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Hispanic Caucus rejects Republican's request to join

Hispanic Caucus rejects Republican's request to join
© Greg Nash
 
"After due consideration, the CHC determined not to accept Rep. Curbelo’s request to join the Caucus,” CHC spokesman Carlos Paz Jr. said in a statement after the group held a closed-door majority vote.
 
 
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"[Curbelo] made a presentation and it was a good presentation," Lujan Grisham said after the vote.
 
But Curbelo's presentation didn't sway enough CHC members, many of whom have publicly sparred with the Republican lawmaker during the application process.
 
Still, the official explanation for the rejection came down to values.
 
“The CHC isn’t just an organization for Hispanics; it is a Caucus that represents certain values. This vote reflects the position of many of our members that Rep. Curbelo and his record are not consistent with those values,” Paz Jr. said in the CHC's official statement.
 
Lujan Grisham outlined some of the key issues on Curbelo's record.
 
"We discussed several items. Health care, tax bill, relief for Puerto Rico. Many of those votes in this climate gave members who voted no, and maybe other members, some pause about whether or not this was a good time for changing membership," she said.
 
But Curbelo said the rejection amounted to discrimination, an argument that raised eyebrows among CHC members during the application process.
 
"It is truly shameful the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has decided to build a wall around the organization to exclude Hispanic-Americans who aren’t registered in the Democratic Party. This sends a powerful and harmful message of discrimination, bigotry, and division," he said in a statement.
 
The CHC is a bipartisan organization on paper, but it hasn't had Republican members since a spat over Cuba policy created a rift in 1997.
 
At the time, three Republican members — including still-serving Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) — left the organization and founded the Congressional Hispanic Conference in 2003.
 
Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.), chairman of the Hispanic Conference, told The Hill earlier this month the two organizations should work together where they find common ground, but noted the practicality of having separate partisan groups.
 
"The reality is, just from what I've heard, well, they might accept Carlos but then they're going to have to throw him out when they're dealing with partisan issues," said Diaz-Balart. "I don't have a problem with that, but the reality is that, in essence, that's why there's been two and why they're partisan."
 
But Thursday, Curbelo emphasized his view that Hispanics in Congress should caucus under a single roof.
 
"Unbelievably, petty partisan interests have led the CHC to formally endorse the segregation of American Hispanics. It is a dark day on Capitol Hill," he said in a statement.