Immigration bill critics focus on health law delay

By Erica Werner

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Aug. 5 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul, R-Texas, says he's spoken with Boehner about action in September or early October on a border security bill approved by his panel in May.

That bill, which has found support among conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, would require the secretary of homeland security to develop a strategy to gain operational control of the border within five years and a plan to implement the strategy. It calls on the Government Accountability Office to oversee the steps being taken.

The bill doesn't call for new spending, and stands in contrast to the approach taken in the Senate, where a last-minute compromise designed to attract more GOP votes would provide for a "border surge" with $46 billion in new spending on drones, helicopters and other technology, a doubling of agents patrolling the border with Mexico and hundreds of miles of new fencing.

Even some supporters called the Senate deal overkill, and McCain acknowledged recently that 20,000 additional border patrol agents really weren't necessary. And although the deal was designed to win over Republicans concerned about border security, it hasn't convinced many in the House. They describe the Senate approach as throwing money at the problem and complain that it still gives too much discretion to the Obama administration.

McCaul said that his bill, in contrast, would take politics out of the equation by giving oversight to the Government Accountability Office. Now he's trying to convince skeptical colleagues.

"That's what I tell my members," McCaul said, "is that, 'Yeah, I know you don't think he's going to follow anything, but he's got to report to the Congress and to my committee, and if they're not following the law, they have to follow the law.'"

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