House Passes DREAM Act -- Senate Struggling To Round Up 60 Votes
The House of Representatives passed the DREAM Act on Wednesday night, but Democratic leaders in the Senate postponed their own test vote on the targeted illegal immigration measure until Thursday morning because of fears that they lacked the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster.
To the sound of cheers of approval and with a beaming smile, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the bill passed 216-198. Eight Republicans supported the measure while 38 Democrats voted against it. A motion to open debate on the bill had passed earlier with zero Republican support.
The Senate is scheduled to start considering a motion to discuss the DREAM Act at 6:30 a.m. PDT Thursday.
The DREAM Act would allow young people who come into this country illegally to achieve legal permanent residency after a six-year provisional period if they get a high school degree and make it through two years of college or the military. An estimated 2.1 million undocumented immigrants would be immediately impacted, though a much smaller share of them likely would end up reaching legal status. Like all other green card holders, DREAM Acters would still not be allowed to vote.
Democrats have been pushing the DREAM Act as a way to cater to Hispanic voters and labor union leaders, who will likely play a key role in the 2012 presidential election.
The illegal immigrants covered must have come to the U.S. before the age of 16. They must be under the age of 30, have no criminal records and have been living in the U.S. for at least five years before applying for legal status.
Democrats have cited studies saying the measure would not cost taxpayers anything, but would instead bring $2.5 billion into government coffers. The students would not be eligible for Pell grants or health care. However, the act would begin to cost the government millions after the first decade of its existence.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said the act would help kids who did nothing wrong other than "obey their parents."
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) said the bill was more "nightmare" than "dream."
Pelosi delivered the longest address in support of the measure: