By a vote of 55 to 41, a cloture vote on the DREAM Act failed in the Senate this morning. That brings an end to the push for the legislation — which would provide a pathway to legal status for illegal immigrants who serve in the military or earn college degrees — until the 112th Congress, which will convene Jan. 5.
That Congress will have more Republicans than this one did, which doesn’t bode well for the prospects of the DREAM Act passing in 2011. As expected, Republicans lined up to stop the cloture vote on DREAM, fearful of being singed by a conservative base that has zero tolerance for immigration reform beyond the type favored in the Grand Canyon State.
Ironically — or perhaps predictably in the current Senate environment — DREAM was a bipartisan bill when it was introduced in the Senate in 2007 by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Richard Lugar (R-IN). Now, defeat of the bill has fallen along largely partisan lines as expected.
But there were a few who jumped ship — Republican Sens. Dick Lugar (IN), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Bob Bennett (UT) voted yes on cloture. Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor (AR), Jon Tester (MT), Ben Nelson (NE), Kay Hagan (NC), and Max Baucus (MT) all voted no. Jim Bunning (R-KY), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) were absent.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) had some harsh words for DREAM Act proponents on the Senate floor today. “To those who have come to my office, you’re always welcome to come. But you’re wasting your time. We’re not going to pass the DREAM Act or any other legalization program until we secure our borders.”
“It will never be done” as a standalone bill, Graham said. “It has to be part of comprehensive immigration reform.”
Some had hoped DREAM might have a good chance at passing following the death of Ted Kennedy — the Liberal Lion of the Senate who had championed DREAM in his later years. But in the end, not even that legacy was able to move DREAM forward.
[TPM SLIDESHOW: ‘March For America’: Protesters In D.C Demand Immigration Reform]
Obama had put passage of DREAM on his legislative agenda this year. The House did as he asked, passing its version of DREAM earlier this month. As has so often been the case in the past two years, however, the Senate will be the place another Obama agenda item went to die.
Durbin, who is one of the bill’s original and current champions, is expected to address the future of DREAM at a press conference on Capitol Hill this morning. Few expect the next Congress will offer an easier path to passage than the current Congress does.
Correction: This post originally said Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) voted for cloture. He did not.