Senate Gives DREAMers a Reality Check

By James R. Edwards, Jr. on December 19, 2010

The U.S. Senate early Saturday afternoon voted to block ending debate on the DREAM Act amnesty bill. The legislation fell five votes short of the 60 needed to invoke cloture on the bill. The vote was 55-41. This vote marks a significant victory for amnesty foes.

If the DREAM Act couldn't pass during the last gasp of the sizable Democratic majority, it certainly cannot garner 60 votes once the new, more evenly balanced Senate begins in January. This vote represents the high-water mark of the pro-amnesty crowd. That's because the DREAM amnesty would have awarded legal status to perhaps 2.1 million of the total 11 or so million illegal population.

And the misleading portrayal of the beneficiaries – youth brought into this country as mere babes and young children, American except for their citizenship status, unfamiliar with their illegal parents' home country, promising youth barred through no fault of their own from achieving the American dream, attending college or serving in the U.S. military – is undoubtedly the most sympathetic subgroup of the illegal immigrant population. This was the open-borders crowd's best shot.

Looking at the roll call vote, a few observations:

  • Even some of those Republicans who might support dealing somehow with illegals who actually approximate the portrayed DREAMer kept their word, given in the "letter of 42" signed by all Republicans a couple of weeks ago. They stuck to their guns that they would vote against cloture on items moved in the lame duck besides the most pressing tax-rate extension and federal government funding matters. Even Lindsey Graham, Sam Brownback, and John McCain voted nay.

  • Five Democrats voted against DREAM on cloture: Max Baucus, Kay Hagan, Ben Nelson, Mark Pryor, and Jon Tester. (West Virginia's newbie, Manchin, did not vote.) They actually were responsive to their constituents and kept faith with the principle of the rule of law.

  • A few Republicans deserve special credit for voting right. They face a political headwind because their states are more liberal than most. These include Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Mark Kirk of Illinois.

  • Several Democrats cast disappointing votes for amnesty. Lumps of coal this Christmas go in the stockings of the retiring Byron Dorgan, as well as Kristin Gillibrand, Mary Landrieu, Claire McCaskill, and Jim Webb.

Aside from the countless substantive flaws in the bill, the fact this is far from "must-pass" legislation, and the solely political nature of the DREAM push, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell summarized perfectly the utter arrogance and wrong being attempted by Majority Leader Harry Reid in even bringing the DREAM Act up at this time in this manner. On the Senate floor Saturday, McConnell said:

The DREAM Act the Senate will vote on today has never had a Senate hearing. In fact, it has not had any Senate committee action in seven years.

But, of course, this is a House bill. And the legislative record there is more sparse still. The House, like the Senate, has never had a legislative hearing on the DREAM Act. And it has never had a markup there either. And now the Senate Majority is preventing their colleagues from addressing the concerns of the American people by shutting off the ability to offer any floor amendments.

So in sum, there has never been an amendment offered to the DREAM Act at either the committee or floor stage, in either House of Congress, since President's Bush's first term.

I guess our Democratic colleagues believe that this bill is so perfect it doesn't need any amendments whatsoever – just a few last minute rewrites during a lame duck session. I don't think that's what the American people believe.

I think he's right. The American people don't approve of Congress doing business in this high-handed manner, and they sure don't want amnesty crammed down their throats by a lame-duck Congress that just got its pink slips in the November elections. Somebody besides the illegal DREAMers also need a wake-up call.

Topics: DREAM Act