This post was originally published by Campus Progress.
Both chambers of Congress are expected to vote on the DREAM Act this week (follow the most recent developments here). The Senate is going to be a real challenge, since all 42 Republican Senators signed a letter last week, in which they vowed to filibuster all bills until Congress deals with extending tax cuts and reducing government spending.
Meanwhile, Harry Reid recently introduced the most restrictive version of the DREAM act to date. Under S. 3992, the new version of the bill, fewer undocumented youth would qualify for a path to citizenship: Only those who came to the United States before age 16 and have been here for 5 years, but are still under the age of 30. This version also extends the period of conditional residency to 10 years, up from 6 years. You can read the full text of the bill here.
The DREAM Act has come before Congress multiple times in different forms since 2001, and has generally stalled in one of the chambers of Congress. It fell shy of the 60 votes needed in the Senate in 2007. When the Senate attempted to attach it to a defense spending bill this fall, it also failed to get 60 votes.
Ironically, the DREAM Act initially began as a Republican proposal when Sen. Orrin Hatch brought it forward in 2001, but now many Republicans who previously supported the bill (including Hatch) have come to oppose it.
There are still a handful of Senators on the fence on both sides of the aisle:
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.)
Source: Office of Sen. Brownback
Sen. Sam Brownback has voted “Yes” for the DREAM Act, a number of times in the past, and cosponsored it in 2007. Brownback is leaving the Senate to take on Kansas’ governorship next year, and like many past Republican co-sponsors this year, he’s facing pressure to show a tough-on-illegal-immigration stance.
In Washington: (202) 224-6521; other numbers.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)
Source: Office of Sen. Susan Collins
Sen. Susan Collins is, as Newsweek recently put it, one of “the last moderates left standing” in the GOP, along with Snowe. She’s coming under a lot of pressure to shift rightward. In September, when Reid introduced the DREAM Act as a potential amendment to the defense authorization bill, Collins voted against Reid’s amendment package. She took issue with his proposed three-amendment limit, but didn’t denounce the DREAM Act on principle. She voted for the DREAM Act in 2007.