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The House Rules Committee approved votes for 135 amendments last night to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including an amendment offered by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) that would strip out language, encouraging the Secretary of Defense to waive enlistment requirements for illegal aliens. The Committee also blocked Rep. Jeff Denham's (R-Calif.) military amnesty amendment from a floor vote.

The vote on the Brooks amendment will attempt to remove a provision added during the House Armed Services Committee's mark-up of the bill. The Committee approved, by a narrow margin, an amendment offered by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), encouraging the Secretary of Defense to waive enlistment requirements for DACA recipients. Existing federal law already allows for enlistment requirements to be waived for illegal aliens, but leaving the Gallego amendment in the overall bill could signal to the courts that Congress approves of DACA.

Rep. Brooks said yesterday that Rep. Gallego's measure "betrays Americans by encouraging the Secretary of Defense to hire illegal aliens rather than Americans."

Before the vote, Rep. Brooks sent the following letter to House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas):

During the House Armed Services Committee markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) offered an amendment that encourages the Secretary of Defense to declare that illegal aliens granted deferred action and work permits under the unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty program are "vital" to America's national interest. This would have the effect of making them eligible to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces even though they are in the country unlawfully and our military is in the process of downsizing troop levels. The amendment passed on a 33–30 vote.

The House of Representatives has voted to defund DACA three times: June 2013, August 2014, and in this Congress in January 2015. 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 which 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.

If the Rules Committee does not strike Rep. Gallego’s controversial DACA provision (§ 538), we will offer an amendment to strike the language. This controversial immigration language greatly increases the risk of the NDAA’s failure to pass the House. The Rules Committee has the power, and indeed the duty, to prevent such a threat to our national security. Therefore, we urge you to strip § 538 from the NDAA.

The Rules Committee blocked a vote on Rep. Denham's amendment that would have added his ENLIST Act to the bill. The ENLIST Act allows illegal aliens who meet certain age and residency requirements to enlist in the military and receive a green card. In 2013, the House Rules Committee allowed a floor vote on Denham's amendment, but he agreed to withdraw it out of respect for leadership and Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.) who claimed jurisdictional authority over the issue. Rep. Denham tried to offer it again in 2014, but it was blocked by the Rules Committee.

For more on this story, read CQ Roll Call

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Updated: Wed, Oct 11th 2017 @ 3:25pm EDT