Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz asked for unanimous consent to pass his previously introduced Expatriate Terrorist Act which makes “‘providing support to or fighting for a terrorist group targeting the U.S. “an affirmative renunciation of American citizenship.'” The Cruz effort was rebuffed by Democrats, despite their previously having supported a similar effort aimed at Al Qaeda.
Sen. Mazie Hirono, Hawaii Democrat, objected, saying the bill has not been brought before the Senate Judiciary Committee and it affects “fundamental constitutional rights, which should be given the full deliberation of the Senate.”
“Legislation that grants the government the ability to strip citizenship from Americans is a serious matter, raising significant constitutional issues,” she said.
As was also pointed out by Cruz, “former Sens. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, and Scott Brown, Massachusetts Republican, introduced a similar measure several years ago related to al Qaeda.”
Said Cruz, “If we do not pass this legislation, the consequence will be that Americans fighting alongside ISIS today may come home tomorrow with a U.S. passport, may come home to New York or Los Angeles or Houston or Chicago and innocent Americans may be murdered if the Senate does not act today.”
Hawaii Democrat Sen. Mazie Hirono responded “saying the bill has not been brought before the Senate Judiciary Committee and it affects “fundamental constitutional rights, which should be given the full deliberation of the Senate. Legislation that grants the government the ability to strip citizenship from Americans is a serious matter, raising significant constitutional issues.”
Cruz subsequently responded to Hirono at length, read his full response here.
“It is unfortunate that Democratic senators chose to object to this to prevent this common-sense change in law, and I would note when it comes to the constitutional concerns, I don’t know if anyone in this Senate has been more vigorous or more consistent in terms of defending the constitutional rights of Americans that I have endeavored to be during my short tenure here,” he said. “I will yield to no one in passion for defending constitutional liberties … it is current law right now that if you go and join a foreign nation and take up arms against America, that act has long been recognized as constituting a constructive renunciation of United States citizenship.”