Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is now chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, his office announced in a Thursday release. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)—another immigration hardliner who’s stood with Sessions every step of the way over the past several years—will serve as that subcommittee’s deputy chairman.
Sessions will also chair the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Strategic Forces Subcommittee. This announcement comes after Sessions, who was in line to chair the full Senate Budget Committee, stepped aside to allow Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) to chair it. Enzi asserted seniority, even though Sessions has been ranking member for the last four years. Sessions and Enzi were elected to the U.S. Senate on the same day, but Enzi technically due to the luck of the draw.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to chair these two crucial subcommittees,” Sessions said in his statement, before detailing what he will do with each subcommittee.
As chairman of the Immigration Subcommittee, Sessions said his focus “will be to advance the core interests of the nation and its people” over the interests of lobbyists, special interests and illegal aliens.
“On no issue have special interests had a tighter grip than on the issue of immigration,” Sessions said, noting his first action as chairman will be renaming the subcommittee to a much more fitting name.
That is why I am renaming the subcommittee “Immigration and the National Interest,” as a declaration to the American people that this subcommittee belongs to them. Senator Vitter, a strong voice for the national interest, will be serving as Republican Deputy Chairman. The financial and political elite have been controlling this debate for years; this subcommittee will give voice to those whose voice has been shut out: the voice of the dedicated immigration officers who have been blocked from doing their jobs; the voice of the working families whose wages have been reduced by years of record immigration; the voice of the American IT workers who are being replaced with guest workers; the voice of the parents who are worried about their schools and hospitals; and the voice of all Americans who believe we must have a lawful system of immigration they can be proud of and that puts their interests first.
Vitter said in a statement that it’s time to make life difficult for illegal aliens in America.
“Border security enforcement will be my top priority on the Judiciary Committee – and specifically as Deputy Chair of the immigration subcommittee,” Vitter said. “Living in the U.S. illegally will become more difficult and less satisfying over time when the government – at all levels – enforces the laws already on the books. I’m looking forward to working on legislation to secure our border and stop our self-inflicted illegal immigration crisis.”
Other members of the Sessions subcommittee will be: Sens. David Perdue (R-GA)—who signed the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) pledge against amnesty on the campaign trail—full Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC). Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, will also serve on the subcommittee under Sessions.
Sessions said the “first urgent task” for the subcommittee in standing up to special interests on immigration “is for the Senate GOP to rally the nation behind an effort to halt the President’s unlawful amnesty.”
Additionally, there is a great deal of misinformation about what actions must actually be taken to create a sound immigration system. Our subcommittee will seek to serve all members, and the public, as a hub for the facts, data, statistics, and evidence they can rely upon for honest information. I became a prosecutor believing that there is a truth, and that a proper analysis of the facts will lead us to that truth. The challenge is large but the task is just, and rests on the solid moral foundation of our citizens’ legitimate demands. I look forward to working with my colleagues towards this end.
Sessions has already challenged a border bill from House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)—which McCaul frames as the “strongest” border security bill in the history of the U.S. Congress ever—as feckless. Rep. David Brat (R-VA) backed Sessions up, and called McCaul’s bill a “Trojan Horse” for an eventual amnesty in a radio interview on Thursday.
As Chairman of the Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, Sessions said he will focus on “ensuring a modernized nuclear arsenal, strengthening our ballistic missile defense programs, advancing our space program, producing an American-built rocket engine to end U.S. dependence on Russia’s RD-180, and developing the technology and strategies necessary to deter any aggression, including cyber-attacks, against the United States or her interests.”
“America faces a litany of global threats and emerging dangers; it is more important than ever to have the most sophisticated and cost-effective defense programs that deliver the capabilities promised,” Sessions said about that subcommittee.