Congress

Republicans move for House to adjourn over inaction on border crisis

GOP members use procedural delay tactic to highlight need for more funds at border

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, left, moved for the House to adjourn on Wednesday in protest over the Democratic majority not taking action on the president’s border supplemental funding request. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Frustrated over what they say is Democrats’ inaction on President Donald Trump’s request for more money to manage the migrant crisis at the border, a few House Republicans on Wednesday used a procedural motion to adjourn to protest on House floor.

The first motion to adjourn, offered by Texas GOP Rep. Chip Roy, was defeated 146-244. The second, offered by Arizona GOP Rep. Andy Biggs, was also defeated, 140-254. 

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Although the House resumed normal business after those two back-to-back procedural votes, more GOP motions to adjourn are possible throughout the day on Wednesday. The House was already scheduled to have a long legislative day, with votes as late as 11 p.m., because it is working through a long list of amendments to a four-bill spending package. 

Republicans know the motions to adjourn won’t succeed, but they say they want to use the tactic to disrupt normal floor proceedings to call attention to the issue.

The move left Democrats, and even some Republicans, grumbling about the disruption as they had to leave committee hearings and markups or other events for the unscheduled votes. New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had been trying to eat lunch when the first vote was called, so she just carried the food containers with her as she made her way to the floor. 

Rep. Mo Brooks was overheard telling fellow Alabama Republican Rep. Bradley Byrne, who is running for Senate, that at least the upper house doesn’t have to deal with motions like this. The Senate does have the power to move to adjourn but senators typically use other motions and procedural tools for protests and delay tactics in that chamber.

Roy and Biggs urged the Democratic majority to take up Trump’s $4.5 billion supplemental funding request for the Department of Homeland Security, money the administration says the department needs urgently to deal with the large number of migrants trying to cross the U.S. southern border. 

“It is unconscionable that this body will not address it,” Roy said. 

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said Roy talked to him about his plans before offering the motion to adjourn.

“We both share the same concern that Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi is not addressing the crisis at the border and the president sent down a supplemental request to take care of the thousands of young children that are coming across the border, many with health issues,” the Louisiana Republican said. “They’re about to run out of money. He requested weeks ago that Speaker Pelosi bring a bill to address this and she hasn’t. It’s long past time that this gets resolved.”

House Democratic leaders say they too want to address the migrant issue but they only want to provide money for urgent humanitarian needs, not for increased enforcement mechanisms that Republicans want to fund.

“It is clear that we have humanitarian crisis at the border. We need to act on that,” House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer told reporters Tuesday. “We need to appropriate significant sums — I’m hopeful that will be done sooner rather than later — to accommodate in a humanitarian way those folks who are fleeing oppression, violence, etc, etc.

Hoyer said House Democrats want to act on that this month before the chamber departs for its week-long Independence Day recess but that would be dependent on cooperation from Republicans, particularly in the Senate and the White House, to limit the scope of the funding. 

“I’m certainly hopeful that we will do that before we leave, some additional supplemental,“ the Maryland Democrat said. “The key issue is are we dealing with humanitarian or are we dealing with enforcement? They’re not the same. And there is substantial concern that they will conflate them. That’s the problem.”

Jacob Metz contributed to this report.

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