Anti-amnesty forces predict Wednesday's Senate defeat of the DREAM Act won't prevent Democrats in Congress from introducing a slew of similar pro-immigration measures in coming months.
The Senate vote of 52-44 fell eight votes short of the 60 required to invoke cloture and move the bill to a final vote. The action effectively kills the bill.
The bill, sponsored by Illinois Democrat Richard Durbin, would have created a special path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who complete at least two years of higher education or military service.
Despite the victory, the anti-amnesty Minutemen group called on supporters to continue deluging Congress with messages opposing any effort to revive the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.
“Like we did in June and again this week," said Minutemen leader Chris Simcox, "we need to jam Congressional faxes and phones in order to deliver a clarion message that we will not reward people who have violated existing federal statutes, stolen the identities of hardworking American citizens, and illicitly used tax-payer subsidized social services while remaining in this country illegally.”
Talk-show host Rush Limbaugh also warned listeners that the push to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants will continue.
Pro-immigration efforts, Limbaugh said, "would grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. The Democrats need those people as voters."
More attempts to pass amnesty legislation are inevitable, he added, saying "Democrats can bring it back up at a later point, and go for it all over again — and they will."
In late June, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act was defeated by a wide margin. Supporters fell 14 votes short of the number they needed to invoke cloture. While pulling the bill off the table following the vote, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., vowed to bring it back in the future.
“This is everything we fought to stop in the amnesty bill," Limbaugh told listeners Wednesday after the latest measure was defeated. "This is the sequel; this is Amnesty II.”
There was spirited debate on the Senate floor before today’s failed cloture DREAM Act vote.
“This bill is an attempt to put illegal immigrants who graduate from a U.S. high school or obtain their G.E.D. on a special path to citizenship,” argued Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY.). “I do not believe we should reward illegal behavior.”
McConnell noted that the Senate has yet to pass a single appropriations bill, as requested by the president.
Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter said “every level of government is legislating on immigration because of Congress of the United States is derelict in its duty.” Specter supports immigration reform but opposed the DREAM Act because he says it distracts from the larger need to pass comprehensive immigration-reform legislation.
“This is amnesty,” Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe declared flatly.
Democrats argued that the bill should be passed because it helped young people trying to better themselves. “Children should not be penalized for the actions of their parents,” Reid said.
A dozen Republicans crossed party lines and joined with Democrats to vote in favor of cloture. Surprisingly, they include both Senators from usually-conservative Utah, Orrin Hatch and Robert Bennett, as well as Mississippi’s Trent Lott and Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas.
The others were former presidential candidate, Sam Brownback, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, both Maine GOP Senators, Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe, Nebraska’s retiring Senator Chuck Hagel, Richard Lugar of Indiana, and Mel Martinez of Florida, who announced his retirement as Republican National Committee Chairman last week.
Eight Democrats voted with the Republicans against cloture. They were Max Baucus of Montana, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Both North Dakota Democrats, Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan, Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, Claire McCaskill of Montana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Jon Tester of Montana.
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