This move is seen as a significant setback to the White House's attempts to address the border crisis. The Daily Signal reported the development on Thursday.
The legislation, known as H.R. 5283, was initiated by Republican Representative Nicole Malliotakis of New York. In a statement issued in October when she introduced the bill, Malliotakis said, "Turning our federal parks into encampments for unvetted migrants from all over the world is unfair to surrounding communities, and the taxpayers being forced to foot the bill while having their public spaces taken away."
Malliotakis further expressed her gratitude to the House Committee on Natural Resources for their swift action on her legislation, which she believes brings the country one step closer to ending the misuse of federal land. The bill passed with 224 votes in favor and 203 against.
Six Democrats, all from swing districts or districts affected by the border crisis, voted for the measure, according to the Clerk of the House of Representatives' website. No Republicans voted against the bill.
The legislation follows hearings held in September by the House Committee on Natural Resources, which concluded with a denouncement of the Biden administration's policy of using National Park Service lands to house migrant camps for illegal immigrants. The committee cited the use of the Gateway National Recreation Area in New York City as an example of this policy.
Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman criticized the Biden administration's border policies, stating, "Not only have these failures directly resulted in 6 million illegal crossings since Joe Biden took office, a devastating fentanyl crisis and an increase in terrorism threats, but now the administration is attempting to permanently alter our national parks by permitting the construction of migrant camps on some of America’s most treasured lands."
The White House responded with a statement strongly opposing the House's attempt to prevent the use of federal land to address the border crisis. The statement read, "The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 5283, which would prohibit the use of Federal funds to provide temporary shelter to certain noncitizens, including migrants seeking asylum, on Federal lands falling under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or the Forest Service."
The bill's future in the Democrat-controlled Senate remains uncertain, with swing votes like Democrat Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona potentially playing a crucial role. The White House has expressed firm opposition to the measure.
However, as the larger budget battle unfolds under new House Speaker Mike Johnson, the left may have to compromise on funding for illegal immigrant camps on federal land to secure their other spending priorities. The use of taxpayer funds to house illegal immigrants in national parks or other federal lands is unlikely to be popular with American voters, who expect such funds to be used for recreational facilities and wildlife conservation.
Despite the White House's strong opposition to H.R. 5283, it is possible that President Biden may end up signing a similar bill as part of a compromise with the House GOP. This article originally appeared on The Western Journal.