WASHINGTON – Today, House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) and Oversight Republicans wrote to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra over reports indicating HHS diverted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars—without authorization—to cover services for those unlawfully crossing the U.S. Southern border. Once again, the country is reckoning with the consequences of President Biden’s failure to secure the border and enforce deterrent-focused policies. His self-created border crisis is causing HHS to detract from its critical mission of combating COVID-19 and protecting public health.
“HHS is diverting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars from their intended purposes to cover the costs of housing unaccompanied migrant children during a crisis caused by the Biden Administration’s policy decisions,” wrote the lawmakers. “We are concerned that these budget transfers are negatively impacting other mission-critical functions of HHS and the overall effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic or respond to a future health crisis…We are at a critical juncture in fighting the pandemic and it strains credibility that these huge transfers will have no impact on HHS mission critical functions or the Administration’s efforts in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. This most recent round of budget transfers is only the latest in a months’ long process of raiding critical funding streams to pay for the consequences of the Border Crisis.”
HHS has a statutory obligation under law to care for unaccompanied children placed in its custody from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In July alone, almost 19,000 unaccompanied children were encountered by the DHS and transferred to HHS custody. The ongoing surge of illegal border crossings remains historically high and is leaving HHS overburdened.
To assist Republicans in conducting important oversight over the border crisis’s negative impact on HHS, the lawmakers are requesting all documents and communications related to the reprogramming of HHS funds to cover the costs of caring for unaccompanied children at the border.
Read the full letter to Secretary Becerra here.