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US passes $4.6bn emergency aid bill to address US-Mexico border crisis


The US Senate on Wednesday passed an emergency funding bill in a bid to address the migrant crisis at its southern border with Mexico.
The bill worth USD 4.6 billion would provide President Donald Trump with an upper hand in negotiations with House Democrats who will now face pressure to act quickly, Al Jazeera reported.
"The Republican Senate just passed bipartisan humanitarian assistance for our Southern Border, 84-8! In addition to aid, Congress must close the catastrophic loopholes that are driving the Crisis. We must end incentives for Smuggling Children, Trafficking Women, and Selling Drugs," the president wrote on Twitter.
The 84-8 vote came less than 24 hours after the House of Representative passed a measure that was similar but had more restrictions on how the Trump administration could use the money. That House bill was rejected in the Senate.
The Senate action has put House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stuck in a political dilemma between her harsh criticisms against the Trump administration's family-separation polices at the southern border, and an urgent need to provide the US agencies with more funding to handle the recent surge in migrants.
"The topline numbers of the House bill may be similar but the policy implications are vast. Time is of the essence here," Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, was quoted as saying.
"We may not agree on how we got here or how best to move forward but we agree there is a crisis, a major crisis, and that the resources are needed now," Capito added.
The action came after a shocking image of a drowned man and his daughter lying face down in the waters of the Rio Grande, part of the US border with Mexico, went viral on the internet on Tuesday, underscoring the human toll of the crisis at the US-Mexico border. The duo along with other family members had left El Salvador on April 3 seeking a better life in Dallas, Texas, CNN reported.
According to Al Jazeera, the bill would provide USD 145 million to support the US military's operations at the border, which has been repeatedly opposed by the House Democrats. It would also provide USD 793 million to improve migrant housing conditions at border stations and detention sites along with USD 112 million for migrant care.
The Senate bill would further allocate USD 2.88 billion for the Health and Human Services Department's much-criticised programme to house unaccompanied migrant children, allowing it to expand its housing capacity.

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First Published: Jun 27 2019 | 4:35 AM IST

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