Friday, May 15, 2015

Another WIN in House of Reps


  This Issue: Brooks Amendment approved by the House; Amnesty provision stripped from defense bill

We had a tremendous victory in the House of Representatives last night when it passed an anti-amnesty amendment offered by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) by a 221-202 margin. The Brooks Amendment stripped out a provision from the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act that would have encouraged the Secretary of Defense to waive military enlistment requirements for illegal aliens who received amnesty through Pres. Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
With Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) assurance last week that the Senate Armed Services Committee would not add immigration provisions to the bill, this important defense legislation should now be free of any bad immigration provisions as it makes its way to the President's desk.
The vote was mostly along party lines with 20 Republicans voting against the Brooks Amendment. You can see that list here.
The House Armed Services Committee first added the provision to the NDAA after narrowly passing an amendment offered by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.).
We had several issues with the DACA language in the must-pass defense bill. Most importantly, though, we believed including it risked signaling to the courts that Congress approves of the President's illegal and unconstitutional executive amnesty of 2012. That appeared to be the intent of those adding the DACA language. Since existing federal law already allows for the Secretary of Defense to waive military enlistment requirements for non-citizens, it appears the main reason our opponents were pushing the DACA language in this defense bill was to provide some congressional legitimacy for Pres. Obama's amnesty actions that are being challenged in lawsuits that are working their way through the courts.
We've been coming to you for a few weeks now, asking for your activism, and it paid off! Thanks to all of you who sent faxes, made phone calls, or posted on Members of Congress' social media sites. Your actions have provided important -- perhaps crucial -- support for the legal actions challenging the Obama amnesties. We also want to thank Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions and Majority Whip Steve Scalise, among others, for working with us to ensure passage of the Brooks amendment.
When Pres. Obama first announced his unconstitutional DACA program in 2012, and then announced his larger executive actions last November, we vowed to make it an issue for the President and his supporters on as many issues as possible. But the National Defense Authorization Act was not a fight we picked; interestingly, this one was started by Pres. Obama's own supporters.
After cutting a deal with Senate Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) moved again to start the debate yesterday on the fast-track trade bill that would give Pres. Obama and the next administration an unprecedented amount of authority over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade agreement, including over future immigration to the United States.
Senate Democrats blocked an attempt by Sen. McConnell earlier in the week.
As debate begins on the Senate floor, we're following three amendments -- one offered by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and two offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) -- that would prevent the President from negotiating immigration changes in the TPP. They each have an amendment that specifically prohibits the President from negotiating immigration in TPP, and Sen. Sessions also has an amendment that requires Congressional approval of any changes to TPP after Congress gives its initial approval. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a "living document", meaning it can be changed overtime by the Administration -- even after Congress approves it. The Sessions amendment, however, would require Congressional approval after every change.
These three amendments would maintain Congress' plenary authority over federal immigration policy.
Please be on the lookout for action opportunities as we keep a close eye on the trade bill in the Senate.

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