Pete Sessions Mulls Backing Amnesty In The NDAA Tonight In Rules Committee Hearing

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

House Rules Committee chairman Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) may put his political future in Congress on the line on Tuesday evening as his committee takes up the next National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). That proposal currently contains language using the military to grant amnesty to potentially hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens.

The House Armed Services Committee has already passed the NDAA which contained the secretive amnesty for illegal aliens. The nature of the amnesty is that those so-called “DREAMer” illegal aliens who have received President Barack Obama’s first executive amnesty—the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which currently just shy of a million illegal aliens have received—would now be able to get legislative and permanent amnesty if they enlisted in the United States Armed Forces.

The amendment, which committee Republican chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) opposed insertion of during the markup process, is from Democrat Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ).

“My amendment is very straightforward. It would simply encourage the Secretary of Defense to consider allowing individuals to serve in the military who have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA by the Department of Homeland Security,” Gallego said of his amendment, according to prepared remarks, when introducing it in the Armed Services Committee.

The strength of our military isn’t just measured by the size our arsenal or by the sophistication of our weapons but by the quality of our people. Our military needs the best soldiers, marines and airmen it can get. We shouldn’t let our broken immigration system stand in the way of our military’s recruitment goals. By statute, the Secretary can authorize the enlistment of non-citizens when it is “vital to the national interest.” And enabling the best and brightest in our nation to serve in uniform, including DREAMers, is clearly “vital to the national interest.”

Gallego cited an illegal alien DREAMer from his district who, despite not being allowed to serve in America’s military because he illegally immigrated to the United States, wants to be a Navy SEAL.

“Mr. Chairman, I want to tell you about a young man from my district named Jose. Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, Jose loved war movies and dreamed of one day becoming a Navy SEAL,” Gallego said in remarks directed to Thornberry during the Armed Services processes.

In high school, Jose met a Navy recruiter and told him about his ambition to fight for our country in uniform. Then he told the recruiter something else—something which has prevented Jose from realizing his dream to this day. He told the recruiter about his undocumented immigration status. Years later, Jose still hasn’t given up. “I want to serve my country,” he says, “to show how grateful I am for all it has provided me.” That’s why I’m offering this amendment – to enable brave, talented young people like Jose to give back to the country they love by serving in our Armed Forces.

Gallego’s amendment passed the Armed Services Committee by a 33-30 vote. Republicans who voted for the amnesty amendment include: Reps. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Chris Gibson (R-PA), Ryan Zinke (R-MT), Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Tom MacArthur (R-NJ).

In response, now, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL)—a conservative who’s adamantly opposed to this amnesty—has introduced an amendment to be considered in the Rules Committee and eventually on the House floor that would strip the amnesty from the NDAA bill.

“It makes no sense to me that, at the same time the Army is downsizing and issuing pink slips to American soldiers serving in Afghanistan, there are Congressmen who help illegal aliens deprive American citizens of military service opportunities,” Brooks said in response to the Armed Services decision to include the amnesty in the NDAA.

At 5 p.m. on Tuesday, the House Rules Committee will begin general debate on the NDAA—and will wrap its discussion on Wednesday at 3 p.m. Because of the significance of these proceedings, Breitbart News will be carrying a live blog of them launching at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

In a letter to Pete Sessions, the House Rules Committee chairman, Brooks and a large group of other House Republicans wrote on May 5 explaining how the amnesty amendment inside the NDAA from Gallego runs in contravention of the principles of the House of Representatives.

“The House of Representatives has voted to defund DACA three times: June 2013, August 2014, and in this Congress in January 2015,” Brooks and his colleagues wrote to Sessions.

The language contained in Rep. Gallego’s amendment contradicts the House’s previous position and is a severe threat to the passage of the NDAA—legislation that funds the essential programs that America’s military requires. Especially in this time of increased terrorism, our national security should not be threatened by allowing such controversial language on a program we have rejected three times as unconstitutional.

It’s unclear if Brooks’ amendment will be considered on Tuesday evening or Wednesday afternoon in the Rules Committee, or if Sessions will allow the amnesty to remain in the NDAA.

He is personally responsible for the amnesty if it makes through his committee and onto the House floor, obviously, and the political repercussions for backing the Democrats’ ploy to use America’s military to sneak amnesty through Congress can’t be understated. Now former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his reelection last year in a primary to now Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA)—the first time in history since the creation of the position of House Majority Leader that such a politician lost reelection in a primary—after it was revealed he was involved in an identical secretive effort last Congress with Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Coffman.

“Maintaining the rule of law, especially in areas related to our national security, is an issue of upmost importance to the Chairman,” Rules Committee spokeswoman Jill Shatzen said in an email to Breitbart News. “The Committee is carefully considering amendments to NDAA, including the amendment submitted by Congressman Brooks. The Chairman is working with his colleagues and will consider all options available as they relate to this issue.”

Of course, if the amnesty makes it through the Rules Committee to the House floor, Sessions—who is almost certainly going to face another primary challenge from the right in 2016—could be in serious political danger, just like Cantor was when he lost. Sessions has come under fire for backing House Speaker John Boehner’s moves—like voting for Boehner’s reelection as Speaker after helping Boehner fund President Obama’s second executive amnesty via the so-called “CRomnibus bill” spending bill that was more than 1,500 pages long, spent $1.1 trillion and not one member of Congress could read in its entirety before voting on it. Sessions reacted viscerally to all the public pressure at the time, going so far as to say in an interview with Breitbart News as a followup that he’s not a “Boehner guy.”

But at the point the NDAA containing amnesty would reach the House floor, Sessions wouldn’t be the only one in political trouble. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who could very likely face a primary challenge, would become personally responsible for amnesty, as would even potentially Boehner. Boehner has already drawn another challenge from J.D. Winteregg, a conservative in his district who ran and lost last time—but this could energize Winteregg in the same way this same issue energized Brat last cycle against Cantor. Scalise, similarly, is likely to draw a primary challenge for a number of reasons but especially even more so if he chooses to whip votes for an NDAA bill that contains amnesty in it.


Claude Chafin, the spokesman for the House Armed Services Committee, contacted Breitbart News after the publication of this article to say that Chairman Thornberry supports the Brooks amendment to remove the Gallego amnesty text from the NDAA. Chafin said that Thornberry is supporting all efforts to remove it, but wouldn’t say if Thornberry would oppose final passage of the NDAA–his bill–if it isn’t removed. Chafin also said that Thornberry couldn’t block the Gallego amendment from the bill because of the procedural tactics that the Arizona Democrat used to get it in there, and he has opposed letting the Gallego amendment in from the beginning.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.