House GOP Strips Immigration Language from Defense Bill

Fox News, May 14, 2015

House conservatives on Thursday voted down a nonbinding provision aimed at helping young immigrants without permanent legal status enlist in the military, angering some fellow Republicans and handing Democrats a political issue heading into an election year.

The vote was 221-202 to remove the measure from Congress’ annual defense policy bill. Some 20 Republicans voted “no” but couldn’t overcome conservatives who threatened to oppose the overall bill if they didn’t get their way.

“This Congress should support and represent Americans by voting to stop military service opportunities from being taken from struggling American families in order to give them to illegal aliens,” GOP Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, who led the fight, argued on the House floor ahead of the vote.

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“This is a mistake,” said Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a freshman Republican from Florida. “It sends the wrong message to the country. I assure you that the overwhelming majority of Americans are for allowing young people who were raised in this country, who love this country and want to serve it, to have that opportunity.”

Democrats wasted no time in jumping on an issue that could help them mobilize Latino voters heading into a presidential election year. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her top lieutenants held a press conference to denounce Republicans over the issue, and presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton also got in on the action. She issued a statement from her political director, Amanda Renteria, saying: “If these courageous young men and women want to serve, they should be honored and celebrated, not discriminated against.”

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The measure by Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., would have expressed the House’s view that the Pentagon should study whether military enlistment should be opened to Dreamers. It was added to the defense bill during a marathon committee session last month, with the support of six Republicans. But several Republicans asserted Thursday that it shouldn’t have been included in the first place, suggesting that perhaps it only was because the debate occurred so late at night and people were not fully focusing.

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