There was some concern that the DREAM Act, which had its vote tabled today in the Senate, was basically dead for this legislative session. But the Senate tabled the vote for a decent enough reason – they wanted to take up the House’s version of the bill, which was passed last night. Markos explains:
With the House on the board, Reid decided to ditch the Senate version of the DREAM Act in order to pass the House version. That way, the chambers can avoid reconciliation and get the bill straight to the president’s desk. In order to do that, they had to table the existing Senate version of the bill, which was originally scheduled for a vote today.
Democrats asked for unanimous consent to table it, but Republicans blocked that. Of course.
Note the GOP’s gambit — they’ve been screaming that DADT and DREAM shouldn’t have a vote until they get their tax cut giveaway. Democrats say, “Okay, we’re not going to have a vote on DREAM until next week.” And what do Senate GOPers do? They demand a vote.
So Republicans are only against a DREAM vote if Democrats are for it. Once Democrats are against a DREAM vote, then Republicans are for it.
Basically, the Senate vote was mostly symbolic until the House unexpectedly passed it. Now, there’s at least some feeling that the Senate can get the bill done. I don’t know if that’s misplaced optimism or not. But it’s there.
DREAM Act advocates insisted on a conference call that there is a promise from the Senate leadership to bring this vote back. Tyler Moran of the National Immigration Law Center said that there is not yet a confirmed time, and should have more information by tomorrow. But everyone agreed that the vote to table today “makes the prospect of having DREAM more real.”
As if to confirm this, Senators Reid and Durbin released this statement:
“Yesterday the House passed a strong, bipartisan version of the DREAM Act – a narrowly-tailored bill that would allow a select group of immigrant students with great potential to contribute more fully to America.
“In light of that vote, the Senate will move to the House-passed version of the bill later this month. In the mean time, we will work with House leaders and the Administration to ensure that the DREAM Act will be law by the end of the year.
“The DREAM Act is not a symbolic vote. We owe it to the young men and women whose lives will be affected by this bill, and to the country which needs their service in the military and their skills in building our economy, to honestly address this issue. Members on both sides of the aisle need to ask themselves if we can afford to say to these talented young men and women there is no place in America for you.”
Advocates are generally enthused by this development. Deepak Bhargava of the Center for Community Change said, “We thank Sen. Harry Reid for assuring the DREAM Act has the best opportunity possible for passing. Today’s vote might be slightly confusing for some, but it was the right move at the right time to keep the DREAM Act on the Senate agenda.” Activists planned to flood the Senate with phone calls in the next week. “We’re going to win the Senate vote next week,” predicted Carlos Saavedra of the United We Dream Network.
Activists are targeting the half-dozen Senate Republicans who voted for the DREAM Act in the past. The new version of the bill offers a series of key changes that water down the bill, and generally make the burden for undocumented students more onerous, in order to secure Republican votes. The changes also make the bill a net benefit to the deficit, with a CBO estimate that it saves $2.2 billion over the next decade. DREAM Act students were carrying around giant checks for $2.2 billion to Republican offices yesterday.
More information in this one-pager. I’m still a bit skeptical they can round up the votes, but don’t count out these determined activists just yet.