Victory in the House! Wednesday night the House attached the DREAM Act (H.R. 6497) to another moving House bill, H.R. 5281 and passed it on a vote of 216 to 198. On the Senate side, initially the Senate was scheduled to take a procedural vote Thursday morning on its version of DREAM (S. 3992). But since the House passed its bill, Senate Democrats decided to focus on the House bill and to withdraw theirs–which they did today on a vote of 59-40.
So the DREAM Act is alive and well. Within the next several days-likely after the tax cuts and other big issues get addressed-the Senate is expected to take up the House bill.
The House win has generated more momentum and changed the tone of the debate on DREAM. Ten years after the DREAM Act was first introduced, we are closer than ever to gaining passage. Last night DREAM triumphed over partisanship and won the votes of eight House Republicans and many conservative Democrats. All this creates the best possible setting for a win in the Senate. For Senators there is now a greater sense of urgency that their individual votes will be the deciding ones for a historic victory on immigration reform.
Moving with the House version is better strategically for the following reasons:
- A simpler path to victory. The Senate can pass the House-passed bill and immediately send it to President Obama for his signature. By contrast, if the Senate passes its own version, there would be a lengthy process of reconciling the two bills and another vote by at least one, if not both, chambers.
- Waiting for the House version will give more time for the Senate to consider the DREAM Act and get the 60 votes it will need.
- Waiting for the House version will give the Senate time to address tax cuts and other big non-immigration issues that many Republicans want completed first. Clearing those issues will make it easier for Republicans to support DREAM.
What happened in the Senate? In the past 24 hours, Senate leadership made several strategic and unprecedented moves to make sure the DREAM Act has the greatest possible chance of passage. On Wednesday, the Senate delayed its initially scheduled cloture vote on S. 3992. That delay enabled the House to take its vote and win last night. Today, Thursday, the Senate withdrew its bill on the "table" vote. Now the way is cleared for the House bill to move forward in the Senate.