WASHINGTON (AP) – A spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says he'll block a vote next week on legislation giving a path to citizenship to people living here illegally who serve in the military.
Friday's announcement from Cantor comes after a Republican congressman from California announced plans to try to bring the measure to a vote as an amendment to the annual defense bill.
The ENLIST Act championed by Rep. Jeff Denham would give green cards to immigrants living here illegally who serve in the military.
But conservative groups have recently announced their opposition. Cantor himself is facing a primary challenge from a tea party opponent who's made immigration an issue.
The move was the latest setback for President Barack Obama's efforts to move comprehensive immigration legislation through Congress to boost border security, remake legal worker programs and offer legal status to the estimated 11.5 million people now living here illegally. The Senate passed an immigration bill last year, but it's been stalled in the GOP-led House.
Denham's measure was widely popular and seen as perhaps the likeliest path for progress.
But in recent weeks prominent conservative groups including the Heritage Foundation announced their opposition.
Cantor himself faces a primary challenge in Virginia on June 10 from a tea party opponent who has criticized the majority leader for not being conservative enough and accused him of supporting amnesty for immigrants living here illegally.