Congress

Ocasio-Cortez, other female progressive freshmen will vote against border deal

Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley and Tlaib have called for ending DHS funding, but the deal includes an increase

Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, left, and Ilhan Omar attend a rally on Feb. 7 on the East Front of the Capitol to call on Congress to defund Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna S. Pressley and Rashida Tlaib will vote against the massive spending measure agreed to by a bipartisan conference committee because they oppose an increase in funding to the Department of Homeland Security.

“This Administration continues to threaten the dignity and humanity of our immigrant population,” the lawmakers said in a press release Thursday. “The Department of Homeland Security does not deserve an increase in funding, and that is why we intend to vote no on this funding package.”

The progressive freshman have called for a halt in additional spending on DHS until the department stops allocating funds to detain unaccompanied minors without accountability.

But the deal includes $49.4 billion in regular discretionary spending for the Department of Homeland Security — a $1.7 billion bump over the prior year. 

The freshman Democrats accused the Trump administration of treating the Department of Homeland Security like a “slush fund,” of abusing public resources and of the inhumane treatment of migrants in a January Dear Colleague letter first reported by the Daily Beast.

They have called on Congress to stop allocating funding to Customs and Border Patrol or Immigration and Customs Enforcement until those concerns have been addressed under the banners “not one dollar” and “Defund Hate.”

Watch: Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley join protest for immigrants in limbo

The announcement comes as immigration rights advocates have panned the deal.

“The bill, which contains over $1.3 billion for a racist border wall, an 12% increase in the number of detention beds to incarcerate immigrants, and an increase in ICE agents and custom officers, is an offense to our communities and a concession to politics of fear and manipulation,” a coalition of progressive groups including the Center for Popular Democracy wrote in an open letter to Congress on Wednesday.

The opposition of the party’s left flank is unlikely to sink the deal, according to Democratic aides.

A Democratic leadership aide said Pelosi picked liberal conference committee negotiators in order to deflect criticism from the party's left flank.

“Look at the liberals she has on the committee to give folks cover,” the aide said. 

California Rep. Barbara Lee, a former Progressive Caucus chairwoman, is among the six House Democratic conferees. House Democratic conferee Lucille Roybal-Allard of California is also a Progressive Caucus member.

Moderates in the New Democrat Coalition reaffirmed their support for the deal and criticized its opponents as operating “purely out of partisanship” in a statement Thursday.

“We thank all the conferees, particularly the House Democratic conferees, for working together to forge a bipartisan consensus to fund the government, invest in our priorities, and keep our country safe,” coalition leaders said.

Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley, and Tlaib stressed that they oppose a government shutdown.

“We want to be abundantly clear: this is not a rebuke of federal workers or those who depend on the services they provide, but a rejection of the hateful policies, priorities, and rhetoric of the Trump Administration,” they said in their statement.

Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.

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