Saturday, December 18, 2010
DREAM Act Cloture Vote Fails In Senate, Bingaman and Udall Vote Yes
Sorry kids, you're stuck in legal limbo while DC fiddles
Happy holidays, DREAMERS. In a disgusting act of cowardice, political avarice and hypocrisy, enough members of that once august body -- the U.S. Senate -- voted 51-44 (with 4 absent) against allowing the DREAM Act (H.R. 5281) to move onto the Senate floor for debate and an up or down vote. Yes, folks, five lousy Democrats in positions of power, led by the always smarmy Max Baucus (D-MT), along with Mark Pryor (D-AR), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Jon Tester (D-MT) and Kay Hagan (D-NC), joined with almost every pompous Republican to derail the DREAM Act. Only three Republicans -- Richard Lugar (R-IN), Bob Bennett (R-UT) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)) voted aye (see geography of vote).
We can be proud that Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall voted for cloture, as we knew they would. On December 8th, the House passed the bill by a close vote of 216 to 198, with all three of our Congressmen voting yes.
This is legislation that would have allowed young people who were brought to the U.S. as kids by undocumented parents to get onto a convoluted and long path to citizenship if they go to college or serve in the military. Watch the video above to see the kinds of people who got a virtual stream of spittle in their faces from "leaders" who are supposed to be doing what's right and what's best for our nation's future. We ought to tear down the Statue of Liberty right now and quit pretending.
The DREAM Act, originally introduced in 2001 with bipartisan sponsors, has kicked around Congress since then while senators fiddled. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of young people waited and waited and waited while they either hid in the shadows or managed to pursue an education, serve in the military or get odd jobs to stay alive without getting arrested or deported to a land of which many have no memory. For years, members of Congress used it as a political chit or punching bag to bolster their political gains or empty promises, while large numbers of earnest, hard-working, patriotic children and youths were left in a legal limbo through no fault of their own.
Through the years, many of the same Republicans who today voted no on cloture had either been cosponsors of the legislation or gave speeches and statements supporting it. But, today, Republicans once again put politics above doing what's right for the nation. They showed their willingness to mess up the lives of many for the political donations of the few. Hey, passage of the DREAM Act would be seen as a Dem victory and some of those DREAMERS might someday vote Democratic. Can't have that. And to hell with what happens to these young people going forward.
Today, the bill was again treated as a way for Republicans to obstruct Senate action in line with their leaders' promises to hold everything hostage to a right-wing agenda filled with ass kissing of the wealthy and slaps to Obama. Meanwhile, yesterday, Obama took time to praise the "new spirit of bipartisanship" he saw in passage of the almost criminally misguided tax cut deal he negotiated behind closed doors.
Here's the statement released by the White House after the DREAM Act cloture vote failed:
"In an incredibly disappointing vote today, a minority of Senators prevented the Senate from doing what most Americans understand is best for the country. As I said last week, when the House passed the DREAM Act, it is not only the right thing to do for talented young people who seek to serve a country they know as their own, it is the right thing for the United States of America. Our nation is enriched by their talents and would benefit from the success of their efforts. The DREAM Act is important to our economic competitiveness, military readiness, and law enforcement efforts. And as the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reported, the DREAM Act would cut the deficit by $2.2 billion over the next 10 years. There was simply no reason not to pass this important legislation.
"It is disappointing that common sense did not prevail today. But my administration will not give up on the DREAM Act, or on the important business of fixing our broken immigration system. The American people deserve a serious debate on immigration, and it’s time to take the polarizing rhetoric off our national stage.
"I thank Senators Durbin, Reid, and Menendez for their tireless efforts. Moving forward, my administration will continue to do everything we can to fix our nation’s broken immigration system so that we can provide lasting and dedicated resources for our border security while at the same time restoring responsibility and accountability to the system at every level."
No Dem Discipline
All I can say is that if the President and the Dem Senate leadership cannot pressure enough senators in their own party into following what used to be a requirement for being a member of the Democratic caucus -- to support procedural votes to bring legislation to the floor for an up or down vote -- then we shouldn't even bother to have a Dem caucus. Apparently being a member of the Democratic caucus carries no requirements as to a Senator's responsibilities or loyalties anymore. It just means that they get money from Dem Party sources to help them get elected, regardless of how they vote on the Democratic agenda.
In fact, someone like Max Baucus -- who voted against cloture without breaking a sweat -- is so esteemed by our "post-partisan" president that he was allowed to stand right behind Obama yesterday as the horribly flawed Obama-McConnell tax cut bill was signed. I guess Obama had to get somebody for the photo op; turns out Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the entire Dem House leadership team except for Rep. Steny Hoyer were tellingly absent when Obama signed the "compromise" bill. Instead the White House staff rounded up Joe Biden, Dick Durbin, Tim Geithner and Hilda Solis, among others. Even Rep. John Boehner apparently turned down a chance to prance before the cameras, although Mitch McConnell joined the "festivities":
Having worked and being taught by these students every day whose lives are "on hold" because of the inaction of the government to do something to reform immigration, I am ashamed.
I see that racism and xenophobia are structures that are seemingly impenetrable. We exploit their families with low-paying jobs that are economy is dependent upon and then we treat people as less than human by keeping them in this status of "without papers" (without education, without hope).
15-18 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and thousands in New Mexico are depending on us to do the right thing.
Posted by: Christopher | Dec 18, 2010 12:59:21 PM
we keep fighting christopher. that is the only answer.
Posted by: mary ellen | Dec 18, 2010 1:59:35 PM
Posted by: Ejército Libertador del Sur | Dec 18, 2010 2:02:41 PM