Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez traveled to California Thursday to launch her Senate bid, but in doing so she'll miss votes on two issues central to her campaign: defense and immigration.
The House is poised to vote Thursday evening on a handful of amendments to a critical $612 billion defense policy bill that Sanchez helped shape as a member of the Armed Services Committee. One of those is a proposal to strip language from the defense bill allowing young immigrants known as Dreamers to serve in the military.
It's unclear if Sanchez will be back in Washington Friday to vote for the full defense bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act. She's expected to address the state Democratic Party annual convention, which begins Friday in Anaheim, Calif.
At least one pro-immigration group took the Hispanic American lawmaker to task for missing the votes, even though she had backed the Democratic Dreamer amendment in committee.
"To have Loretta Sanchez prioritizing her Senate candidacy versus actually getting good policy through Congress which is her primary job — it just goes to show her priorities," said Cesar Vargas, a co-director of the DREAM Action Coalition who immigrated from Mexico to New York when he was 5. "It's not really standing up for DREAMers, standing up for immigrants that she claims to be about.
But at a train station in her hometown of Santa Ana, Sanchez told supporters and the press she would be the first Latina in history elected to the Senate, as well as the first Hispanic American to represent the Golden State in the upper chamber.
This story was updated at 7:15 p.m. A previous version incorrectly stated when the vote on a defense policy bill would be held. It will be held on Friday.