The entire pro-amnesty community’s heads collectively exploded on Thursday evening when the House of Representative firmly rejected—yet again—efforts to use America’s military to justify President Barack Obama’s first executive amnesty. But the untold story is how two members of Republican leadership in particular took a brave stand against the Democrats and the liberal interests in their own party to help make it happen. Those two Republican leadership figures who proved crucial to bucking the pro-amnesty wing of the GOP are House Rules Committee chairman Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.
“Reps. Steve Scalise and Pete Sessions were instrumental in making sure that the military amnesty was removed from the NDAA,” Rosemary Jenks, Numbers USA’s director of government relations, told Breitbart News. “Without their efforts, our national security and the integrity of our armed forces may have been put in serious jeopardy. More importantly, President Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty could have been ratified by the House of Representatives.”
The House was in a difficult position after liberal Democrat Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ)—an amnesty proponent—got amnesty text, via an amendment that couldn’t be blocked at the time, into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) during the House Armed Services Committee markup process.
Thanks to six Republicans—Reps. Martha McSally (R-AZ), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Ryan Zinke (R-MT)—the text, which would allow so-called illegal alien DREAMers who received Obama’s first executive amnesty, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), to serve in America’s military.
That text ended up passing the Armed Services committee in the final NDAA, throwing the House into disarray—and jeopardizing the final passage of the all-important defense bill. If that amnesty language remained in the final bill when the NDAA passed the House, it would have been an official sense of Congress that President Obama’s decision to circumvent Congress illegally with DACA was acceptable—directly contradicting years of votes by the Congress that Obama broke the law by doing this.
So when this came up for the next stages in the process after the Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL)—someone who like his Alabama colleague on the other side of the Capitol, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), is viewed as one of the strongest anti-amnesty voices in Congress—developed a strategy to remove Gallego’s amnesty from the NDAA to save the Republican Congress from making a crucial mistake. Brooks wrote an amendment to the NDAA that would strip the Gallego amnesty text from the defense bill—and then he brought the amendment to the Rules Committee to make his case for it.
Pete Sessions, that panel’s chairman, went out of his way to ensure that Brooks’ amendment succeeded—meaning that amnesty was removed from the NDAA.
When amendments came up in the second Rules Committee hearing on the NDAA on Wednesday—the first hearing, on Tuesday, simply covered general debate—Rep. Sessions publicly expressed his support for the Brooks amendment.
“There was some anticipation of your arrival,” Sessions said when welcoming Brooks to the Rules Committee to pitch his amendment, highlighting the public anticipation that had been building for days.
Brooks proceeded to deliver a several-minutes-long speech that focused on how the Gallego amnesty text would harm Americans in the military, placing them behind illegal aliens. Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) followed Brooks’ remarks up with his own, hammering how bad it would be for the military.
“The opportunity for us to debate difficult issues happens at the Rules Committee daily,” Sessions said when Brat and Brooks wrapped up.
And we do deal with things sometimes that are very common and germane and make a lot of sense. I happen to believe that this issue must be debated. There is a regular and strenuous agreement by members of this committee including the gentleman from Colorado [Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat], who I have looked straight in the eye and have said that we need to debate and have this issue brought to us.
I’ve spoken a number of times to the gentleman from Virginia, the chairman of the committee on the Judiciary Mr. Goodlatte. Mr. Goodlatte has assured me, and I’ve worked with Mr. Goodlatte—as Mr. Brat is aware—and I’ve spoken with him a number of times about moving forward an opportunity to address this. I concur with you. I do understand what Mr. Brooks is saying and I appreciate you both being here—you’re not responding because you want to. You’re responding because you need to. We will take this matter up and I appreciate your help and I appreciate your being here.
Several other times throughout the Rules Committee hearing, Sessions offered his support for Brooks’ amendment—and for the conservatives including Brat, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and others who were fighting to remove Gallego’s amnesty from the defense bill.
Ultimately, while Sessions could have removed the amnesty text from the NDAA in Rules, the decision was made that the Brooks amendment would head to the floor for a vote. In doing so, the House of Representatives would take yet another vote that reaffirmed what Congress has stated with votes time and again: President Obama’s executive amnesties including DACA are illegal, unconstitutional and have no place in public policy—especially in the military.
Pete Sessions, aides say, took calls and held meetings on this matter with several conservatives—members and groups—to fix the problem. Many of them wanted the Brooks amendment vote, so Sessions decided to help the House hold the conservative vote rather than taking the Gallego text out in Committee—and in doing so reaffirmed Congress’ position that Obama’s executive amnesties are wrong.
So off to the floor the Brooks amendment went for a vote, which occurred on Thursday night. That’s where Sessions and Scalise both worked to get their colleagues—Scalise, according to many sources on the Hill, was whipping votes fervently for the Brooks amendment to ensure its passage—to vote for it.
While 20 Republicans did vote against the Brooks amendment it passed the House of Representatives decisively 221-202. Of the six Republicans who voted for the Gallego amnesty via the NDAA in committee, five voted for it again on the House floor—but Zinke, an ex-Navy SEAL commander before his election to Congress, ended up voting against the amnesty on the House floor.
“We are disappointed in those who betrayed the Constitution, the American people, and our men and women in uniform by exploiting the bill that funds our national defense to advance their liberal agenda,” Glyn Wright, the executive director of Eagle Forum, told Breitbart News. “It would be deplorable to recruit illegal aliens while the DoD is issuing pink slips to American soldiers. We are grateful for the leadership of Rep. Mo Brooks and for the hard work of Reps. Scalise and Sessions in restoring the integrity of the NDAA.”
As the House geared up to pass the Brooks amendment, Nancy Pelosi—the Democratic Leader in the House—screamed about how Republicans were “xenophobic” and “un-American” for trying to stop illegal aliens from replacing Americans in the military. Other Democrats like Whip Steny Hoyer berated Republicans, too.
But the Democrats were unable to protect the Gallego amendment—even with Pelosi’s rhetoric. Thanks to Brooks for offering the amendment and to Scalise and Sessions for helping guide the House through to passage, the Gallego amnesty text was successfully stripped from the NDAA.
“The president’s amnesty plan is unlawful, unwise, unconstitutional and bad for our country,” Sessions said in a statement provided to Breitbart News after the vote.
The Gallego language included in the NDAA bill was just some of the fallout that has and will continue to occur as a result of this bad policy. House Republicans are committed to fighting against this wherever there is opportunity to do so, which is why it was so important we let the House work its will by allowing a vote on the Brooks amendment. The results speak for themselves, and now we can focus on passing NDAA to ensure the men and women who put their lives on the line for our country have the resources they need.
The NDAA passed the House decisively late on Friday morning without amnesty in it, and it’s worth noting that at least a couple House Republican leaders seem to have left their past ways behind.
What a difference between Scalise and Sessions–who worked against using the NDAA for amnesty purposes–and now former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who was caught doing so and lost his election last year largely because of it. Cantor became the first sitting House Majority Leader in American history to lose re-election in a primary–the position was created in the late 1800s–and did so to Brat after he was caught working with Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) to slip amnesty into the NDAA last Congress. The effort was thwarted after the public found about it, and Brat zeroed in on Cantor’s support for amnesty on the campaign trail–hammering Cantor every single day on the issue.