Democrats make concerted push on ‘don’t ask’ repeal, DREAM Act
UPDATE II: The Senate has canceled a vote Thursday on its version of the DREAM Act. A Senate Democratic leadership aide tells Raw Story the chamber will instead schedule a vote later this month on the House version that passed Wednesday.
Pro-DREAM activists see this as a positive move, and a more expedient step toward enactment — contradicting a CNN report that the bill was likely “dead” this year.
“Majority Leader Reid has given DREAM Act a chance to get across the finish line this year. This move allows us to remove the Republican process objections to moving DREAM now and gives supporters time to build on the momentum generated by last night’s victory in the House,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice.
UPDATE: The House of Representatives passed the DREAM Act Wednesday evening, marking a significant legislative victory for Democrats.
The proposed law would grant young children of illegal immigrants the opportunity to earn US permanent residency and citizenship if they go to college or enlist in the military and prove strong moral character.
The bill passed by a vote of 216 to 198, largely along party lines. Eight Republicans broke ranks to support the measure, while 38 Democrats voted against.
Meanwhile, the Senate is delaying its vote on the repeal of the military gay ban. Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday that his party is still negotiating with Republicans to get the votes needed to overturn the 17-year-old ban on soldiers serving openly in the armed forces.
ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS BELOW
In a series of moves one day after cutting a deal with Republicans on tax cuts, the White House and Democratic leaders made a concerted push to advance repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and pass the DREAM Act in the lame-duck session.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Wednesday morning announced a procedural vote on a defense authorization bill that reverses “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the 1990s-era law forbidding gays from serving openly in the military.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday that Democrats are “very, very close” to repealing the policy, a position that gibes with military leaders and soldiers.
“We’ve had important endorsements over the past few days, and I think in many ways as a result of the process and the survey that the Pentagon issued last week, the president is hopeful and encouraging Democrats and Republicans to get behind that,” Gibbs said.
Most Democrats are on board, but the GOP leadership has sought to postpone voting on the matter. Still, Republican Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Scott Brown (MA) and John Ensign (NV) have signaled support for repeal, and on Wednesday Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined them.
A newly released Gallup poll finds that 67 percent of the US public supports repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Also on Wednesday, the White House informed reporters in an e-mail that the Obama administration “strongly supports” passage of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. “While the broader immigration debate continues, the Administration urges the House to take this important step and pass the DREAM Act,” the statement read.
The measure would grant young children of illegal immigrants the opportunity to earn US permanent residency and citizenship if they go to college or enlist in the military and prove strong moral character. Reid has filed for cloture in the Senate.
Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine on Wednesday penned an op-ed in Politico championing the DREAM Act, arguing that it would “contribute to America in two definite ways: by keeping our country safer and by making our economy stronger.”
The measure has been met with fierce opposition from conservatives who support low-immigration policies, but is slowly garnering support from members of Congress.
The two liberal priorities stand little chance of passing when the 112th Congress is sworn in in January. Democrats, who have placated a GOP blockade by granting them an extension of high-end tax cuts, view the lame-duck session as their best, most realistic chance.
“What would have helped is for Obama to include DREAM and DADT in the bargaining proposal,” one liberal activist advocating for the issues told Raw Story. “But yeah, the tax cut deal probably didn’t hurt the chances to pass the two.”