time.’ So we have to take care of these kids, we are out of appropriated money to do it, we are out of the money that the appropriations bill allowed to be repurposed to do it. And at some point very quickly we’ll be basically asking the contractors, groups like Lutheran family services and Catholic family services, to just do this for free and at some point in the future we’ll pay you. That obviously doesn’t work.
“So, slightly more than half of the money would be for that, the other half would just simply be the over-time and the other things that have to happen at the border when you have this number of people coming to the border.
“Not walls, not anything that Democrats have objected to. In fact, Lucille Roybal-Allard … said this is a horrendous problem.
“So let’s solve it as you would solve any other horrendous problem, appropriately and quickly, and we plan to mark up that bill next Thursday.”