Senators Gripe About DREAM Act, Will Likely Still Vote for Defense Bill
Some Republican senators, along with centrist Democrats, aren’t happy with Harry Reid’s decision to slip the DREAM Act into a defense authorization bill up for a vote next week — and they are arguing it could kill the bill, although none have explicitly said they plan to vote against it.
“It’s made it needlessly controversial,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday. “I can’t tell you right now how easy it will be to go forward with that bill, but it’s certainly created an element of controversy that would not have been otherwise there.”
Will opposition to the DREAM Act, which would help some illegal immigrant students become legal residents, actually stop the bill? It’s unclear, but politicians are generally averse to voting down major defense legislation. Last year, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) successfully added language that expanded protections for hate crimes to the defense authorization bill. Republicans were angry, but approved it anyway.
Still, senators argued adding the DREAM Act is a misuse of the bill. “It’s totally unrelated to the defense authorization bill,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) bristled yesterday.
“This is an all-time low for me being in the Senate and that’s saying something,” Lindsey Graham told Foreign Policy’s The Cable yesterday. “The one area that has been kept off limits from partisan politics has been the defense of our nation. To say that you’re going to bring up a defense bill and put the Dream Act on it … to me is very offensive.”
Some Democrats have joined in the threats. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said today Reid may lose his support for the defense authorization bill if the DREAM Act is added.
“It would depend on a lot of factors, but it certainly would make it that much more difficult to support something such as the defense authorization bill,” Nelson said. “Don’t do it.”