The US House of Representatives has passed $827 billion package that includes $1.6 billion for contentious border wall with Mexico, which was part of President Donald Trump's central campaign pledge.
During his presidential campaign, Trump had vowed to build the wall to prevent illegal immigration and smuggling of drugs to the US. But he had said he would make Mexico pay for it. Now, all of the funds in the bill would be paid by US taxpayers.
The bill passed by the republican controlled house with a 235-192 vote, mostly along party lines. It now heads to the Senate - where Democrats have a significant strength - before it can be signed into law by the US president.
The Democratic leadership has been opposing the proposed border wall. It is likely that the legislation would be resisted by the opposition party in the Senate. Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the bill "would squander billions of taxpayer dollar on President Trump's immoral, ineffective and expensive border wall".
"He said it would cost 4-6 billion. The fact is it could cost as much as USD 30-40 billion. And he wants a down payment for that wall in this bill. One poison pill", she said.
House Democratic caucus chairman Joe Crowley called the move as "immoral and ineffective". A wall along the US-Mexican border will not make the United States safer nor more secure," he said. "It is a massive waste of taxpayer money and will exacerbate problems with our already broken immigration system".
Democratic National Committee Chair Tom too raised his concerns on similar lines in a statement. "Like many of the presidents' policies, this initiative is rooted in nothing more than prejudice and fear mongering. And as with so many of his campaign pledges, he has broken his promise to Americans that they wouldn't pay a dime for this wall.
"The Trump administration has defended the wall. "The border wall is one more tool in the toolbox that might prevent some of the things from happening," Tom Homan, acting director of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told reporters at a White House news conference.
"That is why what President Trump is asking us to do, that is why what he is proposing for border security makes sense for the law enforcement community. We need this help," Homan said.
Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy and campaigns at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the wall would "further Trump's discriminatory anti-immigrant agenda and worsen customs and border protection abuses" in the 100- mile border zone.