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The DREAM Act faces its second big day in Congress after its historic victory last night in the House. Today the Senate is set to consider a motion for cloture on the bill, which would close off discussion and move the bill to a vote. The DREAM Act, which would grant undocumented youth who commit two years to the military or higher education, a pathway to citizenship.
We’re kicking off the live-blogging right now.
2:38pm ET: The timeline for the next opportunity for a Senate vote on the DREAM Act is unclear. Many DREAM Act advocates are readying for a vote sometime in the next five or six days. Sens. Reid and Durbin have vowed it will happen before the end of the year.
1:30pm ET: Mainstream news is already writing the DREAM Act’s obituaries—NPR reported the DREAM Act “likely died” this morning and CNN’s morning headline blared: “DREAM Act appears dead after Dems pull it from consideration.”
Such is not the case, according to DREAM Act advocates. While Kevin Appleby, with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, conceded on a conference call that it was obvious Reid did not have the 60 votes needed to clear cloture this morning, his morning maneuvering bought more time for the DREAM Act. The vote on the House-approved version will likely happen some time next week.
11:50am ET: Reid has won the DREAM Act more time. The motion to table passed, 59 to 40. In Senate speak the cloture motion was “vitiated.” In lay people’s English that means that the Senate is putting off a vote for the DREAM Act while it considers other issues, including the Bush-era tax cuts.
Last week 42 Senate Republicans sent a letter to Reid telling him they would block any cloture motion until bills to ensure government funding and the extension of Bush-era tax cuts were approved. Congressional watchers are guessing that, aside from being a handy way to buy more time to whip votes, the motion to table would also give Republicans fewer reasons to block the DREAM Act when it does come up for a vote—as if they relied on reason and logic to make decisions when it comes to immigration.
The Senate has now moved on to another cloture motion for a bill to give benefits to Sept. 11 responders and is supposed to tackle tax cuts soon.
11:44am ET: While we wait for the votes to come back, Campus Progress takes a look at senators who could vote either way on the DREAM Act.
11:25am ET: The Senate is now taking a roll call vote on a motion to table the cloture motion—Reid’s maneuvering to try to put off the cloture vote.
11:20am ET: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has again asked for consent for vitiate the cloture vote, which was not granted. Reid wants to delay the DREAM Act vote so they can take up the House-approved version and, should it pass, send it straight to the President.
11:05am ET: David Vitter says he has a three-pronged argument against the DREAM Act.
The reasons why we should oppose cloture are very simple and very basic and they all go back to the past election. They go back to the question: have we been listening to the American people at all because they have been speaking loud and clear to issues that pertain to the DREAM Act. Number one, it is a major amnesty provision. There are no two ways about it. It grants at least 2.1 million illegals amnesty and puts them on a path toward citizenship and will allow them to have their family members put on legal status in this country. There are probably two to three times that initial 2.1 million who will be granted amnesty.
While everyone continues to cite the same Migration Policy Institute report, DREAM Act critics use one set of numbers and DREAM Act supporters use another. MPI estimated that 2.1 million would be eligible, but that only 38 percent—something like 825,000—would likely ever be granted citizenship. It should be noted too that the MPI estimates are based on earlier versions of the DREAM Act, before it was considerably narrowed last week when Democrats introduced a version that would bring down the age cap for eligibility from 35 to 30 years old. And still Vitter kept on:
Second, we’re in a serious recession…Things like slots and financial aid are very scarce and very sought after because of the horrible state of our economy. These young illegals who would be granted amnesty would be put in direct competition with American citizens for those scarce resources. Are we really listening to the struggles the American people are going through in this scarce economy? If we clearly listened to those, the answer would be no.
Vitter said he would vote against the DREAM Act because of his concerns about its “spending, deficit, and debt.”
Would we be listening to the American people about that were we to pass the DREAM Act? The DREAM Act has at least $5 billion unpaid costs by all reasonable estimates. You can double or triple that when you count family members…Reasonable estimates say that is at least $5 billion in cost unpaid for, increasing spending, increasing deficit, increasing debt.
Republicans show their anti-immigrant rhetoric, but not their arithmetic acumen. Yesterday the CBO estimated that the House version of the DREAM Act would in fact reduce the deficit by $2.2 billion, and earlier estimated that the Senate version would bring down the deficit by $1.4 billion.
10:55am ET: Yesterday, the National Review reported that Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe issued a statement announcing that she will oppose the DREAM Act. She said:
Millions of illegal immigrants could attempt to become legal residents as a result of this proposal, according to some estimates, and it is incumbent upon the Senate to ensure our policies never again lead to a situation where we are confronted with upwards of 12 million illegal immigrants residing within our borders.
10:44am ET: The Senate is headed for a cloture vote on S. 3992, the new version of the DREAM Act that was just introduced by Sens. Durbin and Lugar last week which further narrowed those who may benefit from the bill. However, should the cloture vote fail today, Reid could still bring up the House-approved version of the bill next week.
10:43amET: DREAM Act activists celebrated last night, and then got back to the phones. Advocates estimated that they turned out 40,000 phone calls in support of the DREAM Act yesterday, and they’re intent on flooding the Senate switchboards today.
The vote is looking very tight though. Several senators including Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, have kept mum on their voting intentions, and many of those DREAMers hoped to win over by now like Scott Brown, Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Tester will likely vote against the bill.
10:30am ET: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid attempted to stall a cloture vote on S. 3992 in the Senate while they waited for the House version that was just passed last night to arrive. Republicans blocked it, so the cloture vote is on. It’s set for 11am. Debate on the bill has begun, New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez spoke in support of the bill, and Sen. Jeff Sessions is back to his anti-DREAM Act bullying.
“Not until this country brings this lawlessness to an end, they shut down our switchboards with so many phone calls, when amnesty was tried to be past, we don’t need to do this,” Sessions said. “Why don’t we do the responsible thing and say: this illegality can be ended. t is in our grasp if we have leadership in the Congress, in the House, and in the Senate. We haven’t had that leadership.”