Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 25, 2014

Rep. Denham to Continue to Push for ENLIST Act in NDAA

Jeff Denham 22 071411 330x219 Rep. Denham to Continue to Push for ENLIST Act in NDAA

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif. (Douglas Graham/Roll Call File Photo)

The Republican leadership of the House has signaled its intent to block consideration of any immigration-related amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act this week, but Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., hasn’t given up — yet.

Denham, who caused a stir last month by pledging to force a House vote on an amendment to the NDAA that would create a legal status pathway to undocumented immigrants who served the military — the so-called ENLIST Act — has filed that amendment with the House Rules Committee, which was set to meet Monday evening to determine whether to allow that amendment, and countless others, to be subject for debate.

Denham is also asking the Rules Committee to allow consideration of an amendment that would call upon the secretary to Defense to compile a report on the number of undocumented immigrants who have, since 2000, enlisted in the military and gone onto obtain citizenship.

And in a clear challenge to his colleagues after being told Friday the ENLIST Act would be blocked, Denham is also seeking consideration of an amendment that would eliminate three existing immigration provisions included in the base text of the NDAA: One that relates to the “sale or donation of excess personal property for border security activities,” one regarding an “extension of [an] Afghan special immigrant program” and one “relating to treatment of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan under the Immigration and Nationality Act.”

That final amendment, according to a statement from Denham’s office, has been submitted to the Rules Committee “to highlight the fact that NDAA frequently addresses immigration issues.”

Critics of the ENLIST Act have argued repeatedly that the NDAA is not the appropriate place to consider immigration-related amendments, and House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., has said such matters fall within his panel’s purview and no one else’s.

“If we want to include immigration in NDAA, then we should also consider the ENLIST Act,” Denham said in a statement.

“The ENLIST Act is a change to military code, not immigration law,” he continued. ” [It] provides an avenue for those who want to perform the ultimate act of patriotism — serving their county — to earn legal status. As a veteran, I can think of no better way to demonstrate your commitment to our nation.”

Denham has also emphasized that the ENLIST Act was made in order one year ago during House floor consideration of the NDAA. At that time less of a lightening-rod issue, Denham agreed not to request the yeas and nays in deference, he said, to Goodlatte, and to GOP colleagues who said they were committed to advancing immigration overhaul legislation by the end of the 113th Congress.

Republican leaders could be called upon to explain why they’ve had a chance of heart from one year to the next on the issue, though it is likely due to the tense political environment and the looming midterm elections where GOP incumbents fear being scrutinized for taking immigration-related votes.

Republicans have also said they would vote against the NDAA if an immigration-related provision like the ENLIST Act were to be included, meaning leaders faced a choice of allowing an immigration vote to go through or potentially dooming the entire legislation. Heritage Action said it would score votes on ENLIST and final passage of the NDAA if the amendment went through, and the Madison Project also signaled it would fight its inclusion.

In any case, it’s clear that Denham, and others, intend to press the issue. On Tuesday, Denham, fellow Republican Mike Coffman of Colorado and Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill., will join members of the military who have gained citizenship through their service for a press conference calling upon the House to pass legislation to address the nation’s flawed immigration system.

Earlier Monday, Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin held a hearing in Chicago to promote legal status for undocumented immigrants. He called for the Pentagon to act unilaterally to allow the enlistment of DREAMers, immigrants who came to the United States as children

America’s Voice, an pro-immigration overhaul advocacy group, blasted Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., on Monday, after his spokesman, Doug Heye, told reporters late last week that the ENLIST Act would not come to the floor.

“Cantor and other House Republican leaders will never be accused of being profiles in courage,” said America’s Voice executive director Frank Sharry. “But if they continue on the track they are on, they will be accused of dooming the GOP’s future.”

  • tom

    Both Obama and Gutierrez need to promise to obey the law from now on if the GOP agrees to immigration reform.

    • MrArchieBunker

      YOU THINK THAT THEY ARE NOT OBEYING THE LAWS BECAUSE OF THE SPIN POLITICS THAT THE REPUBLICANS & FAUX NEWS ARE FEEDING YOU?/
      THEY WOULD HAVE BROUGHT AN IMPEACHMENT LONG TIME AGO IF THIS WERE TRUE. EDUCATE YOURSELF.

      • 700Level

        Hey m@r@n, writing in all caps doesn’t make you any less clueless.

    • Nicholas DeLuca

      tom…. The “obey the law” cliché is just that a meaningless cliché overused by the willfully ignorant.

  • YONATAN C

    Another thing that the republicans should be “ashamed” of, is the fact that they STILL haven’t passed the unemployment extension bill, for the 2.6 million unemployed families in this country. Since late last December, the republicans have held the extension bill “hostage” in the senate, for political leverage, to get the Koch Brother’s XL Oil Pipeline approved in return for their vote on the extension bill. The republicans have used these unfortunate families as bargaining chips, not caring about what these families are going through. Many of these families have lost everything, while waiting these past five months for the extension bill to pass, to help them survive financially until they find employment. The republicans have continued to make delay after delay, stalling so that time would run out for the passing of the bill in the senate. This was a deliberate act, and these families will now have to continue suffering and struggling without any income. The republicans have shown a total lack of compassion, and common decency towards these families. There are now 2.6 million unemployed, and the number is growing every week. The American people are angry and will voice their anger at the ballot box in the coming elections. They will remember how the republican senate made their lives a living hell.

  • MrArchieBunker

    ASK HIM WHY HE DID NOT SIGN THE PETITION BILL TO BRING THE SENATE IMMIGRATION BILL TO A VOTE IN THE HOUSE??
    THIS IS A SHAM TO GET VOTES.

  • Whitemanbangingblackchicks

    @yonatan_c:disqus the thing is, you want an unemployment extension bill…How can you point fingers at the republicans? The republicans should take a stance against any amnesty. Pur country has been flooded these past five years by illegal aliens that take american jobs. Ppl complain aboout wanting higher wages…the reason why companies wont raise wages is because the massive size of the american labor pool. LAW of supply and demand applies to jobs, just like everything else. The bigger supply of jobs, the lower the wages. Liberals want an influx of visa workers to please their pro amnesty corporate backers. You know why? More workers, cheaper labor. The republicans are fighting for american jobs. More american jobs mean less unemployed workers. If this amnesty bill is passed, you can kiss any jobs goodbye.

  • JetsFan1984

    There are an estimated 20,000 illegal immigrants who are of Somali birth and between the age of 18 and 20. Is that the new navy?

  • Hutch King – HK

    Most of the benefits of modern civilization result from our own ability to make use of more knowledge than we could ever know personally.

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