Before the DADT repeal vote on Saturday, the Senate will take up the DREAM Act. Both votes came up as a House amendment to a Senate amendment to a bill, so they only require one cloture vote, a motion to concur. If they invoke cloture with 60 votes, they would only need a simple majority after that, and Harry Reid will fill the amendment tree on the measures, so if something passes, it would look identical to what the House passed.
As I said, when you see what amounts to stacked cloture votes like this, it’s a pretty good sign that the majority doesn’t feel confident about the first one passing. If the DREAM Act ended up succeeding, it would push back cloture on DADT repeal probably to Monday, when Ron Wyden won’t be available for voting, because he’s undergoing prostate cancer surgery. DADT repeal probably has 61 votes in hand with Wyden, but you never know, and without him, it makes the potential for error greater. I don’t think that’s what the Senate has in mind, although of course, that outcome would assure passage of the DREAM Act.
The DREAM Act has a little bipartisan support – Bob Bennett and Richard Lugar will vote Yes tomorrow – but some wayward Democrats are expected to vote against it. America’s Voice has a virtual calling tool. This is the last whip count I’ve seen:
Republicans voting Yes: Lugar, Bennett.
Republican leaning Yes: Murkowski.
Republicans undecided or leaning No: LeMieux, Kirk, Hutchison, Collins, Snowe
Democrats likely No: Baucus, Ben Nelson, Tester
Democrats undecided or leaning No: McCaskill, Landrieu, Hagan, Pryor, Manchin, Conrad
I haven’t seen a whip count with more than 51 votes firmly in hand, and 57 on the outside.
Markos has a bit more expanded whip count, bringing in Ensign, Cornyn, Brownback, Voinovich, Gregg, Lindsey Graham and even John McCain as possibilities.
The White House has actually engaged a bit on this issue. Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, said on a conference call today that he’s made a number of phone calls to Democrats and Republicans this week and will continue to do so. “There’s a real sense of urgency,” Duncan said. “We have a chance to help young people fill their academic and social potential and be productive citizens. I’m hopeful the Senate can do the right thing.” Duncan has joined seven different cabinet secretaries and top Administration personnel in urging passage of the DREAM Act.
All this being said, I’d be shocked if it passes. And if it dies, it’ll be due to those Senate Democrats who refused to keep party discipline on a cloture vote. With Bennett and Lugar in the bag, a unified caucus would mean 60 votes. But given the nature of how the vote is being brought up, I think the overwhelmingly likely outcome is that it fails tomorrow.