Democrat Who Left Congressional Hispanic Caucus Wants Back In

Rep. Filemon Vela of Texas left in protest over the proposed border surge.

A view of the US Capitol on January 27, 2014 in Washington.
National Journal
Elahe Izad
Add to Briefcase
Elahe Izad
Feb. 5, 2014, 10:02 a.m.

Rep. Filem­on Vela, who quit the Con­gres­sion­al His­pan­ic Caucus in protest over pro­posed mil­it­ar­iz­a­tion of the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der, wants to re­join, he tells Na­tion­al Journ­al.

Why? “I think my point has been well made,” the Texas Demo­crat said.

Vela’s Ju­ly resig­na­tion from the CHC was a sign of the in­tern­al de­bate tak­ing place among Demo­crats over the Sen­ate im­mig­ra­tion bill, and par­tic­u­larly the $46 bil­lion bor­der-surge amend­ment from Re­pub­lic­an Sens. Bob Cork­er and John Ho­even.

“The reas­on I left was be­cause at that time I felt that there was a move­ment afoot, not just with­in the His­pan­ic Caucus, but here on the en­tire Demo­crat­ic side, to sup­port Cork­er-Ho­even,” said Vela, whose dis­trict in­cludes the bor­der. “I just felt so strongly about the fact that we don’t need more walls, we don’t need to quad­ruple the size of our Bor­der Patrol agency. It was just something I felt I had to do at the time.”

After the Sen­ate im­mig­ra­tion bill passed, CHC Chair­man Rubén Hino­josa said in a state­ment that “the bill they passed is in line with the CHC’s Prin­ciples on Im­mig­ra­tion Re­form and provides all im­mig­rants the op­por­tun­ity to earn cit­izen­ship.” He later em­phas­ized the CHC hadn’t taken an of­fi­cial po­s­i­tion on the Sen­ate bill.

A near car­bon copy of the Sen­ate bill has been in­tro­duced in the House, and has a long list of mostly Demo­crat­ic co­spon­sors. But, not­ably, the Sen­ate bor­der-se­cur­ity amend­ment has been re­placed by one from Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Mi­chael Mc­Caul, which calls for the Home­land Se­cur­ity De­part­ment to first de­vel­op a bor­der plan, sub­ject to con­gres­sion­al ap­prov­al, that would elim­in­ate 90 per­cent of il­leg­al cross­ings with­in five years. The Mc­Caul bill has sup­port from Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans alike.

“The Cork­er-Ho­even amend­ment is, for all prac­tic­al pur­poses, dead,” Vela said.

Vela also wants to re­join the CHC be­cause “every mem­ber of the His­pan­ic Caucus are good friends of mine” and he wants to par­ti­cip­ate in the CHC in­sti­tute’s pro­grams that brings stu­dents to Wash­ing­ton from around the coun­try.

The CHC is set to meet Thursday. At least 60 per­cent of the mem­bers have to vote to ap­prove Vela’s re­ad­mit­tance. There are cur­rently 26 mem­bers.

Will Vela have trouble get­ting back in? “I don’t think so,” he said, adding laugh­ingly, “I haven’t had to lobby for a vote yet.”

What We're Following See More »
Clinton Foundation Staffers Steered Biz to Bill
1 hours ago

"Two chief fundraisers for the Clinton Foundation pressed corporate donors to steer business opportunities to former President Bill Clinton as well, according to a hacked memo published Wednesday by WikiLeaks. The November 2011 memo from Douglas Band, at the time a top aide to Mr. Clinton, outlines extensive fundraising efforts that Mr. Band and a partner deployed on behalf of the Clinton Foundation and how that work sometimes translated into large speaking fees and other paid work for Mr. Clinton."

Chef Jose Andres Campaigns With Clinton
9 hours ago
White House Weighs in Against Non-Compete Contracts
10 hours ago

"The Obama administration on Tuesday called on U.S. states to ban agreements prohibiting many workers from moving to their employers’ rivals, saying it would lead to a more competitive labor market and faster wage growth. The administration said so-called non-compete agreements interfere with worker mobility and states should consider barring companies from requiring low-wage workers and other employees who are not privy to trade secrets or other special circumstances to sign them."

House Investigators Already Sharpening Their Spears for Clinton
11 hours ago

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz plans to spend "years, come January, probing the record of a President Hillary Clinton." Chaffetz told the Washington Post: “It’s a target-rich environment. Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.”

Clinton Super PAC Enters the House Fray
15 hours ago

Priorities USA, the super PAC aligned with the Clinton campaign, which has already gotten involved in two Senate races, is now expanding into House races. The group released a 30 second spot which serves to hit Donald Trump and Iowa Rep. Rod Blum, who is in a tough race to win re-election in Iowa's first congressional district. The super PAC's expansion into House and Senate races shows a high level of confidence in Clinton's standing against Trump.


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.