Immigration measure not in defense bill debate

Language that would have issued green cards to young illegal immigrants who serve honorably in the military did not make the cut for House amendments to the 2015 defense policy bill.

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.)'s proposal, commonly referred to as the ENLIST Act, was not on the list of 162 amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) the House Rules Committee approved late Tuesday night.

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Denham previously brought up the legislation during debate on the 2014 Pentagon budget blueprint but withdrew it in deference to colleagues who did not want the politically polarizing move to interrupt the bill’s passage.

More than 300 amendments were filed with the Rules Committee, but Denham’s garnered additional attention last week when a spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the GOP leader would not allow a vote on it.

On Tuesday, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the defense bill was an “inappropriate” place to bring up the immigration reform measure but signaled that it could receive a standalone vote.

“There have been discussions about that, but no decisions,” he said.

Denham, who appeared before the Rules Committee on Tuesday alongside Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) to advocate for the legislation, has repeatedly vowed he would push for an up-and-down on the ENLIST Act.

"I am disappointed that my ENLIST amendment was not ruled in order this year" Denham told The Hill in an e-mail. "I will continue to push for a vote on the stand-alone bill so that undocumented young people who want to perform the ultimate act of patriotism will have that opportunity and be able to earn legal status through their sacrifice.”

The Rules Committee also tossed out a complimentary amendment by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) that would have allowed young illegal immigrants cleared by the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to apply to U.S. military academies.

The House will take up the NDAA amendments on Wednesday afternoon, with a final vote expected Thursday.

— This story was updated at 3:47 p.m.