Obama border bill divides Dems
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Centrist and liberal Democrats are battling one another over the emergency spending package for child immigrants at the southern border.
Worried about voter anger over illegal immigration in a midterm election year, centrists want Congress to examine changes to special legal protections granted to immigrants from Central America.
Republicans argue the changes are necessary to stop the wave of child immigrants overwhelming officials at the border. But the changes are hotly opposed by powerful liberals, including Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who worry they could put children from Central America in jeopardy.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has sided with the liberals and senior members of his caucus, agreeing that the $3.7 billion in emergency spending should not include policy changes empowering the administration to deport unaccompanied minors more quickly.
But centrist Democrats are pressing Reid to give ground.
“Just a clean 3.7 [billion]? No, I think we have to make sure we have the direction we’re going to spend that,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), when asked if he would vote for a spending bill that did not make policy changes.