Funding for border security approved in last-minute bill

The Senate late Thursday approved by unanimous consent an emergency funding bill that provides $600 million for increased security along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Democrats hastily introduced the bill Thursday after Republicans opposed other efforts to approve border security funding because it was not offset.

The new bill, introduced by Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is offset by increasing fees on foreign companies that abuse the use of H-1B visas and tourist visas to bring workers into the United States. The bill's passage was assured when Arizona Republican Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl signed on as co-sponsors.

McCain and Kyl had put forward their own bill to provide $701 million in emergency border security funds, which would have been offset with unspent stimulus funds. But McCain said the Democratic bill "is a movement in the right direction," even though he said he would like to see more done to beef up border security.

"I believe we have a lot more to do but this will contribute to our effort to get our border secured," McCain said.

Hinting at the underlying tensions between Democrats and Republicans, Schumer noted that Democrats hope the bill will help Congress pass comprehensive immigration reform. The bill still must be approved by the House, which will come back into session on Tuesday to vote on an unrelated bill.

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