Ever since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced this week that he would include amendments for the DREAM Act and a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal in the Department of Defense authorization bill next week, Arizona Sen. John McCain’s been throwing tantrums all over the place to anyone who’ll listen.
“This is turning legislation related to our national defense and military preparedness into a vehicle to force a partisan agenda through the Senate,” The Washington Times reports McCain said.
Reid filed cloture on Thursday afternoon, and a vote is expected by next Tuesday at 2:15pm. The motion needs the support of 60 senators to pass, and so far John McCain has promised to block the bill. It is expected to be a very tight vote.
The DREAM Act would allow hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth with a high school diploma and a clean criminal record the option to adjust their immigration status if they committed to two years in the military or college. In order to qualify for the bill, young people must have entered the country before the age of 16 and lived in the U.S. for at least five years.
The Department of Defense even included the DREAM Act in its strategic plan for the upcoming year. Margaret Stock, a retired Lt. Col in the Army Reserve, has said: “In a time when qualified recruits—particularly ones with foreign language skills and foreign cultural awareness — are in short supply, enforcing deportation laws against these young people makes no sense. Americans who care about our national security should encourage Congress to pass the DREAM Act.”
And still, McCain got up on the Senate floor yesterday to denounce the DREAM Act and the DADT repeal as “a blatant message of disrespect to our men and women in uniform.”
Many speculated that post-primary, we would see a return to the McCain of yore who championed humane and comprehensive immigration reform. It appears that may have been wishful thinking. McCain has all but secured his Senate seat after a bruising summer primary against challenger J.D. Hayworth, but it apparently didn’t come without a cost. McCain won with demagoguery, by rushing to the extreme right on immigration.
McCain told Foreign Policy this week that he fully intended to block the defense authorization bill when cloture comes up for a vote next week, unless the “onerous provisions are removed.” He called Reid’s move a ploy to force the “social agenda of the liberal left.”
McCain first revoked his support for the DREAM Act this summer when he was on the campaign trail. “I think it’s fine,” McCain said reluctantly, when he was asked about the DREAM Act on June 12. “I would look at the issue. It’s a heartbreaking issue to see young people separated from their parents and all that…But just to pass the DREAM Act now, what’s to prevent further of these future humanitarian cases?”
Except he shouldn’t need to re-evaluate the bill. He knew the DREAM Act well enough to cosponsor it in 2003, 2005 and again in 2007. Today Tucson activists will march in Arizona to urge McCain to vote for the DREAM Act. McCain is just one of a group of Republican senators that DREAM Act activists are targeting in a national week of action to get the bill passed next week.
“Any American so courageous and patriotic that he or she wants to serve our country in the military should be able to do so,” Reid responded in a statement yesterday. “Senator McCain and anyone else who thinks the DREAM Act is not directly related to our national security should talk to the brave young men and women who want to defend our country but are turned away.”