The United States Senate today voted against taking up the FY 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, legislation to which Majority Leader Harry Reid had hoped to add the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act as an amendment. The Senate voted largely along party lines, 56-43, but 60 votes were needed to invoke cloture to end the Republican filibuster and proceed with consideration of the bill. No Republicans voted for the cloture motion, and the two Senators from Arkansas (Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor) were the only Democrats to make substantive votes against it. Majority Leader Reid, who supports the motion, also voted "No" because Senate rules require him to do so if he wishes to bring the motion up again. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) did not vote.
Republicans voted against proceeding with the bill under the plan laid out by Reid because they viewed the DREAM Act amendment as a political ploy to gain advantage with Latino voters before the November elections. In addition, many Republicans claimed that the legislation’s repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was premature, and they wanted the chance to offer more amendments to the bill. Democrats charged that these were spurious reasons for not considering the bill and that Republicans simply wanted to avoid voting on the DREAM Act.
Today's vote likely pushes back any further consideration of the DREAM Act until at least after the elections in November. Despite today's loss, Sen. Reid and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), lead sponsor of the bill, vowed to bring up the DREAM Act again.
AACC will continue to push for passage of the DREAM Act. One silver lining in today's events is the massive advocacy push preceding today's vote, including the work of many community colleges, which has raised the profile of this issue to an unprecedented level.
If you have any questions or need additional information, please e-mail Jim Hermes, or call him at 202-728-0200, ext. 216.