WASHINGTON — House Republicans have agreed to vote on a slimmed-down bill to address the immigration crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border by sending in National Guard troops and speeding unaccompanied migrant youths back to Central America.
The bill will cost $659 million through the end of this fiscal year, far smaller than the $3.7 billion requested by President Barack Obama and a sharp reduction from the $1.5 billion initially proposed by the House spending committee.
The cuts were designed to win over skeptical conservatives and give lawmakers something they could pass before leaving Washington at the end of this week for their annual August recess.
"I think there's sufficient support in the House to move this bill," House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Tuesday after meeting with rank-and-file lawmakers on the issue. "We have a little more work to do though."
Boehner said the bill would come to a vote on Thursday.
Numerous House Republicans have said in recent weeks that they did not want to go back to their districts to face voters without acting to deal with the crisis of tens of thousands of kids and teens showing up at the South Texas border, many fleeing vicious gangs and trying to reunite with family members.
Lawmakers said Tuesday that the measure appeared to enjoy widespread support, although some conservatives said they remained opposed.
"Frankly, we need to show that we can act and act thoughtfully, responsibly and quickly," said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. "Clean up the mess that the administration has created. I think the worst thing for us would have been to write a blank check which the president wanted us to do."
Associated Press writers Donna Cassata and Alan Fram contributed to this report.