Rep. Carlos Curbelo had his membership request to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus denied in a move he said was “pre-cooked.”
The all-Democratic caucus has been embroiled in a dispute with the Republican Florida lawmaker, questioning his political motivations, as they voted to deny his membership bid Thursday, according to Politico.
“I think it was pre-cooked,” Curbelo said in an interview. “I will stand up to bigotry and discrimination no matter whether it comes from the right, the left, the middle.”
Democrats accusing Curbelo of political maneuvering, meanwhile, have their eyes set on the congressman’s Latino-heavy district in Miami for 2018. Curbelo’s stand on Republican legislation was apparently a factor in the decision by the caucus Democrats.
Curbelo would not back the DREAM Act, their bill to grant legal status to the young undocumented immigrants who may face deportation next year, and opted not to cosponsor the bill though he said he would vote for it if it made it to the House floor.
“I will not allow their bigotry and discrimination and penchant for segregation to hurt the young people they claim they want to help and I certainly want to help,” Curbelo said.
But Curbelo has not earned the ire of the caucus Democrats for his stand on the DREAM Act alone, but also for supporting Republicans’ attempts to repeal Obamacare and the GOP tax bill.
“Many of those votes in this climate gave members who voted no, and maybe other members, pause about whether or not this was a good time for changing membership,” CHC Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham said, according to Politico.
A private argument between Curbelo and the New Mexico Democrat has also had an effect as the Florida lawmaker accused her and the caucus of discriminating against him.
“Everything else is resolvable,”one caucus member said. “Once you make it personal — the policy you can grapple with — the personal, now caucus members have to make a decision.”
Lujan Grisham did not indicate how she voted on Curbelo’s membership request, only that she was “favorable” to bipartisan membership in the caucus.
“I have been a member who has been on the record being favorable to membership by both Senate and House Republicans and I’ve been consistent in that effort,” she said.
Group spokesman Carlos Paz did not agree that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus should admit Curbelo because he is Hispanic.
“This vote reflects the position of many of our members that Rep. Curbelo and his record are not consistent with those values,” Paz said in a statement after the closed-door majority vote.
Curbelo argued that the rejection is a case of discrimination.
“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, according to The Hill.
The previously bipartisan group, which is currently made up of 30 members of Congress who are all Democrats, has not had a Republican member since 1997 when there was a disagreement over Cuba policy.
“Unbelievably, petty partisan interests have led the CHC to formally endorse the segregation of American Hispanics. It is a dark day on Capitol Hill,” Curbelo said Thursday.
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