The House Rules Committee voted late Wednesday night to send the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill to the chamber floor to start debate today on the underlying measure along with 135 amendments.
One of the most divisive amendments allowed would strike language encouraging the defense secretary to consider allowing recipients of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to serve in the military, reported the Hill.
The amendment’s sponsor, Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), and 24 other Republican lawmakers had asked House Rules for the original language to be stricken from the defense policy measure because immigration issues are the responsibility of the Judiciary Committee. The panel rejected that request but ruled the Brooks amendment in order, setting the stage for one of the most heated debates over the next two days to be only peripherally about defense.
GOP members of the Rules Committee argued that a hot-button issue such as immigration should not be included in the debate over the defense bill, which was passed Congress for 53 consecutive years.
“There is nothing about the Gallego amendment that helps the military,” said Michael Burgess (R-Texas). “This debate does not belong superimposed on the NDAA,” he said. The original language was added to the bill during markup when the House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment offered by Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), 33-30.
The House plans to complete its work on the defense bill, H.R. 1735, on Friday.