Senate Delays DREAM Act Vote
Updated at 3:10 p.m. ET
The Senate today voted to delay debate on the DREAM Act, an immigration measure that would help undocumented young people gain a chance at earning legal status by joining the military or entering college.
Recognizing they could not win the 60 votes to break a Republican-led filibuster on their own version of the bill, Senate Democrats will now put the House version up for a vote next week.
Yesterday, the House passed its version of the legislation by a vote of 216 to 198, with eight Republicans joining Democrats to support the bill and more than three dozen Democrats voting against it.
The measure would impact hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States before the age of 16. It would also help Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid fulfill his promise to Latino voters to take up immigration reform this year.
President Obama yesterday praised the measure's success in the House.
"This vote is not only the right thing to do for a group of talented young people who seek to serve a country they know as their own by continuing their education or serving in the military, but it is the right thing for the United States of America," he said. "We are enriched by their talents and the success of their efforts will contribute to our nation's success and security."
The president also pointed out the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found the DREAM Act would cut the deficit by $2.2 billion over the next 10 years.
Republicans have nevertheless voiced serious concerns over the bill. They point out, for instance, that the legislation doesn't require one to have a high school or college degree, and it also allows undocumented young people to be eligible to get on the pathway to citizenship even if they have one or two misdemeanor convictions on record.
"Americans want Congress to end the lawlessness," Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said on the Senate floor this week. "But this bill would have us surrender to it."
The DREAM Act has floated through Congress for years, but its chances for passage aren't likely to improve in the next Congress. Once Republicans take over the House next year and strengthen their ranks in the Senate, there is little chance for any kind of immigration reform.
Update: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin released a statement today saying they will ensure the DREAM Act becomes law by the end of the year.
"The DREAM Act is not a symbolic vote," they said. "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."
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