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Several Senate Democrats Undecided on the DREAM Act

As I mentioned earlier, the defense authorization bill faces peril on its motion to proceed. That would render moot the vote on the DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented students brought to America by their parents a path to citizenship if they complete college or military service. Harry Reid has promised a vote on the DREAM Act as an amendment to the defense bill, but if work cannot begin on that bill, presumably the DREAM Act loses its opportunity.

That said, if the motion to proceed does succeed, several Democrats will have a choice to make. Eight of them voted against cloture on the DREAM Act in 2007, and they are undecided today.

Democrats helped block the bill three years ago when it fell eight votes short on a procedural motion. While some Republicans supported that motion, eight Democrats voted no, including the late Sen. Robert Byrd (W.Va.) and Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Byron Dorgan (N.D.).

Five of those senators — Conrad, Dorgan, McCaskill, Pryor and Landrieu — told The Hill they haven’t made up their minds about this week’s vote.

Meanwhile, Bob Bennett and some other Republicans are hiding behind procedure to explain their expected no votes. Bennett, Orrin Hatch and other Republicans have supported the DREAM Act in the past, but now oppose its inclusion in the defense authorization bill. This is kind of ridiculous, considering that Bennet, Hatch and 10 other Republicans supported the inclusion of the DREAM Act in the defense bill back in 2007. The only difference is the name of the President who would sign such a bill.

Bennett went so far as to say, “If Harry Reid brings it to the floor as a standalone bill, I will vote for it.” If the defense bill collapses, Reid may want to make Bennett as good as his word.

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David Dayen

David Dayen