The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, a traditionally Democratic group, voted not to allow a Republican member of the House to join their ranks on Thursday.
Members of the CHC voted on the issue Thursday morning, nine months after Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, of Florida, initially requested to join the group. The CHC remains completely Democratic.
"After due consideration, the CHC determined not to accept Rep. Curbelo’s request to join the Caucus,” CHC spokesperson Carlos Paz, Jr. said in a statement. “The CHC isn’t just an organization for Hispanics; it is a Caucus that represents certain values. This vote reflects the position of many of our members that Rep. Curbelo and his record are not consistent with those values.”
Curbelo, who attended the CHC meeting Thursday morning to make his case, called the decision “deeply disappointing.”
“I thought it went well, but regrettably they did not allow for a dialogue. They did not allow for any question and answer. And I think it may have been... pre-cooked, which is even more disappointing,” he said.
In a written statement, Curbelo said “petty partisan interests have led the CHC to formally endorse the segregation of American Hispanics.”
Discussions around allowing Republicans to join the caucus had grown increasingly tense over the past months, particularly after Rep. Lujan Michelle Grisham, who chairs the CHC, told members that she clashed with Curbelo in a meeting. Lujan Grisham told members that Curbelo had questioned her Latina credentials, a charge he denied.
An aide with knowledge of Thursday’s meeting pushed back on Curbelo’s assertion that the outcome had been “pre-cooked,” noting “the deliberations lasted over an hour.”
It’s not clear how close Thursday’s vote was, but Curbelo said: “I have been told that there were a very strong number of people who were supportive of my candidacy.”
Curbelo addressed some issues Democrats have raised with his Republican ideology in an official application to join the committee earlier this week. But some members of the CHC had drawn lines on whether they would vote for Curbelo long before Thursday’s vote.
“I would say hell no to anyone who doesn’t have the guts to sign the DREAM Act discharge petition and who supports border wall funding,” Texas Rep. Filemon Vela told BuzzFeed News in a text earlier this month.