Originally published by The Hill
The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday advanced a spending bill that would allow recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to work in the legislative branch. The bill was approved on a party-line vote of 28-22.
“By allowing DACA recipients to work on Capitol Hill, we are ensuring that they have the opportunity to learn and to contribute to our great democracy and represent their communities in Congress,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.). The legislative branch appropriations bill, which will advance to the House floor in June, would override a provision that prohibits the federal government from hiring so-called Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. The bill would also increase pay for interns in the House, boosting each office’s budget to $25,000 from the current $20,000 level, which itself was first implemented at the start of the 2019 fiscal year. It would allocate an additional $41 million to each House office’s Members Representational Allowance used for hiring staff and conducting business, representing a 4 percent increase equal to $55,000 per office. The bill would also revive the defunct Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), an entity shuttered since 1995, with a $6 million budget. The renewed OTA would be responsible for helping Congress navigate technological risks and development. All in all, the bill would increase spending on the legislative branch by $164 million. Republicans on the committee objected to the overall spending level, and in particular to a move to add an additional $29 million to the bill based on updated baselines from the Congressional Budget Office. “We’ve already included increases in almost every account before this $29 million,” said Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), the ranking member on the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, who offered a failed amendment to put the funds into a spending reduction account. Some Democrats remained displeased with the funding levels, though saying they should be higher. “How can Congress hold Trump accountable when Congress’s budget is almost $600 million less than the last time Democrats were in charge? @NitaLowey and @appropsdems should restore funding for Congress by adding 10% to its bottom line,” tweeted Rep. Ro Khana (D-Calif.), the vice chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus that has pushed for significantly higher levels of nondefense spending.
The committee is also considering the spending bill for military construction and veterans affairs on Thursday.