18 December 2010

The DREAM Act Is Over...(For Now)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) attempt to jam down the DREAM Act during the Lame Duck session.  The bill failed to win the 60 vote margin to overcome a filibuster and lost by a 55 to 41 margin.  This was a second attempt to foist what is acknowledged as back door amnesty act that Reid had attempted this fall.  Roll Call reports that many DREAM Act supporters in the Senate gallery cried after the negative vote.

The DREAM Act would have created a path for citizenship for illegal aliens who graduate high school (or obtain a G.E.D.)  and either attend college or serve in the military for two years. Majority Leader Reid was so confident about the merits of the DREAM Act that it was bundled along with an amendment to repeal Congress’ Don’t Ask Don’t Tell legislation onto the Defense Appropriations Act, which was successfully filibustered in September.

Majority Leader Reid’s re-election campaign relied heavily on Hispanic support, so pushing the DREAM Act, whether or not it was successful was probably a payoff to his supporters. If the DREAM Act passes, Democrats are banking on a generation of grateful Hispanic voters.  But even a defeat of the DREAM Act can be used to paint opponents as being cruel, anti-immigrant troglodytes by partisans and the press (yes there is supposed to be a difference).

This Lame Duck test vote on the DREAM Act exposes some Senators can not be relied upon for liberal legislation.  Democrat Senators voting against the DREAM Act included: Senator John Tester (D-MT), Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), Senator Kay Hagen (D-NC), Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR).  Both Nelson and Testor will face strong re-election challenges in the 2012 cycle.  But all of the aforementioned dissenters come from states that have swung significantly Red.

Curiously, newly sworn in Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) managed to miss this vote as did Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) who originally proposed the DREAM Act in 2000. I guess that they were out shooting target practice or playing at the Festival of Lights.

There are some rumblings from the Conservative base that Senate Republicans may try to score a victory with similar legislation.  The Lame Duck DREAM Act vote included support from three Republicans: Senator Lisa Murkowski (?-AK), Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT) and Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN).   Bennett will not be back in the 112th Congress but Murkowski and Lugar who can not be counted on to vote with conservatives or even the Republican caucus.  But if history is any gauge, Republican supporting de facto amnesty without closing the porous borders does not ensure re-election.  Of those Republicans voting for the 2007 Immigration bill, seven of 12 Senators are no longer in the so called world’s greatest deliberative body.

By failing this legislative hurdle, the DREAM Act should be over, for this Congress but the nightmare of backdoor amnesty should continue in the 112th Congress.

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