- The Congressional Hispanic Caucus denied membership to Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo earlier this month.
- The chairwoman of the caucus said it was because the all-Democratic group needed to strategize against Republicans in the final months of 2017.
WASHINGTON – The chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said they denied membership earlier this month to a Republican congressman because the group has to strategize against President Donald Trump and having a Republican in the group would be counterintuitive.
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham told reporters on Thursday that the decision to exclude Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Republican, from the caucus was “because we have strategies about the White House and we have strategies about those committees and we have strategies about who we are working on and leveraging with and that creates an environment where we stop having strategic discussions.”
The New Mexico congresswoman noted that end-of-the-year issues like negotiating protections for undocumented immigrants “were all-important issues that the caucus understood” needed certain leverage and that having a Republican in their midst could jeopardize that.
However, Grisham said that she wanted to “revisit” membership policies next year. Because there are so many tense policy issues in the final months of 2017, the caucus will use those political battles to assess Republicans.
“The most important issue for the end of the year and seeing where key Republicans are gives us an opportunity to think about shifting the way in which we have strategies in this Congress,” she said.
Joanna Rodriguez, a spokesperson for Curbelo, blasted the caucus in a statement to Business Insider.
“While the Congressional Hispanic Caucus continues to play petty partisan games, Congressman Curbelo has already said he would support any DACA solution that comes to the floor,” she said, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that allowed young unauthorised immigrants to stay in the country.
“Additionally, he is holding his party’s leadership accountable by refusing to support a long-term spending bill without a DACA solution before the end of the year, and he is working with common-sense legislators from both sides of the aisle and both Chambers in the Problem Solvers Caucus on a potential compromise,” she continued.
Rodriguez said Grisham had “confirmed what many already suspected.”
“The Congressional Hispanic Caucus puts partisan politics first and the advancement of Hispanic Americans last,” she said. “Congressman Curbelo stated before the Caucus and in multiple statements to media that he was more than willing to sit out of strategic/partisan conversations Democrats wanted to have. Again, the CHC has exposed itself as an organisation that embraces discrimination and bigotry and that promotes the segregation of America’s Hispanic community.”
Grisham initially blamed the decision to not let Curbelo into the caucus on his voting record
Earlier in November, Grisham issued a statement that the decision not to accept Curbelo into the Caucus was based on his previous voting record.
“The CHC isn’t just an organisation for Hispanics; it is a Caucus that represents certain values,” she said. “This vote reflects the position of many of our members that Rep. Curbelo and his record are not consistent with those values.”
As for whether the Hispanic Caucus will change its name to reflect its partisan direction, Grisham said, “If you were to ask that question individually to some members of the Hispanic Caucus, it would not surprise me that some members would prefer a Democratic-only caucus.”
“I do not think that that’s the best strategy,” she said.
“I would vote against that,” she added. “I think that the caucus would vote against that if that question was posed today. But I’m not asking for a motion of that nature and no one else has brought that in forms of taking a specific action. But I do think there are a couple members maybe, give or take, who think that would just solve these issues.”
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