Senate kills DREAM Act, moves forward on repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The U.S. Senate rejected a cloture motion on the DREAM Act today by a vote of 55 to 41. At least 60 yes votes were needed to move forward the bill, which would give some undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children a path to citizenship. Iowa’s Tom Harkin voted yes, as did most of the Democratic caucus. Chuck Grassley voted no, along with most Senate Republicans. Six cowardly and mean-spirited Democrats voted no: Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana. (Correction: it looks like Manchin missed the vote, but his office released a statement this morning saying he could not support the bill because it didn’t require people seeking citizenship to receive a college degree. Jackass.)

Only three Republicans voted yes on the DREAM Act: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Richard Lugar of Indiana and Bob Bennett of Utah. Fake GOP moderates Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois all voted against the bill. Sickening. President Barack Obama nominally supports the DREAM Act, but as far as I can tell, the White House did nothing to convince wavering senators to vote for it.

After the DREAM Act failed, the Senate moved to a cloture motion on a stand-alone bill to repeal the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. The Senate approved that cloture motion 63 to 33, with Iowa’s senators splitting the usual way (Harkin for repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Grassley against). The Senate will vote on the bill itself early next week later today, and it should easily pass.

UPDATE: Click here for the roll call on the DREAM Act cloture motion. The roll call for the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell vote is here. Congratulations, Chuck Grassley, you put yourself on the wrong side of history twice in one day.

SECOND UPDATE: The bill repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell passed the Senate by 65 to 31 (roll call). Harkin yes, Grassley no, of course. After the jump I’ve posted Harkin’s statements on the DREAM Act and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Grassley’s office hasn’t issued a statement on either vote; typically he sends out a press release every time the Senate considers major legislation.

Harkin’s statement on DREAM noted that the original 2003 bill had 15 Republican co-sponsors, which prompted me to look them up here. Lo and behold, there’s our Chuck Grassley, one of 47 sponsors of Senator Orrin Hatch’s “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2003.” No wonder he doesn’t want to explain his vote today to block the bill from consideration.

Senator Tom Harkin statements of December 18:

Harkin: Failure to Pass DREAM Act Denies Opportunities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released the following statement today after the Senate failed to pass the DREAM Act by a vote of 55-41.  Harkin is a co-sponsor of the bill.

“I am appalled that partisan politics and the archaic filibuster stood in the way of passing the DREAM Act today.  My mother came to the United States as an immigrant and because of the opportunities in this country, I was able to fulfill the American dream.  It is a shame that we cannot extend the same opportunities to others who are willing to contribute to our country and abide by the rules.

“What’s frustrating is that the DREAM Act was originally a bipartisan bill that was introduced by a Republican.  In 2003, it had the support of 15 Republican cosponsors.  Unfortunately today the minority has put partisan politics ahead of common sense legislation.

“Contrary to false rumors, this is not an amnesty bill.  Rather, it would have enabled children who are in America as a result of their parents’ actions to contribute by attending college or enlisting in the military after completing high school.  These students would not have received immediate citizenship.  They would have to have arrived in the U.S. by the age of 15, displayed good moral character, passed criminal and security clearances, and lived in the United States for at least five years.

“Why would we want to turn away a college educated person who wants to add to our economy and tax base, or a person willing to fight for this county?  We wouldn’t – and that is why failure to pass this bill is such bad news for these students and our nation’s future.”

Harkin: Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Makes Military and our Country Stronger, More Just

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released the following statement after the Senate voted 65-31 to overturn “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, the 17-year old Defense Department law that bars gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.  The repeal was passed by the House earlier this week and will now go to the President to be signed into law.  Harkin is a cosponsor of the repeal.

“Today America took a major step toward ensuring the civil rights of its citizens by voting to discard the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.  ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is discriminatory and outdated, and our action to repeal it was long overdue.  Today, the Senate made clear that lesbian and gay Americans are first-class citizens.  The repeal has strong support in the military, both among high ranking leadership and among our enlisted personnel.  By voting to get rid of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, we not only make our military stronger and less discriminatory, but we also advance the cause of freedom for our entire country.

“As Americans, gay and lesbian individuals deserve the same employment rights as everyone else, including the right to be open about their personal lives while serving their country.  It is costly and senseless to discharge capable, qualified soldiers, or to turn away new recruits, based on sexual orientation, especially with our military under such great strain.  I am pleased that our government will no longer discriminate against individuals willing to bravely serve this county.”

  • I'm guessing that the GOP

    will create a new DREAM-like act in this upcoming Congress.

    It will probably read something like this:

    If you were born after 198x AND

    You have been in the United States for at least X years AND

    You pay any applicable taxes AND

    You have no criminal record AND

    You serve for 4 years in the military OR You graduate with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution THEN

    You will receive citizenship after filling out the appropriate paperwork, taking an exam, and a 3 day waiting period.  (The govt. loves three day waiting periods)

    It might behoove the GOP to do this.

    • that is hard for me to imagine

      with Steve King chairing the immigration subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.

      • Congressman King

        doesn’t speak for the entire GOP.  I guarantee that there are GOP power-brokers (see, the people now in charge of the House) have a vested interest in making Latino Americans more comfortable in the Republican party.

        If they create a reasonable plan, plus stick to more conservative social issues, political benefits may ensue.

        • I agree that would be smart

          but I do not see how they would get 218 votes for any bill that could be construed as “amnesty” for “illegals.” When Republicans control the House, they tend not to move on bills unless they have the support of a majority within the majority caucus. In other words, Boehner is not going to push a DREAM Act-like measure with 60 Republicans and the majority of House Democrats.  

You need to signin or signup to post a comment.