AUSTIN — House Republicans on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to approve a sweeping bipartisan immigration overhaul bill with more than $1 trillion in new spending.
The GOP-led chamber voted 98-1 in favor of a bill authored by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R, S.C.).
The bill will be the centerpiece of President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda.
But House Democrats said the legislation was insufficient to help millions of immigrants and their families.
“We know we are not done yet,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who sponsored the bill.
“We have a long way to go, but this is the beginning of a new, brighter future.”
The bill, which includes $1.6 trillion in tax credits and other spending measures, has a $1,000 per person cap on welfare benefits for children and families who arrive in the United States from Mexico.
It also requires employers to pay more for the first two years of employment for undocumented immigrants, but it does not include a pathway to citizenship.
Democrats have long argued that it should be more generous to immigrants who are here legally.
The House passed the bill on Wednesday by a voice vote, but House leaders said they would only have the House vote on it if Democrats agreed to provide the $1 billion in cash aid and other measures to undocumented immigrants.
In addition to the $700 billion in new funding for the government, the bill also includes $300 billion in border security and border enforcement spending.
A second package of measures to help people in need is still under consideration by the Senate.
The bill would expand child tax credits to families of up to three children.
It would provide additional support for students and teachers who are undocumented, provide more protections for those with mental health issues, and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit to people with incomes up to $75,000 a year.
It is the first time the House has approved a major overhaul of the nation’s immigration system.
The measure would also provide $300 million to help parents of children who are in the country illegally who have been charged with a crime, including people who have not been deported yet, but have been released on bail.
Democrats on the House floor called the bill an amnesty bill.
The $1tn bill includes $350 billion for border security, $100 billion for child tax credit, and $150 billion for a temporary immigration program that allows undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. temporarily.
The bills would create a pathway for undocumented children who have entered the country without a parent to get work authorization or permanent residency.
It provides $250 billion to help employers hire and train new American workers.
It includes a $300-per-month cap on state and local government benefits for undocumented families, $30 billion to provide incentives for schools to provide quality education to all students, and another $100 million for states to help students who attend public schools.
Democrats in both chambers have opposed the legislation, citing concerns about how it would affect immigrants’ rights and whether it would create an environment of fear and uncertainty among young undocumented immigrants and others who do not speak English.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D, Ill.), the ranking member on the panel that passed the legislation last week, said that the House is working on amendments that address some of the problems that have arisen.
“The House is going to continue to work on amendments to make sure that the bill is not too far off,” Gutierrez said.
“But we also recognize the urgency and urgency of the issue.”
Rep. Joe Barton (R.
Texas) also said the bill does not go far enough to help undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children.
“I believe that a lot of families that are in this country illegally have been treated with compassion and dignity and kindness,” Barton said.
But Rep. David Cicilline (D., Mass.) said that was not enough.
“This bill is only a beginning,” Cicillinesaid.
“It’s not going to solve all the issues facing our country.
We will continue to look at these things and continue to fight.
I think that’s all that’s required.
We are not in a position to be able to give every undocumented immigrant amnesty.”
But Cicillinearthsays that his caucus is “working hard to make this a comprehensive immigration bill.”
“It is a long process, and it is going through a number of committees,” he said.