A Democrats-only Hispanic caucus in Congress isn’t ready to welcome a Republican just yet, tabling a vote to allow Rep. Carlos Curbelo into the group, the Washington Examiner has confirmed.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) was expected to invite the Florida Republican to join last week, but that vote didn’t go as planned. Two members of the CHC told the Washington Examiner that the caucus got ahead of its membership.
One CHC member said they were “going to go ballistic” had Curbelo been voted in. Those present voted 19-8 to delay the vote to even invite Curbelo.
More members apparently wanted time to review the caucus’ bylaws and what precedent there is for allowing Republican members to join. “I don’t care what the bylaws say,” said the member, who spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of the situation.
The tension over whether or not to let Curbelo in is a dramatic reversal from what CHC Chairwoman Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham D-N.M. told McClatchy last week. Curbelo was certainly expected to be welcomed, Grisham told McClatchy and more GOP members would be invited shortly thereafter.
But that didn’t happen. “The truth of the matter is we got ahead of ourselves,” said another CHC member. “It was an overwhelming vote [to table.]”
The second CHC lawmaker said members want to know what rights they have when it comes to inviting a Republican, pointing out that the caucus hasn’t had to deal with this issue since the 1990s when a handful of Hispanic Republicans were allowed into the group. Those Republicans ultimately left and now have their own group, the Congressional Hispanic Conference.
Currently, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus includes 31 Democrats and bills itself as a forum for Hispanic members to coalesce around and advance priorities of the Latino community. Some of the resistance to welcoming Curbelo is related to the fact that he hasn’t wholeheartedly supported a clean Dream Act, which would grant children brought to the U.S by undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. Curbelo is the sponsor of a more conservative bill that would allow a pathway to citizenship.
Curbelo is facing a tough re-election in his Miami-area seat, which Democrats are hoping to flip next year. He’s said that his request to be a part of the Hispanic caucus isn’t about his re-election, McClatchy reported.
The CHC is expected to again discuss whether or not to proceed with votes to welcome Curbelo at their meeting this week.
"It seems that for some in the @HispanicCaucus, some Hispanics are just not good enough," Curbelo tweeted in response to the news Wednesday morning. "A truly shameful position."