by Michael Patrick Leahy 22 May 2014
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is taking fire from both sides in the heated immigration debate, facing a primary challenger ripping him for supporting amnesty while liberal activists try to portray him as the face of Republican intransigence on the issue.
Cantor helped kill a proposal to grant amnesty to illegal alien DREAMers who enlist in the military in a defense authorization bill but made clear he supports the idea in principle and may bring it to the floor in coming weeks.
Cantor's primary challenger, Randolph-Macon economics professor, says the timing is suspect – the vote would likely come conveniently after Republicans went to the polls in the Virginia district Cantor represents. But Cantor, through a spokesman, has vowed political calculations had nothing to do with the decision – that the defense bill simply wasn't a suitable vehicle for the issue.
As House Majority Leader, Cantor controls what legislation will come to the floor for a vote. The proposal in question to grant amnesty to DREAMers for joining the military, is called the “ENLIST Act” and is sponsored by California GOP Rep. Jeff Denham.
"Eric Cantor," Brat said, "seemed content to allow our military to be used as a vehicle for granting amnesty to illegal immigrants until he saw my primary challenge and principled conservatives stand on Amnesty. Conservative constituents in the District are overwhelmingly opposed to Amnesty but their voice was ignored. But for a primary challenge, Eric changes course."
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Cantor came under attack from immigration activists supporting amnesty for his decision not to bring the Denham amendment to the floor for a vote.
Frank Sharry, executive director of a pro-amnesty organization called America's Voice, told the Associated Press "Eric Cantor is the No. 1 guy standing between the American people and immigration reform."
In a statement released that same day, Sharry added "When it comes to advancing immigration reform, House Republican leaders are full of excuses. It's always the wrong time, the wrong bill, or it's Obama's fault. The excuses don't even make sense anymore."
"Letting committed and qualified young people serve in the military has nothing to do with a military authorization bill?" Sharry asked. "Give me a break," he said, "The excuses from Boehner, Cantor, and company just don't pass the laugh test."
Breitbart News reported on April 10 that Representative Buck McKeon (R-CA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told a group that Cantor had pledged to support the ENLIST Act.
Denham and immigration activists took Cantor's pledge to support the ENLIST Act as a commitment to bring his amendment to the NDAA for a floor vote.
Recently, however, Cantor faced a political setback in his re-election campaign last month, when Tea Party activists in the 7th Congressional District engineered a surprising upset which ousted a Cantor ally from the important position as chairman of the Republican Party's governing committee for that district.
During the meeting, Tea Party activists booed Cantor, and the race began drawing national attention.