Just hours after the historic House vote last night to pass the DREAM Act, the Senate voted today 59-40 to table consideration of the bill. This means the bill could come up again during the lame-duck session.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said having a vote now to bring the bill to the floor was “futile” because there were not enough votes to overcome a Republican filibuster against the bill.
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The Senate version of the bill is different from the one passed by the Hiuse and the Senate may take the legislation up when it receives the House version as early as Monday.
During the debate on the bill, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the bill’s sponsor, said the nation cannot afford to lose the talents of the many talented immigrant children who will be helped by the DREAM Act.
We owe it to America who needs their service in the military and needs their skill in building our economy [I ask the Senate] to pause to reflect whether we can afford to say to these talented young men and women there’s no place in America for you.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said the DREAM Act is not amnesty for undocumented immigrants as opponents charge:
Amnesty is when you get something for nothing. I believe wearing the uniform of the United States of America, risking your life for your country, maybe losing that life…is not amnesty. I believe that working hard and being educated so you can help fuel the nation’s prosperity …that is paying your dues on behalf of the country.
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which is supported by a large majority of Americans, would allow undocumented students who have lived in the United States for at least five years and have graduated from high school or received a graduate equivalency diploma (GED) to legalize their immigration status by pursuing a college education or serving in the U.S. military.
The House passed the bill last night 216-198. It was the first time in the 10-year legislative history of the DREAM Act that the House has passed the bill.
During the House debate, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said:
Think of these young people and how they identify with America — they have no other identity in many cases. They want to use their degrees and their skills to help build something better for the next generation. That’s what our founders had in mind. We owe it to our founders and we owe it to these young people and we owe it to the future to cast our votes for a bill that makes America more American.
“Let’s give the DREAM kids an opportunity. They are American in every way but a piece of paper,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.).
We have come here to support the rule of law, yes, but to change the law when it is unfair.
President Obama praised the House vote in a statement:.
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.