House Majority Leader Eric Cantor changed direction entirely Friday, saying through a spokesman that he doesn’t plan to allow any amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would grant amnesty to illegal aliens through the ENLIST Act.
“No proposed ENLIST amendments to NDAA will be made in order,” Cantor spokesman Doug Heye said in an email to Breitbart News.
The statement represents a complete turnaround for Cantor, who just a couple weeks ago was the leading and most powerful force behind the effort to insert a version of Rep. Jeff Denham’s ENLIST Act into the NDAA bill. Denham’s ENLIST Act, or a bill similar to it from Rep. Mike Coffman, would grant illegal alien DREAMers amnesty if they enlist in the U.S. military.
Cantor’s top political consultant Ray Allen had confirmed he was supportive of the effort in an interview with Breitbart News in mid-April, after Cantor’s primary challenger Dave Brat criticized him over it.
“Mr. Cantor views military service as the highest service one can perform for our nation, and if a young man or woman was brought to this country as a child and knows no other home and wants to serve our nation in uniform, he supports making that possible,” Allen said.
That came two weeks after Breitbart News first revealed the once-secretive effort to include ENLIST Act language either in the base bill of the NDAA or via an amendment to the bill in committee or on the House floor. Under criticism from anti-amnesty activists, House Armed Services Committee chairman Buck McKeon initially backed off including the language in the base bill then backed off including it via an amendment during committee markup – leaving proponents of the effort to push for an amendment on the House floor.
This does not mean the effort to push the ENLIST Act is over in 2014, however. Denham told Breitbart News in an interview last week he is seeking an effort to hold a suspension of the rules vote on the bill on the House floor. “We’ve continued to have conversations about it,” Denham said of that effort during the interview, while noting he still wants it as an amendment to the NDAA or as a stand-alone bill. “I’m still pressing forward on an amendment, assuming we don’t have a direct timeline on when the bill would come forward as a stand-alone bill. I still prefer it as a stand-alone bill.”
If they go via the suspension of the rules route, Denham would need two thirds of the House to vote for his bill – something that may or may not happen. However, Denham did say he thinks the majority of the House as a whole would support the bill.
“I think it’s a bipartisan support that’s going to garner a majority of support from the entire House,” Denham said. “We haven’t done a vote count on it yet. I want to make sure I’m working with [House Majority Whip Kevin] McCarthy to do a good whip check first.”
Breitbart News’s Jonathan Strong contributed to this report.