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Payroll tax bill includes funds for more immigration detention beds

The congressional showdown over payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits continues after the GOP-led House voted Tuesday against a Senate bill approved over the weekend.

The bill to extend payroll tax cuts and extend unemployment benefits is part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, H.R. 3671, a $1 trillion dollar omnibus spending bill that funds several federal government departments, including Defense and Homeland Security.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that “the House voted Tuesday to scuttle a deal brokered in the Senate to extend the payroll-tax holiday and federal unemployment insurance for two months.”

The Journal adds that the “vote leaves Congress at a familiar impasse, just days after a final deal seemed to be in sight. Senate leaders reached an agreement late last week to extend for two months the payroll-tax cut, federal unemployment benefits and a measure to reimburse doctors for treating Medicare patients.”

The 2012 Appropriations Act includes funding that raises the number of immigration detention beds to about 34,000.

The final Fiscal Year 2012 Appropriations 1,200-page bill package includes “a total of $39.6 billion in regular discretionary funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – a decrease of $2 billion below last year’s level and $4 billion below the President’s request.”

According to a detailed summary (.pdf), “the bill provides $5.9 billion for [Immigrations and Customs Enforcement], which is $50 million more than last year’s level. This includes funding for 34,000 detention beds – the largest detention capacity in ICE’s history – and increases in immigration enforcement activities.”

Residents of Pembroke Pines and the town of Southwest Ranches are opposed to the federally funded and privately managed detention center set to be built in South Florida.

The 2012 Appropriations Act also includes $11.7 billion for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “an increase of $362 million over last year’s level.”

Photo: An Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer (ice.gov)

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