At least one legislator, Representative Juan Vargas, Democrat of California, said he would vote against the bill, criticizing the inclusion of new steel-post fencing.
“I think most people just want to get this thing over with,” he said. “I’m not one of those people.”
For some Democrats, the biggest issue is detention slots under the control of the Trump administration. The agreement authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to fund about 40,000 beds for detainees, many of them in centers run by for-profit companies and ICE near the border in Texas, Arizona and California.
House Democratic aides described the language as a “glide path” from the current level of 49,000 detention beds to Obama-era levels of 35,000 or fewer.
But a summary of the provisions drafted by Senate Republican staff members placed the average number of beds funded under the deal at a much higher number — 45,274, including 2,500 for families. And that could rise to as many as 58,500 beds, Republican aides asserted in internal communications, because federal cabinet departments have latitude in how they use funds.
Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington and a leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said she was likely to vote no on the measure because of what she felt was a “lack of accountability around the detention system.”
“We’ve reduced that number over the next nine months, but the average daily population that we’re appropriating is still too high,” she said. “Unless we have a guarantee from the administration that they’re actually going to listen to what Congress does and our appropriated amounts, we still have a president using every tool at his disposal.”