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Powerful GOP group threatens to sink House NDAA

May. 15, 2014 - 09:11AM   |  
Rep. Howard 'Buck' McKeon, R-Calif.
Rep. Howard 'Buck' McKeon, R-Calif. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON — An influential conservative political organization is urging Republican members to vote down a House Pentagon policy bill if it includes an immigration measure.

In a blast memo released Wednesday, Heritage Action the political arm of the Heritage Foundation think tank urged GOP members to kill the chamber's 2015 national defense authorization bill if the so-called "ENLIST Act" is attached.

That measure would give young, undocumented non-U.S. citizens a green card if they enlist in the US military. Some hawks like House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon support it, but want it to move separately and under the auspices of the Judiciary Committee.

But there is speculation it might be offered as an amendment to the NDAA, which sources say could hit the House floor next week.

"Advancing an amnesty-first agenda on the backs of our brave men and women in the military is deplorable. The ENLIST Act creates radical and perverse incentives that will have a negative impact on our military and our immigration system," Heritage Action chief executive officer Michael Needham said in the memo.

"It has no place in a debate over the future of our military, which is currently reducing personnel," Needham said. "The House Rules Committee should keep this contentious issue out of the NDAA."

Because Heritage Action is tied to big-money GOP donors, conservative members are influenced by its recommendations.

That means an ENLIST amendment would threaten to kill the bill, which authorizes $496 billion in base Pentagon spending and blocks a slew of proposed weapons, troop-level and personnel benefit cuts.

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