Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar and Republican Congressman John Katko have teamed up on a bill to require the Department of Homeland Security to provide a plan for managing the large number of migrants crossing the southern border into the U.S. The bill, called the Border Surge Response and Resilience Act, would allow DHS to draw from an emergency fund once their plan is triggered.
"We have to have funding available to address that issue," Cuellar said in a joint interview with Katko for this week's episode of "The Takeout" podcast, hosted by CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett. There has been a recent influx of migrants crossing the southern border, including thousands of unaccompanied minors.
Highlights from this week's episode:
- Rep. John Katko on the importance of having a plan to address migrant influxes: "In the future, when this happens again, we need to be prepared."
- Rep. Henry Cuellar on having the president address immigration issues: "Whoever the president is, we want to have that person be successful, because if they succeed, then we succeed as a country."
- Cuellar on police reform: "We've got to support our men and women who are in uniform, the law enforcement, and if we do some reform, it's got to be very thoughtful."
- Katko on the Justice in Policing Act: "It laid down a marker, but I think everyone understood that it wasn't going to go anywhere."
Katko said that the Biden administration, as well as the Trump administration, have not had "a game plan" to address the historically high number of migrants crossing into the U.S.
"In the future, when this happens again, we need to be prepared," Katko said. The bill would require DHS to come up with the metrics to determine when the plan would be triggered, and then use the available funds for purposes such as providing food and equipment and expanding temporary facilities for migrants.
Cuellar said he believed it was important to have a plan for addressing surges, regardless of which party controls the White House.
"Whoever the president is, we want to have that person be successful, because if they succeed, then we succeed as a country," Cuellar said.
Cuellar and Katko also talked about the importance of enacting policing reform, after the conviction ofearlier this week renewed interest in passing reform legislation through Congress. The House recently passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a comprehensive bill that has received some criticism from Republicans. The bill would overhaul qualified immunity, making it easier to bring litigation against law enforcement officers, but Republicans worry that this could open up officers to specious lawsuits.
"We've got to support our men and women who are in uniform, the law enforcement, and if we do some reform it's got to be very thoughtful," Cuellar, who has siblings in law enforcement, said. He added that he supports the Justice in Policing Act, but said "we need to make some adjustments, particularly pertaining to qualified immunity.
"If they feel that every time they make a decision on a split second that they might be hauled over to court, then you would have a chilling effect on the work that they do," Cuellar said about law enforcement officers vulnerable to lawsuits.
Katko agreed that provisions of the bill needed to be renegotiated.
"If it was a perfect bill, if it was a very good bill, we wouldn't be having the discussions that we're having now on an alternative to it," Katko said. "It laid down a marker, but I think everyone understood that it wasn't going to go anywhere."
Members of Congress are currently engaged in informal negotiations over a potential bill.
For more of Major's conversation with Cuellar and Katko, download "The Takeout" podcast on Art19, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).
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