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Ranking Member Cole Hearing Remarks on the Senate Amendment to H.R. 8404, H.R. 3648 and H.R. 7946

As delivered during today’s hearing:

During today’s hearing, we will be covering three bills.
The first I’ll discuss is the Senate Amendment to H.R. 8404, the Respect for Marriage Act. This bill will be somewhat familiar to this committee given that we previously considered it at an emergency hearing in September.
While the Senate’s product is an improvement over the House version, I continue to have serious reservations about this bill and about the process we have followed to this point. The Senate had an opportunity to offer amendments and consider this bill in full on the floor, but no such opportunity was afforded to the House. This bill was not marked up by the committee of jurisdiction, was brought to the Rules Committee on just one hour’s notice several months ago and received a closed rule on the floor. 
Republicans in the House would have appreciated the opportunity to offer amendments to this measure. Indeed, I thought Senate Republicans offered several thoughtful amendments that would have gone a long way toward protecting religious liberties, particularly Senator Lee’s amendment prohibiting the government from removing tax-exempt status based on religious beliefs. And it is unfortunate that they were not adopted. But whereas members of the Senate received a fair opportunity to have an up or down vote on each of these amendments, members of the House did not. I find that deeply unfortunate, Mr. Chairman.
Our other two bills both concern immigration. Unfortunately, with these two bills, the Majority is once again choosing to ignore the obvious crises taking place at the southern border and in our immigration system. Since taking office, the Biden Administration has amassed a sorry record on these fronts and has failed to secure the border and ensure that terrorists, drug traffickers, human traffickers and violent criminals are being prevented from entering the country. We need bipartisan action today to help solve these problems and address these crises, and sadly, the Majority’s proposals today will do nothing toward that end.
The first of these two bills I’ll discuss, H.R. 3648, the EAGLE Act, would eliminate the per-country caps for certain employment-based green cards and increase the limit on family-based green cards. While bipartisan versions of this bill passed both the House and Senate last Congress with overwhelming support, unfortunately this year the Majority has chosen to go it alone and has put up a partisan version of this bill.
In particular, I am troubled that the Majority chose to take out a critical provision of the Senate bill, such as a provision banning the admission or the adjustment of status of aliens affiliated with the military forces of Communist China or the Chinese Communist Party. If we can all agree on one thing, surely it should be that the United States should not be allowing members of the Chinese Communist Party to receive adjusted immigration status in the United States. I find it astonishing that the Majority removed this commonsense provision..
Finally, our last bill is H.R. 7946, the Veteran Service Recognition Act. Broadly, this bill would create a green card path to citizenship for alien veterans, military service members and their family members who are in the U.S. illegally or have committed other removable offenses.
Unfortunately, the bill does not stop there, but additionally requires the adjustment of status of any non-citizen veteran who has been issued a final order of removal, regardless of the reasons for that removal. In particular, during the markup the Majority rejected several amendments Republicans offered to ensure that dangerous criminals, such as those convicted of crimes of domestic violence or drug trafficking, did not receive an adjustment of immigration status under this bill. Sadly, all of those amendments were rejected.
The failure to improve this bill to ensure that dangerous criminals were excluded is yet another example of where the priorities of this Majority lie. Despite ample evidence in front of their very eyes, both this Majority and the Biden Administration have failed to address the crisis at our southern border, and have failed time and time again to ensure that violent criminals do not gain entrance to the United States. Today’s bill was an opportunity to take a step toward making this country a safer place, but the Majority has seen fit to reject that option. I urge them to rethink their course.


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