As House Republicans search for the votes to pass a $659 million border supplemental bill, the key to getting the measure across the finish line may rest with one group: Democrats.
Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., seemed to indicate Tuesday there would be some support for the border supplemental on the Democratic side, though exactly how many Democratic votes Republicans could count on was a mystery.
Hoyer said he thought the $659 million was "inadequate," and said doing it for just two months was "bad policy."
"But I don't think it would be a poison pill, if you will," he said. "Essentially, we're arguing how long a time are we going to appropriate the money for."
Indeed, many Republicans may have trouble swallowing a $659 million price tag to address the border crisis for just two months, but the money could be the key for Democrats. Of course, many Democrats still have a problem with the proposed changes to a 2008 law on human trafficking that would essentially expedite the deportation of children from Central America, and those provisions certainly make passage in the Democratic Senate tricky. But the bill might have tacked just enough to the middle to at least make it through the House.
At least that was the tone Hoyer struck Tuesday, even as he noted that he didn't personally like the bill.
Pressed on why Democrats wouldn't withhold all their support and make Republicans pass the bill with only GOP votes, Hoyer suggested that relying on Democratic votes to pass the supplemental was a risky strategy for Republicans.
"Well if they need it, they're throwing dice," Hoyer said.
But he didn't say Democratic leadership would be clamping down on its members to ensure no Democrat votes for the proposal. "I don't know how much support there's going to be on this side for their proposition," Hoyer said.
The No. 2 House Democrat indicated he wouldn't exactly be helping Republicans pass the bill. "I don't see myself trying to get them votes for a language change," he said, referring to the 2008 trafficking law. But Hoyer didn't express great confidence in his ability to whip against this vote.
"I wish I could be as assured that I could give votes or not give votes that you premise," Hoyer said.