The Senate has refused to consider Sen. Ted Cruz's bill that would strip Americans of their citizenship for joining the Islamic State (ISIS) or any other terrorist group after one Democratic member objected.
"If we do not pass this legislation, the consequence will be that Americans fighting alongside ISIS today may come home tomorrow with a U.S. passport, may come home to New York or Los Angeles or Houston or Chicago and innocent Americans may be murdered if the Senate does not act today," the Texas Republican said on the Senate floor, The Washington Times
The move came before the Senate considered legislation that would allow the U.S. military to train and equip Syrian rebels for a war against the Islamic State.
That bill passed
on a 73-22 vote and was part of broader legislation to keep the federal government operating after the end of the budget year on Sept. 30.
The Senate's approval sent the Syrian measure to President Barack Obama for his signature. The House approved a similar measure on Wednesday.
Cruz proposed his bill earlier this month after news reports that at least 100 Americans had joined ISIS.
Called the Expatriate Terrorist Act,
the legislation would have amended a current federal law passed in 1940 that allows the government to strip the citizenship of any person who votes in another country's elections or who joins the military forces of countries at war with the United States.
ISIS militants have beheaded two American journalists, James Foley, 40, and Steven Sotloff, 31, and British aid worker David Haines, 44. The group posted their executions on the Internet.
a British journalist captured in late 2012, was featured in a new video released by ISIS on Thursday.
In arguing for the legislation, Cruz said that former Sens. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, and Scott Brown, a Republican who was from Massachusetts at the time, introduced a similar measure in 2010 relating to al-Qaida, the Washington Times reports.
But Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono objected, saying that Cruz's bill needed to be brought before the Senate Judiciary Committee — on which both first-term senators serve — the Times reports.
The proposal, she said, also affects "fundamental constitutional rights, which should be given the full deliberation of the Senate
"Legislation that grants the government the ability to strip citizenship from Americans is a serious matter, raising significant constitutional issues," Hirono said.
Because of the objection, the bill was not considered.
"It is unfortunate that Democratic senators chose to object to this to prevent this common-sense change in law," Cruz said in response to Hirono's objection, the Times reports.
"It is current law right now that if you go and join a foreign nation and take up arms against America, that act has long been recognized as constituting a constructive renunciation of United States citizenship."
"It saddens me that we could not see Republicans and Democrats come together," Cruz later added. "It saddens me that in an election year, the Democratic senators up for election chose to block this common-sense legislation, rather than to work together to protect the American citizens.
"I hope in time we see less election-year politics and more service to the men and women who all of us are obliged to protect."
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